It’s no secret that we’re big fans of WordPress. We’ve been using it since 2004, we’ve been hosting a monthly WordPress Meetup for a few years, and I’m one of the co-organizers for the excellent WordCamp Atlanta Conference this year. But the question remains — why do we choose WordPress?
The popularity of WordPress is undeniable. More than 23% of the web is running on WordPress, including sites such as The New Yorker, BBC America, Variety, Sony Music, MTV News, Xerox, Fortune, Time, and literally millions of others. That doesn’t really answer the “why”, though; using a product simply because a lot of other people use it isn’t reason enough.
More than 25% of the web is running on WordPress
There are two main angles to look at when comparing WordPress to the alternatives. You can choose a hosted solution, where everything is handled for you, or a self-hosted platform where you load the software onto your own server. Let’s look at each.
There are some powerful solutions in the hosted world. This is where you see things such as SquareSpace, Wix, Shopify and others. This is also where WordPress.com fits in. These solutions live entirely on that company’s servers and you have to play by their rules. While this makes things typically much cheaper and easier, the limitations can be frustrating. At times you’ll want to do things that simply can’t be done, and you always run the risk of inadvertently breaking one of their rules and finding your site completely blocked.
If you’re more serious about your website, you want something that you can directly control yourself. You can find quality web hosting for $10-20/month, so that’s not a big concern. Some of the big players in this area are Joomla, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, and the free software from WordPress.org (which is what we use). While it can take more work to set up, you can literally do anything you want with your site.
So if self-hosted is the way to go, why do we choose WordPress instead of Joomla, Drupal or others? For us it’s the community, in a variety of aspects:
- Local groups. Along with our Meetup group, there are 19 other WordPress-based groups in the Atlanta area. There is one each for Joomla and Drupal and none for ExpressionEngine. In all there are 737 WordPress Meetup groups around the world, and there will be WordCamp Conferences held in 172 cities across 48 countries this year.
- Resources. There are more than 36,000 plugins and 1700 themes found on WordPress.org, with thousands more of each available through independent sites across the web. If you need your website to do something, there is a likely a plugin out there that can do it (or at least get you on the right track).
- Support. If you have a problem with WordPress, there are a lot of people that can help solve your problems.
There is one other option out there that we haven’t discussed, and that is using a custom content management system. We actually had built one a number of years ago (the “GreenMellen CMS”) but abandoned it in favor of WordPress. While a custom CMS may be appropriate in a few small cases, it’s typically used by an agency for one main reason: to force people to stay with them.
Part of the reason we love using WordPress for our clients is that it greatly benefits them. If they decide they no longer wish to work with us, they’re free to find another WordPress developer and keep moving along. I feel bad when talking with potential clients, only to find out they’re trapped in a proprietary system somewhere and can’t leave without starting from scratch. Keep your options open.
Use WordPress forever?
We’re often asked if we’ll be using WordPress forever, or if we know what’s coming next. While we’re 100% invested in WordPress right now, we’re certainly keeping an eye out for anything that may be a better choice someday. As of now I don’t see anything coming, but platforms like Ghost are interesting to watch, and there’s rumors that Tumblr may someday release a self-hosted version.
we’re 100% invested in WordPress right now
For now, I think we have a rolling three-year cushion where we can rely on WordPress; it’s simply too large to crumble any sooner than that. Each year that rolls around and they’re continuing to expand their reach, just slide that three year window down another year.
What do you think?
Is WordPress the best choice for your site today? What do you think will become the biggest competition to WordPress in the coming years?