Read This BEFORE Choosing a WordPress Website

I recommend WordPress websites for the reasons outlined below. While I’ve built websites in the past using html, I prefer to work with WordPress now because it’s so much easier and more user-friendly. That said, with everything there are a few pros and cons and I’ve listed some below. I feel it is important for small business owners to fully understand what they are getting with a WordPress site to make an educated decision to move forward.

(Note: I’m specifically talking about WordPress.org, which are the self-hosted websites and what we’ve probably discussed. WordPress.com is an option that is more limiting than I personally like, but I do have experience with it if you have questions about the differences. I highly recommend businesses avoid site builders like Wix and GoDaddy Website Builder. They are going to hold you back in the long run in my opinion.)

What this all means for you:

  • While WordPress is easy to use, it does require regular attention from a security standpoint.
  • WordPress does NOT equal a “create it and forget about it” website. You don’t have to regularly update your content (though it’s good for SEO if you do) but you do have to make sure it stays up to date and monitor security risks.
  • It’s often helpful for small business owners to hire someone to set up the site initially. Also they may occasionally need to hire help if they run into any issues down the road too since sometimes the best solution requires some semi-advanced technical knowledge.
  • Technology changes, so the tools used today will hopefully last you for years, there are no guarantees.

WordPress Pros

(“Easy” sometimes means it’s easy with some guidance or the right research. Not every possible solution is the right one. See “Cons.”)

  • It is easy for anyone to update their own website or blog using WordPress. The interface is intuitive and easy to learn.
  • Great way for small business owners to save money and manage their own website and updates.
  • It can grow with your business. For example, you start with a few basic pages, but maybe later you want to add in more content, a new landing page, update your calls to actions, add an eCommerce store, etc. WordPress allows your site to grow and adapt as needed. (Though somethings work better if you mention up front that it might be a someday option.)
  • There are tutorials (often free) that can teach you how to do just about anything you need to with WordPress.
  • Plugins make it easy to add just about any functionality you want and often for free. However, there is a definite downside to plugins too, so I urge strong caution in using them. See cons list.
  • Lots of great designs and layouts make it easy to customize the look of a site fairly easily.
  • Easy to integrate with social media and optimize posts/pages to look nice when sharing on social media.
  • Easy to make them search engine friendly and optimize SEO (helping you show up in Google). Though this is somewhat dependent on the theme you choose and using an SEO plugin.
  • Easy to find mobile friendly and responsive themes so customers can view your website on any device or computer. Being mobile-friendly helps you rank higher in Google search results too.
  • Hosting plans and domain name registrations are pretty affordable, depending on the hosting company you choose. However not all hosting companies are good business decisions. See cons list.
  • WordPress itself is free and open source.
  • WordPress offers a fairly low cost of ownership since business owners can figure out and control much of the content themselves.
  • Flexible layouts allow you to have columns, no columns, 2 columns, etc. and most themes offer you to choose which layout you want from page to page.
  • WYSIWYG editor makes it easy to edit text, add images, change colors and font size on a page, etc. Granted it’s not perfect, but they offer the text edit side where things can be fixed using html.
  • It’s easy to integrate a blog into your site where you can publish articles and information of interest to your target market and that helps improve your SEO.
  • Did I mention it’s easy and user-friendly to do just about anything? There are so many tips and tricks I’ve learned to optimize the user experience and drive more prospects to your website.

WordPress Cons

  • Because WordPress is so popular, it is a target for hackers, so security measures are important to focus on. There are some great plugins that help and a list of things to consider to harden your site and help prevent attacks. (Here’s my “lessons learned” about WordPress security. Keep in mind that no website is hack proof. At least WordPress has a robust community to stay on top of issues.)
  • It is important to keep your site and your plugins up to date to prevent hackers from capitalizing on exposed weaknesses. Some security plugins notify you when updates are needed or you can log into your site weekly to check for updates.
  • While it is easy to edit content, add plugins, and manage an existing site, sometimes the set up process can require more technical skills. Customizations can require html, css, and PHP edits.
  • While plugins are easy to use, they can also slow down the site if you use too many of them (bad for SEO and customer experience). Many times the functionality can be obtained with a little coding instead of using a plugin.
  • There are lots of options when it comes to themes and plugins and it can be hard to choose a good one. Often the free options are not kept up to date or they have weak coding that can allow hackers access to your site. It is important to choose wisely.
  • You need to back up your site before updating WordPress, themes, and even plugins just in case something breaks. In my experience this is fairly rare, but that backup is very important when problems arise. Plus then you have to spend time troubleshooting, which may mean you need to pay someone to help you fix it.
  • Sometimes as technology changes, the plugins or code that’s used may need to be changed or updated. This may be something you can handle yourself, but you may need to hire someone to assist with.
  • There are many hosting companies you can choose from. Some are cheap and others are quite pricey. Some have great customer support, great security systems in place, and keep your website up and running smoothly 99.9% of the time. Others don’t. Unfortunately sometimes larger companies buy smaller companies which impact their quality (aka they may start cutting corners and service quality decreases) the list of good ones isn’t set in stone.

Conclusion: Choose WordPress.org

I’ve spent countless hours researching and learning about all these aspects of WordPress. Through trial and error I’ve found out which plugins are worth it and ways to optimize the sites to increase your return on investment. I want small businesses to know what they are getting into with WordPress. I still think it’s the better choice for them in the long run. Most things small business owners can manage themselves to save money if they want. Or they can save time and hire someone like me to help them.

There’s a reason that 24% of all websites are created using WordPress: It truly is a great solution. It has 60% of the content management solution (CMS) market (Source: W3Techs). I personally think there are many websites out there that aren’t on WordPress simply because they were built before people realized the power of WordPress.

As a marketer first and foremost I like WordPress because it makes it easier to accomplish my objectives when it’s done right. Not all WordPress websites are search engine friendly. Many do not have optimized links for sharing on social media. Many are probably not kept up-to-date and have been or will be hacked. This is why I started learning WordPress myself. It’s easier to help clients get a quality yet affordable website when I create it that way, instead of trying to fix something that wasn’t created with all of these concerns in mind.

And if you need more proof, here’s a list of 40 prominent websites using WordPress, including NASA and Vogue. There are other lists like this too.