Why the Bad Press About WordPress (And Why It’s Wrong)
I was sitting down to dinner with a potential client last week. It was a beautiful day out on the Arcata Plaza and I’d finally tracked down a meal at the Italian restaurant that was suitable for my non-dairy diet. As the waiter refilled our glasses, we decided to get down to business and talk about websites.
“I want to be able to edit my own site,” she said. “And it’s very important to me that it look good on mobile phones.”
“Have you thought about a WordPress site?” I asked.
She laughed it off. “WordPress?” She said. “If I wanted a WordPress site I’d have done it myself. No, I want something professional.”
It was at least the fifth time this year that I’d had this conversation.
Somewhere around 2008, I made my first WordPress blog. Looking back now — I know that it was pretty dreadful. I picked a basic theme, figured out how to change the logo, edited the text content and then I was off to the races. I barely used the darn thing. I didn’t touch the system again for half a decade, sure that my first impression had shown me all that WordPress has to offer. But in the last couple years I’ve come back — and like the weary traveller who returns to his home town years later — I’ve discovered that I’d misjudged the place. There’s a reason that this is touted as the most convenient, intuitive, and easy-to-use content management system on the internet. It’s not just about blogs anymore.
The 5 Most Common WordPress Misconceptions:
#1) Real Businesses Don’t Use WordPress
Well, that will come as a surpise to Sony Music, The New Yorker, MTV, Fortune, Ford, and Time. I could keep listing companies for quite a while. Yes, a lot of the big boys like Ebay and Wall Street Journal only use it for their blog — but more and more corporations are using it to power their entire website.
And who could blame them? WordPress is a great way to save a lot of money without losing functionality. WordPress plugins let you access a huge variety of functions that have been written by teams of programmers, vigorously tested, peer reviewed, and all you have to pay is a small licensing fee and the cost of having your web designer integrate it into the site. Easy peasy.
Twenty-five percent of the internet runs on WordPress. The truly mammoth corporations have the money to hire huge teams of programmers, yet even some of the internet’s truly fat cats come pawing at WordPress’s door.
#2) It’s Just For Blogging
This one is forgivable. WordPress started out as blogging software. That’s the direction that all of their branding effort was going back in the mid 2000s. Then somewhere along the line, people started realizing that there was a lot more power and potential here.
Of course by that time a lot of folks had already peeked under the hood, kicked the tires, cemented their first impression and walked away secure in the knowledge that WP was for blogs only.
You can do almost anything in WordPress. It’s great for designing pages and showing off portfolios. There are fantastic plug-ins for full page interactive mobile responsive slide shows, shopping carts, password protection and membership sites. WordPress is a developer’s paradise. Did I mention it’s good for blogs?
If you want your website to do something, WordPress can do it.
#3) You’re Stuck With Preset Themes
I wish I could remove the word “theme” from the WordPress vocabulary.
I got stuck on this one myself for quite a while. Who wants a template site? I want my sites to have character!
But the best of the WordPress themes should actually be seen as design platforms. They don’t determine layout or color scheme. Even navigation structure is generally completely customizable. Good WordPress themes are just ways of organizing development tools for your web designer. I build most of my WordPress sites using the same set of tools. Do these two sites look the same to you? They’re designed using the exact same theme.
It’s time to stop thinking of WordPress as a theme based system. Basically it’s just a system with a large variety of potential frameworks, most of which are fully customizable. Once you’ve found one you like, it can make almost any site that you imagine.
#4) I Might As Well Just Build It Myself
This one always hurts my brain.
Let’s say that you are a building contractor. You build homes out of a wide range of materials. You discuss options with the future homeowner but every time that you mention wood frame, he points to a pile of 2x4s and says, “I’ve got some wood over there. If you’re going to use wood and nails I might as well just do it myself.”
ARRRGH!!! The simplification hurts. It hurts me in my brain meats!
WordPress sites make it very easy and intuitive to edit content, but the actual construction of the page often requires hours of hunting through raw code, looking for the correct class name to reference in a style sheet. It requires diligent testing, rewriting, testing, problem solving, and some more testing. The platform is super powerful with access to thousands of high quality plugins that provide capability to do an almost infinite number of things, but building the site is still an artform that requires years of training. Put down those crayons, Picasso! Let a professional build the framework and you’ll have a site that will suit the needs of your expanding business quite nicely for years to come.
#5) It’s Not Secure
In 2009, WordPress was growing in popularity and quickly dwarfed most of their main competitors which made them a very popular target for hackers. WordPress plug-ins are generally designed by third-party teams, and WordPress received a lot of publicity for potential security hazards. WordPress Core had four major security updates in quick succession, but in those days you had to manually update your software each time a major update came out. Like the little check engine light on the car’s dashboard, a lot of folks chose to ignore this and there were some security breaches.
Since that time, WordPress Core has made the update process much more streamlined and updates security features on a very regular basis. WordPress is secure enough to power almost one quarter of the sites on the internet, including a very large percentage of online stores. The castle comes under near constant attack, and yet while corporate giant after corporate giant falls prey to the hackers, WordPress Core has remained secure for the last six years. Keep your passwords private, only install trusted plug-ins and WordPress will serve your needs loyally and safely.
A lot of people worry because the software is open source, which means the code is available to be seen by the public. But by the same token there is an enormous passionate intelligent community of dedicated code writers who keep the streets of their beloved system clean of any rubbish. Imagine trying to cheat on the fifty yard line of a football game while a stadium clear full of fans watch you on the big screen. Nothing gets by these guys. Honestly it’s a lot safer than trusting your security to a team of five programmers.
The Final Word
WordPress is always adapting and changing. At this moment, I can honestly say that it’s one of the most promising and intuitive content management systems on the internet. It’s come a long way in ten years and I’m eager to see what I’m writing about it here in 2025.
How has WordPress worked for you? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of the system. We’re always interested in learning which plug-ins other folks are using. Or contact us if you have any specific questions.