Why do we use WordPress?

Cocode Designs use WordPress. We don't make a secret of it.  In fact, we advertise it right on our site.

See?

But why?  Why WordPress over other systems?  Why don’t we just design our own system?

Well, hold on there, cowpoke.  We love designing and developing here but, let’s be honest: why reinvent the wheel?  Why spend months continuously developing and maintaining a proprietary system when so many are already available and well maintained?  We understand completely that WordPress isn’t the only system out there; there are others that are just as popular and very powerful, but we love WordPress.  It offers everything we want in a system and much more.

So here are just some of the reasons we love WordPress so much.

WordPress is free.

Ok, let’s get this out of the way first, since it tends to be one of the more important things to consider when choosing a content management system: WordPress costs nothing for us to use.  We can download the software and use it commercially for free.  We can’t market it as our own, but so many people use WordPress as it is so what’s the point?  In fact, WordPress powers about 28.9% of the website on the Internet at the moment, and it commands about 50-60% of the websites that use a content management system (Source: https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/wordpress-statistics/).  It’s released under an Open Source licence (under the GPL, to be exact), so it can be edited and remixed as we wish.  Because it is Open Source, and because it is incredibly popular, it has a large team of developers behind it, helping it to grow and flourish.  But mostly, it means we don’t have to pay a penny to use it.

It’s also expandable with thousands of plugins.  The main WordPress plugin repository alone has over 54,000 plugins, which makes it incredibly likely that whatever functionality WordPress doesn’t natively come with can be added with ease.

WordPress is easy to use.

For you as a content manager for your site, WordPress is incredibly easy to use.  I say to a lot of people “If you know how to use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress.”  And most of the time, that’s right.  There are many features that aren’t in Word that are in WordPress, but in general, I find that it’s easy to know where everything you need is, and not to mention you don’t need to know a line of code as a content editor.  For us as developers, it’s easy to develop for too.  Many functions that we need to access have already been integrated into the core software, so we can easily hook into them and expand on them for our clients.

Even the new editor planned for release with version 5.0 of WordPress is pretty easy to use, despite its dramatic shift away from its usual form.  Its focus seems to be on page layouts and content blocks rather than a standard editor, but adding in new blocks, embedding content, formatting, and publishing remains just as simple as it has in almost every version before it.

WordPress can be accessed from anywhere.

Since WordPress is web-based, you can access it from absolutely anywhere.  You don’t need to have any special editing software, you don’t need a license on your computer, you only need a device that can connect to the Internet and the latest version of your browser.

WordPress also has free mobile applications so you can edit and manage your site on-the-go, and receive notifications direct to your device.  Using services such as Jetpack, you can get additional features from WordPress such as automatic plugin updates, anti-spam, and a central portal to manage multiple websites.  Some web hosts are even set up to manage WordPress, with added security and automatic backups and updates built into the server’s control panel.  Kualo and Unlimited Web Hosting – companies we host our sites with – use versions of cPanel and Plesk respectively (UWS also uses cPanel on some servers) which allows you to create and manage WordPress websites directly from the server.

WordPress can be managed by multiple people.

Whether you are working on your own or as part of a larger team, WordPress can be set up to allow multiple people to log into the website to manage and update content.  If you are worried about real damage being done to your image, don’t worry.  Not only does WordPress come with multiple user levels pre-installed, but it comes with the capability for you to create custom user roles with specific functions and restrictions to help keep your site running smoothly.

User registration can be manually configured so that anyone can register or so you can set up each account on your own, making it easier to control and manage which updates get pushed out for your visitors to see.

WordPress doesn't require a big server installation.

With WordPress powering so many websites, it’s hard not to find a host suitable for WordPress that will fit your budget.  If you’re just starting out, some hosts will offer shared hosting for a few pounds each month (we covered these in our Hosting blog post), and whilst they offer some restrictions on their capabilities and resources, many of them are still able to run WordPress without any issues.  If you are running a small site, a shared host is great, and if you need to migrate to a larger server because you’re growing your business, WordPress can expand with you.

Some hosting providers will even offer free hosting for charities.  We’ve been working with a company called Kualo for or non-profit clients.  You can find out more about what they offer in our non-profits blog post.  Even though these hosts pay nothing for the service, Kualo can easily manage their requirements and run their installations with few bugs, if any.

WordPress is secure.

Ok, there’s a caveat here.  WordPress is secure in the way that Microsoft Windows or Mac OS is secure – as long as you keep it up to date and you have additional security tools like firewalls and anti-malware scanners, it’ll be perfectly fine.  No tool will ever be 100% secure, and given that so many sites use WordPress, that makes it a nice target for hackers – it’s part of the reason why Microsoft is also so prone to viruses and hacks.  But there are a great many security services and firewalls available for WordPress, and some hosts will even have security services built-in to their hosting packages.  When we build websites, we provide additional security tools that are trusted and tested by WordPress users to bolster your site’s security features, as well as enabling SSL security certificates throughout your site.

The open-source development system in place means that, not only are there many developers able to work on the software to maintain it but that anyone with expertise can contribute to its development.  There are already a number of developers working on each version, including those with security backgrounds and knowledge with products from major security platforms.  You can read more about WordPress’s security controls on the WordPress.org website.

WordPress is regularly updated.

Since you need to make sure your site is up to date for security purposes, a regular maintenance schedule can only be a good thing.  WordPress’s core software goes through a major update (from 4.8 to 4.9, or from 4.9 to 5.0) about once every six months or so, and there are anywhere between three and five minor updates (from 4.8.1 to 4.8.2) in that period.  In addition to that, established WordPress developers will provide updates to their own plugins and themes, making sure that your site uses the latest in technologies with very little fuss. And don’t worry about time or skill required: updates take a few minutes and a few clicks to apply (even if you have twenty plugins to update on shared hosting).

Each major version is thoroughly tested before release as well, with a number of beta packages (usually at least 4) released to those who request access to the beta programme, as well as further release candidates just to iron out the bugs before each version hits the main release cycle.

WordPress loves Google, and Google loves WordPress.

WordPress developers made the software so that search engines can easily read the information they need to index your site’s content.  From keywords to taxonomies, descriptions and titles, optimisation for search engines is baked throughout the software.  There are also a great many plugins and capabilities that can be added to your site to make it work better with Google and integrate it with Google Search, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics.

WordPress loves responsive design.

This is the age of "responsive design", where post-PC devices such as mobile phones and tablets are accessing websites as much as computers and laptops.  In fact, some reports show that worldwide, more mobile phones are accessing websites compared to computers.  WordPress is ready for that: its admin area is fully responsive – as are its newer themes – which means it's ready to work on mobile, tablet and desktop screens through just one address.  That means there's no need to install any other apps (although WordPress does offer free apps for iOS and Android with some extra features if you manage multiple websites).

WordPress installs in "just five minutes".

You might not know this, but for as long as I’ve been using WordPress, they’ve claimed a fast “five-minute install”.  That means you can download the software to your computer, upload it to your server, and run the install process within about five minutes.  I timed installing it on my server and got something a bit longer than that.

Still less than 15 minutes to install WordPress from scratch.
Still less than 15 minutes to install WordPress from scratch.

But in fairness, it took me:

  • One minute and fifteen seconds to open my browser, log onto WordPress and download a fresh version of the software;
  • Two minutes and thirty seconds to open my web server’s control panel and set up a new subdomain and a new database;
  • One minute and ten seconds to add some settings to my Cloudflare installation so that my subdomain worked;
  • Seven minutes and twenty-seven seconds to unzip WordPress and upload the files to my server;
  • One minute and forty-two seconds to go through the set-up process; and
  • Just over two seconds to realise that I hadn’t stopped my stopwatch.

And, unlike my normal working process, I did that one step after another.  Normally I’d do some of these things at the same time, so the installation time would be much shorter.

Not to mention that WordPress assumes that you at least have the website address and database set up before you install the software, so it’s more like a ten-minute install time from my reasoning.

Some web hosts will offer a “one-click install” service, where you can install apps like WordPress from your server’s control panel with just the click of a button.  I did that on my host and it took …

A WordPress installation in five minutes.
A WordPress installation in five minutes.

Which comprised of:

  • One minute and twenty-eight seconds to log into my web server’s control panel and set up a new subdomain;
  • Fifty-eight seconds to add some settings to my Cloudflare installation for the subdomain;
  • One minute and fifty-four seconds to go through the one-click installation process to install and set up WordPress; and
  • Forty seconds to go through the log-in process, including realising I hadn’t properly configured the SSL certificate so had to tell my computer “Yes, it is safe to access this site.”

Now, these times were manually monitored, so could be a little different to how long they would actually take.  In addition, your connection speed and your server resources could affect the timing as well, bringing it lower than the times we stated.  But even at the full fifteen minutes to install a basic WordPress website, we’re not going to complain.

Who else uses WordPress?

All of that combined probably explains why approximately so many websites run (at least in part) on WordPress, including New York Observer, New York Post, TED, Thought Catalog, Williams, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, National Post, Spotify, TechCrunch, CBS Local, NBC, and obviously us.

We absolutely love WordPress and we’re proud to recommend it to all of our clients.  If you would like your own WordPress website set up, with your own bespoke theme, get in touch with us and we can arrange a “no obligation” consultation with our designers.  We can also arrange a full training session for your team, so you can become familiar with all of the editing features of WordPress.

Nathan is the Creative Director and Founder of Cocode Designs.  A web designer since 2007, Nathan has had an interest in all things technological for many years.  He has a breadth of experience working in the non-profit sector, as well as working with a few new startups in recent years.

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