The pros and cons of the world’s most popular website builder.
It is currently estimated that over 80% of businesses in the UK have a website and over 40% of all websites worldwide are created using WordPress. It now regarded by many as ‘the thing’ that websites are built in. But there are other options.
I want to give you a heads-up on the pros and the cons of choosing and using WordPress, and the alternatives – Website Builders and HTML specialists.
The first thing to say is that WordPress is affordable. You can get set up for less than £100. But the same is also true of Website Builders such as Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, Shopify and GoDaddy amongst others.
Building a website by hiring a web developer using HTML coding can cost between £1,000 and £25,000. Add the yearly hosting fees and maintenance fees, and that £100 WordPress deal starts to look very attractive.
For many established companies and big brands, hiring a digital agency to build a custom website makes sense. They are what they are – and they want to look the best.
That said, there are many international brands – such as Sony Music, Disney, and PlayStation – that are powered by WordPress.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) – not a website builder. CMSs are flexible, but there is a significant learning curve if you decide to build and maintain one yourself.
On the other hand, Website Builders tend to be much easier to use, and there’s no need for code.
Website Builders typically have a visual drag-and-drop interface that allows you to create and move elements such as graphics, text, images and video around your website. Most of them offer ways to ‘try before you buy’.
A CMS like WordPress doesn’t have a visual interface, so what you see on the WordPress editor isn’t necessarily what you will see on the web page.
You often have to swap between the WordPress editor and the published website to see how everything is looking.
WordPress can be a little overwhelming. Non-technical users may find the language technical. Occasionally, you may even have to tweak code to get a theme or a plugin to work. A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website.
Typically, plugins are written by third-party developers and work well on their own. However, they can conflict with other installed plugins.
WordPress updates can also cause plugins to break. If this happens, you could lose functionality and security could be compromised.
However, WordPress has greater flexibility than Website Builders, and you can do a lot more with it – largely because of plugins.
There are also WordPress plugins that handle Search Engine Optimisation for your website. But for really competitive SEO, you should consider using a specialist agency.
WordPress plugins sometimes need to be configured and the code tweaked to work with your theme.
While Website Builders can’t match WordPress’s selection of plugins, every Website Builder plugin works immediately, without any configuration.
Hosting is included with every Website Builder. You don’t have to configure hosting if you buy your domain name from your Website Builder – it just works.
WordPress, however, needs to be installed on a PHP or MySQL scripting language web host. You may even need to use an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client to upload WordPress. This can be intimidating for non-technical users.
If you upload WordPress to a host, you can also export your website and move it to another host if you choose to.
On the other hand, if you want to leave your Web Builder, you have to rebuild a new website from scratch with your new Web Builder.
Websites need maintaining. With a Website Builder, the monthly cost already includes a number of maintenance elements, such as hosting, a domain name, basic SSL security and technical support.
However, with a little effort, you can handle a range of WordPress maintenance jobs, including updating to the latest standards, optimising for mobile devices, implementing security and, most importantly, adding new pages and content.
If you choose a custom-built HTML website, you’ll probably need to hire a web developer to handle maintenance.
If you do decide to go with WordPress or with a Web Builder, there are thousands of website themes to choose from to give your website a professional look. Visit WordPress theme websites, which offer high-quality premium themes at affordable prices.
Also, if you have a global audience, WordPress plugins, such as WPML and Multilingual Press, let you translate your website into over 40 languages.
WordPress is fully responsive and supports all mobile platforms and screen sizes, plus all updates are automatic and free. However, if you need to check how responsive your Website Builder site is, you may need to call in someone with more experience.
It is important that your website loads quickly. Google ranks user experience highly, and a slow-loading site counts as a bad experience. WordPress uses a lot of plugins that can slow the loading speeds. Conflicts between plugins can slow loading even more.
WordPress is open-source software so you can get help with any problems that arise by tapping into its massive community of millions of users around the world.
All businesses are different, and so are all websites. So remember: the decision to use WordPress or a Website Builder or an professional web design agency is ultimately a trade-off – it just depends on what you need and what you can afford.
It’s important to get it right, so you can be sure your website makes a substantial contribution to the success of your business.