Insights

Is Wordpress Really That Bad?

  • by Philippe Bodart
  • 22 days ago

Although being the most popular Content Management System around, there is a lot of negative talk about WordPress websites and WordPress development. It's not poor for its intended purpose, given the time it was conceived, but it is outdated by modern standards; by a lot.

It's procedurally coded, which made sense around the time WordPress was first built, for what they wanted to achieve. It keeps the barrier to entry low, which has contributed greatly to its community size. It was built long before modern dev-ops, composer, front-end compilers, or Git. Simply put, it's true that the general construct of WordPress is outdated.

There are efforts to port some features in, but they won't be anything compared to a modern CMS built from the ground up, with all of the aforementioned development efforts. The barrier of entry remains low. It never asks you to do anything complicated from an architectural or workflow standpoint, and you can build an entire career without knowing more than the basics of programming, and I mean really the basics.

WordPress fits a purpose. If you "just want a site quick and cheap” and a Do-it-Yourself builder isn't cutting it for you, WordPress is the way to go. If you want to build a business around your website, complete with business-grade workflows, you should probably use something else. It's really that simple.

Steer Clear from Incompetence

Given that so many developers and designers are building a business around WordPress websites, the community is flocked with opportunistic business people, who basically lack the competency to put a decent working WordPress site together.

Since the barriers of entry are low, it is very easy to build an non-secure WordPress site and it is easy to just use plugins that sometimes work and sometimes do not work. If you want to build a secure and always working website on WordPress, it requires quite a bit of knowledge. Something most WordPress developers do not have, and those who do or did have moved on to develop and promote more agile platforms that better suit modern online business needs.

And that, in a way, is the story of WebriQ. We moved on. We have built hundreds of sites on Content Management Systems like WordPress, and we had done so for many years, up until we stopped.

Moving On and Evolving to Be Better

Here is an example of our journey. One of our customers, Blinds Wholesale, is on our legacy platform (similar to WordPress) for many years now. And although the site really looks professional, is fully secured, has a shopping cart and many returning visitors and customers - it basically lacks the performance it should have, especially on mobile devices. The results are underneath.

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Could we do better on our legacy platform or on a fully optimized WordPress site? We could, but at what cost and for what kind of improvement. The underlying technical architecture is fundamentally no longer suited for today’s business use, and no matter how good your plumber (WordPress technician) is, he or she is plumbing.

So, at the beginning of 2016, we decided we could no longer build sites using technologies that were basically outdated and had served their time. It is that basic and that simple. So, we moved on and reorganized all of the things we can offer our clients. The first thing we needed to change was using standard templates to building custom design templates for each and every project.

It would surely make things a bit more complicated at the start of the project, but it would make sure that we were designing around the content, and not the other way around. If you are using a standard template, your content will need to adapt to that Template. If you have a custom design, the design will be adapted to the content. Basically, the things you as a business want to say to your online community will be conveyed more effectively on your website.

The next thing we needed to change was the monolithic approach that was the standard years ago. This approach was all about thinking that all websites were equal and they should all have the same features.

This does not really make sense now though because what is more important today is that sites need to be modular. They should only contain features that are beneficial to the business and to your customers. Any other unneeded functionality tacked on will just be a waste of time and will detract from an effective and customer-centric designed website.

Third, we needed to find a workflow methodology that was agile, modern and easy to maintain.

So, we went back to where it all started for the web. A basic single file or single application approach, that will be impressively fast to load, will scale easily, will be completely secured and unhackable, and will work on slow mobile networks and offline if needed.

The answer was no longer a monolithic, one-CMS-fit-for-all approach. We are now using the best-in-class technologies and gluing them together as a single page or single application rendered by a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and no longer a single web server. That’s how we started doing things in early 2016, and that's how we delivered over 150 new projects over the course of the last 28 months.

Let me share the results, performance wise, of one of our early projects

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That was 2 years ago.

With new techniques coming to the market in the last few months, and more know-how built up inside our organization, we are able to deliver results that are similar to the ones underneath.

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The main areas of improvement are in the Progressive Web App and Accessibility part. More on that in later Insight articles.