As a hosting and website provider for customers worldwide since 1997, SilverServers has (and still does) host a lot of Wordpress websites. Wordpress can be a great platform for some uses, but a number of years ago we stopped using Wordpress as the default platform when building our client’s websites. We didn’t do this because we wanted to build our own system to replace Wordpress, we did it because we found it was simply a ton of work and cost for us to get our clients’ websites to perform up to the standards needed to get good search engine traffic. Even today this is still the case. If you’re considering using Wordpress as your website platform, we strongly encourage you to consider these points before you build your site.
- Wordpress is the most commonly hacked and infected website platform. According to Sucuri - a company that is deeply involved in security online - 90% of infected websites were running Wordpress. This is not always the fault of the Wordpress software itself. Many vulnerabilities have been associated with third-party plugins as it’s really up to the site owner to validate if the plugin code is secure or not. (Source: https://sucuri.net/reports/2018-hacked-website-report/ )
- If your website is hacked, what’s the big deal? Well, the issues from a hacked website can be huge. In some cases businesses have had to change their business names and start their online reputations over as their domain names had deep and long-lasting reputational damage. To be fair any website is at risk of hacking, but the vast majority of attacks on websites are targeting Wordpress - because it is the most common platform for websites to be running.
- Search Engine Optimization is not a standard with Wordpress - It is an add-on and to get it done well, the add-on often comes with additional costs. Search engines are responsible for over 51% of the visitor traffic that go to websites. For small business websites that don’t have significant budgets for digital marketing and social media promotions, this number can be as high as 90% or more. For almost any website, whether the website owner recognizes this or not, optimization for users and search engines is one of the key requirements. In today’s internet, optimizing your website is actually a very complex task and it requires a lot of research and experience to sift through all of the deep requirements needed to achieve quality results. Unfortunately optimizing websites built within a CMS platform that wasn’t built specifically for this purpose can be a long and challenging process.
- Website Performance is not the goal of Wordpress. Wordpress is designed, as much as possible, to allow it to be everything anybody could want. This sounds great at first, but when you consider how much code is required to run a system that is designed to be that open and flexible, this means that one of the key trade-offs of using Wordpress is that it is not streamlined or optimized for performance. Performance is one of Google’s increasingly critical factors in search engine rankings. To get around this, plugin developers actually add even more code to create complex caching solutions to try and make the site load faster, and often this creates more complexity and adds other issues. One of the key considerations for performance wordpress hosting is to use a provider that has very high-performance server options to help compensate for the excessive processing required to run the website.
- Extensive plugins are required for almost everything. Rarely will you find any professional websites that run Wordpress using the “vanilla” software installation. Remember point #3? Every plugin you add to the site adds to the complexity and amount of processing needed to display pages for your visitors. Most websites will run anywhere from 10 to 100 plugins - and sometimes more! Every third-party plugin also increases the security risks for your website, the complexity of your site, and the likelihood that something on your site will break whenever updates or changes are required.
- Problems with Wordpress Updates can result in significant costs and website downtime. To the credit of the Wordpress developers, the core updates have become a lot more stable and reliable over the years, but still, depending on how your site is built and all of the features you’ve integrated into your site, updates can create a lot of unexpected costs and even downtime. According to Sucuri.net - 49% of Wordpress websites are using old versions. If you don’t update your Wordpress site, you can leave yourself vulnerable to other issues with similar outcomes.
- Problems with Plugins are very common. One of the greatest features of this open CMS is that virtually any developer can build a plugin and get it listed on the list of plugins available to be installed. Many plugins offer at least some value at no cost. Some plugins are very expensive. One of the biggest issues we’ve had with plugins over the years is that developers often abandon or sell off their plugins to others. What may have been a great plugin yesterday, may suddenly stop receiving updates and need to be replaced (if a replacement even exists). Also, sometimes the new developer that takes over a popular plugin has less than good intentions or may simply not have the same level of skill - meaning stability or security issues can arise.
- Problems with Templates are quite common as well. There are a lot of good templates available for websites of almost any look and feel you could want. Most templates are designed specifically to convince website builders to pick (and often purchase) their templates. What a lot of website owners don’t realize, is that the template can have a huge impact on everything from their search engine rankings and user experience to what plugins they can use. It can take a lot of work to get a template just right, and unfortunately, sometimes one click of the update button can mean you have to start over and redo all of the work fixing and optimizing your site.
- These websites tend to be significantly slower loading than other websites. One of the most important things a website visitor needs is to be able to get your website loaded as quickly as possible. Google specifically tracks website performance and will give better ranking preference to websites that meet their performance requirements. They do this because they have proven that faster websites tend to result in better user experience. There are ways to make Wordpress websites load quickly but they may require higher-end hosting packages, significant developer time, and even custom solutions. This is actually one of the key reasons we stopped offering our clients sites with Wordpress as our default platform.
- Compatibility Issues between templates, plugins, third-party integrations and custom features are fairly common on some of the larger, more developed websites. We have had clients that have been forced to run and custom modify older versions of Wordpress just so they can keep their website running. This tends to be bad for security and while it may keep your website running longer, it can also prevent you from using newer features that may help you get more visitors or enhance your website in important ways.
At the end of the day your website needs to provide value to you and your organization no matter what platform your website uses. Before determining what platform your website should use, we believe the more important choice is to select a company that will provide you with hosting, website management, and support services. This allows you to focus your energy on your business rather than becoming an expert website developer and manager. Together, with your website service provider you can explore the options available and determine what platform your website should use.