Wait a second. Isn't WordPress free? Well, technically, yes. But even free CMS come with hidden costs, and WordPress is no exception.
For basic users, the costs are very low or non-existent, but if you go enterprise, the hidden costs start to appear. Still, when someone thinks of building a website, they think of using WordPress. But is it really worth the buzz for business and enterprise users? We asked IT professionals and C-suite executives for their take.
What Makes WordPress the Go-To CMS?
It's not a secret that WordPress dominates the CMS market with a whopping 38.5% of all websites powered by the CMS. With that dominance over the market comes the perception of usefulness, or like Karl Robinson Director at London, England-based Logicata says, "being the most widely used, self perpetuates into making it more useful. The more people that use it, then the bigger the community gets meaning there are more people to reach out to, share tips and/or learn from."
Thus, it seems that people go for WordPress because of the WordPress user community. For other CMS, this is a lesson to learn. Even if you can't compete, the opportunity for growth is huge. While smaller CMS can't compete in terms of size, they can certainly foster community-building.
Robinson also states that another reason why people decide to build on WordPress is because it's simple to use for everyone. He says that "the biggest reason it's so popular is that its interface and UX is fantastic and intuitive. Platforms such as Joomla just look complicated and will put beginners off." However, such simplicity doesn't come for free.
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The Hidden Costs of WordPress
With WordPress, everything goes well in the beginning, when you have a clean site with the plugins you need and nothing more. But as you start to scale, you begin to see the other side of the coin.
Eric Sachs, CEO at Westlake, CA.-based Sachs Marketing Group explains that "WordPress is cheap and easy for people looking for a simple, streamlined setup for their site, especially blogs. However, as your business grows, you're likely going to run into an issue. You're going to have to put a lot more effort into upkeep, design, plugins, etc. And in doing so, you're kind of moving away from what drew you to WordPress in the first place."
All things considered, it seems that the simplicity and potential savings WordPress offers last only for a short amount of time. As soon as you gain traction, you need more plugins, and as you install them, you notice that what was supposed to be helping is now hindering you.
Another hidden cost that comes with WordPress is the pain that it is to transition from WordPress to a more robust CMS. Robinson, for example, says that "WordPress does come with a hidden cost. I've repeatedly helped clients transition from the platform to more robust CMS, and that comes, more often than not, with a lot of development costs. Yet, this can be mitigated with better planning."
Why WordPress Sites Fail
Beyond errors and bugs, it seems that, according to our respondents, WordPress sites end up falling short of the expectations when it comes to scaling your website. Plugins tend to be one of the main culprits.
Sachs says that "most WordPress websites fail because their capabilities are limited to the plugins that are available in the marketplace. As a business grows, the website and CMS also need to be scalable. With the plugin dependency in WordPress, you are always at the mercy of the developer who created that plugin." This situation with the plugins puts companies in a tough spot because you need plugins to augment your websites, but, at the same time, too many plugins will wreak havoc on your website.
Robinson, for example, shared that "even if you are making the simplest of changes, then a backup should always be done beforehand. Any issues can then be rescued by reverting to the version in place before any changes were made. It's also advisable to pick a reputable host, as they usually have the capability to “uncrash” your site as they usually take full backups as a matter of routine."
All in all, it becomes evident, then, that one of the main reasons behind WordPress failure is associated with the fact that companies have to do many things themselves and take care of a myriad of factors that enterprises can't stop to think about. The true cost of WordPress might not be visible during the beginning stages when everything is new and shiny. Still, as the company grows, the costs will present itself as performance issues and unresponsive sites. So, when choosing your next CMS, choose wisely as the most obvious choice might not be the right one.