At my core I'm a web developer and as a developer I feel like I can't control the entire process with Wordpress.  In the end I could spare you the rest of this article, because that first sentence is the crux of why I don't use Wordpress.  I like controlling my work and understanding what everything in my code does or doesn't do.  I don't want this post to sound snobbish because that isn't my intent.  I just want to explain my thought process and reasoning behind utilizing a platform other than Wordpress as my Content Mangement System. 


Wordpress started out as a simple blogging platform but has grown to become the most dominant Content Management System on the planet.  At one time recently approximately 25% of all websites around the world were powered by Wordpress.  It is a free to use, open source software that has been issued under the General Public License.  It is built on PHP and MySQL, which I love by the way.  The whole system is based upon templates and plugins to make it do just about anything you want it to do.  The content management system allows clients to control the content on their own websites which is a big plus for Website Designers and end users.

Areas of Concern:

 I have a few areas of major concern about utilizing the platform and I'm going to lay them out here.

  1. Control is probably my biggest issue, because the system is fairly reliant on third party plugins.  You have to worry whether the 3rd party plugins are still maintained and continue to function properly otherwise it could break the whole site.
  2. Security is another issue that I have with Wordpress.  I look at this differently than most people though, because the underlying reason that hackers try to hack Wordpress so often is because the platform is so popular.  It is the same reason that Windows PC's are the target of hackers as well.  The big dog in any arena has a target on it's back and so does Wordpress.  All hackers have to do to find a Wordpress site is add /wp-admin at the end of the domain name.  If the page doesn't 404 then they know they've got a Wordpress site.  I don't believe that Wordpress is fundamentally flawed from a security perspective but utilizing the software will eventually put your client in the cross hairs of hackers.  The fix is to utilize a security plug in and these can cause the site to bog down.  I utilize a custom CMS called Perch because I love it (I will discuss it in future posts) and most hackers have never even heard of Perch.  They have no clue about the architecture or what to do with it in order to hack it.  In the end it is more trouble than it is worth to them so they move on looking for another Wordpress site to hack.    
  3. Code bloat is probably one of my larger issues right below control.  I've done personal testing and for the most part Wordpress sites are 4-7 times larger in volume of code than identical sites that I custom code.  This code bloat adds to a slower than necessary user experience.  I like efficient code that I can control and it seems like Wordpress just throws a ton of HTML, CSS and Javascript in the site.  I make it a point to utilize GTMetrix to test my sites and I rarely have sites that take longer than 2 seconds to fully load.  I've actually run a few unnamed Wordpress sites through GTMetrix that have taken in excess of 15 seconds to fully load.  In my opinion that is criminal to have a clients site take that long to fully load.
  4. Plugins are an issue for me as well but they are really a subset of control for me.  I don't control the code used in plugins so if I update Wordpress core files I have to always worry that the plugins are being kept up to date to work with the newest version of Wordpress.  So I never know if I make a change or if I update the Wordpress files if those changes will cause the whole site to crash.  This stresses me out and paralyzes me whenenver I'm working inside Wordpress.
  5. Templates are another area that kind of bug me.  This is kind of a personal rant, but it bothers me when I bust my tail to create a custom bespoke experience for my clients and another developer claims to do the same things that I do.  However in the end all they are doing is dumping info into a Wordpress template that has been used a 1,000's times across the Interwebz.  Look that isn't a bespoke website, that is a template, so at least have the common courtesy to own it and tell your client that you are using a generic template.  Stop acting like you are creating a bespoke custom designed website, because it just isn't true.  
  6. The code visually appears clunky and unrefined when it is assembled.  Just looking at the code it doesn't feel elegant and in a weird way that makes me sad, because I like my work to look tidy and clean.  I don't minify my HTML because when I look at the source code I like it to look good (even though no one other than me ever does that).  I admit this is nitpicky and just a weird personal nuance.      

Many of developer/ designer colleagues hate Wordpress as well.  Here are a few of there thoughts:

  • It's cost is actually it's downside. Clients who have migrated to me with WP, spend £100s on plugins to get it to perform, be secure and actually editable.  - Freelance Web Designer Ryan Gittings
  • The more you want to do, the more hoops you have to jump through.  WordPress is actually how I got into web development. I was so frustrated with the damned templates, I figured I'd learn to do the thing myself.  I've been hand coding ever since  - Joseph Pinder
  • Basically for me everything is about picking the right tool for the job. Honestly if I just needed a simple blog WP might be a consideration... that’s what it was developed for and that what I feel it actually does pretty well. But anything further than that and you start to build up this crazy plug-in dependency chain which reduces your overall lifespan of your product, opens you up to serious security vulnerabilities and increases maintenance time and costs. That alone is the main reason i refuse to work with it because how often is it “just a blog” ? .... never. - Jordin Brown of Cognetif

If you are like the 1,000's of different designers out there who love Wordpress I'm not here to put you down I just wanted to point out the things that I don't like about it.