WP (see wordpress.org for more information) is a brand that most known or at least heard of, irrespective of their business background. This free, easy to use and open source Content Management System (CMS) became the most widely deployed platform for simple business websites and blogs. In this article, I would like to explain some of the Pros and Cons of WP as a solution from the perspective of a web developer – i.e. when this system is the perfect solution, as well as when it should definitely not be used. And, I would also like to mention the licensing system that applies to WP and why caution should be used where it is used for custom and proprietary projects.
According to the information published on Wikipedia, WP was started off as a separate project some time in 2003. This was a time before Content Management Systems were widely used. It look a long time before WP became popular, and even longer before it took the crown from other competing Content Management Systems available on the market. According to some statistics , WP is currently running 24.1% of all websites and has a market share of 60.4% amongst well known Content Management Systems (as of June 2015).
Why did it become popular?
WP became popular due to its competitive edge in some select areas:
• Ease of use in terms of technical expertise requirements from web designers
• Ease of administration in relation to customers and end-users
• A packaged and integrated blogging platform
• Easy access to a wide variety of templates (WP Themes).
The main popularity with WP lies with the fact that it allowed experts in fields close to web design and development, but without the necessary web development technical expertise (e.g. graphic designers) cross over into the web design industry. The key advantage of WP is that it is a simple system to deploy and customise within certain limitations. This is the reason why there is a massive number of web designers that specifically cater to design of basic company websites.
WP is an exception compared to other Content Management Systems offered on the market – competitor systems are often delivered as a barebones skeleton that is left up to a professional web developer to customise. WP is a true plug-and-play piece of software – it is the easiest solution to rapid web design on the market.
WP also offers a simple way to edit pages for end users. A very simple and intuitive text editor and image publishing tool make it quite easy to teach clients how to update their website with no technical expertise.
The blogging functionality of WP is probably the most important and well executed feature. WP was originally a dedicated blogging platform – it only entered as a solution for general web design at a later stage. The templates mentioned earlier are what allowed WP to transition from a blogging platform to a full-scale digital publishing platform. Very few web designers design their own WP themes – for the majority, the development process simply involves downloading a pre-made Theme and publishing the required customer content.
Where does WP succeed?
WP can be an effective solution when used for these:
• Blogging solutions
• Basic company websites that require no custom functionality
• Rapid web design – WP websites are fairly quick to develop, as long as the content is prepared
• Web design situations where there is limited access to a professional graphic designer
• Low budget projects
Where does WP fail?
There is a quite a number of situations where WP does not fare well:
• Complex websites where custom development is required. Once the limitations of WP are met, the costs to customise WP back-end code to suit particular customer needs will quickly exceed those of proper planning and development of a custom system
• Using a custom layout – if you decide to have your graphic designer do a custom layout for a website, it will be much quicker and cost efficient to build a custom website instead of attempting to build a custom WP theme
• Security faults – WP is prone to security breaches as it is a widely deployed Open Source system. Regular patches have to be applied to keep it up to date
• Selling derivative works – See below for licensing issues.
Licensing is an important factor with WP development that is often overlooked. Below is quote from the WP website : “There is some legal grey area regarding what is considered a derivative work, but we feel strongly that plugins and themes are derivative work and thus inherit the GPL license. If you disagree, you might want to consider a non-GPL platform such as Serendipity (BSD license) or Habari (Apache license) instead.”
WP is licensed under GPL (GNU General Public License). We won’t go into details in regards to open source licensing systems, however the GPL is a copyleft license and severely limits what can be done with derivative work.
This should be to those that are looking for a developer to bend and extend WP to specific business requirements and still keep their project as intellectual property that can be sold and transferred.
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