There is no question that Wordpress is a juggernaut in the world of websites, as it is easily the most popular content management platform available. Despite the subject matter of this article, it would be shortsighted to ignore the fact that there is a lot that Wordpress does well. Unfortunately, there is also a lot to be desired. We have observed that more and more developers and agencies are leaving Wordpress, including us here at Right Creative.
At Right Creative, our focus is, and will always be producing results for our clients. And unfortunately, we are finding it more and more difficult to produce those results with Wordpress. Here's why.
It's Difficult To Use
Despite it's popularity and widespread use, that doesn't change the fact that it's still incredibly difficult for the average person to use.
When a client is promised the ability to edit their website, this sounds like a desirable feature. People assume that editing their own website equates to faster turnaround times, lowers costs, and less hoops to jump through when they want to make a change. They also assume they have unlimited control over what goes on the site and how it gets presented.
Unfortunately, it has been our experience that this is almost never the case. Wordpress is a complex system. It becomes even more complex when you install custom themes and plug-ins. Because of this complexity, it takes time and effort to learn. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time or the desire. Attorneys want to be attorneys - not web developers. Plumbers want to be plumbers. And while most clients say they want to be able to make edits to their own site in order to save money - at the end of the day, they don't actually want to be website developers.
All too often, we find clients logging into Wordpress only to be perplexed.
"Where do I go to edit this?"
"Where do I go to add that?"
"Why is this image showing up under this text? I want it to be beside it."
"Why doesn't this text look the same as that text over there?"
The other problem is - even if users could make updates to their site, there is still the issue of design. It is an unfortunate truth that most people overestimate their abilities as designers. They might know enough to avoid using Comic Sans, and bright red blinking text. But the ins and outs of design are many, and as they say - the devil is in the details. Spacing, symmetry, balance, white space, font pairings. These things all contribute to a site feeling professional versus feeling "off". As Apple has shown the world, a designers eye cannot be overvalued. Design is critical, and can absolutely make the difference in whether a client will choose your business.
Templates are notorious for having ineffective, non-semantic code
Take a look at this markup:
And now take a look at this:
Here is a picture of what both look like when rendered by a browser, respectively.
They look identical on the surface, but behind the scenes, the code used to produce that result is radically different. One is very long, and unnecessarily complex. The other is substantially shorter, and easier to read.
You might not care a whole lot about code - but I'm sure you do care about page speed. Google does too. And so do many other search engines. Websites are frequently penalized for being too slow to load. One major contributing factor to a slow loading site is - you guessed it - complex, difficult to read code. And unfortunately, Wordpress is notorious for producing exactly that.
Now - you might say "Well.. my site uses a template, and it still loads plenty fast." There is still another major reason why having messy, complex code can hurt you. ADA Compliance. ADA Compliance is becoming a hot topic of conversation in the web design industry these days. For good reason.
Any site that is inaccessible can leave that business vulnerable to legal action. According to law, any business that has a publicly accessible facility is also required to have a publicly accessible website. Unfortunately, messy, complex code is generally NOT ADA Compliant. A screen-reader will have a difficult time making sense of complex code. The job of a screen reader is to evaluate the content of a website, and relay that information to a visually-impaired reader. When the bulk of the code is extraneous fluff - it is much more difficult to establish the intent of the content.
Templates don't cater to your specific needs
There are few things in this world where one size truly fits all. Website templates are no exception. For too long, people have been attempting to bend a template to fit their individual needs. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a template that perfectly suits the needs of any business. Templates are designed by web developers to be broad enough to adapt to a wide variety of uses. Unfortunately, when you try to appease everybody, you end up with loose-fitting, uninspired options that lack personality.
Any business that wants to get the most out of their website should have specific goals. The problem is, when a web developer is making a template that is intended for resale - they are not thinking about those goals. They are thinking, "How can I make this sellable to as many people as possible?" In order for your website to truly exceed in helping your business reach goals - it needs to be custom designed. You will have an extremely difficult time getting that out of a template.
Wordpress is one of the most vulnerable CMS platforms around
We would be remiss if we didn't at least mention the vulnerability of Wordpress. To their credit, they do a good job of looking out for threats and potential risks. Unfortunately, this typically requires the Wordpress user to regularly install updates. Again, in our experience, clients are typically nervous to make such updates. When updates to Wordpress or WP Plugins are made, they can sometimes break elements on the site. And so, it is often the case that a Wordpress site becomes outdated. And when that happens, the site becomes vulnerable to hacking, malware, viruses, and other such threats.
Wordpress is slow!
One of the most common complaints we hear about people who use Wordpress is that their site is too slow. There are several things that can contribute to a site being slow. Bloated code, outdated server languages, and uncompressed images all contribute to this slowness. And while each of these issues can be fixed - it's typically outside of the expertise for most people. Left unfixed, it can negatively affect your search engine rankings, as well as user engagement.
There is an absence of standards amongst the Wordpress development community.
One thing that makes Wordpress so difficult to use is the lack of standards amongst developers. The most common way to add custom functionality to a site is through the use of plugins. Unfortunately, there is no one right way to develop a plugin. And so, each plugin can get accessed in different ways. Some may be accessible from the sidebar. Some are hidden in other menus. Some get added as features to the page editor. And others may require other plugins to be present. This lack of standards often makes it difficult for non-technical users to learn the lay of the land.