What is WordPress?
WordPress is what is known as a CMS – or Content Management System to give it its full name. It uses a language called PHP and a database called MySQL to power it. A content management system is just that, something which enables you to manage content on a website.
When you type in a web address and look at a website, you’ll see the pages that give us the information that we’re after, and each of those pages has content on. Some sites have the content directly added to the site itself, but this is a terrible way to do things, so a CMS is used instead.
That is what WordPress is, a system that allows you to add content into the ‘back-end’ of the website which then shows up on the ‘front-end’ of the site which everyone can see.
How many different types of website CMS are there?
There are a whole host of different systems out to choose from. Most of them are ‘open source’ which means that the system does not cost anything to license, the source code is freely available for anyone to view, and users are encouraged to improve the base code for all to benefit from. The opposite of this is ‘proprietary code‘, which is something that needs to be licensed in order to be used and which has the source code hidden to prevent any intellectual property being stolen.
There are a number of other open source PHP systems available, such as Drupal, Joomla, Magento, ExpressionEngine, Concrete5, Cushy CMS and many, many more. Different agencies will have different preferences on the system that they prefer to use, but it isn’t about us guys, it is all about you and your needs and whether it works for you moving forward.
So why should I choose WordPress?
Here is a list of great reasons why you should use WordPress for your next website development project. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but we’ve tried to focus on the most important reasons.
- Powerful – people have a misconception that because WordPress started out as just a blogging platform, is free and supports nearly 30% of the world’s websites, that it can’t be heavy duty. Wrong! It has amazing capacity to deliver a host of functionality and experiences for users which many website development agencies, including ourselves, don’t use to its full potential. If you want a powerful system that can evolve, look no further.
- Future-proof – so this may seem like a weird thing to say, but what if we go out of business or you don’t want to work with us anymore after we complete your project? You want a website that’s built using a system that someone else can pick up and run with, and that system is WordPress. There are a huge number of PHP developers and agencies who you can hand the site over to without having to go through the process of rebuilding your website again. It is important to note that WordPress developers are much more cost effective than some other CMS developers. The reason for this is because WordPress is more ubiquitous, more people code using that platform, therefore more people means lower prices. The more niche you go, the fewer developers there are and inevitably, the more you will pay for them on a day rate basis.
- Control – if you are considering working with an agency who use a proprietary CMS system, this means you are locked in with that company. They can raise prices, leave you hanging for updates and hold you to ransom. Now I’m not saying that every agency does this, there are a number of phenomenal agencies that have their own systems that are very reputable and put in place great agreements which protect everyone – but there are also companies that are more cowboy and you don’t want to leave yourself open to that kind of risk.
- Intuitive – one of the things we hear most from many of our clients is “I’m no good with computers, will I be able to work it?” and the answer is yes! WordPress as a CMS is really intuitive, providing that the agency building your website has done a good job and made it intuitive for you! So it is really easy for you to make amends and updates to your content or even build new pages.
- Optimised – one of the main ways that many businesses generate leads these days is through search engines – predominantly Google. The black magic behind getting to the top of page one of Google by organic means (as in not pay per click methods such as an AdWords campaign) is the subject of many, many blogs, but one thing you will need is a technically optimised website. Technically means the actual code base used to build the thing. You’ll also need highly optimised content on the site itself – such as this blog and main landing pages on the website. One of the amazing tools that you can add to WordPress is called Yoast, which is a facility to enhance the pages and content on your website, making it so much easier to get great results than not using Yoast.
- Flexible – you don’t know what your business will look like in two year’s time – hopefully bigger and more profitable – but maybe you’ll have new services or a whole new arm to the company. You want the flexibility to be able to adapt the site moving forward so it reflects your business operations and WordPress allows you to do this – evolving alongside your business.
- Plugins – WordPress is a bit like Android or Apple in that it has a marketplace for something called plugins, which are similar to apps. Because WordPress powers around 30% of the world’s websites, there is a much bigger marketplace for WordPress plugins and therefore, more of them to choose from. This means that when you need some specific functionality on your site, you can either ask your website development company to build that in for you, or alternatively you can buy or download a plugin to do it. Add too many plugins and your site could be compromised, but there are loads of really amazing, reputable plugins that can help to do things on the site much more efficiently (in terms of cost and time) than coding it from scratch.
- Secure – there was a time when we didn’t build our sites using WordPress because we genuinely didn’t feel it was secure. If you are writing a malicious hack for a website, you’ll try and inflict as much damage as you can. With WordPress being responsible for almost a third of all the world’s websites, it stands to reason you’d attack that system to maximise the number of websites and people that you affect. There has been a real concerted effort to beef up security though and providing it has been built well, with limited plugins and good user habits from the site owner, it is as secure as it needs to be. There are also loads of additional security facilities you can integrate to help make sure you are really limited in your level of risk.
WordPress sounds great, shall I buy a template and get someone to hook it up for me?
No!!! Well you can if you want but be prepared for a whole heap of problems further down the line. We recently wrote a blog on pre-built templates versus custom builds which you can read here, and while we fully accept that we only build custom projects as a website design and development company here in Surrey, we are truly being objective when we say don’t do it. They are almost always built using a poor code structure, dreadful content update facilities in the back-end (see the paragraph above on being intuitive), use loads of plugins and ultimately force you to fit your business (square peg) into a pre-built structure for information (round hole) – not great for your potential customers to get a feel for who you are and what you do.
Are there downsides to using WordPress?
Yes of course, but almost all of the negative elements are those suffered by the other CMS systems too, perhaps just to different degrees. Most of the key issues – it is targeted more by hackers, it attracts more spam and is more limited in what it can do as opposed to having a bespoke CMS, can all be overcome with the advice and guidance of a quality web development company. They’ll advise on best practice security measures, like extra strong passwords and updating WordPress and the plugins regularly. They will apply measures to eliminate or dramatically reduce spam and if you need more than what Wordpess can offer in terms of functionality, an honest agency will tell you to look at something more customised.
So there you have it, our reasons for choosing WordPress as your CMS for your next website project. Don’t just take our word for it, Google ‘why choose WordPress as a CMS’ and read some of the other posts, see what they say. Then Google why not to use WordPress as your CMS and see what they say, but I think you’ll find far more positive reasons than negative ones.
If you’d like to have a chat about website development, content management systems, open source code or anything you like, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to chew the fat over a mug of something warm.