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WordPress: A Love-Hate Relationship

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
TechnologyWordPress Plugins

Workbox builds a lot of WordPress websites. As a matter of fact, we’ve become so good at WordPress, we developed a handy video gallery plugin –

Obviously, we love it. So why would I say we hate WordPress, too?

Let me share the reasons why we have a love-hate relationship with WordPress:

Love – Clients ask for it by name. Give the people what they want! Unless WordPress is completely inappropriate (then we recommend a custom CMS), we’re delighted.

Hate – Clients demand WordPress. WordPress is not always the best solution and helping clients get their minds around that can be a daunting task.

Love – Familiar CMS interface. Since lots of people have already used WordPress, they know how it works and very little training is required.

Hate – Not so hot CMS interface. Let’s face it, the WP admin UI isn’t always that intuitive. People who have never used other CMS’s think this is what you always get. However, sophisticated and custom CMS’s let developers build the admin interface so it’s easier for users to do what they actually need to do on a day-to-day basis – we don’t have to try to squeeze new functionality into an existing UI scheme, we just design it so it is easy to understand and use.

Love – Lots of free plugins! They’re great, and a part of the love is the awesome community of developers and users.

Hate – Plugins can break when updating WP, and some are poorly built. We always, always update WordPress on a test version of a site before we update the live/production site so we can fix any bugs.

Also, some plugins are real resource hogs, some are poorly developed, and some have serious security flaws. Be sure you trust the plugin developer.

Love – Themes. Themes are templates that you can use to build your site, and there are themes for almost any type of business. There are free themes and there are paid themes. The great thing about themes is that you don’t need to hire a designer, or, in some cases, you only need a designer to make slight changes to the theme you selected.

Hate – Themes are almost never used out-of-the-box. More often than not, people end up customizing themes to meet their design preferences, marketing goals and unique functional requirements. This takes time and money – and sometimes it’s worth creating a new theme from scratch rather than using an existing theme.

Love – Easy to work on. People who have little or no understanding of programming or scripting can create great sites very easily. We think it’s pretty easy to customize, too.

Hate – Amateurish scripting. Workbox updates and improves existing WordPress sites all the time, mostly because the templates and scripting have issues, or the client or builder made poor choices with the plugins they installed. In my mind, this is really a budget issue since many clients don’t want to pay top-notch developer fees. So, they get mediocre scripting, themes and plugins. Because there are so many so-so WordPress developers, a lot of clients think WordPress is not secure, runs really slow, etc., when it can be great if it’s done right.

Love – SEO. Optimizing your site is very, very easy with WordPress. Need a sitemap? A good plugin will auto-generate it for you. Need Google Analytics? With a plugin, all you need to do is paste your GA id. Need to optimize performance? There are caching plugins that will zip up your assets and serve them much faster, and you can even use a CDN (content delivery network).

Hate – Low speed and efficiency. WordPress, because of its basic architecture, is relatively slow and inefficient on the server side, and you absolutely must use some sort of plugin or advanced functionality to get pages to serve quickly. This is a big deal if you have a lot of pages, content, and especially traffic (a lot of traffic can crush your database due to the high volume of requests). Many other CMS’s are more efficient in this critical area.

The bottom line is that WordPress is absolutely great, but it is not perfect for all websites, and it has some serious performance issues that can hurt high-traffic sites if it isn’t managed properly.

Love or hate WordPress? Let us know your thoughts!