Is WordPress the “cheap” option?

At Avidmode, we’ve used WordPress for several years. It’s been very good for us, and we’re never worried about using it for client websites. It has quite literally never been an issue. However, outside our company, WordPress has a varied reputation. It’s often referred to as the “cheap” option.

It’s not my intention to launch into some rant about this but given that we’ve more or less built our business around WordPress, I think it’s only fair that I stick up for it, at least once.

There are two ways of using WordPress

The first is the one most people are familiar with. You install WordPress, install a theme (whether free or premium), add a couple of plugins for SEO and pretty features — and that’s it. You’ve got yourself a working website.

It is entirely accurate to say that this is a cheap option, especially since it can be done for free. There are companies out there who perform this kind of service, usually under the banner of web design, web development or WordPress development.

This is not what we do at Avidmode.

The second way

A custom-developed, site-specific theme is very much unlike the ones you download and install yourself. They are not generic and made to be customised by the end-user. Rather, they are more correctly thought of as the code that make up the site. “Theme” is an inappropriate word here because we’re not just talking about appearance.

Every aspect, from the look and feel to the features and functionality, is built from the ground up to make up a website. Some default bits of WordPress are disabled, others are changed and sometimes entirely new bits are added. You can do this with WordPress because it offers developers excellent extensibility under the hood.

But isn’t WordPress just for blogs?

When it was first released (all the way back in 2003), yes. Originally, WordPress was a blogging platform. Its sharply increasing popularity prompted the developers to start adding more features, like pages, configurable navigation menus and widgets. But the problem is that so much of what they’ve added isn’t something you can see.

If you delve into the developer portal, you will find a great deal of functions and hooks, most of which never see the light of day in the overwhelming majority of WordPress sites. Not because they’re useless — quite the contrary — but because a simple website with a blog and a couple of pages would have little use for them.

Out of the box, WordPress is a simple website platform. But it comes with great extensibility, which is a big reason why we made it Avidmode’s primary choice of platform, even though it’s a big reason that only a developer would likely ever see.

Even Kittie more or less has to take my word for it if I say that WordPress can do something (except she’s actually seen me do it in the past on many occasions).

In closing

WordPress has a cheap option, but it is not the cheap option. It’s a platform; you can use it however you like, from the simple DIY stuff to the really elaborate implementations. An experienced WordPress developer knows that the answer to the question, “Can it be done with WordPress?” is always yes, but that the actual question is, “Should it?”.

Sometimes other platforms are more suitable, usually with ecommerce or communities. You can make both using WordPress, but it’s probably easier and more efficient to do it with something else.

I want to end by saying that I don’t blame anyone who thinks of WordPress as the “cheap” option. We’ve met enough people who have had bad experiences; someone claiming to be a web developer threw together a premium theme with a couple of plugins and called it a website. There’s nothing we can do about this except be a good example of the right way to do it.

It’s a shame to see WordPress getting bashed because for something that literally isn’t its fault. You can’t blame the quality of a website on a platform which gives you the freedom to do whatever you like.

All the best,
Dan

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