6 Things to consider before using WordPress
WordPress has been deemed the most popular of all the Content Management Systems (CMS) currently in use on the Internet (in 2015). WordPress is the platform of choice for many Web-Designers, Internet Marketers, Bloggers and Businesses both big and small. It is also the platform I use for my personal and business blogs/websites and the platform I choose to use for my client’s websites. For clarities sake, I am referring to the self-hosted version of WordPress, not that of WordPress.com
But; Is WordPress right for you?
Before choosing WordPress you should consider:
1. WordPress Management
I see WordPress as being very similar in function to any other type of Operating System (O/S) you find on a PC, Notebook or Mobile Devices. It is the core system which forms the foundation on which you install other ‘Applications’ in this case called Themes and Plugins.
Let’s take Microsoft Windows as an example… If you install Microsoft Windows on your computer, you get all the core functionality the O/S provides. To get the most out of it, you have to install additional software (similarly to themes/plugins). eg. Anti-Virus Software, Document editing applications (Microsoft Office) and if you’re a graphics designer, some image editing software (Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro etc).
The same applies with WordPress; you install the core files, then you install your chosen Theme (additional software) and after that some plugins (more software apps) to extend the core systems functionality and features.
Like your Operating System, WordPress also needs to be updated from time to time and new versions or security updates are released relatively often (more often than I’d like). Theme(s) and plugins also need to be updated and kept current. While some updates can be applied automatically, one has to be careful of compatibility issues and research must be done to ensure an update won’t break your site.
What I’m saying here is this; WordPress may be FREE and Easy to install, but be aware that there is ongoing maintenance or management required to keep it running optimally.
2. WordPress Security
Again, I will run with the similarity to your computers O/S. Microsoft Windows comprises many files all of which are coded to be efficient and safe, but Hackers find ways ‘in’ using various methods and so you need to install Anti-Virus and Firewalls etc to keep them out. The same applies to WordPress!
Also, before you install any application on your computer, you should consider the source and whether it is a reputable company or if you risk installing a Virus embedded in that software. Again, the same applies to WordPress when installing Themes or Plugins…
So, before you consider using WordPress; know that it requires ongoing Security Maintenance. This is easily achieved using FREE or PREMIUM Security Plugins and in my opinion, something that requires consideration before you even install WordPress.
3. WordPress Speed Optimisation
While I could make more Operating System similarities I think we can get past that now. Bottom line is ‘we’ all want a faster web experience and unfortunately, WordPress isn’t the fastest kid on the block once it is bloated with your additional Theme files and Plugins. In order to get the best performance out of your WordPress Site, you need to research the following:
- The speed and performance offered by your Web Hosting Plan
- The speed of your chosen WordPress Theme
- The speed impact of certain plugins
- The number of plugins you may use
While possibly sounding contradictory; you also need to consider which plugin(s) you may use to improve your wordpress websites performance. Plugins known as Caching Plugins can help improve your sites performance.
NOTE: Google and other Search Engine’s factor in the download speed of your website or blog when calculating your Search Engine Rankings. Poor performing sites get ranked lower!
4. WordPress Support
Like most FREE platforms, WordPress Support is provided via documentation found at WordPress.org and on the online WordPress Support Forums. While I have found this to be useful at times, it can take considerable time to get a response. More often than not you end up bouncing questions and answers to and fro and with luck you may get a fix that works. Personally, I buy and install Premium Themes (paid for Themes) on all my sites, which gives me access to the Theme Providers Support Team, thus adding an additional avenue to get support. When choosing WordPress also consider how or where you will get support and if this will be mission critical to your business or not.
5. Premium Add-On’s
As I touched on above, I install Premium Theme’s on all my sites to get access to the Theme Developers Support Teams. As your requirements grow you will also find that you will need to buy Premium Add-on’s for your WordPress Website/Blog. This may be a Premium Theme to enable you to run a certain type of business model (eg. a Directory Website may need a Directory Theme), or you may need a Premium Plugin to provide specific features. In fact, many of the FREE Themes and Plugins in the WordPress repository are scaled down versions of the Premium product, which are offered as upgrades. So, while the core WordPress installation may be FREE, you do need to consider a budget for future expenses.
6. Finally Your Business Model
Consider if you actually need a CMS like WordPress. It is a great Content Management System which is relatively easy to learn, but it may not suite your business model. Maybe your requirements are beyond what WordPress offers or maybe another CMS (Joomla or Drupal) does a better job for your particular requirements. Maybe a Coldfusion, ASP or HTML5 designed site would be a better fit! For example, WordPress is e-commerce friendly and with plugins like WooCommerce and iThemes Exchange it does a pretty good job, but it is by no means the best eCommerce Platform out there. So, consider other options too.
Conclusion: WordPress is a great platform and I love working with it, but it’s not for everyone. WordPress allows me to quickly build professional, great looking and search engine friendly sites my clients are happy to pay for. The funny thing is all my clients want a website that they can manage themselves (adding/editing/changing content), but once built few have to time to do so and this opens up another revenue stream for me.
Do you use WordPress for your website/blog or do you prefer another platform?