The WordPress Conspiracy

At Doc4 Design, we hear from business owners nearly every week who specifically mention their need for a WordPress website. Why are so many folks in Northwest Arkansas convinced they need a WordPress website? Is it because of what WordPress offers? Or is it something more sinister?

Are covert forces foisting WordPress on the good people of Arkansas in hopes of taking over the world?

Probably not. However, WordPress has become far and away the most dominant platform for web design in use today. WordPress.com itself claims to power 23% of the internet. What are the reasons for this, and more importantly, is WordPress right for your organization?

WordPress offers many advantages and because of its widespread popularity, many of these advantages have become staples in the web design world, including the ability to use plugins to quickly and affordably reach a high level of functionality. Credit must be given to the WordPress organization for so effectively marketing their product to web designers and creating an entire culture so devoted to the platform.

Here in Northwest Arkansas, things are no different.

Many of the best web design companies in Bentonville, Fayetteville, and Rogers offer exclusively WordPress web design. We think this might explain why we get so many calls from people already bent on getting a WordPress website. And while there is nothing wrong with WordPress itself, Doc4 believes that it may not be the best solution in every case.

It seems that WordPress has often been promoted to the exclusion of all else in an effort to have WordPress be the standard bearer for all websites. In some forums and social media outlets, the implication is that if your site is not built with WordPress, then something is wrong or your organization will be missing out on so many benefits that your site will shortly become obsolete if it is not already. Again, without discounting the many good qualities of WordPress, this type of all or nothing mentality can be very short sighted and cause a business or organization to miss out on the many options that may be a better fit for their online presence.

While there are certainly benefits to using WordPress as already mentioned, there also may be some disadvantages to consider as you build or upgrade your website. When designing pages in WordPress, many users have complained that what you see in the building process is not always what you actually get in terms of the finished page. If you are not familiar with HTML code, getting the resulting page to look how you want it can be difficult. While there typically is a WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get), what you see within the editor often is not what you will view on the actual live website. This can result in the formatting of pages ending up being an almost constant back and forth: you edit something, then need to preview it, then adjust, then preview, repeat. This editing and the previewing cycle continues, resulting in lost productive time.

A WordPress site also requires constant maintenance.

Because the WordPress design is so open, one can utilize many effective plugins which are continuously being updated. Each time these are updated, the potential is there for a buggy update that could affect your site's performance or in the worst case scenario lead to downtime for your site. WordPress itself often releases updates that may be incompatible with the various plugins that you are using, which can cause them to break and therefore result in unusual behavior on your website for your visitors.

Also keep in mind that a WordPress site needs to be backed up regularly, and the site manager must be aware of the necessary procedures for restoring the site properly from a backup if the need arises. Backup plugins are available but they are typically expensive, and many times they may not provide a completely seamless process for restoration.

Things can get very technical when issues arise, making it nearly impossible for a site owner with a non-technical staff to be able to make changes to their site or perform necessary functions like backups and updates. This results either in a less than ideally functional site or in significant expenses to have everything handled by a professional service.

When things do go wrong (and they will), the solution can often involve the use of FTP to log in and delete or change a bad plugin, or even worse having to modify PHP code within the problem plugin or site itself. If you want to modify the theme, it can be very difficult and downright exasperate if you are not comfortable with CSS or PHP. This results in the constant dance of editing and previewing mentioned earlier.

While there are many good alternatives out there to WordPress, one CMS that we are recommending frequently to our clients is Django, which is built for the Python programming language. Python is considered to be very 'high-level', meaning that anything which can be done on the web can be done with Python. The primary benefit of using the Django framework for Python is that it is completely customizable and requires no compromises on design or functionality. Everything is built from the ground up in order to function exactly according to an organization's needs, with absolutely nothing 'extra' – which is a far cry from the one-size-fits-all world of WordPress.

In direct contrast to WordPress, Django has an excellent ability to create an administration area for non-technical users to edit their own website far more easily than with WordPress. This is also considerably safer for the company's own web administrator to do their own updates and changes, as the worst thing that they can do is make a typo or upload the wrong image. Unlike WordPress, no individual user can 'break' a Django site.

At Doc4 Design, in addition to being experts on WordPress, we also specialize in designing websites which are custom-fitted and effectively content managed so that anyone can update and manage the site on their own without having to consult with their web developer for every little thing that needs to be changed from time to time. If you are looking to have a great website for your organization that will allow you to make updates and revisions on your own and that you can manage internally, contact Doc4 Design today so we can discuss the best platform for your website to meet the needs of your organization and your visitors.

Michael White

Michael White

Business Specialist at Doc4 Design