WordPress Opportunities & Obstacles (And How To Approach Them)
When the average internet user thinks about setting up a website, there’s one system that immediately springs to mind: WordPress. As the most widely-used CMS in the world, it’s achieved such a level of popularity that it barely needs additional justification — you know from extensive precedent that you can make a WordPress site work for almost any purpose.
But while it’s the de facto default, WordPress isn’t an all-rounder with middle-of-the-road ratings across the board. It has strengths and weaknesses like any other CMS, making it perfectly suited for some situations and more of a challenge in others.
In this piece, we’re going to look at the opportunities provided by WordPress, as well as the obstacles its users face, considering how best to navigate them. Let’s get started:
What WordPress Does Exceptionally Well
It didn’t get to its lofty position by being merely acceptable. WordPress offers some exceptional features that make it great for ambitious webmasters, so let’s take a look at them:
- Affordability. The WordPress installation itself is 100% free — always has been, and (fingers crossed) always will be. You do need to pay for hosting, and any additional development required along the way that you’re unwilling or unable to do yourself, but those prices will be variable (whereas hosted services charge you monthly).
Your opportunity here is to decide what you want to pay and when, depending on your needs. You can start out with cheap hosting, then swap to a more performance-centric host down the line when you need to contend with additional traffic.
- Flexibility. Perhaps the greatest advantage of WordPress is the incredible flexibility of its plugin and theme system. Plenty of Content Management Systems accept plugins (or extensions, or apps, or add-ons), but WordPress makes it a priority — factor in the incredible number of plugins available online and you have unparalleled configurability. Also, the vast collection of free and premium WordPress themes you can choose from ensures you can easily create a professionally designed website regardless of your design skills (or lack thereof).
Your opportunity here is to create the website of your dreams — well, that might be a little dramatic, but it’s true that you can draw from the huge range of plugins and themes (combining them where useful) to create a site that’s distinct from any other.
- Community. Whichever type of software system you’re using, it’s always good to have support, and for WordPress it stems largely from the enormous community of enthusiasts and hobbyist developers. That community also has more to offer, though: if you get involved, you can find a lot of valuable advice.
Your opportunity here is to make new friends and get hyper-relevant tips from other website owners who’ve long since got their websites running as they like them. Other platforms have communities of their own, but not one is even close to rivalling the scope or professional variety of the WordPress community.
Where WordPress Can Prove Inconvenient
Every rose has its thorns, and WordPress is certainly far from perfect. So what can you expect to cause you strife if you use it? Be wary of the following:
- Plugin reliability. Remember that massive number of available plugins, and the intriguing prospect of using them together? Well, this can be problematic. Its position as an open-source CMS means that anyone can develop for it, and there’s no shortage of mediocre or even dangerously insecure plugins out there.
Your obstacle here is the threat of plugins either failing to work together properly (for instance, two plugins could try to take control of the same element, causing one to stop working entirely or simply making a mess of the system) or lowering the security of your website overall by having broad access while being insecure themselves.
- Site performance. The faster the site, the better, and internet users won’t be forgiving about sluggish loading — ramping up responsiveness is a core part of improving your UX in this time of high-speed internet connections and powerful computers. WordPress isn’t the fastest CMS initially, but it can really slow down with enough plugin bloat.
Your obstacle here is the risk of your carefully-selected customization plugins slowing your site down to the extent that it starts to lose traffic. This bloat is enough to drive some businesses to migration, but it isn’t strictly necessary to take that approach. First, see if you can find a delicate balance between stylization and speed (it’s achievable).
How to Make the Most of WordPress
So, having looked at the opportunities and obstacles that face WordPress users, what conclusion can we reach overall? Well, it should be fairly clear that the flexibility of WordPress is a double-edged sword — it can work with or against you, depending on how you approach it.
To use it most effectively, I suggest looking at performance and security first (avoiding those obstacles), then slowly adding in features to suit your needs while continuing to monitor those vital elements. By doing this, you should be able to achieve an excellent mixture of capability and reliability, allowing WordPress to really shine.
About the Author: Kayleigh Alexandra
Micro Startups is your online destination for everything startup. We’re dedicated to spreading the word about hard-working solopreneurs and SMEs making waves in the business world. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe @getmicrostarted.
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