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The Downside of Using WordPress

WordPress is one of the more common and popular blogging platforms used today, Programmers, marketers and bloggers in general, love its simplicity to use, myriad of powerful plugins, and open source programming. However as many people are discovering, there are some downsides to using wordpress, and it’s not the right platform for every job or client.

Security

Security, or more correctly the lack of security, is probably wordpresses biggest downside. Because it’s so widely used and open source it’s a natural target for hackers. There are plugins that help you lockdown wordpress a wordpress firewall plugin and ways keep an audit trail to help keep track of changes and even ways to limit access to your admin panel by IP, but at the end of the day, from a security standpoint wordpress is a block of swiss cheese. So you should always make sure you have backups and keep your wordpress and plugins up to date.

Maintenance

Over the past year wordpress has dramatically increased the frequency and complexity of their new releases. In 2008 wordpress moved from wordpress 2.3 to 2.7, with more than one update requiring major changes to database schema. For organizations who are interested in doing business and not being a system admin for the ever changing world of wordpress, all of time maintaing a wordpress CMS, can make it look fairly unatractive. Normal maintenance combined with the required due dillegence for security can and will probably eat up a few man hours every month. If you are responsible for more than one blog the time commitment grows geometrically, often to the point of absurdity. Once you’ve commited to the wordpress platform it’s like getting a tattoo, getting rid of it is going to cost a bit of money, and be very painful. Ignore the maintenance aspect of wordpress and the weak security will come back to haunt you. It won’t be a matter of if your blog gets hacked, it will be just a matter of when.

Lack of Enterprise Features

Earlier this year Wired Magazine published an article saying blogging was dead. While this was probably a well executed piece of linkbait (which worked), one thing the article was right about, personal, and single author blogs are dying out, and being replaced by bigger multi-author blogs. These new blogs bear more resemblance to magazines and newspapers than than to blogs in the classical sense. WordPress has been slow to incorporate and enhance some of the key features enterprise publishers look for and need in a CMS. For example you can schedule posts for future publications with wordpress, but the most recent version removed this information from the dashboard. The post administration screen now shows “post publishes in 9 days” instead of the actual time and date of publication, which is a pretty serious oversight. Other features include a lack of native advertising management, instead relying on plugins, and the absence of built in template editor. IMHO features like this keep wordpress from being given serious consideration by mainstream publishers.

While I’ve painted a pretty grim picture, there is a lot to like about wordpress. You can’t beat the price, and if you invest the time, it can be an amazingly powerful piece of software. But choosing wordpress for your site, or your clients sites, is something you should give serious consideration too. Locking someone into a piece of software that requires a significant time investment for upkeep, isn’t for everyone, especially if there isn’t someone who is technologically savvy with time to devote to the upkeep. Think of wordpress as finicky european sports car, it may spend a lot of time in the shop, but when it’s out on the road, cornering like it’s on rails, it’s hard not enjoy it. If you do decide to move to wordpress Google recently released some tools to make the migration easier.

About the Author

With over 10 years experience in internet marketing and website development, Michael Gray has helped many companies with their SEO, ecommerce and website marketing needs. Michael has been a long time speaker at industry events such as PubCon, Search Engine Strategies and SMX. You can read his blog at www.wolf-howl.com, or his articles in many industry publications. In addition to internal search engine optimization, Michael also helps companies with their product campaigns with ViralConversations.com

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20 Comments

20 Responses to “The Downside of Using WordPress”

  1. pascal bouvier Says:

    interesting article. was not aware of some of the drawbacks you write about. so what are the alternatives, the better ones?

  2. Paul McIntosh - pmctosh Says:

    A great overview Michael, as well as some good suggestions on how to plug some of the “swiss cheese” holes that wordpress leaves gaping.
    Granted it takes time to keep the platform running smoothly and for the majority that’s likely alright with them.
    It does beg the question though, is there a better alternative?
    Something that has the strength and the versatility that WP offers as well as being easy to understand and work with.

  3. DavidW Says:

    Excellent points. Here are a couple of things you can do if you manage multiple WordPress sites.

    Keep a folder of plugins that you upload to every site.

    If you’re going to update don’t do it until the latest version has been in general use for a couple of weeks. This assumes the latest version wasn’t a security update.

    And don’t forget not every client needs the newest latest greatest version of WP. 2.6.5 was a stable version there may not be a need to make a leap to 2.7 at all and it certainly doesn’t need to be done overnight for every client.

    And with all that saved time you can keep track of wolf-howl.com because if graywolf changes to another platform you know some serious time and consideration went into it.

  4. Jack Leblond Says:

    Fortunately, it’s compactness makes complete back-ups very easy, if the site owner’s remember to do them. If they should happen to be hacked, it’s usually just a few files that need to be corrected and the site is back to normal. Much easier than traditional sites (IMO).

  5. graywolf Says:

    @pascal the thing is there is no right tool for every job, in some cases blogger may be best, for other wordpress, for others drupal, you have to know the limitations of each.

  6. graywolf Says:

    @pmac I don’t think there is something which fills the gap, it would be nice if WP offer with an enterprise level solution, something more stable and secure but charged for it.

  7. graywolf Says:

    @davidW yep that exactly what i do with plugins and themes :-)

  8. graywolf Says:

    @jack >if the site owner’s remember to do them

    yep and there’s the weak point, just last week was in a situation where we moved hosts and the backup never worked after the move and nobody verified it, not a good spot to be in.

  9. JopaFan Says:

    I have heard comments that WordPress is a resource hog as well. Relative to other blogging software, that is. Is this true?

  10. graywolf Says:

    @JopaFan
    if you use wp cache you can cut down the resources, also be careful of some ofthe plugins, some of them are a bit squirly ;-)

  11. Chris Says:

    I agree with you completely on the downsides of WP. Most don’t understand that it’s like a toddler – can’t take your eyes off of it for a second! I actually just launched a WP blog and my first official post was how to secure much of it. A bit of a misnomer with any software, but it certainly helps especially against automated attacks! I found your link to the firewall/injection plugin and added it to my post. Thank you!

    @JopaFan I haven’t experienced any hoggyness with WP installs that stick close to the basic use of the software. I’ve run into many issues with exotic and/or poorly-written plugins.

  12. seobro Says:

    I love wordpress, but I prefer to use HTML web pages because Google likes them more. For some reason, it prefers to see a .HTML page to a blog post. Google used to love blogs, and later social media, but lately it is focusing more on “mature” web pages from “authority” sites.

  13. Jeffrey Henderson Says:

    That’s fairly true if you’re using an out of the box solution.

    I’ve dumped some cash into customizing the WPMU version to add a lot of what you’re talking about in enterprise features as well as a few tools for publishing new sites much faster.

    I think the best bet with WP, especially in the Enterprise is using it as a great tool to build upon rather than an out of the box solution.

  14. Daily Links | AndySowards.com :: Professional Web Design, Development, Programming, Hacks, Downloads, Math and being a Web 2.0 Hipster? Says:

    [...] The Downside of Using WordPress | OnlineMarketer.com Theres a downside? Interesting Read (tags: blogging wordpress) [...]

  15. schikowski Says:

    After using WP for clients’ sites for 3 years, I have also come to understand its limitations. I still love it dearly, but maintenance takes so much time… Plugins may not support the latest version, even though this is an exception from my experience. So what to do? I’m not going to install Typo3 for every little site I build… I’m going to stick to WordPress for the time being while looking for other solutions at the same time.

  16. schikowski Says:

    @seobro, you can add .html in permalinks, like this: %postname%.html
    It works beautifully.
    Regarding Google preferring one over the other, you might want to read this: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/09/dynamic-urls-vs-static-urls.html

  17. Hendry Lee Says:

    I have a different point of view though:

    1. Security is tricky. As a piece of software becomes popular, it seems to have more security vulnerabilities because more people try to exploit it. I think this is certainly the case with WordPress.

    I have an article comparing WordPress, Drupal and Joomla security vulnerabilities over the years.

    http://blogbuildingu.com/wordpress/wordpress-security

    Whichever platform you use, it is necessary to update regularly for security reason.

    2. Based on my experience with Drupal and WordPress, I can say that WP is the easiest to upgrade. It takes a few minutes at most.

    I was worried about WP ugrade to 2.7 last year, but after hours of testing, it seems like there’s no real problem at all during the process, at least for my installation.

    ProBlogger.net featured my WP 2.7 upgrade article and it helped a lot of people during the transition to the new version of WP.

    http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/12/28/how-to-upgrade-to-wordpress-27-safely-and-ensure-compatibility

    With control always come responsibility. You can use Blogger.com and have them upgrade the code for you, but they are less powerful.

    3. I agree. WordPress does lack of enterprise features but remember that it has already been around for a few years.

    But for the need of support, which often is required by corporates, there are always Automattic and other companies who offer that kind of services.

    It’s a matter of looking for the right tool to build your site. For me, 8 out of 10 times I recommend WordPress, for the rest I consider Drupal.

  18. zacheos Says:

    Could not possibly disagree more. You said, “features like this keep wordpress from being given serious consideration by mainstream publishers.” Then why would CNN (just one of many, many, good examples) use WordPress heavily in their own webspace?

  19. Eric Sornoso Says:

    I use WordPress, and I do admit that I’ve spending hours, and hours on making my site more efficient thru SEO, appearance, links, etc.. . I search the internet like an old John Wayne movie for the newest plug-in widgets, tricks, or blogging techniques. Within the endless amount of hours; I’m very content, because within I gain a great deal of knowledge which sounds very cliche is priceless.

  20. Matt Keegan Says:

    Typically, when a WordPress update come out, I wait a few days before making the change. That way, if there is a problem with the latest update, I don’t have to go back in again and make a change.

    Still, I like WP and find the updates to be a snap.