Development / 12 min read

Pros and Cons of Using WordPress to Build Your Site

the WordPress "All Posts" interface, showing various blog posts

Are you planning to use WordPress to build your website? If so, you need to explore its pros and cons so you can make the most informed decision about choosing a content management system (CMS) for your future site.

This article will explore what WordPress is and the advantages and disadvantages of using it to build your website.

Key Takeaways

  • WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS mainly because it is user-friendly, allowing even users without technical knowledge to build sites quickly.
  • WordPress’s advantages include its cost-effectiveness, robust content management features, built-in SEO features, and ecommerce capabilities.
  • WordPress’s main disadvantages include being a frequent target for hackers due to its popularity and needing to know how to code to get the most out of the platform.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) for building websites. Initially launched in 2003 as a blog-building tool, it has since expanded its capabilities and become the most popular CMS globally, powering 43.4% of all websites.

Due to its flexibility and scalability, you can build any website in WordPress: blogs, business and institutional websites, ecommerce shops, professional portfolios, membership sites, forums, and more.

This adaptability comes from an extensive ecosystem of themes and plugins. Themes are pre-designed templates that modify your site’s layout and appearance. You can use WordPress’ default themes, download free or premium ones, or create your own.

Plugins are software addons that modify or extend your WordPress website’s functions. There are plugins to optimize images, plugins to add social media sharing buttons, plugins to enhance security, and much more. 

It also has extensive SEO features, which allow users to improve the likelihood of their sites ranking higher on search engines.

Lastly, WordPress is known for its large support community. From forums and dedicated websites to online courses and meetups, the WordPress community offers extensive resources for learning and troubleshooting your sites.

Pros of Using WordPress

WordPress has many advantages, which is why it’s the most popular CMS worldwide. These are the main advantages of using WordPress to build your website.

WordPress Is Beginner-Friendly

WordPress is considered one of the most user-friendly and beginner-oriented CMSs because it’s designed so people with basic computer skills can easily create a website using the platform’s built-in tools.

The following are some of the elements that make WordPress friendly and easy to learn:

  • Friendly UI. WordPress is easy to use and navigate, with a clean interface that doesn’t require coding by default.
  • It’s easy to install. Depending on your host, you can install WordPress in a few clicks. You can also install it locally with Local by Flywheel in minutes.
  • A large community. WordPress’s large user and developer community provides beginners with many learning resources. You’ll find endless free tutorials, guides, forums, and support groups to help you understand how WordPress works.

WordPress is Free and Open-Source

WordPress’s free and open-source status makes it a cost-effective platform.

However, it’s important to clarify that WordPress software is free to download and use, but since it’s a self-hosted platform, you must pay to host your site. 

While high-traffic websites with various paid plugins and specialized server needs can cost thousands per year, you can still easily operate your small business or personal website for less than $100 per year if you pay only for web hosting and domain name maintenance.

WordPress’s advantages as an open-source platform include enhanced security through regular updates, the absence of licensing fees, and abundant support resources from its extensive developer community.

You can also create a WordPress site without paying for hosting by building a local site.

WordPress Has Thousands of Plugins and Themes

WordPress currently has over 59,000 plugins and over 12,000 themes.

WordPress.org's "Plugins", displaying some od the most popular plugins

Plugins are software addons that modify or extend your WordPress website’s functions. There are plugins to optimize images, plugins to add social media sharing buttons, plugins to enhance security, and much more. Knowing which plugins to use improves your site and helps you reach your development goals without building everything from scratch.

Themes are pre-designed templates or style sheets that modify your site’s layout and appearance. You can use WordPress’ default themes, download free or premium ones, or create your own themes.

With thousands of plugins and themes to choose from, users and developers have more than enough tools to create any type of website.

WordPress’s Gutenberg Editor Makes Content Creation Easy

The Gutenberg editor, introduced in 2018, is a block-based content editor designed to make it easier for users to create rich content.

Instead of a single text area, the Gutenberg editor uses individual blocks for different types of content, such as paragraphs, images, headings, lists, and more.

WordPress's Gutenebrg editor, showing text and various content management options

You can add, rearrange, and customize each block independently, giving you great flexibility and control over the layout and design of posts and pages.

This modular approach provides a more intuitive and user-friendly experience for building functional and visually appealing websites without knowledge of HTML or CSS.

WordPress Has Drag-and-Drop Builders for No-Code Developers

While WordPress ultimately comes down to PHP, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS code, that doesn’t mean everyone who uses it knows how to code. In fact, some developers never code and instead rely on drag-and-drop builders like Beaver Builder, Thrive Architect, and SeedProd.

Drag-and-drop builders make web development more accessible as a no-code alternative for people without software engineering knowledge. These builders allow you to design and create a website without writing a single line of code because they use graphical interfaces where you can drag premade components into your design.

Additionally, the built-in Site Editor feature allows you to use a drag-and-drop-like interface to edit block themes. Block themes are themes created using Gutenberg’s blocks.

WordPress's Site Editor interface

Drag-and-drop builders make using WordPress easier and can be excellent for developers used to Wix, Squarespace, and other CMSs focused on drag-and-drop interfaces.

WordPress Is SEO-Optimized by Default

WordPress is built with SEO in mind. Users can leverage features like:

  • Fast loading speeds.
  • Responsiveness.
  • Settings for editing search engine visibility.
  • Customizable permalinks to make them more meaningful and search engine-friendly.
  • Google Analytics integration.
  • Image optimization and lazy loading.
  • Many SEO-focused plugins like Yoast SEO.

Of course, it’s up to developers to express this SEO-friendliness, but they have all the necessary tools to make it happen.

WordPress Supports Ecommerce

While WordPress wasn’t created for ecommerce, it’s flexible enough to provide the tools developers need to build a digital marketplace. Some of the benefits of WordPress as an ecommerce platform include:

  • Multiple ecommerce plugins. There are various alternatives for WordPress ecommerce development, with WooCommerce being the most popular and best regarded one. These plugins are designed to be easy to use and very SEO-friendly.
  • No commissions to WordPress. Unlike dedicated ecommerce platforms like Shopify, the WordPress organization charges no commission per sale when you use it to build your ecommerce site. Transactions may still be subject to commission from payment processors like Stripe or PayPal.
  • All the flexibility and customizability of WordPress. Dedicated ecommerce platforms are more limited in scope since they only need to worry about ecommerce functionality. But as we know, WordPress has no such limitations and provides ample room for customization and flexibility.

Despite not being a dedicated ecommerce solution, WordPress also has a massive market share in the industry. WooCommerce, in particular, is so popular that it powers 9% of all websites worldwide.

WordPress’s Core Is Very Secure

The WordPress core files (those that constitute WordPress software itself) have a strong security record, and the core is generally considered very safe. The WordPress core files are developed by a team led by its co-creator, Matt Mullenweg. Five other lead developers and more than a dozen core developers have permanent commit access. There are also dozens of additional contributors.

Everyone in the WordPress core development team earned their place by commanding respect through their past work. They’re some of the most qualified security professionals in the world, releasing frequent security patches to keep the community safe.

WordPress security statistics confirm the core’s near-bulletproof nature. In 2022, only 1.29% of security vulnerabilities originated in WordPress core files, according to iThemes Security.

WordPress Has Multisite Support

The WordPress multisite feature allows you to create a network of multiple websites, all running on a single WordPress installation. It has several benefits, such as:

  • Cost-effectiveness. You don’t have to pay for individual hosting plans. All sites in the network are associated with the same plan.
  • Centralized management. You can manage all websites in the network from the same dashboard, including plugins, themes, and user accounts. No need to manage multiple installations. 
  • Consistent branding. You can maintain consistent branding across the network using the same themes and plugins.
  • Simultaneous updates. You can update all your websites at once.
  • Shared content. You can share content like blog posts to multiple sites at once. It is great if you have a shared calendar of events or frequently need to publish network-wide alerts and notices.
  • Shared licenses. All premium plugins and themes you acquire can be used on all sites in the network under the same license.

WordPress Supports Headless Development

Headless web development is a trend that’s gained traction over the last decade. It involves using a CMS such as WordPress as the backend content hub and a frontend framework like Next and Angular for the user-facing part of the site.

This separation of backend and frontend means that developers can bypass some of the limitations of traditional, monolithic CMSs like WordPress while enjoying its benefits. Some of the advantages of headless WordPress development include:

  • Managing content for multiple channels, like mobile apps and websites, instead of a single one. In this case, the one channel would be your WordPress site.
  • More flexibility for developers in their frontend tool choices.
  • Headless CMSs are designed with scalability in mind.

While WordPress wasn’t created with headless development in mind, this is another example of the platform’s flexibility and capacity to meet developers’ complex and evolving needs.

Cons of WordPress

Despite its many advantages, WordPress does come with a few drawbacks that users and developers have to contend with as they build their sites.

These are the main cons of using WordPress to build your website.

WordPress Is a Common Target for Hackers

One of the disadvantages of the self-hosted model is that site owners and admins need to handle security for themselves rather than relying on WordPress for updates. You can mitigate this by installing security plugins and using managed hosting, but the responsibility for your site’s security is ultimately yours.

Additionally, WordPress’ popularity means there are millions of websites for hackers to break into. This is particularly true when you consider that many WordPress sites have outdated software components (core files, PHP versions, plugins, or themes).

The most common methods hackers use to crack WordPress sites include cross-site request forgery (CSRF, “sea-surf”), SQL injections, and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.

Keep your site safe with security best practices.

WordPress Maintenance Costs Can Increase Fast

Theoretically, hosting and domain name maintenance are the only two mandatory expenses for keeping your WordPress site online, which sometimes amount to as cheap as under $100 per year.

However, the more complex your site 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.

Keep in mind that maintenance costs would scale in any website that is complex enough to require significant investments, regardless of the CMS. This isn’t a WordPress-only problem.

WordPress Sites Can Suffer Plugin and Theme Incompatibilities

WordPress has a massive software addon directory with thousands of plugins and themes available. However, this diversity has the potential to lead to compatibility issues that can break your website, due to factors like outdated software and conflicting code.

Plugin or theme incompatibilities can tank your site’s performance, disable the Gutenberg editor, or straight up crash your site entirely.

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. If you decide to become a WordPress developer, testing changes in a local environment is an essential skill you must master.

WordPress Faces Some Ecommerce Challenges

If you’re getting into WordPress for its eCommerce capabilities, you probably already know the platform offers everything you need. However, you should also be aware of some of the challenges, including:

  • It has a steeper learning curve than ecommerce-focused CMSs. Using WordPress for ecommerce means knowing WordPress first and then learning to integrate ecommerce into the platform. That takes more time than using an ecommerce-focused platform like Shopify, which is much more streamlined. Advanced ecommerce features in WordPress require technical expertise that takes time to learn or may require significant investment if you contract developers.
  • Maintenance. While ecommerce CMSs like Shopify handle security and updates for you, in WordPress, you’re entirely responsible for your site’s maintenance. This includes regular updates to the core files and all plugins and themes you use. Updating may be time-consuming or require professional assistance for people without much tech skills.
  • Lack of customer support. WordPress has a large and active community but lacks central, dedicated customer service. That said, if you’re paying to develop your WordPress ecommerce site, your team should be able to provide all the support you need.

You Need to Know How to Code to Get the Most Out of WordPress

While WordPress is popular in large part due to its user-friendliness, if you want to take full control of your site and develop unique, custom features, you’ll need to know how to code or hire a developer.

Some of the cases were you would need to know how to code for a WordPress development project include:

  • Custom theme and plugin development.
  • Some security features like prepared SQL statements.
  • Adding custom PHP snippets to the functions.php file.
  • Managing the WordPress database (requires SQL knowledge).

You can get a lot out of WordPress without code, but the only way to fully customize a site is to use PHP, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Should You Use WordPress to Build Your Site?

WordPress is the most popular CMS because it’s easy to use for people with no coding experience.

WordPress is the right choice for your site if you want:

  • User-friendly interfaces.
  • Powerful content management features.
  • “What you see is what you get” content creation with Gutenberg.
  • A wide variety of plugins and themes to choose from.
  • SEO-friendliness by default and many SEO plugins to improve upon it.
  • Cost-effective, affordable site maintenance.
  • Ecommerce integration.

These are the main reasons why you may want to use WordPress to build your website. Is that what you’re looking for? If it is, we wish you a happy web development experience with WordPress!

If you found this post useful, read our blog and resources for more insights and guides!