“Oh, you only use WordPress? So you don’t code? Well, our business is very complicated so we’ll definitely need custom coding, I should think.”
I won’t lie, when I first moved over from the wine industry into running a Digital Marketing Agency I would quietly squeak that we only used WordPress. I don’t know why but I felt a little ashamed by it. I guess it was down to a few conversations I’d had with potential clients who were very scathing of it.
Not knowing any better, I kind of fell in line with their thinking.
But now I know better. Now I understand why we use it and what a great tool it is. So, here are some of the reasons we only build websites using WordPress.
How popular is WordPress?
WordPress is so popular the White House’s website is built on it. Yes, THE White House. Snoop Dogg is ‘WordPress’d up’, as are Kate and Wills (is is treasonous to refer to them like that?) and, for me the most impressive, Mr Stephen Fry.
Oh, and Katy Perry. Whoever that is 🤷♂️.
“That’s all very well and good,” I hear the naysayers sneer, “but we need business solutions, not some pretty pictures of people who are already famous.”
WordPress powers 76.4% of the CMS market share. I know.
Just let that sink in for a second. 76.4% of all websites with a CMS (Content Management System) are built on WordPress. Globally. That’s almost double the market share that Apple holds in the UK or USA (their most successful markets) for the tech industry.
When you consider there are 6 million SMEs in the UK, and that they represent 99% of the businesses in this country. Most of these business will be selling online or using a CRM which means three quarters of them will be on WordPress.
Let’s also not forget that an ‘SME’ is classed as any business with less than 250 members of staff. The overwhelming probability is that your business falls into that category if you’re UK based.
How much does WordPress cost?
WordPress itself is free. It’s ‘open source’ which means anyone can download it, use it, and change it to build their websites on. The costs begin to accumulate when you incorporate things like hosting, themes, functionality, & design.
If WordPress is free why should anyone pay you?
As with most things in life it comes down to time, expertise, and tools. With the right time, expertise, & tools you could fix your own car when it breaks down. Or even build your own vehicle in the first place. You could become a brain surgeon, design cathedrals, write the next great screenplay. Thing is, you don’t have the time, the expertise, or the tools. We do.
If you still think you could do it yourself then go for it, I’m proud of you, but read this first.
Custom coding vs plug ins
A custom coded website sounds nice, right? Add ‘custom’ to anything and it feels fancy. A ‘plug-in’ sounds like a convenient car gadget anyone can grab from Halfords for a tenner (or more, knowing Halfords).
The thing is, plug ins ARE custom code. They’re little snippets of code that have been designed to solve an issue that have been experienced by users. They’re custom code produced for everyone. The best thing about them is that they’re usually updated along with the platform (like WordPress) so when there are big updates the plug ins are updated right alongside. For free.
A custom coded website has all the same features but none of the added upsides. With a completely custom coded website you will have the website of your dreams for about a month. Then a big update will happen to something on there and you’ll end up with some conflicts. Then you have to pay someone to come and adjust all the code for these conflicts. Worst case scenario is these changes don’t work and you need a rebuild, or the changes cause more conflicts elsewhere – leading to further expense.
If you’re a suspicious type you might think I’m exaggerating how often these updates happen in order to convince you plug ins are great. If so, I admire your stance and your level of due diligence. You’re clearly a details orientated person so here’s something just for you – at time of writing WordPress has been updated 19 times so far between 1st January & June 20th 2021. It’s fair and correct to say that not all of these will have a big impact on your code – but many will.
One of the biggest issues is that you’re paying money to stand still. Updates may well change the way something works to such a degree that the code you’re paying someone to fix is now obsolete anyway. Rather than being able to remove and delete a plug in yourself you have to pay someone to re-work or remove the existing code.
There are around 50,000 completely free plugins for WordPress. These cover pretty much everything you’d need on a basic brochure site – forms, filters, search functions, calculators etc. There are also premium plugins you pay for on a monthly or yearly basis for increased functionality. This covers things like eCommerce, customisable search facilities, subscription services, etc. There is no business I have discovered whose requirements are so specific that there is not a plug in out there that will do what they need it to.
To put it bluntly, custom coded websites are old-skool. They’re time consuming, expensive, high maintenance, and you as the client have little to no control over it without embarking on some serious ‘learns’. A WordPress website with the right plug ins is much easier to use and maintain, more intuitive, cheaper, and you have far more control over it yourself.
It really is a no-brainer.
Is WordPress easy to use?
We love WordPress for many reasons but its ease of use for our clients is one of them. Every one of our clients gets a video tutorial library attached to their website dashboard so they can learn how to operate their site themselves. We want our clients to feel in control and confident when they use their site. We don’t want to be adding blog posts or changing a word here or there in copy if they can do it themselves. And we suspect our clients would rather not pay extra for changes they could do themselves!
WordPress is available in over 68 languages, it has a wonderful support community, there are loads of free resource websites, and the platform itself is free. It’s not possible to make it easier to use. Sure, you won’t become WordPress wizards overnight – you’ve got your own business to run – but if push comes to shove you know you can make the changes you need to.
Is WordPress just for beginners?
I think the biggest issue ‘proper business’ has with WordPress is that it is used by so many micro businesses. I had a conversation with someone who said “We won’t use WordPress. We’re not selling cupcakes & cross-stitch for goodness’ sake.”
That call didn’t last long.
I think the fact that WordPress is so accessible, so flexible, so useful to such a variety of businesses that some people believe it must be a little bit shit. The truth is the best software is simple enough to be used to businesses from sole traders through to multi national corporations. Take Word or Powerpoint as an example. So well known I don’t even need to write the brand. Everyone has used them for DECADES. Word was first published in 1983 and Powerpoint in ’87. Businesses, school kids, prisons, crafters, choristers putting the final touches to next Sunday’s hymn sheets, FTSE 100 CEOs – they’ve all used Word. So why does the same ubiquitous quality seem to count against WordPress in some circles?
WordPress is great.