When to use WordPress and when not to

By Rohan on February 27, 2013

When to use WordPress and when not to

WordPress is without a doubt the world’s most widely used Content Management System (CMS) open source or otherwise. This can be explained by the fact that WordPress is fairly easy to use for both content creators and web professionals alike and this is exactly what makes the platform a double edged sword.

Because of it’s simple PHP and MySQL based structure, WordPress has the potential to be a fairly powerful tool for small to medium sized websites or applications, but as with any tool it requires an experienced hand to use it properly. Sadly, our industry has been infiltrated by people who call themselves web developers yet know nothing about how to properly program in PHP or interact with a MySQL database. This is hurtful to the industry as a whole – it gives people a bad impression of the platform, and it gives developers who use it properly a hard time convincing potential clients that WordPress is actually a solid, feature rich and well supported platform.

Time and time again I have had clients come to me with a broken, hardly functioning site built with WordPress and the problems are always the same – plugin after plugin bolted on top of purchased themes which their “developer” neither created nor understands completely. You can be rest assured that they were charged a premium price for this work as well. It’s something I like to call WordPress hell. For an experienced developer, it’s something akin to walking into an Ikea warehouse that has been hit by a tornado, a landslide and then a tsunami and being asked to clean it up and reorganize it to only the highest Scandinavian standards, one piece at a time. Except these aren’t VIKAs or MALMs in a disorganised mess, these are thousands of lines of code, piled on top of one another in a jumble of warnings and errors. In this unique kind of hell, I always remind myself that WordPress is not at fault. It is the person who claimed to be a “developer” but was actually a scam artist that deserves the blame.

So, why use WordPress at all?

Because if you know what you are doing, it is a good, user friendly and highly versatile platform. Now I’m not saying it is the only CMS to ever consider, but all in all WordPress is an excellent solution for small to medium sized websites. While we warn all our clients to completely steer clear of purchased or premade themes – all our WordPress sites have their themes custom developed and designed by us – there are a small set of well developed plugins for it that can be a great benefit to developers, content creators and other users alike. There are many ways to deploy different page layouts and designs, and it takes care of essential things like SEO friendly URLs in a simple user friendly fashion. Yoast’s SEO and Google Analytics plugins are standard with every site we develop, just because they are so good and easy to use. And while WYSIWIG editors have their share of problems in older browsers, WordPress’ content editing area comes with some great features like the full screen mode which make editing content a distraction free joy. The latest 3.5.1 update also revamps the media upload interface, it’s really a huge improvement over its predecessor and makes adding images and videos to a site even easier than before.

So, the basic rule of thumb when asking “When to use WordPress and when not to” is that for small to medium sized sites, WordPress is great solution. For large scale sites, you’d be better off building a customized CMS specifically tailored for your needs and for eCommerce, you’d be better off using a proper system like Magento.

Creativelifeform.com as well as many of our other sites are built with WordPress. Of course, for each of these sites, all of the content is editable without having to write a single line of code. Here’s a few to give you an idea of what the platform can do:

  1. Central Sydney Cardiology
  2. Simon Upton Photography
  3. Healthcare Imaging Services