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Why WordPress critics are DEAD wrong!

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As someone who’s created websites for more than 16 years, have 14 years in the IT consulting industry and making money online, I think I’m entitled to write this post.

Actually let me share a screenshot (actually from the Way back Machine) of how my website for my music studio looked back in 2000
sane productions screenshot 2000
Nice huh – did the logo myself :). Notice how it says “new site up” in the news. The first one was even uglier 🙂

Let it be said I love WordPress, it’s almost up there with my crush on Apple products and post-morterm man crush on Steve Jobs.

Chances are that you’ve heard about WordPress before but if you haven’t just know that it’s a content management system (CMS) that enables you to easily create and manage a website.It’s used by 19% of the top 10 million websites online and is the most popular blogging system online.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, so you can head over to Wikipedia if you want more information about it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WordPress

All my sites are running are running on WordPress and while I don’t have an exact number there are probably around 30 of them with a handful being my primary ones.

Needless to say that I have some very clear opinions on the system and it also hurts my eyes a bit every time I see critics raising concerns about the system.

Don’t get me wrong no system is ever perfect and WordPress is no exception, valid and constructive criticism should always be raised. In the end this helps evolving any system or process.

So what foul critics do I speak of? Well I would like to say none mentioned none forgotten. But I guess that I should at least mention a few so you know what I’m talking about.

One example would come from this UK-based web design company with a blog post named “10 Reasons Why Web Developers Should Not Use WordPress

While it’s certainly a nice list of issues they highlight they are guilty of being so wrong. Actually the problem is right there in the title on their blog post. Found the problem? Don’t worry I’ll fill you in just a moment.

Another example comes from Wellfire Interactive a Washington DC company who published “Why We Don’t Use WordPress

The author doesn’t think of himself as a WordPress hater he’s actually “recommended it to friends” making it sound like WordPress is only something that should be used for small personal hobby sites.

There are many more critics like this and many of them have valid points in their writing however they all suffer from the same problem.

So did you spot it in the title of the first page I linked to?

The words are “web developers”.

The thing that these critics have in common is that they are all looking at WordPress from only a technical perspective. They are developers themselves and feel proud of their profession. No doubt about that. I have high standards too when it comes to my consulting business where I’m helping out big companies a couple of months each year.

But you know what? It’s a long time ago that a website was anything technical!

You don’t launch a website because you want “clean code” or “fantastic support“. Of course it doesn’t hurt but you start a website because you have some business related goal like: getting more leads or selling your awesome handcrafted products.

You change a website because you want more leads, better conversions or maximizing the lifetime value of a customer.

By viewing a website from only a very narrow view, the technical view, and judging from this limited perspective you are really not in any position to come to any conclusions about a system.

If you were only looking on the technical side of things, Microsoft would never be able to sell their flagship collaboration platform and content management sytem (that is integrating with a lot of their other enterprise offerings) SharePoint.

I’ve worked with SharePoint since 2007 and trust me – you don’t select the product because of how it looks from the developer’s perspective. Actually, I don’t think developers will involved in the selecting SharePoint 9 times out of 10.

Now this post is not about SharePoint but WordPress so I won’t go into more details about that here.

But what are the critics saying about WordPress?

Well – for once that it has a lot of security flaws. But when millions are using a system it suddenly becomes a target for hackers that want to hit as many as possible. You also see this problem with Microsoft Windows that because of its sheer user base is an attractive target for hackers.

Most of the time the problem with WordPress security is not about WordPress itself, but because of some extension you are using on your site that hasn’t been updated.

And this brings be to my next point, because from a business perspective the incredible number plugins (or extensions) to WordPress is fantastic as you can quickly get some functionality you need without involving a developer. Often the plugin will be free and other times it’s costing you less than $100. And let me be clear here… You don’t get much custom functionality developed for your site for $100!

On the notion of speed, WordPress can be a little slow as you add more plugins to it, however I’ve never run a public facing website without using caching (the notion of generating the page and then serving the generated page to multiple visitors without having to re-create it). And you have some of the best caching functionality available for WordPress

(let me just share a few technical terms like Content Delivery Networks, javascript and stylesheet minification, the latest client side caching instructions and so on).

Oh and search engine optimization can done better on “custom developed sites”? Again you have SEO authorities like Joost de Valk creating free plugins that does everything you could ever want. Want better SEO? Drop the CMS entirely and just go back to plain HTML pages (hint: if you’re a business person pursuing a business goal you don’t want to do this).

Support of your WordPress site is another objection. Since WordPress is free to use, it doesn’t come with any form of support. But let’s face it. With so many developers working on the platform, don’t you think that you can find someone to pay to get help?

Sure you can! No problem here. Actually I’ve heard several people I know bitch about finding developers that can help them after the company that created their site is no longer in business and they developed on either an excellent technical product that no one is using or some custom created monster than no one else know how to maintain.

Ugly code? Check – creating plugins and themes for WordPress often end up being a chaos of functionality and presentation mixed together I’ll give the critics that. And I know that you’re probably not a developer so let me just tell you that this is not a good thing. However as a business person this is of no concern to you remember?
That’s something developers should take care of.

There are more issues being mentioned, you can visit the links above, but I just want to mention one more that one of them list: Updates.

They actually see updates to the system as a bad thing?! For someone who has worked many years with Microsoft enterprise products that are costing hundreds thousands of dollars in license cost alone and most of the time needing consultants costing millions of dollars, let me say that you will want frequent updates! You don’t want to wait 3-5 months for some “quick fix” that might not even end up fixing your issue.

And yes that update “might” break something on your site, but that is no different from any other system on the planet. And rather frequent updates than not so – MS style – frequent updates.

If the developers who are doing the site are afraid that the client might update something, they can always just disable that function for the client, or they can completely customize the administration part of WordPress to suit the client’s need (including removing any WordPress branding so it looks like your company’s very own CMS). Try doing that with Microsoft SharePoint.

So summing up… I love WordPress and I can’t really see any other system taking its place in the near future. Sure I can see many other content management systems out there that are better implemented, features cleaner architecture and are probably more fun for developers to work with, but as someone with business needs and goals I can choose to completely ignore this fact and I recommend that you do too and just go with WordPress.

If it’s good enough for NBC Sports, CNN and Time it’s probably good enough for you as well!

You don’t agree with me? Let me know in the comments…

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7 Responses to Why WordPress critics are DEAD wrong!

  1. Hi Rasmus,

    I love WordPress too. My reason?… Because it hardy takes any time getting used too. I can confidently recommend it to beginners.

    Naomi

  2. Rasmus says:

    Hi Naomi,

    Absolutely, it’s incredibly easy to use 🙂

    /Rasmus

  3. Chuck Bajax says:

    However as a business person this is of no concern to you remember? That’s something developers should take care of.

    Then let the developers take care of it. You go off to your offices and discuss synergy and comparative advantage and cost-per-lead, you give the developers specifications and let them do their job. 99% chance they can do it a lot better without being hamstrung by an aging jalopy of a framework.

    • rasmus says:

      Business people don’t have anything against “an aging jalopy of a framework” 🙂

      Instead they’re concerned with meeting their business goals. And if there’s one CMS out there that can instantly solve pretty much any thing you throw at it because of the many extensions (and do it cheap because of the many people developing on the platform), it’s WordPress.

      I’ve been in IT working with the web for the past 15 years, I mainly program in C# and Ruby and I would never choose anything other than WordPress for my sites (even though I don’t code PHP and therefore cannot develop anything myself).

      • Bajax says:

        There’s wonderful things out there. MVC, functional programming, template languages, hell Facebook has gone and made a library that abstracts the DOM entirely into something that can be expressed in JSON. WordPress structurally CAN’T take advantage of most of these things without severe and breaky hacking.

        I may be hitting a lot higher than you want to go, and I understand that. I’m not trying to steal your ice cream here, or mandate that you learn ARM assembler just to code up a welcome page. WordPress is really great for a significant portion of the websites I manage. If you’re sure you’re never going to need to expand a site significantly, and that you’ll never need a lot of dynamic or interactive stuff, then by all means go ahead and use it. But don’t sell it as the best tool for every job.

        I’m making dynamic stuff that astounds everyone around me, and I’m doing it faster than bog-standard PHP people can code up a contact form. I definitely have a lot more power on account of my learning this stuff, but by far the most important part is that these tools make my job so much easier and less stressful. I can more accurately predict how long a project is going to take me, and more consistently deliver on time and on (or under) budget because I’m not chasing down the implementation details of a dated architecture.

        Thanks.

        • rasmus says:

          Hi Chuck

          Thanks for taking the time to comment. However I don’t think you’ve really read my post, because your comment is pretty much really why you should choose WordPress.

          You’re approaching a website from a technical standpoint (and I can appreciate that after coding professionally myself for more than 15 years). But a website is no longer a technical project (unless you have a REALLY BIG site with a ton of really advanced functionality like integration with backend services).

          I don’t like PHP either. I’ve sat down and read through PHP code on several occasions and I hated it each time (I code in both C# and the super “pretty” language Ruby).

          But as a business owner who requires a website for his business, JSON, MVC, DOM etc pretty irrelevant.

          Instead we’re talking SEO, loading speeds, conversion etc. and all of that is super easy to get on WordPress with more plugins than any other platform and a ton of highly configurable themes (or access to thousands of developers/designers who can make a customized one).

          So to sum up: a website is not about technology, it’s about business requirements.

          /Rasmus

  4. sandy says:

    You don’t launch a website because you want “clean code” or “fantastic support“. Of course it doesn’t hurt but you start a website because you have some business related goal like: getting more leads or selling your awesome handcrafted products.

    so well said ,,,

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