A friend of mine has a small family business. As it happens, a couple of years ago they were looking to update their website. And their quest was to find an agency who builds websites on WordPress. Why WordPress? "Brand name," he said. "We'd like to manage the site ourselves later on and I have heard about WordPress more than any other similar product."
Let me get one thing off my chest first. I’ve never said myself nor have I heard anyone in the web industry say that Wordpress is no good at all. But we have to put ourselves into the shoes of the customer — the real end-user — to assess whether it’s a reasonable choice and what are the actual consequences of choosing it.
Who are you?Take a closer look in the mirror — are you a small business owner, a blogger or are you running a hobby website? If so, WordPress is probably overkill for you.
In a nutshell, WordPress is like a huge factory that needs a lot of maintenance to work smoothly, especially if you go big and top your site with different plugins and complex structure. But most end-users are not tech-savvy enough to take care of things like patching security loops, updating plugins or revamping huge chunks of your site — because they are not developers.
Of course, you can pay the agency who built your site to do the job for you. But why on earth do you put yourself into this position in the first place? Didn't you just pay them enough to build you a great website that is supposed to run on a platform that you could handle?
Tens of great website builders have the same functionalities and are constantly developed, taken care of by industry-leading engineers who’ll fix the problems with the platform before they even arise.
Best things in life are free, not.A line I've heard for so many times: "WordPress is awesome 'cause I don't have to pay for it." Seriously?
Even if you're about to build the website yourself, there are still fees attached all over the place. You have to host (oldschool guys like to say upload with FTP) your website — boom! and you pay. You have to buy a domain — boom! and you pay. You're looking for some nice premium-class plugins — boom! and you pay. You're looking for a unique design theme — ... need I say more?
Overall, you end up paying for quite a few things and summing them all up gives you a rather solid financial-kaboom in the nuts. And need I remind you that no-one cares if your site gets hacked or if your plugins are outdated? Those costs are probably ten times worse.
I'm not saying that you can get websites for free elsewhere. Most of today's website builders use a subscription-based business model so you’ll end up paying a fixed monthly fee and in return get all the goodness — evolving functionality, integrated hosting, great design templates, live support and security that is taken care of — without any surprises with price tags.
And although it sounds absurd, let me just throw it out there — you should be happy those website builders are not for free. Because it means that they really have to earn your money and continuously work on their product to keep you with them.
"Houston, we have a problem"
All great website builders come with a solid support team and you can contact them any time you please. But WordPress? No can do. You can only rely on online communities with some fanatics answering whenever they feel like. Or you can contact your web agency, but they are most probably not that thrilled about spending their valuable time chatting you up about how to add a picture. And if they do then you're looking at another solid bill to be sent your way.
And I'm not making it up. I used to be a customer care representative at Voog, I know what sort of questions and problems website owners have. That’s why support teams are there for you — to make your life easier. Going beyond smaller issues, more than once did I try to assist someone who was looking to move to our platform but had absolutely no idea on how to access their old website or how to close it down. Yet another easter egg in the WordPress business if you try to be "smart" and host your website god knows where.
What can be taken from all of it? WordPress is not a Fabergé egg, nor your holy grail. It's a tool just like any other — with pros and cons. It's just that, sometimes, those cons are hidden under the brand and you'll only see them once you've taken the road to the end. But then it might already be too late.