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    Is WordPress the right CMS for you?

    by James Holloway Partnership Director

    You’re about to take the plunge and design your own website. You could start from scratch and code it in HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and link it all up with hosting and a database, but unless you want something very basic, that is as much work as it sounds.

    Most individuals (and even multinational businesses) use a content management system (CMS) instead. It means you don’t need any coding expertise – you just add the content (text, images, videos etc.) and you’re off. By far, the CMS of choice around the world is WordPress.

    Why use WordPress?

    Although WordPress started out as a basic blogging platform, its potential for flexibility, scalability, ease of use and options for presenting your website was vast.

    Individuals and businesses started building sites based up on it, and a huge, global ecosystem grew up around it, offering plugins, support, themes and hosting. Some of this is paid for, but much of it – including the CMS itself – is free.

    Crucial to its success are this flexibility and the fact that it’s open-source. Anyone can buy hosting, set up a WordPress site and have it visible to the world in minutes.

    And if you want it to look a certain way or have certain functionality, be it eCommerce, forms, interactivity or multimedia, there will be countless themes and plugins to bring it up to spec.

    What alternatives are there to WordPress?

    There are alternatives to WordPress that can make it simpler to run or simply offer a different perspective on site building, and we’ll look at them here.

    Hosted, off-the-shelf solutions

    The learning curve for WordPress is not steep – you can produce a standard website quickly by using the default settings. However, if you want to have almost no technical input, there are easier ways of doing it.

    You might have seen companies like Wix, Weebly, Go Site Builder and Squarespace advertised, and they provide the whole web building and hosting service for you. You sign up, and they take care of the hosting – you simply choose templates off the shelf or design your own look through the applications.

    They probably represent the easiest way to get yourself online, but don’t forget, you’re limited to their ecosystems and their hosting, so you can only use themes and plugins that are approved by them.

    Not a problem for most, but possibly for some – especially if your business changes or expands. The big advantage is that because you’re paying for the ongoing service, support is never far away – you’re not relying on forums or professional developers to solve your issues.

    Non-hosted content management systems

    There are alternatives to WordPress that go the other way, too. Drupal and Joomla! are similar in concept to WordPress in that you have to organise your own hosting and there’s an ecosystem of plugins and themes to choose from, but they supply the back end for your site to run on, so you don’t need to learn to code.

    They are excellent in themselves, but the mere fact that they’re not as popular as WordPress means their ecosystems are smaller, and some users find plugins and themes often don’t get the same amount of support and updates as their WP counterparts.

    Also, people who develop their own sites using these platforms would usually admit that they do require a bit more expertise to get their sites looking right – not as much as coding them from scratch, but not as straightforward as WordPress.

    Will it be an eCommerce site?

    If you intend to sell through your site, you can get WooCommerce on a WordPress site, but you should also look at alternatives such as Shopify and Magento. We’ve already written about how they compare to each other – check it out.

    The decision is yours

    There’s no right or wrong answer here, but we’d say that if you have zero experience in coding or running a website, the hosted solutions are probably best, but they do come with limitations that might crop up later on as your site develops.

    If you want full control and access to the maximum number of well-supported plugins and themes and the most readily available advice, we’d almost always recommend WordPress.

    As developers of WordPress ourselves, we know how packed with potential it is, yet it remains simple enough to manage that our clients can run the day-to-day operations (making new pages, posting content etc.) themselves, without needing technical assistance. That’s why it’s so popular around the world, and why it’s probably your best option if you’re building something you want to grow.