I started my career building WordPress sites for clients, and at the time, it was one of the best things I could have been working on. That was eight years ago and a lot has changed including my preferred tech stack.
For building applications, I like to use a “modern” tech stack (Vue.js, Express.js, Node, PostgreSQL). Sexy, new technology is fun to work with and makes me feel smart. However, I see a lot of folks in the dev community speak poorly about WordPress, and I just don’t get it.
Why I Continue to Use WordPress
It’s incredibly quick and easy to build and re-build a website. I redesigned this site in 2 days. The available drag-and-drop page builders are great and allowed me to completely change everything without touching a single line of code.
It just works. I don’t need to jump through hoops for the installation process, or pore over archaic documentation sites. Plugins and themes need upgrades, but it’s not like managing a giant list of NPM dependencies, trying to get the right versions so the project will run. There is so much value that comes from things just working as advertised.
It solves so many problems that could otherwise be a bit of a pain: user accounts, content management, forms submissions, media hosting and management, SEO, form submissions, integrating payments, eCommerce. It’s all either built in, or easily solved with a plugin.
The ecosystem is amazing. Every day, there are tens of thousands of developers working to make my WordPress website even better without me needing to do anything.
There are WordPress developers everywhere which is good if you have questions or need help. It also adds to the competition if you are a WordPress developer yourself.
It makes owning a website super affordable. The software itself is free, and most sites can get by just fine with a $5/month hosting account as long as you don’t use a million poorly developed plugins.
Building a site with WordPress means I can hand it over to non-technical team members and they can take it from there. I don’t have to be bothered to make every little typo fix. It saves me a ton of time to do dev work for things I actually want to work on.
The single best thing that WordPress has done for me is free up my time to focus on the main purpose of my website which is to write. I don’t get distracted with tech stack decisions or little bug fixes, it just works.
Things I Don’t Love About WordPress
Maintenance. With WordPress, you have to keep updated versions of the core software, the theme, and any plugins you have installed (which can be many). This
It’s definitely not sexy development. You often have to do things the “WordPress way”. I got really good at writing HTML and CSS with WordPress, but there were a lot of other things I had to learn that did not transfer to non-WordPress work.
WordPress is free, but you still need to host it somewhere. When compared that to many of the alternative static site builders and hosts, you could be looking at WordPress costing money, and a static site being free. I’ve thought about switching for these reasons, but I never do because WordPress hosting can cost as little as $3 a month, and I really am not interested in the amount of work and upkeep I would need to make for a static site. That work is a bigger cost for me than my hosting bill.
Some folks complain about performance. This may or may not be true. If you use a lot of bad plugins or themes, then your WordPress site will likely be slow. It will probably also be slower than a static website, but that doesn’t make it slow. My site runs on WordPress and is plenty fast for my needs.
Tips for using WordPress
Before you get started working on your WordPress site, make sure you have access to the hosting account, the server files (FTP), and the database. That way, if something goes wrong, you will be able to fix it.
Never make changes using the built in theme editor. Never!
You should always have scheduled backups running on your site in case something goes wrong. Most hosting providers offer some sort of backup service. Take the time at the beginning to make sure it’s running. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Here’s a list with a lot of some of my favorite WordPress tools.
- Theme: Blocksy
- Page builder: Elementor
- Forms: Forminator
- Performance: WP Cloudflare Super Page Cache
- Performance: WP-Optimize – Clean, Compress, Cache
- Performance: EWWW Image Optimizer
- SEO: Rank Math SEO
- Analytics: GAinWP Google Analytics Integration for WordPress
- Security: All In One WP Security & Firewall
- Backups: WPvivid Backup Plugin
- Antispam: Antispam Bee
- Developer tool: Advanced Custom Fields
- Developer tool: Custom Post Types and Custom Fields creator
- Developer tool: Query Monitor
- Misc: Code Snippets
- Misc: Safe SVG
- Misc: Really Simple SSL
- Migration: All-in-One WP Migration
- Migration: Better Search Replace
- Local development: Local
You can view all of my favorites on my WordPress profile page.
WordPress is great for folks that just want to build a basic website that’s easy to make changes to. If you’re good with design and don’t want to muck about with too much coding, the drag and drop page builder is a blessing.
If you are a developer there might be other cooler, more modern technology stacks to work with, but that doesn’t mean you should hate WordPress. It has allowed a lot of folks to leave their full time jobs to pursue their own clients. If that’s something you might fancy, it’s worth giving it a go.
Finally, for the folks that like to hate on WordPress because that’s the ‘cool’ thing to do, just stop. It may not be the best tool for every single thing, but it does what it does really well. There is a reason it powers 1 in every 3 websites, including the White House website.