I recently switched my own websites to WordPress after avoiding the switch for a long time. I’m a web designer/developer, so I can code my websites just fine. I didn’t think I needed a “dummy” CMS for my sites. Boy, was I wrong! It has been a fantastic change – one that I really didn’t know I would like.
I had been skeptical of WordPress, especially after having several clients come to me with previous bad experiences. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and am now even a WP promoter. It’s my go-to platform for most client sites I do.
In case you’re considering a switch to WordPress, I’d like to point out some very important things to consider before making the transition. Hopefully my experience can help save you lots of headache and unnecessary stress.
Things I Heart:
- Who Doesn’t Love Open Source? Open Source translates to free software, but when you’re thinking about getting a WordPress site, it’s important to note that the software is free, but you still have to pay to host it, get a domain name, and have a developer and designer customize it for you. Looking for hosting recommendations? (Affiliate links) BlueHost and HostGator are my two hosts of choice. They offer one-click WordPress installation and I haven’t had any problems with them.
- Easy Edits. Wow, can’t tell you how much simpler it is to log into a website to make text edits than it was to drag out my HTML editor, search for the right part of the code, edit, save, then upload the new file. If you have other people, like a virtual assistant, who can make edits to your website, it’s much easier and takes a big weight off your shoulders.
- Flexibility and Customization. I have not come across a single functionality requirement that I haven’t been able to handle with WordPress (advanced e-commerce is the exception to the rule, but WP isn’t a good idea for that to begin with). If you’re thinking you need a more complex site than WP can handle, check again with a knowledgeable, advanced expert. There are a lot of WordPress developers out there, and often times they mis-inform clients of the things they can accomplish because they don’t know how to properly customize it (that is, if they’re actually web developers – there are a lot of people selling WordPress services that don’t even edit any of the code…now that’s scary!).
- Self-Hosted. WordPress comes in two flavors, .com and .org. I focus entirely on .org because it’s a self-hosted option. This means I have the site code on my server and have access to edit and change any of it. On WordPress.com, you can get a free website, but it is hosted on their servers and you can’t edit the code, so you are limited to using a domain with .wordpress.com at the end, and you are limited to using the features they allow. In addition, it’s against the terms of service to sell things from a wp.com site.
- Abundance of Support. For those of you who are a little more adventurous and attempt to customize your WordPress site yourself, you’ll be extremely happy with the documentation available. The WordPress community is one of the best out there. There are so many friendly people willing to answer most any question.
- SEO Friendly. WordPress was built for Google. I’ve recently had some great Search Engine Optimization results and hear other stories about the same success. With so many websites out there, who couldn’t use a little extra Google Juice?
- Design Love. One of my favorite things about WordPress is the ease of customizing the design of the site. That is, only when you’ve mastered the template system and can build one from scratch. For my purposes, I can design the look of a site completely from scratch and convert it to a WordPress theme with ease. Or, I can start with a template and edit to my heart’s content. There aren’t many other CMS out there that offer this much design flexibility without some major headache.
- Thousands of Plugins. This point is almost repetitive, but there are so many plugins available, it’s amazing! Think of any type of function you can add to a website and there’s probably a plugin for it. Many plugin developers are usually very helpful and passionate about their work, so they provide support and updates frequently.
Things I Hate:
- Abundance of WP Sites. While this can be an advantage because more sites means more developers and WordPress specialists, but for my designer’s eye, it can drive me crazy. I get tired of seeing the same themes over and over. It’s can also confuse your audience. If a potential customer sees the same background, theme, or layout on another site, it can be very easy for her to confuse that site with yours.
- Increased Security Risk. Although WordPress developers are good about releasing security fixes frequently, the abundance of WP-built sites means that they’re often the targets of hackers. It’s very important to always keep a backup of both your database and your core site files, because they are both necessary to restore should you get hacked.
- Slow Turtle. WordPress sites have been known to load more slowly than usual. This isn’t always the case and there are things you can do to optimize your site and help it load slower. Nevertheless, for some people, it could make their site cumbersome to load, driving away traffic.
- Spam. If you’ve ever had a WordPress site, you probably have noticed the large amounts of spam comments you receive. There is a tool, Askimet, that comes pre-installed with WordPress to help combat the spam, but it’s not free ($5/mo for business sites), which is one more expense on a possibly-tight budget.
- Not E-Commerce Friendly. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth mentioning. I see many many WordPress sites that are being used as Robust E-Commerce sites. It can be done, but in my opinion, it’s not such a good idea. There are much better systems out there specifically designed to handle lots of products, the sales order process, and inventory tracking. You’re better off going that route if you need rich e-commerce, but WordPress will work fine if you only need a few simple payment buttons.
While WordPress is not the perfect solution for every website out there, it’s pretty darn good and will work for most small businesses. I think that I’d really like not to love it so much, but I’m afraid I do. It makes me wish I hadn’t spent so much time coding so much of my site myself.
Was this article Greek to you? That’s ok. I write articles in a variety of levels of tech-savvyness. You might want to check out What is WordPress? Why is it a Great Choice for Small Business?
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