WordPress: When Cheap Costs You More

by Laurie Heller

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Once upon a time, in 2003, WordPress was born and the internet fell in love. WordPress lovers everywhere were blasting 50 Cent’s billboard hit “In Da Club” like it was their birthday. Since then, WordPress sites have filled up the internet faster than sprinkles falling from a jar. The platform is so popular it holds almost two-thirds of the market share for content management systems. But a lot has changed since 2003. And if we’re honest, we hesitate when clients ask us to build or keep WordPress sites. There's a few reasons why.

1. Plugins:  the seven-letter word that makes us cringe

Outdated plugins are the top reasons WordPress sites get hacked. But don't hate WordPress; it's not necessarily its fault. It's more those third-party plugins that WordPress users deploy all sorts of bells and whistles to do what other platforms like HubSpot already have built-in. 

A word to the wise: research and evaluate each plugin before adding it to your website. This is  crucial because if a plugin is infected or has zero updates, it makes your blog or website vulnerable. You can also use WPScan to check for vulnerabilities in plugins and themes.  But even the internet’s SEO plugin, Yoast, has had its fair share of vulnerabilities.

2. Constant (and we mean constant) updates

Like a mosquito that bites and brings along its friends, WordPress updates can be annoying and relentless. But they’re critical to resolve bugs, security issues, security and compatibility problems. We've heard all the doomsday stories of clients coming to us explaining they didn't keep up with the WordPress or plugin updates, and their site ended up hacked (again) or runs slower than molasses. 

Think we’re exaggerating? Let's go through a summary of the most recent updates. As of February 9, 2021 alone, there were three updates. Also, there were two updates in December 2020, three in November 2020, and four in October 2020. The list goes on and on. Don't believe us. Have a look here. And the stinger: even if you stay on your toes with updates to your site, it doesn’t mean that your plugins are safe. 

3. Cost of upkeep

Think you're scoring a deal with freebie WordPress? Mmmmm not so fast. You'll need a dev and usually a designer on hand to help with #2.  But even then you’re not home free. Some plugin authors may fail to roll out updates, which means that you’ll need to deactivate and find alternative plugins. You may also incur additional costs for premium plugins. Most plugins offer basic packages but withhold the premium functionalities for paying members. A designer will usually customize the plugins to reduce unnecessary functions that slow down your website. Also word to the wise, do yourself a solid and avoid null plugins.

4. Support (or lack thereof)

If you're anything like us and have a hint of OCD, WordPress’s online chat, and documentation doesn't always cut it. Call us biased, but this is why platforms like HubSpot make us feel a whole lot better. You can’t beat 24-7 customer support and live chat in a crunch. In other words, you get what you pay for. 

If you're a WordPress user, you can call their toll free number, which then connects you to their online support, here.  How’s that for efficiency?

5. Clunky back-end user interface

One of the reasons many companies opt for WordPress is it's less expensive -- which means that it's likely also managed internally. Want to swap something out or update a blog? Depending on the template you're using, it's not always easy. This can lead to your company having an out-of-date look and feel because it's not as easy to make cosmetic or functional updates as WordPress's counterparts.

The future of WordPress

But what about Gutenberg, the supposed future of WordPress? According to WordPress’s site: “Gutenberg'' is a codename for a whole new paradigm in WordPress site building and publishing, that aims to revolutionize the entire publishing experience as much as Gutenberg did the printed word.

That’s a lofty goal, but we hope for the barrage of companies and folks who use WordPress, this is a welcome improvement. But just take a look at the comments on the site, like this one, and you’ll see WP’s Gutenberg might have a long way to go. 

Most of our clients and colleagues likeWordPress as they think it’s a better CMS or site, is cost effective and can get up and running quickly. But what they don’t always take into account are the extra maintenance burdens associated with it. If you’re on Wordpress and have more plugins than staff, as 50 Cent would say, come give me a hug. But if you’re in the market for a new site, blog or platform, send us a note, we can help.

So what's the solution?

So what's a marketing team, founder, or company to do? Explore your options and find a trusted partner to help you make the right decision. But before you engage a partner, make sure you think of everything you want your website to do. Deciding without making that list will almost always backfire.

As far as alternatives go, Some other options are Webflow, Shopify, Sitecore, or even Squarespace, for smaller upstarts, etc. And check out Ghost if you’re looking for a standalone blog platform.  But if you’re a B2B company looking to make a significant investment and have the budget to do things right, we heart HubSpot for a reason -- it doesn’t  cause the fab four headaches above.


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