It’s hard for me to be objective when asked if WordPress is easy or hard. I’ve been using WordPress off and on for over 7 years, and professionally for 4 straight years. When I’m asked a question about WordPress, there’s a pretty good chance I know the answer. If I don’t know the answer, there’s a pretty good chance I can figure it out. Fast.
But What About Everybody Else?
Small business owners and aspiring individuals want to get a website set up to display their services / wares / awesomeness. They have to decide between using a CMS like WordPress, or a (ahem, shitty) setup like Wix or SquareSpace. Yes, I think Wix and SquareSpace are terrible, but I don’t hold it against the web users who feel like they have no other option.
The problem with the WYSIWYG site builders is that once you’ve set your site up, you can’t really migrate it or build on it more without re-doing all the WYSIWYG mess. This might not matter to someone who never plans to change their site, or doesn’t plan to add massive functionality.
Would You Regret Using Something Easy?
This might matter in an instance where you set up your website as an informational site to advertise a product you’re making. Maybe after a while, you want to start selling that product on your website. Sure, you could just insert a link that sends someone to PayPal, but that doesn’t do inventory management, customer relations emails, or anything complex.
There is probably a shopping cart solution for services like Wix and SquareSpace, but they are likely more limited than the enormous options available for WordPress e-commerce frameworks. There is almost no limit to the payment gateways you can use when you set up WooCommerce with WordPress.
It’s not that you couldn’t get your site converted to a system that works for your new needs, it’s just that it might be a lot easier than that if you set it up with an adaptive framework to start.
Long story short: if you’re building a super basic website with no plans to ever build it up to something bigger or better, you’ll probably be fine using a WYSIWYG builder.
So Why Use WordPress?
WordPress is super popular right now. Although that often means that the security risk is higher, it also means that themes, plugins, and add-ons are being made for WordPress by the boatload. If you can get a WordPress site set up with a theme that you like (or even a custom made theme), then you also have the option to change that pretty easily in the future.
I’ll make this a bit easier to understand by explaining why I use WordPress.
I’m good enough with PHP, HTML, and CSS (and a bit of JS) that I can pretty much make any site look exactly the way I want to. I can manipulate content, create dynamic image galleries, sweeping background images, and achieve modern effects. However.
When I’m doing all this web development, I’m working with multiple Terminal windows, text editors, and sometimes also database management tools. I can easily put the full real estate of my 27″ 1440p monitor to work.
When I just want to update some content, though – like how I’m writing this article – I want a simple, easy-to-use web interface to add my content. That goes for all types of content – from blog posts, to pages, to custom post types like projects, team members, portfolio items, and more. When I add a complex post type to a website, I want easy to read text fields for entry, and WordPress allows me to use those.
I still get the complexity of a CMS, allowing me to create very dynamic, very detailed content – and style / display that content how I want on the front end – but I can still enter it easily in the back end.
Sometimes, I feel the need to write the code to achieve something myself. I avoid using plugins that perform simple functions, because if I write it myself, that’s one less thing that has to load on the site, and I know exactly what I’ve written.
However, there are some times when I just want to use a plugin for things like Social Sharing. On this website, I’m using the Monarch Social Sharing Plugin, by Elegant Themes. It’s so good, and it looks so clean, that there’s no way I’d want to write that plugin all over again. The amount of time it saves me is worth more than the cost of the plugin itself.
I know I’ve said it many times, but WooCommerce is another big reason I use WordPress. The developer community for WooCommerce is so large, there is pretty much an extension already written for just about anything your online store could need.
WordPress Themes are another example of the expandability of WordPress. There are thousands of free and paid themes all over the web, and with a little bit of tweaking after installation, you can swap out your themes constantly. It’s not as easy as WYSIWYG, but it’s pretty damn close.
The way I set up WordPress websites, it becomes incredibly easy to change just about any aspect of the site with a simple click or drag (or click and drag) in the admin area of the website. This means that all the coding is done up front, and for the most part, site edits are quick and painless from there on out.
With Yoast SEO, I can set the specific image that I want to show up on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus when I paste a blog post’s link on any of those social networks. I can also control exactly what the Google and Bing bots see, by simply entering some text in a text field.
I could do all of these things manually with <meta> tags in plain HTML, but it’s so much quicker using the control WordPress gives me to manage these things. Being able to edit the length of the “excerpt” that shows on my Blog page, how many posts show up there, or the order of elements on my home page are just a few of the massive benefits of using a CMS with PHP and MySQL involved.
So What Do You Do?
I’m not going to tell you that you’re an idiot for not using WordPress. Honestly, I haven’t used enough of the other options out there to really know which one is objectively best. I will tell you though, that I know without a doubt, if you do use WordPress for your website, you’ll be building on a framework that will easily take you into the big leagues without major revisions.
No, WordPress is not easy, but when you learn to use it properly, it can be an invaluable tool that the other services can hardly touch.