WordPress is one of the most popular website building tools on the web, but how good is it? What can it do for your business? Are there times when you should use a different tool to create your website? This guide to the pros and cons of WordPress will answer all of these questions and more.
So let’s dive into the pros and cons of WordPress:
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that makes it easy for anyone to build a website and/or blog, no code required. 43% of all the websites on the internet are built with WordPress, so you know that it works.
The basic idea 💡 works like this:
- You purchase web hosting and install the WordPress software using a simple interface.
- WordPress handles managing all of your content and turning everything into a working website.
- You can add WordPress extensions to change your site’s design (themes) or add new functionality (plugins).
If you want to learn more, we have a whole post on what WordPress is.
Please note ⚠ that this article will focus on WordPress.org, as it has the greatest amount of flexibility and can be used in combination with a cheap hosting plan if you’re on a tight budget. We will not be discussing WordPress.com in the majority of this article. We’ll talk more about this confusion later in this post, but if you’re curious now, you can skip ahead to the section on confusion about the two types of WordPress.
Pros and cons of WordPress
Now that you have some background on what WordPress is, let’s talk about some of the main WordPress pros and cons.
👍 Pros of WordPress
We’re glass half full people, so let’s start with the advantages of WordPress:
1. You can use WordPress with any web host
Many website builders are proprietary, which means you can only use them on sites hosted by the company that created them. For example, you can only use the Squarespace website builder if you’re also using Squarespace for hosting. These hosting plans are often on the more expensive side of web hosting costs and don’t give you much flexibility.
WordPress, on the other hand, can be used with any website host. This means you can choose a more affordable web host, saving a significant amount of money over the lifetime of your site.
Many web hosts also offer managed WordPress plans. These plans offer automated updates for WordPress and attached plugins/themes, automated backups, and other technical support so you can focus on the creative side of building your site.
2. You can build any type of website
One of the best things about WordPress is that you can use it to build literally any type of website.
From blogs to ecommerce stores, online courses, membership sites, portfolios, and more, WordPress can do it all.
This also gives you flexibility going forward.
For example, maybe you start with just a blog. But as your audience grows, you want to launch an online course.
With other website builders, that might force you to switch to a third-party tool. But with WordPress, you can easily add a user-friendly online course to your existing WordPress site.
Maybe later you want to expand further with a merch store – WordPress can handle that, too!
Having all of this flexibility can be really handy because you never know what direction your site will take in the future.
3. It’s free
You will have to pay for web hosting, but WordPress itself is free. You won’t have to pay to install it on your website or to update it.
There are also many free tools for improving and expanding your WordPress site.
Overall, if you’re on a tight budget, WordPress offers the cheapest way to create a fully functional website.
There are free website builder tools, but the free options are super limited when compared to WordPress.
4. It’s easy to use
Many web hosts offer one-click installation for WordPress and some even offer plans with pre-installed WordPress, making it easy to set up.
And once you’ve got WordPress installed, you can build your entire site without using a single line of code.
Even things like creating an online store, building online courses, and running a paid membership program don’t require you to use code; you just need the right plugins.
You can also find a huge number of resources on how to set up your WordPress site. A good place to start is with our guide: How to Make a WordPress Website.
5. There are thousands of themes
WordPress themes control the appearance of your site – you can think of them as your website’s “clothing.”
The great thing about WordPress is that there are thousands of themes to choose from, which lets you find the perfect design for your site without the need to create your own design from scratch.
Best of all, many WordPress themes are free and easy to install through the WordPress.org theme directory (learn more about changing your theme). You can have one set up on your site in minutes.
For example, the free Neve theme won’t cost you a penny and includes dozens of different looks for your site in one lightweight package.
If you want even more functionality without spending a lot of money, check out our list of the best cheap premium WordPress themes.
6. All of the designs are responsive
Every WordPress theme released in the past several years uses responsive design, which means they look great on mobile devices. This is huge when you consider that an estimated two billion people use the internet only on their smartphones .
Of course, some designs still look better on phones than others. We recommend testing what any theme you’re considering looks like on a mobile device before you install it on your site.
7. You can do almost anything with WordPress plugins
WordPress plugins are tools that add extra functionality to your site. Some plugins focus on one main feature, like image optimization. Optimole is a great example of this, and will do wonders for your page load times. Other plugins offer robust tools for more intense tasks like building online courses.
Like themes, many plugins for WordPress are free to access through the WordPress.org directory. Many more are quite affordable, costing under $100 per year.
If you want to know more about plugins, check out our list of essential WordPress plugins.
8. WordPress offers excellent blogging tools
One of the biggest differences between WordPress and other website building tools is the emphasis on blogging.
WordPress actually started as a blogging tool before expanding into a tool that you can use to build any type of site.
Because of this, you can easily create, organize, and edit blog posts using a powerful editor.
There are also many plugins that build on the built-in blogging capacity of WordPress. For example, the Yoast SEO plugin provides a roadmap you can use to easily optimize your content for SEO.
👎 Cons of WordPress
While there’s a lot to like about WordPress, it’s not all positive. Here are the cons of WordPress:
1. Confusion about WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
One of the biggest issues I run into with WordPress is that people are confused about the two “types” of WordPress. Here’s a quick run-down of the difference between them:
WordPress.org, or self-hosted WordPress, is free software you can install on your own web hosting. It’s created by an open-source, non-profit community. What’s more, the software that you install has no arbitrary limits, you get the “full” WordPress experience.
When most people say “WordPress,” they’re talking about the open-source software that you can get from WordPress.org.
On the other hand, WordPress.com is a for-profit company that offers one way to use the WordPress software. It simplifies the setup and maintenance, but you lose some flexibility and ownership, especially if you use the free plan (because the free plan doesn’t let you install your own plugins or themes).
Want to know more about the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com? 🤩 Check out our full WordPress.com vs WordPress.org comparison.
2. Many updates to manage
Most website builders automatically roll out updates to all users, but WordPress.org requires you to run the updates yourself.
This includes not only updates for the main WordPress dashboard but also updates for your theme and any plugins you’re using.
Many plugins and themes are updated several times a year and WordPress itself releases multiple updates per year, so this can be a lot to manage on your own.
However, it’s worth noting that you can avoid this issue by choosing a managed WordPress plan.
3. You need plugins for most things
Technically, anything is possible with WordPress, but most of it is accomplished through plugins.
Want to set up automated backups? If your host doesn’t offer it, you’ll need a plugin. Want to make sure all of your pages are optimized for SEO? Again, if your host doesn’t offer it, you’ll need a plugin. Want to create an ecommerce store on your site? You’ll need another plugin.
Finding great plugins for all of these functions, installing them, and keeping them updated can be a lot of work.
Many are free, but the free plugins don’t always offer the same level of functionality as their paid counterparts.
4. Themes and plugins can slow your site down
Some themes and plugins are quite bulky and can slow your website speed down. It can have a huge impact on how people interact with your site, if they interact with it at all. In fact, a full 40% of users will leave a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load .
You can also encounter loading speed issues if you have too many themes and plugins installed. Thus, it’s essential to fully delete any plugins and themes you’re not currently using.
It’s important to note that WordPress itself is not slow. If you put the work into optimizing it, it can actually be faster than most other website builders.
However, that’s the key detail – you need to put in the work if you want your site to load fast.
For more information about loading speeds and WordPress, check out our step-by-step guide to website speed optimization.
5. Advanced customization is only possible with a developer
I can hear your objections already: didn’t I open this article about the pros and cons of WordPress by saying you don’t need to learn code to build a site with it?
Well, yes. WordPress does make it possible to set up a complete website without learning a single line of code. Plugins make it possible to add things like an ecommerce store, paid membership program, and more to your site, still without using any code. But there are limits to what these tools can do.
If you want a 100% customized WordPress website, however, you’ll need to either learn to write code or hire someone to do it. Many base aspects of the CMS can only be edited by changing the base CSS.
🧐 Should you choose WordPress?
So far we’ve covered all of the major pros and cons of WordPress. There was a lot of information, so here’s a quick recap:
WordPress Pros 👍
You can install it on any web host
You can build any type of site
It’s easy to use
There are thousands of themes you can use to change your site’s appearance
All WordPress themes are responsive
You can add virtually any function you can imagine to your WordPress site with plugins
WordPress offers excellent blogging tools
WordPress Cons 👎
Potential confusion between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
There are a lot of updates to manage
You need plugins to do most things beyond basic website and blog creation/management
Themes and plugins can slow your site down
Advanced customization is only possible with a developer
So, keeping all of the pros and cons of WordPress in mind, should you choose WordPress?
Personally, I think WordPress is the best option for many businesses.
The number of resources, themes, and plugins available makes it one of the most flexible options around for building a website.
The fact that you can find free plugins for almost every purpose, even advanced monetization systems like affiliate programs, also makes it a great option for someone building a business on a budget.
However, the truth is that in today’s marketplace there are many website builders that can accomplish most of the same things as WordPress.
These often come with built-in systems for SEO tools and ecommerce, offering paid extensions for other features like the ability to create membership programs or affiliate programs.
The range of options in today’s marketplace means that, in the end, it really comes down to your personal preferences. I recommend testing several website building tools to discover what works best for you.
Now that you’ve been acquainted with the pros and cons of WordPress, you can check out how some other popular website builders compare to it by reading the posts below:
If you find that WordPress is the best website building tool 🏗️ for your needs, you can follow our 👉 step-by-step guide on how to make a WordPress website to get started.
Do you still have any questions about the pros and cons of WordPress? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below: