What you really should know about WordPress

WordPress can be a cost effective solution for small businesses with the famous 5 minute install, all the freely available and reasonably priced premium themes on the market. Premium themes are certainly cheap and are usually designed to do a particular job – being designed specifically to service a Magazine style, Food Recipe or Design Portfolio style web site. Usually these themes are scaled up using a bunch of third-party plugins in order to meet the functionality requirements of that particular style of web site. They usually come with a rather large manual at the same time and this means learning how to manage the website in a different way than was intended by the core engine of WordPress. Cost effective can be a little misleading as it could take you hours if not days to figure out how to create the site the way you want it!

Equally this is the same for a web developer – by thinking you could spend $30 on a theme and get a web developer to change it is a myth. The cost of the web developers time could amount to the cost of having a bespoke website built and created to do exactly what you want it to do in the first place. Because a premium theme has been designed and coded to do a certain job the web developer could again spend hours or days chasing a bug that’s been created as a result of bending the theme. The same goes for simple branding, colour changes and swapping logos out from the original theme, inevitably the logo that the theme was originally designed with is a completely different style or shape to the company logo that needs to replace it! Simple changes like this can have a knock on implication to the layout of the theme and that can be hours of fun believe me!

Another major concern are the plugins or javascripts used in the theme, they can have major security vulnerabilities. I’ve been contacted on several occasions to help fix a web site because an old or underdeveloped plugin has been used to inject a virus in to the web site. No fun for the client if they are trying to run a professional business or build a reputation.  Be aware that if only the theme files have been infected it can be relatively easy to fix but, if the database has been infected then you could be screwed full stop! There are measures you can take to prevent the database from ever being infected or certainly much harder to hack but not everyone is aware of this during the five minute install.

In business you have to be unique and different to stand out from your competitors. This is equally the same for your web site and by using a premium theme that potentially is the same as your competitor or just by using a popular theme a business is less likely to stand out from the crowd. My preference would be to create a unique user experience and be different.

Don’t get me wrong I think that premium themes have their place and for startups they can be a good solution but you should be aware that they could end up costing you more in the long run, either in time and money or reputation! So lets weigh up the pros and cons:

Premium theme pros

  • easy to install
  • themes are cheap
  • website in minutes
  • plugins make it scalable

Premium theme cons

  • branding and design
  • theme lockdown
  • bespoke user experience
  • plugins have vulnerabilities

Thoughts and comments welcome. Have you had the same experiences? Would you agree?

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