For standalone blogs and simple websites, WordPress is a cost-effective, user-friendly, search engine-optimized solution that meets the needs of thousands of businesses every day.
WordPress offers customization options, a large selection of third-party themes, and an extensive ecosystem of plugins that allow you to focus on content development and marketing, instead of reinventing the web design and development wheel. And the robust community behind the platform provides extensive documentation and support, even for third-party plugins and libraries.
But in some cases, despite all its advantages and features, WordPress is not the best option.
One size does not fit all
The primary drawbacks of WordPress are the limitations it poses when websites start to grow more complex and interactive. WordPress does power some large, complex websites. But a site's WordPress installation may struggle to keep up as functionality, features, and complex content are added, and ongoing maintenance may become a nightmare.
Another tool may be a better choice if your website will have:
- Advanced audio/video media. Adding more than a few photos on each page, higher-resolution graphics, or videos can strain WordPress and your servers.
- Complex content search needs. The WordPress media gallery uses a simple search function. If you have a lot of media content, consider a solution that takes a multi-tiered approach to complex media asset management, categorization, and search.
- Multilayered content relationships. Pages drawing from many different content types with complex interconnections can stress WordPress functionality. A few pictures sharing space is one thing, but when complex, multitier relationships exist among your web content, media assets, and display requirements, WordPress is often not the best way to manage them effectively.
- Advanced user editing workflows. For smaller businesses, WordPress may be a great fit for a few users to edit content across the site. However, the more frequently your site requires updates, the more challenges you'll face as the complexity of your content and the role of each contributor evolve.
- Multilingual elements. If you want to appeal to people speaking multiple languages in multiple regions, WordPress offers some terrific third-party plugins, but other solutions provide much more robust, effective multilingual content management systems.
- High security requirements. WordPress security improves with every release, but it's not the safest web platform out there. With so many companies using WordPress, hackers view the platform as a prime target for massive-scale attacks. If you handle sensitive data or unpublished material you don't want to make public yet, look for a more secure solution.
- No active technical maintenance team. WordPress and its many plugins undergo constant updates to address security and functionality concerns, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Version dependencies between plugins and WordPress often cause conflicts, but if you don't update frequently and check for bugs and other problems, your site could fall victim to the security issues discussed earlier. If your website is not actively supported and maintained by a technical team, exploits of your site may lead to lost data, embedded Trojan viruses, and malware that destroy the site's user experience and search engine optimization.
- Extensive integration with other solutions. Many corporate websites use third-party systems, which tend to incorporate other Java data sources. For example, a large law firm might have hundreds of lawyers, each with a unique bio page reflecting specialties. Firms this size often integrate attorney lists with back-end human resources databases to automate updates and changes to hundreds (if not thousands) of website pages. Mass integration on this level would prove difficult to implement, manage, and maintain for the long term within WordPress.
Finding the best fit
Chief marketing officers should consider the functionality of their digital properties to understand the pros and cons of each content management system to determine which best fits their needs, as some digital tools fit a site's specific requirements better than others.
How can you find the right solution for your business?
- Look at solutions purpose-built for your sector. If you work in certain industries, such as law or fitness, many companies provide tools tailored specifically to your online needs. Search for those offering tailored solutions for your company and your specific needs. These solutions may be open source or based on open source technologies.
- Consider hosted services. Your company doesn't have to take on the entire burden; you can use one of several solutions to reduce the heavy lifting required on your end. Squarespace is one popular hosted alternative to WordPress, and if you have an e-commerce site, a provider like Shopify is often a better solution than coupling WordPress with e-commerce plugins.
- Seek a customized solution. If you have a growing company with niche software requirements or you have a complex project underway, you might end up doing so much custom development on top of WordPress that it virtually ceases to be WordPress. This happens more often than anybody would like to admit, and it's a fine approach, as long as you recognize the technical debt this may incur. Finding a more tailored solution that requires less customization will save time and money.
WordPress is an invaluable resource, but it isn't the right choice for every scenario. The larger and more complex your company or project gets, the more likely it is you need a solution above and beyond what WordPress offers.
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