The Rock and the Hard Place for WordPress

January 15 2020

Let’s imagine you want to start blogging, or need to make a small website. Where do you start?

For many years, the default recommendation was WordPress. It was “easy to install,” “easy to update,” and “easy to use” for people who weren’t familiar with CMS technology. But I’m not sure this is true anymore, and I no longer recommend WordPress to clients.

If you’re not a developer, WordPress is not where you should start with your website. You would be better served by Squarespace, Ghost, et al. Squarespace lets you design an entire website with drag and drop features, and Ghost lets you start blogging with beautiful themes and a premium hosted service. There’s no need to install anything with either platform. And if you need to set up an online store, both Squarespace and Shopify will make your life much easier than WordPress and WooCommerce.

I’ve also noticed something else in the past couple years: WordPress is not easy to use. The backend is a monster, and Gutenberg has made it harder for my clients to use — not easier. Almost any other CMS I’ve tried has been easier for my clients to grasp than WordPress.

If you are technically proficient, it’s getting harder and harder to recommend WordPress. Thanks to Gutenberg and the increasing use of Rest APIs and Javascript, along with the old PHP core, developing for WordPress becomes more nightmarish seemingly with every passing week.

And if you have any opinions about web development at all, WordPress’s attempts to get you to code “the WordPress way” will frustrate or anger you, depending on your tolerance levels.

If you’re a modern PHP developer, you could use Bedrock to build WordPress, but it’s still WordPress. Bedrock doesn’t solve the problems that Gutenberg and the plugin architecture create. (Trust me: I built this blog with Bedrock, and as of January 2020, I plan on getting off WordPress as soon as possible.)

The problem is this: inevitably, nearly every WordPress site eventually becomes a mess of spaghetti code and plugins that make actually using the site impossible.

Developers (or technically-minded people) would be better off with almost any of the myriad CMSes that are available: Ghost, Craft, Kirby, Grav, Statamic, Shopify, and more are all typically easier to develop for than WordPress. (I haven’t even mentioned static generators.) The options are limitless.

All of this puts WordPress between a rock and a hard place. If developers and regular people should avoid it, who is it for?

I no longer have an answer.

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