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blog of developer & bookworm benjamin read

Where We Are with Wordpress

Wordpress is becoming to websites what Facebook is to the Internet in some countries: inseperable. Almost as if you can't build a website without Wordpress, at least not one that has a Content Management System (CMS). I'm making a case for change.

I'm posting this in Project Management because I am certain that the current culture about the use of the hugely popular Wordpress isn't just a developer problem—it's one of best practice in project management.

Here's the Problem.

Wordpress is in its heyday. Its never been so popular. 18.9% of all websites use it to allow clients and customers to upload their own content, write articles and change images on the website.

Wordpress is a convenient tool—there's a remarkably short learning curve for developers and content writers. There are more plugins, widgets and themes than you can shake a stick at.

But it's almost too easy. Want a CMS? Use Wordpress. No thought required. I think that level of complacency is a risky business that we ought to be on guard about.

Problem 1: Ubiquity Equals Target

Because it's so popular it's a constant target. I monitor & maintain over 30 Wordpress sites and get reports every minute about attempted access from bots designed to target weak points in the framework.

But a patch is never as good as avoiding the problem in the first place. If you want to scare yourself silly on this subject, read this post.

Problem 2: Performance

Has anyone got Wordpress to grade 'A' on ySlow? Matt Hill responded that it might be possible with a cache plugin ... but it's not an easy thing to achieve, of this I'm certain.

The problem with this is that site performance is having more and more impact on SEO. This is the next frontier for development after responsive images. It's awful that the average site size is now 2MB. This can really hurt users-and not those with edge use cases.

Problem 3: Content

I don't know about you, but I find it frustrating having one content area for a site, but sometimes regret having to use Advanced Custom Fields or hard coding the site to accept extra content areas.

I really like Perch for its freedom in this. Want an extra field on your posts? Just add a line in the template, and you're done.

Too often I find myself going into the text editor in a Wordpress page to add elements to allow me to fill my client's requests.

Problem 4: Maintainability

When is the last time you updated your wordpress installation? How many of these plugins need updates ... and how many updates will break the site?

I don't know!

And yet, not updating could lead to your worst nightmare. This quickly becomes an eternity of procrastination. But by not making a decision, you have made a decision: wait for something bad to happen before you fix it.

I'm not a big fan of this.

What Are Our Options?

Yes it might require more brain power to think about these things at the start of a project. But there are plenty of surprisingly good options available.

We've decided to keep 3 different CMS systems in mind for our future projects. We're keeping Wordpress for quick, small projects.

Then, we're using Perch or Perch Runway for other sites, and we're looking into using Kirby as a 3rd option, just to vary the DNA of our projects. After all, if every Wordpress site becomes compromised like Drupal was, it'll be good to know we don't have quite as much work to do.

So, Wordpress is still a valuable part of what my company do ... but it's not ubiquitous, and it certainly does not need to be the only tool in your toolbox.

After all, this important decision requires some thought, doesn't it?