If you’re starting to learn web development, you may not be entirely aware of which platforms professional web developers use to build websites for their clients. You may even ask yourself, “Do web developers use WordPress?”.
The short answer is yes. Many web developers use WordPress to build websites, making WordPress a very valuable skill. For the longer answer, let’s explore the following:
The reasons why WordPress is so popular.
The pros and cons of web development with WordPress.
What you need to know to become a WordPress developer
And which other platforms web developers use to build websites for their clients.
Yes, many web developers use WordPress.
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), powering over 40% of websites on the internet and approximately 65% of websites with a known CMS. As a result, many developers are interested in learning how to use WordPress to secure steady employment opportunities.
WordPress is by far the most widely used platform for building websites. There are many reasons for this trend, but some of the main ones include the following:
WordPress is beginner-friendly, accessible, and easy to use, even for developers who don’t code. Plugins like Elementor and other page builders enable web development by using a drag-and-drop graphic user interface (GUI).
WordPress is highly customizable, allowing developers to install themes and plugins from other contributors to extend their website’s functionality. They can also create their own plugins and themes.
WordPress has one of the largest developer communities in the world, ensuring new developers plenty of learning resources.
WordPress is SEO-friendly, simplifying the process of optimizing websites for search engines.
WordPress core files are very secure. Additionally, many developers dedicate their time to uncover and disclosing security vulnerabilities in popular WordPress themes and plugins.
WordPress is cost-effective. It’s a free, self-hosted, and open-source platform, meaning that the cost of using it can be as low as under $50 a year for essential maintenance services (web hosting and domain name registration).
Pros and cons of using WordPress to develop websites
Now that you know why WordPress is the most popular CMS, let’s discuss its advantages and disadvantages when building a website.
Pros of using WordPress for web development
Rich content management.
WordPress was initially built for blogging and still shines in this role. Additionally, WordPress has developed mature content management features that allow you to control your website’s content completely. Some of WordPress’ best content management features include the following:
Customizable content types. Such as pages, posts, products, and events.
Multimedia management. It’s easy to upload and manage multimedia content like images, videos, and audio files, which can be organized to create galleries.
Content scheduling. WordPress allows you to schedule content publishing, helping you plan content.
Content revisions. WordPress saves past versions of content, helping you revert to previous versions of your post, pages, etc.
Custom taxonomies. You can create custom taxonomies like categories and tags to group content, making content easier to browse.
Multilingual support. WordPress supports multilingual content, which is particularly useful for large sites that need to appeal to multilingual audiences.
Thousands of themes and plugins.
WordPress has over 60,000 plugins and over 10,000 themes in its directory. This massive supply effectively grants developers endless options to extend and customize websites.
Easy plugin integration.
WordPress is designed to scale and extend through plugins, so the installation, configuration, and integration process from the admin dashboard is streamlined and easy to follow.
WordPress offers access to perhaps the largest community of CMS-specific developers. With the community’s help, you gain access to development support and resources.
WordPress is built with SEO in mind, enjoying features like clean code, customizable permalinks, fast loading speeds, XML sitemaps, responsive theme design, Google Analytics integration, image optimization, and many SEO-focused plugins like Yoast SEO.
It’s up to developers to express WordPress’ SEO friendliness on their sites, but the platform provides all the necessary tools.
Flexibility and scalability.
WordPress has the potential to power websites that receive millions of visitors per month while maintaining performance. However, this capability is only partially expressed by default, so developers must take deliberate steps to ensure websites are scalable.
Professional WordPress developers focus on backend efficiency to achieve scalability: specific database calls, size-optimized assets, and straightforward code. Without these, no amount of server improvements will ever keep up with increased website traffic.
WordPress is also remarkably flexible, allowing developers to use its many plugins, themes, custom post types, API integrations, and other features to create any website.
Even though we’re mostly talking about seasoned developers, WordPress is an accessible alternative for developers who don’t code.
Users who don’t code can build basic websites with page builders such as Elementor, WP Page Builder, Spectra, Beaver Builder, and others. This removes a significant barrier to entry and makes WordPress an accessible CMS.
However, remember that you can’t get the most out of WordPress unless you code. While you can create websites without code, you’re more likely to be restricted by the templates provided by the page builder you use. Additionally, you don’t own your website’s source code and can’t control all aspects of your web app, leading to potential security and performance issues.
WordPress’ core files (the files necessary to install WordPress on a hosting server) have an excellent security track record and are generally very secure. Additionally, the active WordPress community is known for periodically discovering and disclosing known security vulnerabilities and advising users to update their software components (core files, plugins, themes, PHP versions, etc.) often.
Cons of using WordPress for web development.
It’s a common target for hackers.
Given WordPress’ popularity, it’s a common target for many hackers. This leads to a constant battle between WordPress themes, plugins, and core developers with bad actors trying to identify and exploit security vulnerabilities.
Outdated software components, in particular, are one of the most common ways hackers break into WordPress websites, as older plugin/theme/WordPress versions that are no longer maintained have a higher chance of suffering from security vulnerabilities.
Some of the main security vulnerabilities WordPress developers and admins have to account for are XSS attacks, SQL injections, brute force attacks, weak passwords, and CSRF attacks. Because of this, security plugins dedicated to countering these vulnerabilities have become necessary.
Finally, since WordPress is a self-hosted platform, you must take care of your site’s security rather than relying on managed hosting services (unless you specifically pay for those services). This can be a barrier for people with less technical knowledge.
Some theme and plugin integrations may cause issues.
WordPress has a massive software add-on directory with thousands of plugins and themes available. However, this diversity has the potential to lead to compatibility issues that can break your WordPress site entirely, caused by factors such as outdated software and conflicting code when customizing a theme or configuring servers.
Because of this, you need to test plugins and themes before implementing them into your live site and always keep all software components up to date. Skilled WordPress developers can overcome the challenges of incompatibilities, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
Constant need to update software components.
The WordPress core files, themes, plugins, and PHP versions must be constantly updated to keep up with functionality improvements and security patches. Updating is necessary given the security vulnerabilities above, which bad actors often try to identify and leverage.
Also, as WordPress web apps grow more complex, updates are more likely to introduce incompatibilities that affect site performance, increasing the need for professional developers.
Maintenance costs can be high.
While WordPress is free and open-source, it’s also self-hosted. This means you must pay for web hosting and domain registration. Theoretically, those are the only two mandatory expenses, which sometimes amount to as cheap as below $50 per year.
However, the more complex your WordPress website becomes, the more costs start to rack up in the form of specialized managed hosting services, premium themes and plugins, SSL certificates, and hourly development costs if you hire a freelancer or a WordPress agency.
What do you need to know to be a WordPress developer?
To be an effective WordPress developer, you must be a full-stack web developer. This means that you need to be able to develop both the frontend and backend parts of the website. The primary skills WordPress developers need to focus on are the following:
HTML. To structure a webpage and its contents.
CSS. To style HTML elements.
PHP. To edit the fundamental code that makes WordPress work.
MySQL-like languages. To manage your website’s database.
Learning these programming languages should take anywhere from 6 months to over a year. For a more detailed breakdown of how to become a WordPress developer, read our article about it. For a more detailed analysis of how long the process may take, read this article.
Which other content management systems do web developers use?
According to W3techs, there are approximately 796 million websites in the current CMS market, and WordPress powers 64.1% of them, dominating the market.
That said, there are dozens of CMSs in the market. Some are general-purpose, like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, while others aim toward a specific audience. Shopify, for example, is designed for eCommerce websites, while Wix and Webflow are general-purpose CMSs designed to be user and beginner-friendly by using drag-and-drop GUIs rather than code.
The following are the five most popular CMSs other than WordPress:
Shopify. Shopify is an eCommerce platform founded in 2004 that allows business owners to create and manage online stores. It has become one of the most popular platforms of its kind, powering over 6 million businesses worldwide. It currently has a 6.4% CMS market share.
Wix. Wix is a no-code website builder used to create websites without technical knowledge by implementing a user and beginner-friendly drag-and-drop interface. It currently has a 3.4% CMS market share.
Squarespace. Squarespace is another no-code, drag-and-drop website builder designed to be user and beginner-friendly. It currently has a 3% CMS market share.
Joomla. Joomla is more like WordPress than Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace. It’s an open-source platform that allows users to create web applications. It currently has a 2.5% CMS market share.
Drupal. Drupal is similar to WordPress and Joomla, requiring more technical knowledge than drag-and-drop page builders like Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc. It’s generally considered less user-friendly than WordPress. It currently has a 1.9% CMS market share.
WordPress is a popular CMS choice for web developers
WordPress is by far the most popular CMS, standing as the lonely king of CMSs regarding usage rate. This is because of its ease of use, diversity of plugins and themes, large community, and many other reasons.
Does that mean WordPress is the best CMS? That depends on your needs and technical knowledge. Among the CMS that emphasize technical skills (like Joomla and Drupal), WordPress is often considered the most beginner-friendly while still being powerful enough to build any website.
On the other hand, CMSs like Wix and Squarespace are aimed at people with no coding skills who want to create a website easily and quickly without worrying too much about plugins, themes, security, and so on.
Developers choose the CMS they’ll specialize in based on job opportunities and the CMS’s inherent properties, such as flexibility, scalability, ease of use, cost to maintain, security, SEO-friendliness, and community support.