Planning to build or refresh your website using WordPress?
Here’s why you might want to think again
When it comes to your company’s website, you want something that looks great, performs well, and gives your clients quick and easy access to whatever it is they’re looking for.
For many businesses that will maintain their own websites, or don't want to spend the money on a developer, this means using WordPress. It’s not difficult to see the appeal: It doesn’t require a lot of technological know-how to build and maintain your site, and you can do so pretty quickly and inexpensively, too. In fact, if you don’t want to invest in all the bells and whistles of complex plugins and hosting providers, it’s possible to create your website completely free of cost.
As a result, WordPress has become the most widely used content management system (CMS) in the world by far. Estimates state that it is powering up to 27 percent of the internet, with over 17 million active websites now using the platform. Those are huge numbers, and the impact that WordPress has had on website development since its launch in 2003 shouldn’t be understated.
But when it comes to the crunch, is it really free?
And is it actually simple to manage?
At DriveProfit, we often get requests from clients asking if we can build their websites using WordPress or update an existing one that was already developed on the platform. But read on to find out why that’s not always such a good idea.
Performance can be slow
Over-reliance on too many plugins can make a website’s interface sluggish and slow. As such, WordPress plugins underpin the functionality of your website, each one building in a different element, such as SEO, security, web forms, image carousels—you name it, anything that requires extra functionality beyond the basic WordPress platform requires a plugin. When these are layered on top of one other, it affects the speed and responsiveness of your site, often leading to a frustrating experience for potential clients. They may become so irritated with slow load times or page freezing that they leave your site altogether, taking their business with them.
WordPress is vulnerable to hackers and other security breaches
People often don’t realize that WordPress is open source. That means absolutely anyone can create plugins or themes on the platform, then share that code publicly online. The problem is, you don’t know who these programmers are, you don’t know if the plugins or themes will ever be updated, and you don’t know whether they will still be compatible when WordPress releases its next platformwide update (more on that next). What’s more, you’ll have no idea if they are filled with malicious code or other malware, leaving your website vulnerable to security breaches. Of course, good data security has always been important to businesses, but it has become an increasingly hot-button topic in recent years, with tighter regulation being introduced, such as the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018 (which requires EU programmers to take appropriate measures to implement data protection principles). Plus, with online reservations, you are tasked with protecting your clients' sensitive information. Bad web security could not only cost you your reputation, but also land you in serious legal trouble.
Update issues could cause damaging downtime
WordPress releases platformwide updates on a regular basis, often due to security patches that need to be created because of its open-source structure. There is no guarantee that any of your plugins will continue working with each new update, which could cause your website functionality to fail. WordPress does not provide technical support to help fix your specific problem, meaning you may have to take your website, or certain pages, offline to have the issue looked into by developers, costing you valuable time and money.
"But when it comes to the crunch, is it really free? And is it actually simple to manage?"It’s difficult to make it look distinctive
If it’s so easy to create a site using WordPress, isn’t everyone doing it? The answer is—probably, yes. It is common to see businesses using the same WordPress themes and plugins as their competitors. But your website needs to stand out from the crowd. How can you do this if everyone in your industry is building a site using a set of pre-defined, limited themes and plugins? Be bold. Go for something no one else is doing.
Nothing is backed up
If you experience a major security breach or any other issue that happens to bring down your website, everything will be lost. WordPress does not provide any kind of automatic data backup service. There are plugins you can install, such as UpdraftPlus, VaultPress, or BackupBuddy, to ensure that your data is secured, but these can require an element of technical expertise to set up and there is potential extra cost involved in installing and managing them effectively. You’ll also need to keep in mind that your plugin may require manual backup, or it may not be compatible with every update WordPress rolls out—so you’ll need to monitor this constantly to ensure you do not loose valuable data.
So, what’s the alternative?
There are other build-it-yourself sites out there that could be an option, but I advise you work with a professional developer, even if it costs more. Here's why:
You’ll get a website that is coded from scratch
This means it can be completely customized to your specific needs. Developers will keep code clean and build it from the ground up so there are no hidden bugs, unreliable codes, or incompatible plugins sitting on top of one another, which will result in a seamless interface and an optimized user experience.
You’ll have expertise and advice on-hand
Using a team of specialist web developers will mean that you have total technical support whenever you need it. If something is not looking right or functioning correctly, it can be fixed quickly. You won’t need to panic or scratch around looking for a plugin or workaround to patch-up the problem. The developers will know their code and can drill down issues or implement updates easily and seamlessly.
It’s safer and more secure
So much of your business is being conducted online today that you really need to step up your web presence—but it's not just about looking good or being accessible. You can’t afford to make it easy for hackers to access your site, especially if it contains sensitive client information that has been provided via booking or enquiry forms. This could do untold damage to your reputation that far outweighs the cost involved in developing your website from scratch. Using developers to build a unique site will therefore mean your code is safe and not accessible through open source sharing like it is on WordPress. But robust web security also requires constant monitoring and updating. Unlike WordPress, a team of dedicated developers will be able to run regular security audits on your site, provide any necessary updates, and perform website vulnerability checks to ensure your sensitive data is always secure.
"Don’t be tempted to use WordPress just because it seems like 'the easy option' or 'everyone else is doing it.'"It gives you a unique brand identity
Your website is like your “shop window” and plays a key role in creating a positive brand image that instantly resonates with potential clients. You want to make a great impression quickly and entice them to dig deeper into your service offering. A custom-designed website will do just that: Your site will be built for your customers' needs and likely won't look like everyone else's.
Of course, WordPress does have its uses. It can be very effective for building certain types of website, such as personal blogs. But it is difficult for it to perform all the functions of a more sophisticated site that will require a number of additional features in order to be fully optimized.
Don’t be tempted to use WordPress just because it seems like “the easy option” or “everyone else is doing it.” Invest in creating a better website than your competitors by building a fully customized site using professional developers. They’ll help you stand out in a crowded marketplace and ultimately win you more business by bringing your specific vision to life, enhancing functionality and user experience without the constraints of WordPress’s unreliable plugins and themes. You won’t regret the results. [CD0419]
Aurel Dumitrescu is the Chief Technology Officer for DriveProfit. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.