It's a question we asked regularly. Can you build a website for me on WordPress? Or, I have a WordPress website can you help? We even get - my cousin's nephew built a site for us on WordPress which was great at the time but it's not working for us now, what can we do?
WordPress is a free source for creating websites (if you avoid WordPress.com and have web development knowledge) used for more than 50 million websites worldwide.
You might think that's a lot of sites and we should jump on the bandwagon, but these numbers are declining rapidly worldwide. Over the past 18 months, issue after issue has popped up with WordPress, from plugins not being updated to sites losing their ranking dramatically. This has lead to emergence of platforms like Shopify, Wix and Squarespace taking huge amounts of market share with their user friendly, sales driven and reliable platforms going down a treat with new users and merchants. We were all for WordPress in the past, but the mighty has fallen (like Bebo to Facebook) and it's time to look elsewhere.
Let's dive into the WordPress issues below and what we have seen over the last few years, especially the past year with the Covid-19 pandemic creating a host of new issues.
Issue 1: Plugins
Our first issue and the biggest issue with WordPress - plugins. We have got email after email, call after call, about websites crashing, plugins not working and no support to turn too. It was happening slowly before Covid-19, but over the past year with the pandemic, the problem has only got worse.
WordPress offers plugins for its content management system to increase functionality for it's websites. An example of what you might use a plugin for would be for an image gallery. While it might seem like an awesome option to make your website look better and more personalized, you take a big risk with each plugin you install.
All plugins are created by some random Joe, which means that if the plugin crashes, there aren't many (if any) support options to help you get your website functioning properly again. Also, since plugins are created by different people, there is no guarantee they will work together. One might work beautifully on your site, but adding another might cause chaos to ensue.
So, what happens if "random Joe" doesn't update a plugin on your site? You might get away easy enough, with the individual plugin the only one being effected. But its usually not the case and other plugins crash, leading to site crashes and loss of ranking and increased bounce rates. Take for example a large WordPress site with e-commerce plugins, SEO plugins, image plugins, review plugins, custom coding plugins, email marketing plugins etc. Think of the chaos and potential loss of revenue if one of these plugins stop working. It's something we've seen too much of this past year with plugin developers going missing over the pandemic and with support offices and businesses closed.
It's one of the main reasons why we avoid WordPress and recommend others to do the same.
Issue 2: Software Updates
The next big issue. WordPress has regular software updates to keep it's platform functioning properly for its users. Do you have someone to watch over these updates? If you do, I'd say that's expensive. Especially as these updates generally need to be done often, sometimes every single month. What happens if you don't update? What happens if I don't have a web pro managing my updates?
If you don't update back to Issue 1. Crashed site, negative ranking and increased bounce rate and lack of credibility due to a failing website. You may even be breaking certain laws like GDPR laws if your site is not updated properly.
The trouble with these updates is they can cause issues with the theme you use on your site or break your plugins because the plugins are no longer compatible with the new updates. This means even if you manage the update yourself, you may need a web specialist or plugin support to make sure all is merry with your site. Is it really worth it?
Issue 3: SEO
Search engine optimization isn't impossible with a WordPress site, just more difficult – especially if you don't know what you're doing. There are lots of plugins that can help with SEO, but again, there are dangers associated with plugins, so if you aren't a pro, you may end up with a bigger problem on your hands.
Many factors play into search engine rankings, and if you aren't aware of all of them when building your website, you might choose a theme or plugin that actually works against you. The perception that WordPress ranks better than other platforms is false, your site will only rank as good as the SEO professional working behind the scenes of the site. What does this lead too? More costs, another agency and a lot of time lost in finding solutions for your site.
Issue 4: Malware & Attacks
WordPress isn't susceptible to all malware on the internet, but it's been known to have a number of security vulnerabilities within the platform:
- Backdoors: The backdoor method is when a hacker gains access to your WordPress account through abnormal methods such as FTP, DFTP and WP-ADMIN. This attack usually happens because you have outdated software or a hole in your security.
- Drive-by downloads: In a drive-by download, the hacker comes by and downloads a payload to your server, telling you that your website has been infected and that you need to install their antivirus product.
- Pharma hacks: Pharma hacks take your site and make you a distributor of spam trying to send people to a store controlled by the hacker to generate sales.
- Malicious redirects: This will redirect anyone who is trying to get your website to a malicious website, such as a pornography or fake casino site. People may think they are clicking into your new shoes collection page and end up on a website with explicit content.
- Unlimited logins: The default setting for a WordPress website is to allow an unlimited number of login attempts. This is clearly very dangerous for security because a nasty little bug can latch on to your site and force its way in your page after enough tries. Even if it can't force its way in, it can still overload your server from the force of the attack.
While it's great to say you created your own WordPress site, it can unfortunately be dangerous not only with the above threats but because lots of people use WordPress to create their website, which means that all of those people have very similar-looking websites from the front and back end. If a bug can find a security flaw on one site, chances are the same flaw exists on hundreds of other sites, now making them all vulnerable targets.
Issue 5: Themes & Compatibility
Many businesses and people love WordPress because it offers an easy way to make a website for a person who doesn't know much about web design. The only problem is that if you aren't careful, you'll find yourself with a website that looks identical to everyone else's. Instead of looking professional, your business might look like a tacky copycat.
Themes also need updates like plugins which means if you don't know how to maintain your WordPress site you could be opening a big tin of worms. We've covered this already, we won't harp on anymore.
For compatibility, WordPress puts forth its best effort, but it has been known to have a hard time smoothly switching displays across different internet browsers, window sizes and devices. It might make the switch on most devices, but every once in a while, someone on your site will encounter a display that it doesn't understand or have the capability to work with. Take for example Wix & Shopify. In comparison to WordPress, you can custom design the mobile and tablet version of the site to a completely different design of the desktop version of site. This is great for increasing conversions, having effective call to actions and a better overall user experience. With WordPress your stuck to your theme unless you know some custom coding to change the device display. More costs unfortunately.
You can see from above the issues we have encountered with WordPress and in particular the issue of plugins on WordPress sites. A must for adding functionality to a site, but a very risky addition to any site.
To finish, take for example a car. If you add Nitrous Oxide (NOS) to a car you add power and speed to the car. Great, if your a professional race car driver and know how to control and manage a car with this power and speed. Now, think of an everyday normal car user getting this added power and speed and the risks involved and what damage and despair it can lead too. The same can be said with Plugins & WordPress.