What’s so great about WordPress anyway? (Let’s bust some myths)

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Like many independent web designers and small-scale web agencies, I build all my websites using WordPress.org.

You’ve probably heard various things about WordPress, such as:

It’s harder to use than Wix or Squarespace

It’s a blogging platform

It’s more for developers than DIYers

WordPress is better for SEO

WordPress is free

Well, all those things are true to some extent, but in reality, it’s not that black and white (we’ll go into some myth-busting later).

WordPress has been around since 2003 and, at the time of writing, an impressive 43.3% of all websites are powered by WordPress (source: W3Techs)

So what’s the big deal? If you haven’t used WordPress but you’re comfortable with Wix or Squarespace, you might wonder why anyone WOULD use WordPress.

What’s so great about WordPress, anyway?

And why do so many professional web designers use WordPress?

The thing about WordPress

There’s one big difference between WordPress.org and the other website building platforms you’ll have heard of (Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, Webflow etc)

And that is: WordPress is an open-source content management system, whereas all the others I’ve listed above are closed-system, all-inclusive website-building platforms.

If this means nothing to you, here’s a breakdown:

Open-source vs closed system

WordPress has an open code base, which means the underlying code used to build it is accessible and available to all. The great thing about this is that anyone can build a plugin or theme for WordPress, altering and extending its functionality in almost unlimited ways.

There have been countless businesses built around the WordPress ecosystem, with independent companies building and selling plugins and themes for WordPress. There are hundreds of thousands of free plugins available, built by amateurs and professionals alike.

On the other hand, website building platforms like Wix and Squarespace, and pretty much all the other big names you’ll have heard of, are based on a closed system.

If you want to extend the functionality of your website, you can choose from the range of plugins, widgets and extensions available to you which have been built and released by that specific platform.

If you want a different look and feel for your site, you might be able to change up the theme or start with a different template, but it’ll have to be from the selection available to you within your current platform. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for reasons I’ll go into later!

Content management system vs an all-inclusive platform

The other big difference between WordPress and the other website building platforms out there is that WordPress, at its core, is very lightweight and simple. It’s a content management system which allows you to build pages and write blog posts. But you need to attach other things to it if you want a fully functioning website, the main thing being website hosting, which is included in all-in-one website building platforms.

I’ve written more in depth about website hosting, and how to choose a web hosting provider, if you’d like to learn more about what this means for your WordPress website.

I’ve also written a comparison of WordPress vs Wix, which outlines the main differences between a content management system and an all-inclusive platform.

Pros and Cons of WordPress

The biggest benefit of using WordPress to build websites is the incredible scalability and flexibility of the platform.

With so many professional developers all over the world building plugins and extensions for WordPress, your site can be anything from a simple blog, to a global e-commerce store, to a membership site, to a community forum.

But with so many people contributing to the WordPress ecosystem, there can often be coding conflicts between plugins that weren’t designed to be used together. Or you might install a dodgy free plugin which hasn’t been updated for 5 years, and it ends up bringing your entire site down. Or sometimes the sheer number of options can be entirely overwhelming.

Having to use an external website hosting provider can also be both a pro and a con. If you value freedom and flexibility to choose your own hosting provider, and to switch providers if you feel like you’re no longer getting value from them, then WordPress is for you.

If your eyes are glazing over at the mere mention of website hosting, then a platform that provides everything you need to get a website up and running quickly might be more appealing to you.

Common WordPress preconceptions (and some myth-busting)

As a WordPress web designer, I get asked about WordPress quite a lot. Here are some of the most common questions I’m asked:

Is WordPress free?

Yes, the WordPress content management system in itself is free, but once you’ve paid for external website hosting and one or two premium plugins, you may end up paying a similar amount to your monthly Wix subscription.

Is WordPress only for professional web designers/developers

Not necessarily. With a little research and willingness to learn, anyone can use WordPress. The problem is that with so many versions, options and different extensions to choose from, it can sometimes be hard to find help and guidance specific to your circumstances when you get stuck.

You may well come across more bugs and problems as you build, especially if you’re using a variety of different plugins. If you don’t work with WordPress for a living, it can be difficult to know what to do in these situations.

Is WordPress a blogging platform?

Initially yes, WordPress was set up as a blogging platform, and it remains an absolute powerhouse if you’re interested in blogging or content marketing. However, a WordPress website can be anything you want it to be – it doesn’t need to have a blog at all.

I would however, recommend getting into blogging if you’re a business owner – I’ve written more in depth about the advantages of blogging and how it can help to grow your business, if you’re interested.

Is WordPress better for SEO?

I get asked this a lot – it’s definitely a common preconception that’s floating around about WordPress. But the truth is, if it’s not set up properly for SEO, a WordPress website in itself will give you no advantage over something like Wix or Squarespace.

Main reasons WordPress is better for SEO:

  • Faster (sometimes)

The core WordPress system itself is very lightweight, relying on less code than an all-in-one platform. This results in fast loading times and good user experience, which Google loves. However, with external page builders and plugins improving the functionality of WordPress sites, you can often end up using just as much code as a Wix website would. (Having said that, you can ALSO get very good optimisation plugins that speed up WordPress sites to a huge degree)

  • Dedicated SEO Plugins

There are several great SEO plugins out there which can help you to rank better for your chosen keyword. But installing the plugin isn’t enough, you still have to choose the best keywords for you and use them properly across your website, as well as applying a certain amount of SEO strategy, regularly creating content, and keeping your site up to date.

  • Easier to create SEO friendly content

WordPress’s built-in blogging system makes it very easy to format your text using an SEO friendly HTML structure. But to an extent, you still need to know what you’re doing here to optimise your pages and posts effectively.

  • The ability to choose your hosting

Being able to choose your website host means that you can pick a provider known for speed, security and uptime, which again, is great for SEO. But equally, if you choose your hosting based on price, you may end up with a slow website which can severely damage your SEO.

Is WordPress harder to build with than Wix or Squarespace?

Most all-in-one website building platforms feature a drag-and-drop ‘visual builder’ which makes it very easy to design and build your web pages. WordPress doesn’t have a visual builder as standard, but uses various themes paired with its own customisation system to allow you to style your pages and posts.

However, of course there are third-party page-builders you can plug into WordPress to make your life a whole lot easier! My favourite is Divi, but some other popular choices are Elementor and Beaver Builder. Choosing one of these and learning how to use it properly means you can easily build beautiful custom web pages with the same ease as Wix or Squarespace.

Do you need to know how to code to use WordPress?

No, not at all. But having a working knowledge of programming languages can be useful when dealing with WordPress (especially when troubleshooting), and knowing a little CSS can be a great advantage when designing custom website pages. If you want to build your website yourself and you have absolutely no knowledge (and no interest in learning about) the more techy side of websites, then it may be safer to go for an all-in-one platform.

Is there a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

Unfortunately, yes, there is. I know it’s super confusing and doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but the scalable, flexible platform that many web designers use is WordPress.org.

WordPress.com is based on the same content management system, but it’s also an all-in-one, closed system – you pay them a monthly fee which includes website hosting, and you pay to upgrade to unlock premium plugins and functionality. It’s designed primarily for personal blogging, not for serious business websites.

If you want to use WordPress to build your business website, I’d highly recommend WordPress.org – otherwise you’d probably be better off going with something like Wix or Squarespace.

The best of both worlds?

Maybe you’re craving the flexibility and scalability of WordPress(.org), as well as the added SEO benefits, but you just don’t have the time and energy to figure everything out yourself.

That’s when it’s best to turn to a WordPress web designer like me. I can design and build a powerful, beautiful WordPress website for you, then provide ongoing hosting, support, management and maintenance with my WordPress Care Plan.

If you’re interested in a custom website build or a redesign in WordPress, take a look at my small business website packages.

If you have questions about anything in this article, feel free to reach out for a chat with me!

If you’re wondering how to generate more leads and enquiries through your website and you’d like my support, I offer one-to-one website consultations to help you develop a strategy for improving your website.

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