WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) used for creating websites and blogs. But like everything else, there pros and cons to using WordPress.
Launched in 2003, WordPress now powers over 40% of all websites on the internet. With its open-source software and customization capabilities, WordPress offers many benefits for users looking to create a website or blog.
However, there are some potential downsides to consider as well. This article examines the key pros and cons of using WordPress.
Pros of Using WordPress
Free and Open Source
One of the biggest advantages of WordPress is that the core software is free and open source. This means anyone can use WordPress to build a website or blog for free. You don’t need to pay for the base WordPress software or CMS.
This open-source ethos also means there is a large community of developers contributing to core WordPress and creating plugins and themes. This collaborative approach results in new features, security updates, and improvements to WordPress on an ongoing basis.
Easy to Use and Customize
Another major benefit of WordPress is its user-friendly interface and customization options. The dashboard allows you to easily create and manage content without needing to know code.
There are thousands of free and paid WordPress themes and plugins available to customize the design and add functionality to your site. With just a few clicks, you can completely transform the look and features of your site without needing design or coding expertise.
This flexibility makes WordPress accessible to users of all skill levels.
WordPress also offers built-in SEO optimization features to help improve your search engine rankings. Plugins like Yoast SEO make it easy to optimize pages and content for search engines.
The content management system follows SEO best practices like using semantic HTML, optimized permalinks, meta tags, alt text on images, and sitemaps. This allows WordPress sites to rank well organically in search engine results.
Scalable and Secure
WordPress is built to be scalable for sites of any size. It powers over 40% of the internet, including large media publications and Fortune 500 company websites. Popular caching plugins like WP Rocket allow WordPress sites to handle high traffic volumes.
Open source software also means security vulnerabilities get quickly identified and fixed. Automated background updates help keep WordPress installations up-to-date and secure. There are also many plugins like Wordfence available to boost security and prevent hacking attempts.
Extensive Plugins and Themes
As mentioned earlier, WordPress has a vast library of free and premium plugins and themes available. With over 55,000 plugins and 8,000+ themes on WordPress.org, you can enhance your site’s features and design easily.
Popular plugins provide added functionality like contact forms, ecommerce, membership, galleries, social media integration, and more. Themes allow you to quickly change your site’s look and feel. This extensive ecosystem allows you to create virtually any type of website with WordPress.
Large Support Community
The widespread use of WordPress has resulted in a large support community. If you run into any issues, you can find help through the official WordPress support forums, documentation, or sites like StackOverflow. There’s likely someone who has experienced and solved your problem already.
For additional assistance, there are also many WordPress professionals, agencies, and hosts that offer support services. This robust community makes it easier to get help with any WordPress challenges.
Cons of Using WordPress
Not Entirely Free
While WordPress software is open source and free to use, hosting and maintaining a website requires some investment. To run a site, you’ll need:
- Web hosting service starting around $10/month
- Domain name registration around $15/year
- Plugins and themes (free and paid options) around $50 annually
- Maintenance like updates, backups, security monitoring
- Potential development/customization costs
So while you can download and use WordPress for free, most users will need some budget to properly build and run their site.
Security Requires Diligence
As an open-source platform, WordPress can be vulnerable to hackers looking to exploit sites. However, WordPress core is typically secure when kept updated. Most security issues arise from vulnerabilities in outdated plugins, themes, or improperly configured sites.
Keeping a WordPress site secure requires keeping software updated, using strong passwords, monitoring for threats, and being selective about plugin/theme usage. This ongoing security diligence is essential for any WordPress site, which can be challenging for some users.
Limitations for Complex Sites
While WordPress is very flexible, it can become difficult to use for large enterprises or highly customized sites. Complex functionality may require extensive development and customization beyond base WordPress.
For sites like ecommerce, social networks, SaaS apps, etc., other CMS/development platforms may be better suited than WordPress. While WordPress can work for complex sites, it often requires significant expertise to implement at a large scale.
WordPress is easy to use at a basic level, but fully utilizing all of its features and customization options has a learning curve. There are myriad settings and configurations to understand.
Properly using SEO, speed optimization, security, and site management features requires some investment of time to learn. There is documentation available, but expect a period of learning and experimentation when first using WordPress.
Dependent on Plugins/Themes
The power and extensibility of WordPress come from its library of plugins and themes. However, this means site owners become dependent on third-party code, which may have quality, security, or compatibility issues.
Problems with an outdated plugin or abandoned theme can cause a site to break or become vulnerable. Evaluating and maintaining third-party extensions requires ongoing vigilance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is WordPress really free to use?
The core WordPress software is open source and 100% free to use. However, you will need web hosting, a domain, and possibly paid plugins/themes. So while the CMS is free, running a site has expenses.
Can I build any type of website with WordPress?
With the right plugins and setup, WordPress is capable of powering any type of website – blogs, ecommerce, directories, social networks, etc. However, it works better out of the box for simpler sites and blogs. Complex custom functionality may require extensive development.
Is WordPress secure?
The WordPress core is very secure, but vulnerabilities can exist in outdated plugins, themes, and configurations. Following WordPress security best practices and keeping software updated is essential to ensure security. Additional monitoring and hardening may be required for high-risk sites.
What is the learning curve for WordPress?
The WordPress dashboard and basic editing are very user-friendly. However, fully utilizing all of its features and customizations requires time to learn. Plan for a period of initial learning and testing when first using WordPress. Utilizing extensive documentation and community support can help shorten this curve.
Can WordPress handle high traffic volumes?
Yes, WordPress can scale to handle very high traffic volumes. Large media publications and Fortune 500 companies have built their websites on WordPress. With caching plugins and performance optimization, WordPress can support heavy traffic loads. Appropriate hosting is also required.
The bottom line
WordPress is a very versatile and user-friendly CMS that can provide immense value. The open-source WordPress software is free to use, and it provides a wealth of customization options.
However, running and securing a site comes with costs and learning requirements. For most use cases, though, WordPress offers an optimal balance of power, ease of use, and affordability.
With its rich ecosystem and large community, WordPress will continue empowering users to easily build robust websites and blogs.