WordPress is an open-source content management system that is used by 42.9% of all websites1. Originally released as a blogging platform in 2003, WordPress has evolved to support a variety of web sites: from media galleries to online stores and everything in between.
WordPress has became a jack of all trades on the internet. With almost 60,000 plugins and over 10,000 themes to choose from – WordPress can do just about anything. What is common between TechCrunch, The New York Times, and Bloomberg? They all use WordPress.
Since I started developing web sites in 2009, I’ve worked with a wide variety of content management systems. Despite my curiosity in other platforms – I keep coming back to WordPress. It’s just that good.
Benefits of WordPress
WordPress is really easy to set up and configure. A simple project can take only a few hours to get up and running. Most hosting providers support WordPress. Some have 1-click installation and offer hosting plans designed specifically for WordPress. Some examples are:
Extensive theme variety typically makes customization a relatively simple task. A good theme will be responsive and compatible with a wide variety of devices (hence mobile friendly) out of the box. Designing a web site from scratch, on the other hand, will (typically) require significantly more time than customizing WordPress to meet your needs. A good theme will cost you around $60 (one time) to purchase. There are plenty of free themes available as well. Two good places to start looking for a theme are:
WordPress plugins are lifesavers: there is a plug in for just about anything that a small business may need on their web site. From live chats and analytics to email campaigns and forms, most are pretty easy to set up and maintain. Plugins range wildly in price depending on your specific needs. You can begin exploring plugins here:
Most important benefit for a small business, is that in majority of use cases, you will not need to touch code or manage your own server. Instead you will be able to focus on managing your core business.
An approximate cost breakdown will look something like this:
|Initial set up||$100+||$350+||$1000+|
|Hosting||$30 / Year||$80 / Year||$150 / Year|
|$25 / Year||$25 / Year||$25 / Year|
|Plugins||$10 / Year||$50 / Year||$350 / Year|
|Maintenance Cost||$30 / month||$70 / Month||$250 / Month|
Overall costs can vary greatly depending on your project. Things like logos, content and search engine optimization are not factored into the price estimate because they are not specific to WordPress. Ideally you will provide your developer with logos, text and have a plan for search engine optimization.
You can do it yourself
Considering the popularity of WordPress, there are a lot of tutorials and information. Anyone that is willing to invest a few days into learning WordPress can set up their own web site without learning how to code. This can save your a lot of money in exchange for your time.
An alternative is to hire someone to set WordPress up to your liking and then to learn how to manage your own WordPress instance after initial installation. Luckily, most tedious tasks (like updates and backups) can be automated but you will still have to check on your site from time to time to ensure that it is running smoothly.
If you are going to add recurring content to your web site (for example weekly blog posts), you should definitely learn how to use WordPress user interface. The good news is that it is not any more difficult than using Microsoft Office products.
Drawbacks of WordPress
WordPress does require some upkeep: periodic updates to the core code, theme, and plugins will be needed. Luckily this can be automated, for the most part. Unfortunately things can break during updates and some troubleshooting may be required.
What this means for you is added overhead. For a small business use case, you should budget at least one hour of maintenance time per month for these unexpected issues.
Scaling WordPress is not an easy (or cheap) task. Luckily this is not a concern for most small businesses that do not see high traffic. Additionally, managed WordPress hosting plans can significantly improve your sites performance if you end up seeing high traffic and slowdowns.
Ultimately these challenges are not unique to WordPress but they are worth considering against your specific use case.
Reasons WordPress may not be for you
- You want a static web site with no blog or fancy features
- Speed is your number 1 priority
- Security is your number 1 priority
WordPress is the “Swiss Army Knife” of content management systems. It’s a powerful tool that powers a large chunk of existing internet. WordPress is user friendly, fast to spin up, and easy to manage. I have found it to be the most cost effective way to run a web site in 2022 and I keep coming back to WordPress despite trying out other content management systems.
- Usage statistics and market share of WordPress, May 2022. https://w3techs.com/technologies/details/cm-wordpress