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WordPress Use Or Abuse?

By Heshy Friedman

wordpress-logoWordPress is a great tool. It is a powerful, open-source engine for posting blog entries and news articles. It has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, and is very flexible and easy to work with. WordPress also has a strong community behind it, with discussion forums and online help websites elaborating every searchable nitty-gritty aspect of WordPress. It also has many free and purchasable plug-ins, and custom requirements are often easy to integrate.

Despite its robust platform, WordPress should only be used for its intended purpose: as a blog or news engine. That’s it. All too often I see informational or shopping-cart websites stretching themselves and overburdened to fit within the WordPress box, where ultimately they just can’t fit in properly. This effectively takes a great platform and corrupts it into a complicated jargon. I call this “WordPress Abuse”.

There are several manifestations of WordPress abuse. I like to lump them into three categories:

  1. Informational Website Overkill
  2. Data-Driven Website Arm Twisting
  3. Comatose Websites

1. Informational Website Overkill:

This happens when a web designer takes a simple informational website and places it within WordPress. The only advantage of doing this is that the informational pages are controllable via a database in the Content Management System (CMS). The practical meaning is that the owner of the site can change his page content by logging in to the CMS without having to know any HTML. As nice as this sounds, it is in fact overkill, since none of the other WordPress tools are utilized or necessary, and the CMS isn’t the greatest one out there. One can just as easily have the website run a lighter, simpler CMS which is customized for that specific website.

What really irks me when I take over a website done in WordPress is when the website owner has no idea how to use the WordPress CMS. So ultimately any text changes I end up doing myself despite their controllable CMS. Not only is the WordPress CMS worthless to them, I have to inconvenience myself and make the changes in the CMS when it would be much easier and quicker for me to edit them directly in the native HTML and upload it.

2. Data-Driven Website Arm Twisting:

This is when a complex or shopping cart website has specific out-of-the-box requirements, and a slew of plug-ins and/or custom coding is necessary to make the website work as per the requirements. It is okay to have a couple plug-ins and customizations installed on a WordPress website, but relying on too many of them can present a witches brew, with some of the following symptoms:

  • Incompatible plug-ins
  • Plug-ins that are unstable and crash
  • Plug-ins that were developed overseas with poor customer support
  • Outdated plug-ins that prevent WordPress from being upgraded
  • Difficulty in making changes, sometimes even minor ones
  • Lots of unnecessary items that can be in the way that come together with packages

3. Comatose Websites:

This happens when a WordPress engine is installed on a site for publishing content, but it stays dormant with hardly any updates or posts ever made to the website. Though all websites can get old and dusty if not updated, WordPress websites are particularly vulnerable due to their nature as portals of news, updates, and musings which are meant to be posted to regularly.

The bottom line
— WordPress is great, and I highly recommend it. I say this first-hand using WordPress to write the words I am typing now.  However,  don’t abuse it. Only use it for its intended purpose.

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