There’s a decision a web developer or a web development agency has to make when providing a Content Management System (CMS) to their client. There’s several factors that might sway the decision one way or another. I use WordPress, which I think is an excellent tool for providing CMS driven websites as well as building more complex solutions – here are reasons why I use WordPress and possibly a few misconceptions of why other people don’t.
It’s not the main consideration but time is, of course, a large factor. There’s the initial time to design, build and test the system and additional time to maintain it once you have it running. There’s also the regression testing that needs to be carried out following the addition of extra features. All this time could be spent on designing the client’s website, implementing social media or helping with other aspects of delivery. Alternatively the time could be reduced and therefore the cost could be reduced.
Automattic (the company who develop WordPress) have experts in key areas such as User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX), Architecture and Security. For bespoke software you would have to have personnel who were good at each of those, plus developers to actually build it. As a freelancer or small business (which most web agencies are) that simply isn’t possible without large overheads. If they’re developing a CMS then the chances are those overheads are going to be passed onto the client, or it’s going to be a secondary thought – which could result in the system becoming quickly out-of-date.
The code base for WordPress is open source (GPL license). This means that anybody is free to take a copy of the code, change it and resell it for a profit. People like myself profit from doing just that, however an altruistic nature in the WordPress community has arisen. This has resulted in the creation of excellent resources and plugins which are in turn, open source. What this also means for businesses is that once they have had their site developed in WordPress then there are lots of people who can support them and they are not tied with one company that will charge them through the roof.
WordPress has a perception that is it only suitable for blogs. Whereas this was the case two or three years ago, with the introduction of ‘custom post types’ in version 3.0 (2010), this has prompted the community to extend the usage beyond imagination – the fact that WordPress is now even being used for e-commerce* clearly represents that some people’s perceptions about WordPress are out-of-date. Unfortunately clients and agencies still have this perception and by doing so are only restricting their possibilities.
* Although not a replacement for Magento, Shopify etc
At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their opinion and they simply might not like WordPress. I personally like the admin area, which is the part of the site where the client will spend most of their time editing their website. I also find the API relatively straightforward to extend WordPress, however some other developers may prefer different a different CMS such as Drupal or Joomla. I can accept that WordPress isn’t for everyone. I can also agree that there are times when it’s maybe best to start with a (relatively) blank slate – my point is don’t just reject it.
As a client you should be willing to listen to the option of using WordPress and know that any comments you have heard about it in the past may no longer still be relevant. It’s also very important once your site is live for it to be supportable and it is kept up-to-date otherwise you may end up paying high support costs and be forced to invest in a new website altogether further down the line.
My main advice, however, is just to be open minded and consider all the facts before you make a decision on why WordPress might not be good enough for you; the chances is are it’s probably better than you had anticipated.