WordPress versus a website developed in hard code
There is A LOT of debate about whether WordPress (or similar tools like Joomla, Drupal, Dragonfly) is a good way to set up your website. It is still seen as one of the best blogging platforms, but once you go beyond blogging to creating a full blown business or even ecommerce site there are some who have a poor opinion of it as an option.
One of the biggest reasons that I’ve heard in opposition to the idea of a WordPress built business website is the suggestion that people who build WordPress websites are not web developers or web designers and are just applying a template which either doesn’t suit their site or looks like an off the shelf template without a custom design. Personally I started out coding websites in HTML, XHTML, CSS and some other types of code. Then I was introduced to WordPress and I realised that this was a system that would do the heavy lifting, give a better structure to my websites, give them more power to add more functionality and still allow me to fully customise them by using my coding skills to edit them in the back end code.
If you’ve heard the expression “there’s an app for that” then with WordPress the equivalent is “there’s a plugin for that” – whatever you want to do with your website, somebody has written a plugin to add that functionality for you. And if not then you can write and add your own!
One of the biggest reasons to use WordPress is that it makes your website so much easier for you to update all by yourself! We have had clients who have paid lots of money for a lovely website that was created in HTML, PHP or something similar. Firstly, any change they wanted to make had to be made by altering the code – who (apart from your friendly web developer) has the time, experience, confidence or knowledge to do that?? This means that for each change they have to go back to their developer and most likely pay a fee for the developer to recode the site. Making a change in a WordPress site is a bit like using Microsoft Word (only less complicated) and adding new information is even easier! Of course there are some structural changes that may require assistance, but for general day to day changes I think most people are able to make those themselves. We manage these changes for clients who have a lack of time, but before we hand over our websites we offer some basic training (free!) so that they feel confident updating their own website too.
To clear up some further confusion about WordPress, many people don’t realise that there are actually 2 different versions of the CMS (Content Management System, a generic term for the software behind this type of website).
A WordPress.com site is the version where you don’t need your own host or even your own domain. By default these have a url of https://your domain.wordpress.com, although you can of course redirect your domain to the website so the url would then be https://yourdomain.com. The biggest drawback with a WordPress.com site is there are a limited number of plugins and themes available – there are a lot of add ons available, but not as many as for the other type of WordPress site. Also, if you need to upgrade – for example, if you need more space – then there is a cost involved and it is not an insignificant price.
For a WordPress.org site, you will need to install WordPress on your own hosting and will therefore need your own domain. For most people this is worth it, as you can use any of the plugins and themes available and in addition you can access the code to make further changes as you wish. You have much more control with a WordPress.org site and in particular for a business website this is definitely the version that I would recommend.
There are further differences, if you want to explore this a bit further, please check out this article.