As a web designer, I am often asked about various platforms and content management systems. Clients want to know if one platform is better for e-commerce or another better for design. And they really want to know about WordPress. It has been around for a long time, so is WordPress still good?
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a content management system (CMS). A CMS is just that, a system to help you easily manage your website content. Back in the day, your website content was all mixed up in HTML code. There was no way a user could edit their copy or images without diving into the code. It was not the nicest user experience for the average user.
CMSs came along to separate the content from the code for the user. They provided the user with a dashboard from which they could change out words and pictures more easily. In 2003, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little created the first version of WP.
WP is free to download and use on a server, because Matt and Mike decided to keep it open source. The idea behind an open source piece of software is that it is owned by the community. The community supports it and updates it and keeps it alive.
So, if a lot of people use it, it must be good, right?
Is WordPress the Best CMS?
The thing that set WP apart was the plugins. By allowing third-party developers to create plugins, the functionality of the CMS was exponentially expanded. Now, a user could add a membership portal or a forum or a photo gallery or a shopping cart. This changed the game.
Suddenly, WP became the most flexible platform out there. A user could start with a basic website and, when they were ready, easily add other features. Their website could grow with their business.
Is WordPress the best CMS? You’ll have to read this other post to find out my opinion on that.
What’s Wrong with WordPress?
Spill the tea, Sam! Tell us the dark side of WordPress! Like any software, there are pros and cons.
01. You will need a developer. Unless you’re really tech-savvy, you’re going to need to hire a WordPress developer to make it into the website of your dreams. While there’s a lot you can do on your own, it’s still quite complex for the average small business owner. But really, unless you go with a really simple CMS, you’ll need a developer anyway.
02. It requires updates. WordPress core and the plugins will need to be updated once a week to once a month. Updates provide new features, yes, but they also patch security holes. If those security holes aren’t patched, it leaves your site vulnerable to hackers. And hackers are bad news.
03. Plugins aren’t always reliable. Depending on the developer, plugins can be well built or not well built. If you add too many, they can slow down your site. If the plugin developer stops maintaining the plugin, you’ll have to find another one. Plugins can also run into conflicts with other plugins, your theme, your server, or WordPress core.
The Gutenberg WordPress Editor
In December 2018, WP made a major release with their Gutenberg Editor. Over the past few years, a bunch of themes were released that utilized visual building and editing in blocks. Before visual building, editing your website content happened in an editor that looked a lot like a Word or Google Docs. It had a formatting menu at the top and all your copy and images went in the white box underneath.
Visual building lets you edit your content while incorporating the styling of your website. You can easily create columns and rows for your content without using shortcodes or CSS. Visual builders are supposed to be easier for novice users because it lets them see exactly what they create.
I am not a fan of Gutenberg. First, I understand that they wanted to be more competitive with the visual builders out there, but they shouldn’t force blocks and visual builders on users. If a user or designer chose to use a visual builder, fine, but not everyone wants one.
Second, Gutenberg completely changed the way I worked with my favorite theme Divi. In order to use Divi the way I want to and need to, I had to install the Classic Editor plugin.
Third, Gutenberg messed with Advanced Custom Fields. Any WordPress developer worth their chops uses ACF to customize a site while allowing for a user to have full control over the content. Because Gutenberg altered the meta boxes and custom fields, it really impacted ACF.
There are other technical changes and issues with Gutenberg that are described in more detail here.
Is WordPress still good? Yes. Is it still the best option as a CMS? In my opinion, yes. What will happen with Gutenberg? I’m sure, eventually, the kinks will be worked out and it’ll become more stable. The WordPress team is pretty good about listening to the users and improving the software.
Have you switched to Gutenberg? What do you think? Do you think WordPress is still good?