Should You Use WordPress?

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and is powering ~30% of all top websites on the internet. But is it a good choice for you?

I will admit that I have a bias when it comes to WordPress. Whether you use it for blogging, e-commerce, or e-learning the software has proven to be a viable solution for nearly every situation. The community is strong, there are plenty of developers to help modify functionality where needed, and an endless number of training materials available if you ever get stuck or need help.

But just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it will be the right choice for you. Running a WordPress product business has taught me this. Back when I used to work support I was reminded of this every single day in some of the tickets I answered. Today our support team encounters many of the same questions and concerns as I did back when we first started.

I have touched on this subject before but more in the context of using WordPress as a learning management system. Today I wanted to discuss this at a higher level. This article will apply to any situation, whether you are using WordPress for a business website or just for a personal blog.

To better organize this article I have identified several segments. You can then decide which one you relate to the most (it may be more than one). My goal is to give you an idea of what to expect with WordPress and also a little context as to why things are the way they are in this industry.

You want to save money.

When you compare WordPress to hosted solutions on a one-for-one basis then you will more than likely save money.

However, that doesn’t mean that getting it done with WordPress will be free (it shouldn’t be, but that’s a topic for another time). It will still require an investment on your part and depending on what you do that investment could be a couple thousand dollars.

By way of example, when it comes to e-commerce you could use Shopify or WordPress with WooCommerce. Both have free and paid add-ons.

Shopify add-ons are charged monthly, while WooCommerce add-ons are billed yearly. However, this doesn’t mean that WooCommerce is going to be more cost-effective for each and every add-on. But let’s take a very simple example where you want to sell subscriptions in your store and also add people to a MailChimp email list based on their purchase.

Shopify

  • Platform: $29/mo (for Basic plan)
  • Subscriptions add-on: $19.99/mo
  • MailChimp add-on: Free
  • TOTAL PER YEAR: $587.88

But not so fast! Don’t forget that if you decide to use PayPal as a possible payment option for your customers then there is an added 2% fee on top of the standard PayPal fees. You may consider not using PayPal, but stats have shown that including it increases conversions.

WooCommerce

  • Platform: Free
  • Hosting: $11.95/mo (SiteGround’s highest shared hosting plan)
  • Subscription add-on: $199/year
  • Mailchimp add-on: Free
  • TOTAL PER YEAR: $342.40

The big variable for WordPress is the hosting. I selected the best budget provider in the space (SiteGround) as that is where most people would start (and stay unless their store became quite popular). However, I did “splurge” by selecting their top-tier.

As you can see in this very simple scenario WordPress is indeed more cost effective.

However, investment is more than just the cost for the product, it is also related to the time it takes for configuration. And without question you will spend more time with your WordPress site getting the plugins installed, configured, and (hopefully) tested before going live. This is where many people become frustrated because they may not feel comfortable with doing all of this.

You value having just one support contact.

This is a big one.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen people vent their frustration because they have to contact multiple parties in order to solve an issue they may be having on their site. You could very well be contacting your hosting provider, a plugin provider, and a theme provider all at the same time. The more plugins you are using then the more potential parties you will need to contact if something comes up.

This will not change in WordPress. It is very much part of the industry norm, and many people understand this concept. However, if you’re new to this industry then there will be some growing pains as you get accustomed to the process.

Now, if you want to speak to one person for all support related issues with your WordPress site then that is definitely possible. You can hire someone to manage your site. There are services specifically designed to do this for a monthly price. Or, you can find a contractor to be your “go to guy”. Yes, you will pay monthly for this but it will save you so much time and frustration, especially if you don’t like troubleshooting issues yourself.

You prefer phone or chat support.

While on the subject of support, I think it’s important to just say a quick word on support processes. With exception of WordPress hosting providers, the entire industry uses a ticketing system.

This means that you fill out a support request and then you hear back from a support representative via email. The response times vary from business to business but most will promise at least a 24 hour response time, and sometimes you can pay in order to have a quicker response.

If you think that is a long time to wait then you are right. However, there are businesses that answer way quicker than 24 hours, often in average of just a few hours max (GravityForms is one WordPress business that comes to mind, oh and LearnDash 😉 ).

Phone support in WordPress is not a thing. It just isn’t practical.

The nature of WordPress means that you have the freedom to choose any hosting provider, plugin, theme, and custom coding that you wish. There is no one “standard” WordPress site out there which means support requests are that much more complex. A support rep can resolve your issue quicker via a ticket than by phone. I know this to be true because in the very early days of LearnDash we offered phone support. It was such a huge waste of time for both parties.

If you value phone support then stay far away from WordPress -or- hire someone to be your site manager and call them if something comes up.

You want things to “just work”.

I put “just work” in quotes because that is a line I have seen in a variety of WordPress contexts.

There are thousands of WordPress product businesses that have been around for many years because they sell quality products that do indeed “work”. If they didn’t, well, they wouldn’t be around very long.

But these product shops cannot test against every possible site setup out there. For example, if your site is hosted by a cheap hosting provider that does not support the latest WordPress recommended PHP version, then it is very well possible that something won’t work.

What this essentially means is that when you install a WordPress product (free or paid) then you better be ready to test it, preferably on a development environment first before putting it onto your live website. So many people don’t do this and most do get by without issue. But they roll the dice every time. Simply testing a new plugin or theme first is the only way to ensure that nothing is impacted.

If you don’t have time or patience to test things out a bit, then WordPress is not going to be a good choice for you.

Start with a little research before jumping in with WordPress.

There is clearly a reason why so many people use WordPress, that cannot be ignored. But just because you may have a friend who loves WordPress doesn’t mean that you will. I would highly encourage that you do a little research first to see if a WordPress powered website is going to be the best option for you.

Consider the points in this article.

Perhaps attend a WordPress meetup in your area.

Heck, even start a small site first to “play around” a bit before committing fully to it.

Remember, whichever platform you choose you will likely be using for quite some time. You want to be 100% comfortable that your choice is in line with your expectations.

Author

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

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