With so many web-building options, you may be wondering: is WordPress still good in 2023 for web development? Read a web design agency’s insights into this popular website platform, and decide for yourself.
A bit of WordPress background
WordPress is a powerful website development platform used by millions of people around the world. It started as a simple blogging platform in 2003 and has since grown into one of the most popular Content Management Systems (CMS). WordPress is widely credited with revolutionizing website development, especially for non-technical users, because it enabled them to create websites without coding knowledge. With built-in widgets, plugins, and themes, users can easily customize their sites with just a few clicks.
Since its launch in 2003, WordPress has gone from strength to strength. According to W3Techs, WordPress is used by 43% of all websites on the internet, which means that WordPress powers millions of websites, and its usage continues to increase year-on-year. This remarkable growth can be attributed to several factors such as its intuitive user interface, a large library of themes and plugins, and vast community support network. As we look ahead to 2023, the website-building market is rife with competition. WordPress is now more than 17 years old, and many are wondering if it will still be a good choice? Are competitors like Wix, Shopify, Squarespace and Webflow perhaps better?
Advantages of WordPress in 2023
Before we start discussing the benefits, please note there are two different ways to use WordPress: A) Hosted directly with WordPress.com, or B) A self-hosted WordPress.org site with another hosting provider. With WordPress.com, you get to start with a blank WordPress website without needing to install anything – and they have reasonable pricing (starting at $4 per month) for your own domain.
For a self-hosted WordPress website, you can choose your own hosting, as long as it supports the WordPress platform. Most hosts have a one-click installation for WordPress, but it takes a little bit more experience to get started. Once installed, the user interface of the two options looks virtually the same. While the benefits we discuss below are valid for both WordPress-hosted and self-hosted, the self-hosted option gives you full control and customization, so this is the option we focus on below.
Power of Open-Source
Open-source technology has revolutionized the way websites are created. The power of open-source means that WordPress continues to evolve as developers around the world contribute to its codebase. New plugins and themes are released all the time that upgrade the core WordPress functionality so website owners can keep up with the latest trends. With a huge community of developers, designers, and users, WordPress is able to create an incredibly powerful platform for websites and blogs. No matter the size or complexity of your website, WordPress can be tailored to meet your needs. The community adds new features and themes all the time, making it easier to build a website that looks exactly how you want it to look.
Cost Efficiency over time
The WordPress platform itself is free to install and use! You do need to purchase a domain and WordPress hosting plan, but since you have control over these choices you can decide how much you spend. With the guidance of YouTube tutorials, you could install a theme and start building your site for free…or you could hire a professional web developer to work with. With WordPress, you are building your site from scratch, so it might take a little longer but this means you get exactly what you want. With other options like Wix and Squarespace, you can set up a site quickly and cheaply upfront, but features are more limited and over time the subscriptions can work out more costly.
Ease of use: WordPress visual page builders have come a long way
WordPress page builders have come a long way since the days when they were first introduced. In the past, some themes included their own unique page editor, which would vary in quality depending on the theme. Over time, visual page editors gained popularity. WordPress even has its own default drag-and-drop interface that allows users to design more visually. But where WordPress really shines, is in the newer generation third-party page editors which most developers will choose to install via a simple plugin.
A great example is the Elementor editor, a ‘drag-and-drop’ interface with an easy learning curve. Once you get the hang of it, you can design a new page really quickly. Even if the website was designed by a professional, the user can easily make their own edits if it was designed with Elementor. Another popular page editor is WP Bakery, and some of the current paid themes have great built-in editors.
Customization & Flexibility
WordPress is known as a user-friendly website platform that can easily be adapted for different purposes. Users can add a WordPress plugin or theme from third-party developers if they need additional functionality on their site. Your site can become a simple blog, e-commerce store, or a listing website like real estate or cars – all depending on the add-ons you choose. Hello Elementor is a free lightweight theme designed for the Elementor editor. Some of the other popular free themes are Astra, OceanWP and Neve. There are thousands of paid WordPress themes that have been predesigned with a specific purpose in mind.
If it is your first time ever designing a website, there is a learning curve but there are many tutorials and resources online. If you have an ambitious WordPress project and you are not a developer, you can hire someone to help you. Because WordPress is so well-known, it is easy to find a professional in web development to customize your website functionality, after which you can take over the reins and edit it yourself using the page builders.
Autonomy: You have ownership of your WordPress website
As a web design agency, our biggest selling point for using WordPress is that clients own their websites. This might sound obvious but this is not the case with many other popular website builders. With Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify, you can only host directly with those companies, and the website you spent hours designing and refining will only work on that specific platform.
With WordPress, you can choose your own hosting with any hosting company and it only takes a few minutes to install if they offer a one-click installation button. If you’re ever unhappy with that provider, the entire website can be moved elsewhere – it’s like taking your mobile home and parking it somewhere else. Most of the other website options are either completely custom-developed HTML, or you need to stay with one provider to keep using the website you built with their tool.
Powerful SEO plugins, analytics, and mobile responsiveness
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), analytics, and mobile responsiveness are all powerful tools to help you reach your website’s full potential. WordPress can accommodate all of these. SEO plugins like Yoast or Rankmatch can be used with Google services to optimize your content for search engines, while analytics can help you track the performance of your website and make improvements where necessary. Mobile responsiveness is also important, as it ensures that users have a good experience no matter which device they’re using to access your site. If you choose a good theme and page editor, it will already be optimized for mobile. With these tools, you’ll be able to maximize your online presence and get the most out of your website.
Security & Backups: there are good ways to manage the risks
Website security and backups are essential parts of any website ownership. WordPress is a powerful and versatile platform, but as with any other website, it can be vulnerable to hackers and malicious code if not properly secured. Important security features are rolled out by WordPress continuously, so if you do regular maintenance by updating the WordPress core and your plugins, and you have a good backup system in place, you can ensure that your WordPress website remains safe and secure. If you do frequent backups and have access to the backup files, any website developer could help you get your website back online in a few minutes. Most hosting companies include a free SSL certificate, that can be installed on your WordPress site.
Woocommerce is a great WordPress add-on for a professional eCommerce store
WooCommerce is a free eCommerce solution powered by WordPress. WooCommerce is one of the most popular choices for creating an online store due to its ease of use and extensive range of features. It provides businesses with an easy-to-use, customizable online store. It offers a variety of features and plugins designed to help you make the most out of your online shop. You can integrate multiple payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe. Whether you’re just starting out or already have an established business, WooCommerce can help you create a successful online store.
Web development trends: what about alternative platforms?
Custom-built code option
The below alternatives are all ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) design tools that run in a web browser, and you pay a subscription fee to use them. They only run on those platforms, so the site cannot be moved. They each offer some positive and negative points.
Shopify is a great option for businesses looking to specifically build an online store. If you want a solid eCommerce solution that is easy to set up and you’re happy to pay a little extra for that convenience, it might be a great option for you. In addition to the monthly fees, they take an additional commission for each sale. It is easy to use since your workspace comes pre-installed and they provide great customer support. With Shopify, you can easily manage inventory, process payments, create discounts and promotions, and track sales analytics. If you plan on doing everything on the website yourself and it will primarily be an online store, it is worthwhile to consider this option.
Wix and Squarespace
If you need a basic website fast and you don’t have web design experience, Wix and Squarespace are good choices. They are serviceable options for users who just want to set up a few pages. Both platforms offer easy-to-use drag-and-drop tools that allow you to customize your site with images, text, and other elements. They provide the hosting and do all the back-end maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to host your website or any of those technicalities.
They do offer a free domain option where you use their domain extension, but if you want a custom domain (your own URL) to look more professional, or you need more of their features, you need to pay their monthly subscription fee. They don’t offer nearly as many add-ons, but they have some extra features you can pay for. If you don’t want to pay for a web designer and you’re happy with some limitations, these are good options to consider. Just be aware that once sign up with them, you need to stay with them if you wish to keep your website. And once your site is designed it is not that easy to alter it dramatically.
Webflow is one of the newer platforms that we expect will gain popularity in the next few years. It offers a range of features from hosting services to integrated eCommerce solutions that make it popular among web developers and entrepreneurs alike. It is an interesting platform advertised as a ‘no-code’ solution, but many honest reviews say you will need some HTML and CSS understanding and that there is a steeper learning curve. The interface is not as intuitive as some of the competitors, it looks more like an Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop canvas rather than a drag-and-drop editor.
Webflow won’t be our first recommendation for someone without web design experience, but because it is highly customizable and offers a novel approach it is worth mentioning if you are hiring a web design agency or a web developer yourself. The pricing model is not as straightforward as some of the others, and you might find yourself needing to upgrade to a higher pricing plan. You can host with Webflow, or you can export the final website as HTML and host it elsewhere, although the second option is more advanced. We do think they are doing something innovative with their product, and there are many Webflow enthusiasts in the web design communities. So we will eagerly watch their progress in the future.
So in summary: Is WordPress still good in 2023?
It is a matter of preference, but as a web design agency, we think that for most websites and use cases, the answer is yes! WordPress remains a great choice for creating a website for both beginners and experienced developers alike. It’s easy to customize and offers plenty of features. As businesses seek new ways to cut costs while maintaining their online presence, cost efficiency has become an important factor when choosing a platform. WordPress is known for its low maintenance cost, making it an ideal choice for those looking to save money over time, while building a powerful website. With its vast community of users and developers, you can always find help when you need it. You can be assured WordPress will continue to change to keep up with changing trends.
Need a reliable web design agency to help you build a great WordPress website?
Hotdesigns is small web design agency that specializes in Elementor and WordPress web design for businesses of all sizes. They offer various design services, including professional custom web design, graphic design and digital services such as SEO and keyword research. Their business is located in sunny South Africa, but they have many international clients. Reach them via their website, hot-designs.com for a free quote and assessment of your project.