​Why we don’t use WordPress

Hannah's Photo by Hannah Rowbotham

Let’s not kid ourselves, WordPress is ridiculously popular. A quick search on Google shows a whopping 74,652,825 sites out there are depending on it.

The word ‘WordPress’ has almost come to mean 'website’. 

As a team we feel a huge responsibility to only offer what we feel is completely right for our clients. Because of that we use Craft CMS. 

We're experienced in WordPress (and many other platforms) but it hasn’t ever felt like a good fit for us and the way we work, or for our clients and their aims. Here are just a few reasons why...

1. Fatal Attraction: WordPress & World (Wide Web) Domination

WordPress is relatively easy to setup and install, and so is attractive to people wanting a personal website or blog without the need to hire a developer. To give credit where it’s due, for that it does the job well. It’s perfect for just that; blogging. That’s what it was original built to do and at it’s core that’s what it always will be.

To us, it seems daft to use it for anything more. 

Popularity has grown massively. People have mistaken popularity for suitability. The demand meant that it quickly needed to do more than just 'blog' - people wanted to be able to use to to make entire websites. Every piece of additional functionality sees it morphing and uncomfortably straying further from what it set out to be.

What was once something to someone is now trying to be everything to everyone. I can't think of one example where that approach has gone well. 

2. Wobbly Blocks: WordPress Website Plugins

To achieve anything more than a blog, you have to add to the core blogging platform; developers find / download / adapt / buy / build what’s called a ‘plugin’ and add it in. 

For example, if you need a contact form so customers can send a message directly through the website there are thousands of WordPress plugins to choose from for that. 

If you want an image gallery, a carousel, a online shop, or pretty much anything, you have to find a plugin by wading through the endless options and integrate it. 

The process of 'adding in' plugins is fairly common for any platform but the popularity of WordPress means that the options for plugins are vast and the quality of most is low.

Plugins can be developed by anyone. Anyone at all. 

Most WordPress plugins are built with varying skill levels, have little to no support, and are often abandoned by their original developers - meaning that when you come to update the site, the whole thing breaks because one or more of the plugins are out of date or incompatible. 

Your website quickly becomes dependent on so many wobbly building blocks that preventing problems is impossible.

3. Illogically Inflexible: Content organisation in WordPress

With WordPress you start with a blog. Whether you need it or not. Before anything has been coded there's already unnecessary 'bits' to contend with. 

Also, due to limitations of the admin area, WordPress isn't flexible enough to allow for logical structuring of content. Every page is treated like a blog article, meaning that the admin area is often ordered really illogically; editing anything quickly becomes really tricky (for us and you). Developers have to find ways of shoehorning-in functionality to make pages work rather than ordering it sensibly. 

In contrast, using Craft CMS you start with a totally blank slate and add only what is needed rather than stripping away at what's not, with absolutely no need for a shoehorn. Code can be written logically and your admin area can be ordered sensibly, showing you only what you need to see. 

This blank slate forces you to consider exactly what's needed, which fits perfectly with the way we approach every web project; every addition is intentional and the code is healthier and more maintainable for it. It makes sure the website is tailored to you rather than being dictated by the restrictions that using WordPress brings.

4. Starting at the End: WordPress Themes

Aside from all of that, there’s a ‘theme culture’ with WordPress that doesn’t sit right with our approach or values.  

WordPress has a library of predefined web page designs to choose from. There's literally a whole industry centred around churning out thousands of off-the-shelf themes/templates to download for free or to buy, meaning that your website is shoehorned into a generic design. 

If that's what you're looking for then great! But that's not the way that we work at all.

We spend days planning and designing the user experience of websites to make sure they appeal to your customers and are completely tailored to your company and the aims of the project. Every website we create is completely bespoke.

We let the project aims lead the design instead of jumping straight to the solution or searching for a template to try to make it fit. 

We would much rather move slowly and intentionally to create something valuable rather than run a mile in the wrong direction and launch something useless. In true Simon Sinek style, we start with 'the why'. 

Most would want to get straight to the design stage, but we don’t feel comfortable doing that until we’ve fully understood what it is we need to do and why we need to do it

In fairness, some WordPress designers/developers offer custom design, and some adapt templates or themes but you'll find that most utilise the theme library. 

This works if you’re looking for something quick and cheap but you end up with a generic website that looks like every other using the same theme, a site that isn't flexible or properly maintainable, and a site that probably doesn't match your needs or achieve your aims. 

A quick scroll through this list of the most popular themes of this year and you might see some designs that look familiar!

5. With Every Patch A Problem: WordPress Updates

WordPress do release updates regularly to try to plug security holes, which would normally be great - it’s actively being worked on and vulnerabilities are fixed, but every update comes with new challenges. 

If WordPress plugins aren’t already conflicting with other plugins, they conflict with the updates.

If a plugin used on your website is unsupported, old and not constantly renewed, or worse, abandoned, the WordPress update upsets the installed plugins and pretty much breaks your website. 

Fixing problems like this can be costly as the code isn't always sensibly organised due to limitations of the admin area and the workarounds web developers are forced to do. What seemed quick and cheap at the beginning quickly becomes expensive and time consuming.

6. In the Hands of the Hackers: WordPress Security

Websites using popular themes or plugins are often targeted by hackers as they know they can affect a maximum amount of websites with minimal effort. This article runs through a few of the recent problems, and this one lists current vulnerabilities. 

'Bots' trawling the internet quickly recognise sites that use WordPress and once a vulnerability is found they exploit that on every other site with a similar setup. This is true for all websites to some extent, but building a bespoke site means that hackers have to target your site specifically, which is far less likely. 

And So...

As with everything, we just want to be as honest as possible. We've inherited WordPress sites in the past and had no end of problems - some of which I’ve spoken about, others I won’t go into now - but the main and most blatant drawback is that it doesn't fit with how we think websites should be built. 

Your website is the window to your company and the first stop for potential customers - it needs to maintainable, stable and secure - and, in our opinion, WordPress doesn’t reliably deliver on any of those. 

We understand why it appeals to some developers and why it suits some clients but it’s never going to be something we offer here at Club. 

Instead we use Craft CMS - here are a few reasons why

If you have any questions about WordPress, Craft CMS or a project you’re needing help with then please get in touch. 

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