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    Should I use WordPress or build from scratch?

    by Iain Thomson Project Lead

    If you were building a new website in the 1990s or early 2000s, you would have to learn to code in HTML at the very least, but to make a website more functional and attractive, you’d also need to pick up skills in JavaScript, CSS and PHP.

    Of course, there was a growing band of dedicated web developers who could take on the task for you, but the story would essentially have been the same – they would start with a blank Notepad doc or WYSIWYG HTML editor, and start building.

    Today, you have two options when you’re creating a new site. You can take the coding route, or you can use a content management system (CMS). And by far the most popular and user-friendly CMS is WordPress. So which is the best route to take?

    Coding every line

    Despite the enormous success and ubiquity of WordPress, there are still websites being built without a CMS. Why would that be? The main advantage is that it gives you complete control over the look, feel, security and functionality of your website.

    While WordPress has thousands of themes and plugins to pick from, they are still ultimately tied to the basic function of the system that runs in the background.

    So if you want to radically change the way WordPress deals with your site’s appearance, you can certainly do that with plugins, be they off the shelf or bespoke, but the original installation will still be running in the background – your additions will merely be an extra layer on top of it.

    For a small website with daily visits measured in the hundreds or small thousands, that won’t be a problem. But when you start reaching 6 or 7 figure visits, all those extra little layout calculations can add up to some serious demands on your servers and connectivity.

    Coding your own website also gives you complete control over your security too. Organisations such as banks and insurance providers might use WordPress as a simple way to have a customer-facing presence, but in most cases the actual banking will go on behind a secure section that will be built to the organisation’s own specifications.

    However, while WordPress is very secure, should a serious breach be identified by hackers, it could jeopardise the very existence of a bank as the breach could be known before the organisations or WordPress itself could react.

    The WordPress option

    For most businesses, including eCommerce, the levels of security offered by WordPress are perfectly adequate to cope with the daily running of the site. It’s why WooCommerce (WordPress’s own eCommerce plugin) is so widely used.

    But the benefits don’t end there. Building a website from scratch is a lot of work. Even if you copy sections of code from third parties, it still has to work in concert with the rest of the site, and it has to work well.

    With WordPress, all the back end coding is already done for you. You can install WordPress with one click from your hosting provider and have a functioning, secure, responsive website up and running in ten minutes.

    Sure, you’ll need to spend more time personalising it and installing your chosen plugins, but even this can be done in a day or two. And if you still need to add functionality that’s specific to your business, simply hire a WordPress developer to create a plugin or theme that fits your spec.

    Ultimately, it all comes down to what kind of site you want, and how much time, effort and money you’re prepared to devote to its development. In 99% of cases, WordPress will tick all of the boxes.