I love WordPress. It’s a phenomenal piece of software. This blog runs it, and it’d be hard to think of doing it with anything else. In fact, I did use Google’s Blogger for a while, but was frustrated with its lack of features and astonishingly unique (and not in a good way) theme building experience.
A lot of other people agree that WordPress is amazing – so much so that it is the most popular content management system on the web today. With this popularity comes amazingly great platform support, a wide variety of plugins and themes, and, mostly because of its popularity, it has become the proverbial low-hanging fruit to hackers.
WordPress’s pervasiveness and ability to handle almost every task thrown its it’s greatest strength. It provides non-technical people the ability to easily edit their site, and that’s a very useful benefit for someone considering the platform. I’ve used it to build many sites, and is very worthy of any web designer’s use and full support.
Unfortunately, because it has become the Swiss army knife of the web, it is also used in many situations where it just isn’t necessary. Anytime you use software that is exposed to the public Internet without necessity, you’re creating a wider surface for attack. If WordPress (including its themes and plugins) isn’t kept up to date, your site will surely fall victim to attacks and begin sending SPAM, become defaced, or worse.
Now, I use a simple three-pronged test for the use of WordPress. If the answer to any of these questions is no, I do not use it, or at least give the failing answers serious consideration (along with deep analysis of alternatives, including cost/benefit projections):
- Do I actually need WordPress?
- Will someone be around to keep it up to date?
- Do I expect it to get a ton of traffic?
Regarding traffic, simple WordPress sites are fairly easy to scale into a multiple server setup, especially with the help of great plugins like W3TC. However, not every theme or plugin is compatible with multiple servers, and without careful planning and good Linux system administration, any WordPress site deployed over multiple servers can become a problem very quickly.
If a site is going to get a lot of traffic, and by “lot”, I mean tens of thousands of page views a day or more, I will always look for alternatives, and come back to WordPress if none can be found. In that kind of situation, strident caching is a must.
Even though I’ve given WordPress a bit of a hard time in this article, I want to emphasize that I do love using it. WordPress makes life easier for a web designer in many different ways. But at the end of the day, I believe it is critical to remember that it is not always the best tool for the job.
Photo Credit – Swiss Army Knife by Dave Taylor