WordPress: A World-Class Content Management System

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This is an editorial from our WordPress newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

I wanted to kick off my first editorial with some thoughts about WordPress itself, as a content management system. I’ve read a lot of blogs, articles, and discussions recently in which WordPress, being a PHP platform, and one that’s relatively aged, gets a lot of flak. PHP purists strike it down as bloated, not conformant to standards or expectations. They complain that it’s not MVC, or they throw out the “it’s only for blogs” point that comes from the very inception of WordPress.

In reality, WordPress simply is the most installed content management system that exists today. It’s as simple as that. According to some statistics work done by w3techs, WordPress powers 28% of the websites on the Internet. Of course their numbers are not (cannot be) complete and accurate, as attempting to record every site on the Internet (and get everyone to agree on what, exactly, qualifies as a “site”) would be an exercise in folly. Nonetheless, the numbers reflect what most of us accept – WordPress is here to stay, at least for awhile. Why? Let’s examine a few of the reasons behind that:

WordPress: The Leading Content Management System

  • WordPress makes it very easy to get started on a new project. You can use the WP-CLI or a service like ServerPilot to deploy WordPress in seconds.
  • WordPress is easy for developers to learn to use, and can be used as simply an occasionally employed tool in the developer’s toolbelt, or can be used as a pillar around which an entire career can be built. There are thousands of resources out there to assist with learning WordPress; SitePoint’s own WordPress Channel and Premium Screencasts and Courses can help developers on their way.
  • The basics of WordPress usage and administration are easy for non developers to pick up, allowing you to use WordPress to create small business sites that can be managed day to day by employees, rather than outside developer contractors.
  • WordPress can be rapidly extended with its almost inexhaustible community – plugins, themes, and assistance are available for almost any need.
  • Lastly, due to its popularity, its use can result in easier maintenance and extensibility later, by an expanded team of developers (or by another developer altogether) without your client or employer needing to find people with more specific and isolated skill sets.

Reasons People Might Avoid WordPress

  • One oft-touted reason to avoid WordPress is security concerns. Unfortunately, this seems rather like telling the world to avoid Windows completely. It doesn’t seem possible. There is such a huge market share here that of course there will be more hacking attempts, more vulnerabilities discovered. Why wouldn’t there be? The more eyes are on a thing, the more faults that will be discovered! That, however, may be nothing more than an excuse to a client. If they want to avoid worry about WordPress exploits and would rather a more custom solution (which may still have problems, probably far worse ones, but less likely to be discovered by script kiddies and bad actors), then it may be worth entertaining another idea.
  • Bloat. Bloat is a problem with any large software suite. WordPress isn’t the most efficient system in the world, for sure. And if people don’t know what they’re doing, they can make it outright slow. WordPress developers should be careful in choosing their plugins and themes, and should appropriately use caching, optimization plugins, and other optimization techniques to speed up their WordPress sites. But if WordPress is too heavy for your needs, there are lighter-weight CMS out there, or you could even go without a CMS if you don’t truly need one.
  • Another big complaint is that WordPress doesn’t use an MVC pattern. That’s true. But this really represents a bigger problem in the development community. Why do your end users care? WordPress is allowing you to build sites for clients and customers, ones that they can maintain, ones that they can hang on to for years to come. Is WordPress the ultimate tool for all uses? Of course not. For example, perhaps your project legitimately needs to be MVC, and you’re planning to expand it with a massive custom code base that WordPress simply isn’t built for. Anyone who says that it is the hammer for use on all nails has misjudged its usefulness. But anyone who dismisses it as a tool entirely out of hand because it doesn’t follow their favorite programming trends is likewise naive.

In the end, you need to use the tool that is most useful to you. If you’re building a massive corporate website with many very specific customized requirements and demands, maybe you’ll determine that WordPress isn’t a candidate for use there. No problem with that. Maybe you’ll determine that it is the lead contender for another project. But one thing that you should never do is dismiss a solution because you’re incapable of seeing past the latest and greatest.

What about your experiences? Have you found situations where WordPress wasn’t very useful, or used it and been surprised by it? Leave comments below to discuss the platform’s successes and shortcomings as a CMS with other readers!

Jeff SmithJeff Smith
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Jeff works for a startup as a technical writer, does contract writing and web development, and loves tinkering with new projects and ideas. In addition to being glued to a computer for a good part of his day, Jeff is also a husband, father, tech nerd, book nerd, and gamer.

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