What is Wordpress?

If you want a website that you can update yourself, WordPress might be exactly what you need. WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that was originally intended for blogs. WordPress is capable of creating any style of website, from a simple blog to a full-featured business website, all that you can log into and edit yourself.

The Good & the Bad about Wordpress

Although there is a lot to like about wordpress, it does have its downsides. Some of the them fairly significant. It is not a one size fits all solution. There are certainly some good reasons to use Wordpress, but there are definite reasons you may want to look elsewhere.

Design: Wordpress Templates

Good: There are literally thousands of different templates for you to choose from. Some are relatively expensive, some are relatively cheap, and some are even free. Some have built-in functionality to solve different programming problems.

Bad: Templates are just that. Generic designs to work with a large number of sites. They are not specific to what you necessarily want or need. Customizing templates can get expensive, depending on what you need to have done. And unless you are an expert at PHP, they are not something you would want to attempt to modify yourself.

Found a template that you like, but it is not quite right? We can customize the design of your wordpress templates for you.

Functionality: Wordpress Plugins

Good: If you don't have the in-house expertise, you can often find a WordPress plugin to extend and expand the functionality of your site. Plugins can handle anything from adding a slideshow or a form to creating a sophisticated online store.

Bad: WordPress is not built for high-performance, and adding plugins can slow things down even more. They can make it easy to add functionality, but each plugin comes at a performance price. The worst thing about plugins is that with every wordpress upgrade (which happen every 1-2 months), you run the risk of one of them breaking. And when they do, they can bring your entire site down, sometimes with no clear way to fix it.

Search: SEO and Built-in Search

Good: The built in search functionality is easily added to all pages of your site and facilitates search engine optimization (SEO). WordPress allows you to tag all content, create custom keyword-rich URLs, and allow trackbacks and pingbacks, all of which help your site be found in online searches.

Bad: The built in search functionality in Wordpress is limited results are sorted by date, not relevance, with no advanced searching options. To get around this, you can install Google Site Search on your website. You will typically need to install a few SEO plugins to truly optimize your site for search.

Site Updates: Do It Yourself

Good: Wordpress is a Content Management System (CMS) so it is made for you to be able to update the site yourself. It is extremely easy to add new pages, posts, copy, images, and more. A quick training session makes it easy for novices to learn how to add or edit basic content on the site.

Bad: WordPress doesn't always interpret the content you add the way you think it will. If you try and paste content from MS Word, there is a bunch of garbage code that will get added. If you work in the text/source mode, you will probably end up getting annoyed with the way WordPress "cleans up" your code. And, if you accidentally mess something up, you sometimes have to clean up the HTML by hand. Which is fine if you know how to modify code, but if you don't it can be a steep learning curve.

Platform: PHP & MySQL

Good: Wordpress is based on the PHP programming language with a MySQL database. It allows experienced developers to completely customize websites. It is open source so you can make changes to the code whenever you want to.

Bad: If you are not a developer, then customization is not so easy to do. Wordpress has its own syntax and functions that make for a steep learning curve, even for experienced PHP developers. Also, there is no way without having a testing server set up, that you can preview your changes before they go live. So mistakes on your site will be seen right away.

Software: Upgrades

Good: Because Wordpress is open-source, there are a lot of developers working on it, and security flaws generally get patched quickly. Also new features get added regularly.

Bad: While upgrades can be great, it can get tricky when it comes to plugins. Because plugins are generally made by third party developers, there is no guarantee that updates to a particular plugin will get updated, and therefore continue to work, when wordpress gets updated. An error in a single plugin that is not compatible can bring your entire site down with no option but to FTP into the server and try to edit the code directly.

When deciding if you want to go with Wordpress as a website platform, there is a lot to think about. While it is a good option for many websites, it is definitly not right for all situations. Whether you decide you want to go with a Wordpress site, or want a custom built website, Dain Designs is here to help. We offer hosting for your wordpress site. We can help you with initial set up and customization. We can also help you if just messed something up and can't quite figure out how to fix it. If you are not sure which direction to go, you can give us a call, and we can help you figure out what the best direction for your new website would be.