Before I get criticized for anything “negative” that I might be construed as saying about WordPress, let me sing its praises with two comments.
1. The website that you’re looking at right now was designed and is managed with WordPress.
2. WordPress is an awesome tool that allows you to add, edit and delete content on your website through adding pages, adding BLOG posts (like this one) and by allowing you to manage content that displays on any of your social media connections – on your website.
So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me now state emphatically, that it isn’t the perfect CMS (content manage system) for anyone who is even slightly, technologically challenged.
I’ve been building websites since the mid 90s and back in those days we designed in NOTEPAD – which for anyone other than a rocket scientist it made for websites that were VERY vertical. Back then we built websites that were “ten stories tall” with content separated by “horizontal lines”. Then we migrated to programs like Hotdog Pro, Hot Metal, CoffeeCup, and even Mozilla had a pretty nice HTML editor. I personally used Mozilla for years with great success.
A few years later good ole Microsoft came along with Microsoft Frontpage and I moved over to that for most of the last several years. I’ll never forget when one “professional web developer” emailed me because I had called MYSELF a web design pro on one of my first company websites. He wrote, “You call yourself a professional and yet you use Frontpage. REAL web design artists design in Notepad!”
I wrote him back, “Dude I can go out in my yard and dig a hole in the ground with my hands, but a shovel SURE makes it easier!”
He never wrote me back…
That said, there are now so many web design programs available to create wonderful web design with Dreamweaver and tons of others. In fact, all of our AppNet developers have used Dreamweaver for years. They still chuckle when they see me tooling around with Frontpage. Over most of the first few years, business owners were content with their “webmaster” handling the edits and content changes. However, over the last many years, people want to be able to (and so they should) make their own changes and updates to their own websites. The reasons are more numerous than there are web design software programs these days.
So we and every other digital design company either migrated those clients to programs that allowed that, or we created our own bit of CMS that allowed for certain control without blowing up a website. The truth is had we not allowed clients that kind of control, they’d have left us in droves!
Then along came WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and others. The problem with most of these THEME based design programs is that they were all very TEMPLATE looking, insecure (hackable) and they were hard as hell to get ranked on Google, even though truckloads of SEO plugins claimed otherwise. However, like any really good product, the pool of people who began using WordPress grew so huge that developers created some really cool functions and features (called widgets and plugins) that have now made all of the search engines take note. The security issues have been resolved (for the most part) and WordPress websites can actually make it so much easier than standard HTML or CSS websites to get them ranked well.
So what is my beef? It isn’t REALLY with WordPress…
Clients (new and old) are calling us all of the time now wanting to be able to control content on their websites. No issue there. The issue is that using programs like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are not as simple as some potential, web designer, wannabe, entrepreneurial clients think they are to use.
<Take a look at this screen. Do you see anything there that seems to be easily, intuitive for a technologically challenged person to know that THIS is their “contact page”?
I’ve shown the ADMIN control panel for WordPress to a few clients and while they are ALL intrigued by it; they are equally concerned that it might take them a bit of time and training…but that AFTER some training they feel that it would be great for them.
Which brings me to my beef.. (you knew it was coming, right?)
Here’s the deal. WordPress and other THEME or template based design platforms are anywhere from FREE to very inexpensive ($125 is about the most expensive I’ve used). So clients (and potential clients) feel that since the program is FREE, that we should just give them the program and that way they’ll have a brand new website for pennies. (Yes, they’re willing to pay me a little something for my time 😉
What a lot of people don’t think about is that ALL design software is FREE once you buy it one time. So while Dreamweaver may have cost $600 +/- initially – after the first web design, any others that we created with it, cost us nothing. Right?
Let’s move past that little gripe to the one that is MORE problematic.
So we’ve built you a brand new website using WordPress. Now you can go in and easily manage all the pages, add pages, write BLOGS, etc, right? If you’re a web design savant from birth maybe. For most of you who are reading this, not so much. So we’ve put the new website up and we did it in WordPress JUST so that YOU can now manage your website. Since you don’t know how to use the tools and you don’t even understand the language and terms being used in it…you only have a few options to get up to speed.
1. FIND a savant somewhere who can teach you for free.
2. Go and take the time to read WordPress.org’s many tutorials. (Sure, you SAY you’re going to do that.)
3. Have us teach you how to use it.
The first two options take time and effort on your part and it’s been our experience that if there’s two options on the table – to read some mind-numbing literature – or to pick up the phone and call us…people will pick up the phone and call us.
…and call us. …and call us. …and call us… until you’ve come up to speed. We’re willing to do that, but most new clients want their website VERY inexpensive and we burn up their budget creating the website. THEN they want training, because after all, you paid us for the website, right?
Unfortunately in any world that I’ve visited lately…time is money.
Let me just close by saying that WordPress is AWESOME as a CMS tool. Just know what you’re getting into BEFORE you jump on that bandwagon. Have us or your web designer to show you briefly how things are edited before you agree to go with that platform, because in reality it could cost you as much is TIME to get the training you need, than it could for the web design itself.
Better yet, talk with us or your designer about a monthly maintenance agreement that can cover the costs of your time and their/our expertise.