Here is why you shouldn’t run your business on WordPress

If you’re a business owner or in online marketing you are probably familiar with WordPress. WordPress is awesome. It drives over 25% of the most popular websites. Millions of businesses run their websites on WordPress. It’s a great way to get a website up and running, plus it has a great control panel to manage the website’s content. This is where WordPress shines.

“Can’t we just use WordPress?”, is an often heard phrase when I talk to stakeholders. A valid question; why shouldn’t you use WordPress? It gives you a healthy ecosystem of third-party plugins, a well-polished backend and large number of developers that are already familiar with the technology. Things start go sideways when you try to use WordPress for things it was never meant to do.

The sweet spot

Do you manage a lot of content? Are you a large business that wants put information up for prospective and current customers? Do you own a cafe or shop? Custom post types and the Advanced Custom Fields plugin will give you plenty of power to support different types of content, while making it look good in the frontend and quite easy to manage in the backend.

So what about selling physical products? Products are just content with a shopping cart, right? Exactly, and WooCommerce got you covered. WooCommerce provides a WordPress-based platform for managing online stores. It has hundreds of extensions in itself, allowing you to easily extend the functionality of your store, and hook up different payment and shipping gateways in a pinch.

The house of cards

Things start to go wrong when we deviate for the sweet spot of managing content. At this point we arrive at the eternal discussion of custom software vs. off-the-shelf software. WordPress itself isn’t the problem per se — although WordPress isn’t the most eloquently designed software product out there. The issue is modifying an off-the-shelf product for use cases it wasn’t designed for, effectively making it custom software in itself.

When the way WordPress was designed starts to work against you, future development becomes an uphill battle. Your development team becomes less productive and the advantages of an off-the-shelf solution start to diminish.

Saving the ship

If you’ve recently started a new project based on WordPress and notice that your project starts diverting from this sweet spot, not all is lost! At this point I certainly do not recommend abandoning the project. It becomes crucial to reduce the amount of coupling between WordPress and the custom software that is being developed. Sadly this isn’t an area where WordPress shines.

Truth of the matter is that very few WordPress developers actually write their software in this fashion, making this process especially hard. When done correctly this can ease the transition to custom-built software on a more suitable platform.

So, should you use WordPress?

Opting to use WordPress for your project might be a good solution in the short term; the initial development timeline is shorter and cheaper. In the long term, it might be more beneficial to develop custom software from the get go. It all depends on your project. As a business owner or manager, discuss these issues with your technology team.

You can use the following questions to guide this conversation:

  • Does the current scope of the project fit within the WordPress sweet spot of managing content?
  • Does the near-term scope of the project fit within this sweet spot?

Wrap up

Decisions about the underlying technology of a project can have huge consequences. Carefully weigh the pros and cons and make a decision based on ration arguments, rather than emotion. WordPress is a great platform, it’s just not always the best fit for your project.

Comments or questions? Feel free to let me know @joelcox.