Recently we at Cape May Creative have migrated away from using WordPress as our go-to web design platform of choice. Although our design process now takes longer, in most cases we've seen firsthand that the results of using alternative technologies like Django and Twig can often outweigh the extra effort required in creating the sites.
WordPress – The King Kong of CMS
WordPress has been an invaluable asset here at Cape May Creative. In case you don't know, WordPress is an open-source project that originated as a blogging platform and has become the 1# content management system in the world. By most accounts, over 25% of websites in the world use WordPress. That's alot of websites! Recently, however, we've taken to designing from scratch or using a different rendering engine like Django or Twig. Why? Read on to find out.
Why do so many web designers use WordPress? A few reasons:
- Ease of use. The WordPress editor functions like a scaled-down version of Microsoft Word.
- Themes. Themes allow users to quickly create stunning designs with no design experience. There are many free and cheap themes available for WordPress, so anyone can look like a professional designer.
- Plugins. The true power of WordPress is in its plugins. These modules allow users to perform complex tasks with relative ease. For instance, you can create a full-featured shopping-cart just by adding a single plugin.
- Support. The WordPress community is huge, and overall, very helpful. If you have a problem, chances are someone else had the same problem and will help you solve it.
Avoiding Bloat, Gaining Flexibility
Unfortunately, what makes WordPress so attractive to use can also create some pretty serious SEO issues. High server loads, bloated content, and slow-to-render pages are just some of the problems that face WordPress websites. To be fair, much of the blame can go to theme and plugin designers. That said, WordPress without the themes and plugins loses what makes it so appealing in the first place. Here are some of our biggest findings:
- Speed. WordPress can be slow. For example, we've recently redesigned The Paradise Oceanfront Resort's website, moving away from WordPress. The site looks and acts the same to the visitor, however, it loads on average 7 times faster than the original site. Google Page Speed scores have gone from 28 to 88, which translates to less bounces (visitors leaving the site quickly) and higher search engine rankings (Google recently announced that speed is now a factor in ranking).
- Server resources. We use our own virtual dedicated servers for most sites, but for some we use SiteGround, which has a nice administrative interface and does a great job hosting WordPress sites. SiteGround monitors your resource usage (and will penalize you if you use too much). We saw a 60-85% drop in resource utilization when migrating websites away from Wordpress. The websites use less memory, CPU, and disk space. This is huge when hosting several hundred websites!
- Security. Although WordPress is relatively secure, many plugins and themes are not. On more than one occassion we've had our client's websites hacked due to vulnerabilities in a plugin or theme. None of our migrated sites have been hacked to date. We believe the simplicity of design has a lot to do with this. There is less to monitor and less software to update.
WordPress continues to be a valuable platform for small and large websites alike. We still use it here at Cape May Creative. Nevertheless, we now consider alternatives to WordPress before jumping into the design process. The change has proven prudent, and has resulted in many advantages, including lower server resources, faster page loading, and better SEO scores.
If you want to read more why not to use WordPress, check out this great article, "Why we don't build websites with Wordpress". For those interested in giving WordPress a try, check out "Why You Should Use WordPress".