It seems like everyone these days has a WordPress website. And why not? WordPress is very popular as a blogging platform, but it's also popular with web designers due to its relative simplicity in throwing together some elements to produce a fairly attractive website. But WordPress isn't always the best option available for building a website.
Before I get into the disadvantages of using WordPress, let's looks at some of the advantages:
WordPress is relatively easy to use. Many web designers can put together a WordPress website more quickly than they would a static website. It's the platform of choice for web "designers" who don't know how to code a website; simply drag and drop elements onto a pre-existing template and you're done! WordPress is also customizable, as many WordPress templates, widgets and apps exist (many of which are free) that can add cool features to your website. And WordPress has tons of support, so if you have a question or need help, there's a very good chance you'll find your answer by doing a quick online search.
These are some of the more compelling reasons to use WordPress to design your website. But the disadvantages of using WordPress tend to outweigh the advantages. Some of these disadvantages are:
Because WordPress is "open source", anyone can build WordPress themes and plugins, and there's no organization to monitor them. So WordPress themes and plugins can come with bugs and malware right "out of the box". You could add a plugin that contains code that allows the plugin creator to access your WordPress admin dashboard, so they can go in and make changes to your website, even forward pages to other websites. WordPress is also notorious for being vulnerable to hackers. A hacker can break into your WordPress website and add hidden, spammy code. Search engines find the code the next time they crawl your website, and your website could end up getting blacklisted and blocked from search engines for containing spam, and blocked by users' antivirus programs. Of course, any website can get hacked, but WordPress websites are particularly vulnerable.
Maintenance is an ongoing issue with WordPress websites, due to updates, compatibility issues, and security flaws. Maintenance can be an expensive ongoing cost that makes that website that was cheap to build much more expensive than a hand-coded site in the long run.
WordPress frequently rolls out automatic updates, although many WordPress website developers recommend updating your WordPress core (backend), plugins and extensions once a month. Updates help to patch continually growing WordPress security flaws and allow the latest widgets and plugins to work properly. But performing a WordPress update on your own is daunting if you try to do it yourself.
Manually built websites don't need routine updates and security patches just to continue working properly!
If your website's updates are done improperly, your website could stop working. If the website's template or plugins are no longer compatible with the latest WordPress update, your website could stop working. The person who created the template or plugin must ensure that it works with the latest WordPress update, and if not, they need to update the template as well. But what happens if the person who created the template is no longer around or forgets to do the update? You got it... your website could (and will) stop working. What's worse, your web designer will probably not be able to fix the template since he or she is its original creator. This means that you may need an entirely new website built.
A big advantage of using WordPress as a web design platform is its add-on widgets, plugins, and interactivity. But these features come at a cost. Each plugin adds "bloat" to the website, and the more plugins you have, the slower the website will run and the longer it will take to load. Sometimes even just one plugin can cause these issues. If your website takes too long to load, visitors may visit your competitor's website instead. And page load speed is a major Google Search ranking factor.
WordPress websites are generally not as search friendly as a hand-coded website. This is due to the structure of the coding behind the website. Where the code for a hand-coded website is (or should be!) simple, uncluttered and straightforward, the coding for a WordPress website (like all template sites) is proprietary, and often a complicated mess. When search engines encounter a line of proprietary code while crawling a WordPress website, they immediately jump to the next website, leaving your WordPress website partially uncrawled.
If you're looking for a website that you can update yourself, and you're not a web designer, you may think WordPress is a piece of cake. It's not. And the system is touchy; make one little mistake and your entire website could stop working. If you're going to make updates to your WordPress website, you should have a basic working knowledge of html and css coding. Otherwise your changes may end up looking a little "off", at best, or may bring the website down completely, at worst.
In general, unless your web designer has customized your WordPress template, your website may look generic and very similar to every other WordPress website out there. Many WordPress websites, however, are attractive, sleek and professional looking. But when all of your competitors' websites have that same sleek, generic, "WordPressy" look, how do you stand out from the crowd?
The popularity of WordPress as a web design platform is due to the fact that you can build a reasonable looking website without much knowledge of coding. Whether that website will look or function the way you want it to is beside the point, given that the alternative is to learn coding, or hire someone else to build the website for you. But is the building of a WordPress website really "web design"? Designing a website involves, well, the "design" and layout of the website, not using someone else's pre-designed template. WordPress, like other template website designers, involves the dragging and dropping of pre-existing elements, which makes this type of web "design" the equivalent of a "chef" putting together a sandwich at a fast food restaurant. Granted, there are many talented and experienced web designers who use WordPress properly; i.e. taking an existing template and customizing it for each client. But even when used properly, the many problems inherent to WordPress websites are still going to exist.