This isn’t another pro/con list for website platforms. There are tons of articles and blog posts out there that do that already in great detail. There are pluses and minuses to every platform. But WordPress is the one platform that will ensure you are using the tools with the most flexibility and the best value.
I’d also argue that it’s one of the easier platforms to use. It’s all about mindset. There’s nothing that guarantees that a drag and drop interface will be easier to use than WordPress, especially considering it can also be used as a drag and drop platform. But even without a drag and drop plugin or theme installed, ease of use is off the charts and only getting easier.
Types of Platforms
There are three categories of platforms available to build your website: drag & drop builders, content management systems, and ecommerce systems. Sometimes a platform falls into more than one category. There are new options popping up all the time. But unless it’s an established player in the field, there’s always the risk of the company disappearing, taking your website with it.
Some platforms offer a free plan and some don’t. But to get the same features as those available with WordPress, most of these platforms would require upgrading to one of the paid plans. The paid plans and add-ons quickly add up to way more than what website hosting and a theme would cost.
It’s extremely easy to start building your site with a free or entry-level account with one of these platforms. But as you build, you end up trying to complete tasks that end up only being available in a more expensive plan. This leaves you with the decision to either abandon the project and throw away your time or pay more each month. With WordPress, you won’t hit that kind of wall. There’s almost always a free plugin to do what you need. And if not, there are tons of one-time-fee plugins and super low cost options.
The drag & drop builders allow anyone to build a website. For Wix, Weebly, and other platforms like it, that’s the primary reason to use them. Even some hosts are now offering their own drag & drop builders. Most platforms work best when you start with a template. This is especially true for options like Squarespace and Shopify.
Some of these platforms do require extra vetting when deciding on a theme. You need to do some extra testing to make sure the design has a specific layout for tablet and mobile devices as well as the desktop.
Most of the time, content entered into website builders automatically becomes tied to the design. That makes it hard for some platforms to allow you to change your design once the site’s been published. You have to start over.
With WordPress, there are a number of ways for developers to implement design options. This gives you the opportunity to find a theme that allows you to make updates and changes to the site in a way that you feel most comfortable. Between customizer options, custom blocks, custom fields, widgets, menus, drag & drop builders, and plugins, there are endless opportunities to find the most comfortable way to edit your site.
Your Content & Hosting
Most platforms are not self-hosted. That means you do not own the space your website is held on. So while those platforms might not own your content in a copywriting sense, they own the space that your content is on. They can make it as hard or easy as they want for you to move your content between platforms. And if you stop paying for your plan, your website is gone. Platforms with a free plan like Wix and Weebly usually have you pay in other ways, like using part of your website for advertising.
With self-hosted options like WordPress, you purchase your own hosting. You are free to save backups on your computer and modify anything in any way you want. And because the platform is open source, there are tons of tools people have built to easily move content to and from WordPress. You can move your WordPress site from server to server with almost no issue. Some hosts even offer free website migration. Refer to my post about how to choose a good web host to learn more.
Content Management Systems
Technically, a content management system (CMS) is any system that manages content. So at the most basic level, any of these platforms could be considered a CMS. But when this specific term is used, it usually refers to something that includes a feed of posts. A CMS includes the ability to allow different users access to your admin area at different levels. Content editing is usually separate from the design, and the content is usually stored in some kind of database.
There are a few players in the content management realm besides WordPress. There was once a CMS battle between WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. But ultimately the ease of use and readiness of expansion landed WordPress the win. The core developers behind WordPress are dedicated to the product and regularly provide updates. They make radical changes sparingly and with purpose, like the most recent Gutenberg update.
Optimize for SEO & Performance
Most of these platforms will take SEO into consideration in some way. But the built-in tools and additional plugins available to WordPress users throw the WordPress platform way ahead of any other.
There are also tons of tools available for speeding up a WordPress website. This allows you to take advantage of great technology while still keeping the front end of your site clean and fast. Pair WordPress tools with a great server and the tools they offer, and you’ve got a blazing fast site without any extra work from you.
There are a few leaders in the e-commerce industry, including Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, and Magento. Each one brings its own benefit, and most of the other platforms offer some kind of e-commerce as part of their available services. But WordPress offers just the right number of options at the right price (free) without causing brain overload.
In WordPress, a lot of payment systems will offer plugins to integrate directly into your site without having to install any additional plugins. But you can also go all out and utilize the WooCommerce system, which can integrate with almost any payment gateway or solution. Use it right out of the box or add onto it with free and paid plugins. Sell tickets, products, or digital downloads.
One of the most criticized aspects of WordPress is its lack of support. And on the surface, it may seem that way. But there are tons of support forums within the WordPress community and on dedicated support websites. All it takes is a quick Google search to find your answer or a place to ask your question.
Every plugin available from WordPress has a dedicated support forum. Most paid and some free plugins also have support as well. Most servers offer support and some even specifically have WordPress support.
The Winning Platform
As a WordPress developer, I love having everything I need right at my fingertips with endless possibilities. But WordPress isn’t just for developers and techies. With the right tools and a little guidance, anyone can get a great website on one of the most flexible platforms out there.