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Pros & Cons of WordPress

3d wordpress illustration WordPress is an incredibly popular blogging platform and content management system (CMS). In fact, 33% of the world’s websites are built using a CMS, and 19% (over half of the CMS sites) use WordPress (compared to 3% and 2% using Joomla and Drupal, respectively). That totals 69 million sites worldwide. Out of every 100 new sites built in the US last year, 22 of them use WordPress. All of those figures point to incredibly wide acceptance. Nonetheless, there are pros and cons to using the platform. Some of the major positives and negatives of the WordPress CMS are described below. Pro: independence WordPress was built primarily to serve as a blogging platform. However, it functions as a reasonably versatile CMS. As noted by Pragmatic Web, the CMS capability allows you to update the site without the need to work with a web developer, which can be challenging especially in the case of minor changes or time-sensitive updates. (Notably, any CMS offers this basic strength.) Pro: free As noted by Fig Creative, if you host the WordPress site yourself (as is typical), the software is completely free to donwload, use, and update. This aspect is particularly compelling for SMBs and nonprofits. It’s also ideal for some testing and developmental situations. Pro: open source A core element of WordPress that relates to its no-cost model is that it is open source. As Media Realm indicates, it uses a GNU General Public License, which essentially allows you to adapt the code to fit your needs. You don’t have to pay for WordPress now or at any point in the future, but you also have the freedom to dig inside it and change it. It’s not based on a proprietary model. You don’t experience vendor lock-in if you want to move elsewhere down the line. You simply use a migration tool to depart. Pro: built to build As with the other major content management tools, WordPress offers a massive library of plugins to give your site additional functionalities. Some themes (site templates) contain built-in tools as well. Pragmatic notes that, because WordPress is so common, it’s also simple to find a developer if there’s anything you want that you can’t find publicly through the site. Pro: simple WordPress essentially helped to democratize website building. It’s a tool intended to allow people without developmental or strong technical skills to create websites, so its usability is (generally speaking) fantastic. Plugins, providing such components as portfolios and online stores, are simple to install (though it’s critical to update and test them when new versions of WordPress are released). The themes make design a snap as well, mentions Fig. Pro: vast pool of users As established by the stats in the introduction, the scope of the WordPress community is enormous. As of April 2014, there are over 30,000 plugins and almost 2500 themes. However, per Media Realm, where the community really becomes powerful is when you are customizing the software. This facet becomes clear in online forums, such as WordPress Answers, with its tens of thousands of support questions and answers. WordPress Codex also serves as an extensive general manual and information source. Con: updates On the downside, updates are released on a regular basis, as described by Pragmatic. You must update the CMS itself, as well as your theme and any plugins you have installed. There are many horror stories related to upgrading a WordPress site: Miriam Schwab of WordPress Garage, for example, almost lost the majority of her site while attempting an upgrade. It’s easy to make mistakes in the process or to experience glitches that are out of your control. Con: security Fig notes that security is an issue with WordPress. Indeed, last year a botnet inundated WordPress sites, causing wide-scale mayhem. Open source software is compelling to hackers for the same reason it’s compelling to developers: transparency. However, the main WordPress users who need to worry about hackers are those who don’t take reasonable precautions. Use a password generator to make it more difficult for hackers to enter your site. Also change your administrative username to something else so that cybercriminal software can’t enter that management account as easily. Con: defining accessibility Drupal and other full-scale content management systems give you the direct ability to define user roles and permissions. With WordPress, you must perform this task via a plugin. Media Realm notes that it’s a little “hacky” not to have such a fundamental aspect of security built into the core code of WordPress. Con: external script Although there is a huge supply of tools from which to choose in the templates and plugins, those capabilities are developed by independent parties. Pragmatic notes that you don’t know exactly what you’re getting when you use these third-party offerings. Granted, reviews should give you a good sense of quality. Con: online sales If you have used eCommerce software such as Volusion or Shopify, you are familiar with a full feature set when you establish an online store. Creating a store within your WordPress site will not give you as many options as with strong systems that have been designed specifically for web sales, remarks Fig. However, it’s not a bad way to get your eCommerce underway, as long as you understand you may need to eventually transition to something else. Con: not built for size by default WordPress is used by huge sites, such as Ebay, Yahoo, Digg, and Ford. Be aware, though, that these sites are optimized with specially designed tools. Determining a strong caching plugin, for example, can be challenging. You also need to have an incredible hosting solution so that you can scale rapidly if you get a sudden surge in traffic. *** Any system has pluses and minuses, and WordPress is no exception. Many people appreciate WordPress because it doesn’t cost a penny and is open source, allowing each user a significant breadth of freedom. On the downside, security can be an issue if you aren’t prepared, and WodPress isn’t built ready-made for eCommerce or scalability. Most of the negatives with the CMS can be overcome, though. You don’t have to use WordPress for your entire site but to the extent it makes sense. For growth, a viable cloud hosting solution with apps “on demand” gives you access to resources for expansion.
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