You assume many different roles in the day-to-day course of running and growing your business. Adding "web developer" to that list of roles is neither time nor cost-effective. Yet your web presence is an integral part of your business, and you must stay on top of mission-critical web content that changes daily, weekly, or in real-time as visitors browse your site.
You need a content management system (CMS) tailored to your company's needs that allows you to add, edit, and delete web content as easily as composing and sending an email. Many business owners turn to one of the popular CMS systems such as Wordpress, Squarespace, Joomla, or Drupal, where they inevitably run into problems after investing considerable time and effort getting their sites up and running.
I talked about companies that offer free websites in another article—6 Reasons Why A "Free" Website Isn't Really Free—and all of the caveats (and then some) mentioned in that article also apply to free and Open Source CMS platforms. Lets address ten common issues that clients (along with professional developers and bloggers) have with these platforms—I'm going to single out Wordpress, but the same issues apply to the other major CMS systems as well.
1. Site downtime
One of the most common causes of site crashes and downtime is an automatic software update of a plugin or module from one of the major content management systems. And the culprit is usually... Wordpress.
For those who don't know, Wordpress is the world's largest CMS (although there is an ongoing and valid argument in the development community as to whether Wordpress is a CMS at all). Originally a blogging platform, it has evolved into a powerful and extensible system that runs many websites. But its power is often its downfall. Following any major update of Wordpress, the site's forums crackle to life with countless users seeking help for the inevitable problems that arise.
2. User support
Wordpress is Open Source, which means that it is developed and maintained by volunteers. The upside for site owners is that the basic platform is available for free. The downside is accountability and vulnerability. If you have an issue you can visit the Wordpress forums and seek out help but they're under no obligation to help you. Again, assistance is provided by volunteers who, while technically astute, may not be able or willing to address an individual site owner's specific issues.
3. Plugins & themes
A plugin is an independently developed tool that adds new functionality to your Wordpress website. For example, plugins can be used to add shopping cart functionality, create a form, or integrate Google Analytics into your site. A typical installation of Wordpress can have dozens of plugins, and if just one of them becomes incompatible with your version of Wordpress you can find yourself with a disabled website.
Wordpress is, at its core, a blogging platform. It has been expanded with plugins and themes to add conventional website functionality but making it do so is often like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The design of any Wordpress site is controlled by a theme. In theory, this allows a site owner to change the entire look and feel of their site by simply changing their theme but, as with plugins, there are often compatibility issues between the theme selected and the version of Wordpress that you are using.
Although there is a large selection of professionally designed themes available, Wordpress doesn't support most themes offered by third-party developers. While they do allow a few minor modifications to their approved themes such as changing the background color, the header, or the navigation menu, your site will end up looking like a lot of other sites out there. If you're willing to pay for an upgrade, of course, Wordpress offers a plan that allows you to modify your fonts and use your own CSS for additional styling, which brings us to...
4. You'll have to pay for "optional" extras
Although Wordpress allows you to get started for free, the organization's revenue is generated in the same way as any company who offers free websites."
Want a custom domain name? For an annual fee you can host your site on your own domain instead of a subdomain of wordpress.com, i.e. yoursite.com instead of yoursite.wordpress.com.
Need more space? For an annual fee you can add more space to the 3GB you get for free. 3GB might sound like a lot, but you're only allowed to upload images, documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. For an additional fee you can host video, and for yet another additional fee you can get the "no ads" option so that Wordpress doesn't post ads on your website.
5. You'll have to manage your own domain email
Web-based email providers like Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail are fine for personal use, but for professional email communications, you need a company-branded email like firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, Wordpress does not offer email hosting of any kind, so you'll have to set up your email hosting outside of wordpress.com.
6. Your site can be shut down at any time
If you host your site at wordpress.com, their Terms Of Service (TOS) document clearly states that they may "terminate your access to all or part of the website at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately." Do you really want to give someone that much control over your livelihood?
7. Loading speed & site speed
Wordpress websites are notoriously s-l-o-w. They often load slowly, then remain sluggish for the duration of a user's visit. That is because Wordpress taxes the hosting server with a tremendous amount of overhead just to serve up a site's pages and assets, which brings us to...
8. Unnecessary overhead & complexity
Wordpress adds a huge layer of overhead and complexity to your website, along with a potentially detrimental impact on its speed and efficiency. It's almost like buying a sleek, lightweight bicycle, then towing your car behind it every time you ride.
9. Adware, Malware, & Hackers
As soon as you install Wordpress, you'll find that you've caught the attention of adware and malware distributors, all eager to compete for access to your wallet and your website. Are you willing to work around the frequent pop-ups and "sneak-ins" that Wordpress users deal with on a daily basis?
I recently took a course on Wordpress development in which the instructor, an expert in the field, interjected throughout the course that Wordpress and Wordpress sites are prime and frequent targets for hackers.
10. You'll still need a developer
At its core Wordpress is, and has always been, a blogging system. Over the years third-party developers have developed themes and plugins that allow users to tie conventional website functionality to the platform. But at the end of the day, building a Wordpress website requires the very same set of skills required for building any website. To avoid the limitations inherent in Wordpress (or any major CMS platform), you'll still need to hire, or become, a developer... and a Wordpress expert.
If you're in business, chances are you need a content management system that is tailored to your specific needs, one that allows you to easily update your event schedule, catalog, inventory, blog posts, images, audio, video, or other dynamic content. Trying to weave content into HTML/PHP files or Wordpress/plugin dashboards can be a frustrating and time-consuming task; a single typo can bring your website to its knees.
I build custom web back-ends that allow my clients to add, edit, and delete their content safely and securely using any device—desktop in the office, or mobile on the go—as easily as composing and sending an email—no computer science degree required. I'm here to help. Let's lift your brand... out of the white noise and into the vista.