According to a W3Techs survey, 35% of the world’s websites use WordPress.1 This is more than 12 times as much as the second most popular content management system, Joomla, and 22 times as much as popular competing website creation tools Squarespace and Wix.2 This same survey also shows that WordPress is still the fastest-growing content management system on the web, so it does not look as if it is going away any time soon.
This is not due to having the best codebase; WordPress is notorious among programmers for its outdated reliance on globals and its unintuitive loop system. These make it easier for different pieces of code to conflict with each other. WordPress is also known for its limited plugin system, which is inefficient when compared to more modern approaches, such as Composer.
There are many competitors with cleaner code than WordPress, such as SilverStripe or Symfony. However, none of them have the complete, intuitive UI WordPress has that makes it easy to use for both programmers and clients. As the programmer who co-founded Stack Overflow and Discourse said, “the UI is the application.”3 Having a system that is easy to use for clients or less-technically-proficient people is important for balancing division of labor and keeping development cost fair. Often, clients cannot afford every change they need done to be completed directly by a programmer, so it is more economical to use a UI for simple changes. That way clients can save the money to use the programmer later on for more technical issues, like speed or security. The purpose for technology, after all, is to save people time.
For technology, popularity can be an advantage by itself, especially for open source software. It means there are more eyes watching it and more minds thinking about it. No matter how clean a piece of software is, it will always cause users obscure errors. Dealing with these errors is much easier when there is a large community of people who have likely run into the same errors and can give answers and solutions.
The same concept applies for plugins and themes. WordPress’ popularity gives it a greater variety of plugins that can serve many more needs than less popular environments. Also, you will be less likely to fall victim to hacking if you stick to popular plugins that are supported by professional organizations with good reputations. Whereas obscure plugins, thanks to their obscurity, can hide exploits for years without anyone finding them.
Because WordPress is popular, it is that much easier to find developers with years of experience working in it. While we love working with our clients for as long as we can, we understand that sometimes clients need change. Sometimes clients become so big that they need a developer dedicated fully to their company and need to take their work in-house. It would be much harder to find a developer who could easily catch up to where the old developer left off if they had to work in a lesser-known content management system. When we take on a client who already has a website, it is usually much easier to update and improve it if it is already in WordPress, than if it was made in an older, lesser-known system.
To give an example of the extra attention WordPress gets from large, professional organizations, Google themselves are dedicating an engineering team to help make WordPress faster.4
Unlike site builders like SquareSpace or Wix, WordPress still gives developers complete control over the website. This makes it easier to apply security and speed optimizations site builders that SquareSpace or Wix do not allow. Site builders like these are closed systems locked behind a paid service, which can give peace of mind to non-developers because the service handles security issues. However, since these websites are generated, they are usually not well made. These websites have redundant code and resources that take longer to load, which can hurt SEO because search engines prefer faster websites. They also do not allow advanced security features like security headers and content security policies, which can better protect websites from hacks, such as cross-site scripting hijacks.5
In contrast, WordPress is open source software you host yourself, so you can change just about anything you want. This means that the unsavory elements of WordPress can be patched up. Do you prefer the flexibility and efficiency of Composer in Symfony? You can implement Composer inside your WordPress theme and get most of the same benefits. Meanwhile, WordPress’ wonky loop systems and awkward, wordy methods for adding stylesheets can be hidden behind clean, object-oriented interfaces.
With greater control over clients’ websites, Cascade e-Commerce Solutions Inc. can make them more personalized to fit the specific needs of the clients in both design and functionality—websites that go beyond cookie-cutter templates. CeSI websites are unique, professional, and accessible.
For examples of some WordPress websites we have made, explore the following case studies: