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5 Reasons We Stopped Using WordPress

September 07, 2016

WordPress: great for some, not great for you

What is WordPress?

WordPress is one of the most well-known and widely used website platforms ever, with roughly 25% of websites using it. It is free and open-source, so the few programmers who like it can make all the changes they want to it. It is very popular among people who know very little about website development and designs, since it can be used by literally anyone with ease. Hundreds of thousands of people make a living full-time by designing new layouts (called "themes"), creating extensions to the platform itself (called "plugins"), customizing the underlying code, and blogging. WordPress is great for avid DIYers who know little to nothing about websites, the Internet, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), or IT in general and just want a quick and easy cookie-cutter platform for a blog that won't reach many people.

When we first started doing websites at Common Sense Web Marketing in Palm Coast, we started out with WordPress. It was quick, easy, and required very little technical knowledge. We've matured since then and moved onto a proprietary system that allows us to make websites quickly and much more effectively.

1. WordPress paints with a broad brush

Since the appeal of WordPress is so widespread among bloggers, small businesses, and even large organizations, WordPress has to be flexible: flexible to a fault. Ironically, for a system that seems to pride itself on how many degrees of separation they can put between their users and their platform's actual engine, WordPress is actually incredibly flexible. So flexible that it's almost impossible to do right, at least from an SEO perspective.

At Common Sense Web Marketing, we developed a system that works for our customers and hard-wired our proprietary platform to require that websites be made the proper way. No page or post can be published without at least the very most basic standards of SEO, and using best practices is rewarded. WordPress claims to be SEO-friendly right out of the box, it's really all about the configuration. Do it right, and your SEO will be okay. But it's no match for Common Sense Web Marketing's minimum mandatory SEO standards.

2. Putting the cart before the horse

The developers of WordPress are UI designers and programmers, not SEOs. So while using WordPress or visiting a well-designed WordPress website is usually a visual and aesthetic treat (if you're into that sort of thing; for most IT people, the uglier the better), you'll find that only 2% of WordPress websites are of page 1 of search engine results.

To be fair, SEO has almost as much to do with quality and amount of content as it does with technical precision. Almost. There are some very basic changes that could be made by the WordPress team that would help their SEO tremendously, but so far we have yet to see these changes put into place. Also, many third-party theme designers publish their themes with bugs in the code! We tested one of the ones we used to use, which was from one of the most respected companies in the industry, and it had lots of errors. Basic errors that did not reflect well on the site and harmed the SEO. We fixed the errors, and guess what. The theme no longer worked!

Also, to be fair, maybe WordPress wasn't really made for SEO at all. It was created originally for bloggers, but became a popular way to host all kinds of content in more recent years. If someone starts a blog on a popular topic with a team of great writers pumping out a handful of high-quality articles a day and maybe a video every once in a while, the search engines will forgive the technical issues when it comes to SEO.

But that sort of enterprise does not describe any of Common Sense Web Marketing's partners. If you are a customer or considering becoming a customer, you probably have a small brick-and-mortar shop or even a home-based operation, and you don't have the time, personnel, inclination, or need for a thrice daily blog.

3. Security concerns

While it is unknown how many WordPress security exploits there have been/are since the launch of WordPress in 2003, there have been 6 WordPress updates released that focused entirely on security. Untold thousands of WordPress sites have been overtaken, defaced, lost valuable and sensitive data, been snooped on, and more using basic exploits such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting. WordPress has really buttoned-down on security in recent years, but no system is unbeatable, and WordPress's database-driven core design has and always will leave certain exploits open for malicious hackers. This goes back to the need for flexibility: many WordPress users demand a database. Your website does not need a database.

Also, it's worthwhile to note that WordPress is a target because of its popularity. Hackers do not custom-fit their means of approach to every website they want to exploit; they often don't even hand pick the websites they want to exploit. Once an attack vector is discovered for a particular platform, they'll write a script (or just steal another hacker's) that searches the Internet for websites that are vulnerable and either hack them automatically or bring them to the hackers attention along with a list of ways to get in and do mischief.

Now with a quarter of websites running WordPress (and an unknown number of them using old, more vulnerable versions of WordPress), developers and hackers are in a constant game of cat-and-mouse. For WordPress users who keep current with the updates, it's just a matter of time before they're websites become sitting ducks. If they are behind on WordPress updates, they already are.

With Common Sense Web Marketing's proprietary CMS, we have many advantages over WordPress in terms of security. 1) Our platform is not well-known. You won't see exploits for it popping up on hacker forums. But we aren't relying on "security through obscurity", we're just saying that no one would take the time to discover security holes because we have comparatively few websites. 2) We don't use a database. Your website doesn't need one, we don't use one. This makes a host of database exploits powerless against our system.

We also hired a brilliant programmer with decades of experience to try for 30 hours to break into our system. He couldn't.

4. No WordPress site looks unique

Everyone chooses themes from relatively small, rarely-expanding pool. WordPress has a lot of themes, but then WordPress has a lot of websites! For each and every theme, there are dozens if not hundreds of websites using them. And guess what. Everyone likes the same themes as you. Many WordPress themes also include footers that say they were built using WordPress and maybe even the name of the company that made the theme. That's not who your website should be promoting!

Some themes are more customizable than others, but none are unique. Ironically, the company behind the most customizable themes are now offering hundreds of presets, which will inevitably to help their customers' websites look more similar, the exact opposite of what they set out to do and exemplifying a very important reason that we at Common Sense Web Marketing don't use WordPress.

5. Killing a fly with a bazooka

WordPress is a heavy-weight in the industry, but also on your server and on your visitors' respective computers, tablets, and phones. An important SEO principle is that websites should load quickly. In order for WordPress to "let you" access important areas of your website, you have to download plugins. These plugins include hundreds of lines of code you don't need and won't use, and they bog down your website and your server. Most WordPress themes include JavaScript, a decent language for some things but also one that's best to avoid. Why don't you want JavaScript? It's slows down your site, and your visitors can turn it off, making all that code (which is mostly used for minor aesthetic features anyway) a complete waste.

Because of WordPress's reliance on databases, if you are going to do a WordPress website, you'll have to make sure you purchase a hosting plan that includes at least one database. This is more expensive than other hosting services. Plus, again, this undeniably makes your website more vulnerable to attack.

Even the most bare-bones WordPress website has a least a thousand of line of code on every page. This takes longer for the search engines to process, and worsens the user's experience.

Conclusion

So there's 5 reasons we don't use WordPress and why we spent months researching and building our own system, from scratch, with the principles of good SEO, security, uniqueness, and efficiency at the forefront. By starting fresh with a proprietary system, we at Common Sense Web Marketing continue our commitment to get people to your website, and get them on the phone with you.

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