I know what you’re thinking,“Easy answer: NEVER! Wordpress sites never come out the way you want, they’re clunky, outdated, and they all look the same. Might as well go with one of the countless ‘build it yourself’ products that are out there if you want a basic site, at least they do most of the designing for you.”
I can’t begin to tell you how wrong you are — and I’m here to clear up this misconception. Wordpress, believe it or not, is an incredible tool that just keeps getting better. Sure, it may have gotten a bad rap over the years, but it’s also been around for a long time, so it’s picked up a bit of baggage along the way. It’s been used and abused by fly-by-night, discount web designers who will build you your dream site for the change in your pocket — and, yes, it’s had its best bits and bobs recycled through an endless wasteland of blog sites, but that doesn’t mean that it’s core potential is any less incredible.
At TouchFoundry, we turn to our old friend Wordpress when we know it’s the best platform to get the job done, and the first step in the process is often the same: fighting off client kick-back. So allow me to tell you what I tell them, and hopefully it may help persuade you.
Wordpress is the accumulation of over fifteen years of the web development community’s knowledge. Over that time, countless themes and plugins have been developed that do much of the work for you, whilst still providing the adaptability to bend them to your personal project’s will. It has snowballed into the ultimate kit of functions and features that can be added quickly without the need for countless hours of dev time. Consider it your proverbial web feature buffet.
With the sheer quantity of the Wordpress sites that look like they’ve all slid off the same production line, you’d swear that Wordpress themes were limiting. That couldn’t be further from the truth. With the right know-how and real application of impactful user experience design, Wordpress sites can look as clean and finished as anything developed from the ground up. It’s all a matter of using the tools that the platform gives you and not calling it a day after adding a bit of meat onto the basic Wordpress skeleton.
Wordpress shines when it’s applied to consumer facing sites. Its built-in content management system makes brochureware a breeze and its backend is so straightforward that handing it over to client’s content managers is effortless. With so much already set up for you, it really doesn’t make sense to build a brochure site from the ground up — there’s fifteen years of polishing on this platform! Take advantage of it! Wordpress site builders, such as Elementor, are saving businesses stacks of money and time with the ability to drag and drop clean code markup to construct pages. The same goes for Webflow and other visual builders — there’s trendy new #nocode movement in the dev-o-sphere of late, and it’s helping get the job done that much faster.
But Wordpress can also be your best friend in other ways — namely, when you need a proof of concept, and you need it now. Yes, even if you ARE building your site from the ground up, Wordpress’s flexible nature and built-in CMS makes it a great way to give clients an idea of what their final product will look like. Why not just do the whole site in Wordpress if you’re going that far? Well, that brings us to our next point.
When not to Wordpress
Let’s not get too carried away. Whilst we love our old pal Wordpress, it’s not something you can throw at any problem. Whilst the catalogue of Wordpress plugins is impressive, there will be times when your client’s order is too tall for the platform. Unique features that aren’t found on your run of the mill website will have a hard time finding a home on a Wordpress site, so you’re probably better off giving it a miss. The same goes for sites that incorporate large databases that will have to scale to hundreds if not thousands of transactions — Wordpress can probably handle it, but you’ll more likely want something you’ve developed yourself that can be customized and adapted as needs shift.
The point is, whilst Wordpress isn’t an all round, ‘does everything for you’ platform for any web product, it is a fantastic tool that lets you draw on years of work done by the web development community that can save you countless hours of dev time. By taking advantage of what’s already there, making the most of the endless supply of plugins and themes, and then continuing to customize it into a personalized product, you can put together a polished, client ready site without the need to start from scratch. Let Wordpress do the lifting — that’s what it’s there for.