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WordPress began as a humble website blogging tool but evolved into one of the most popular website development platforms and Content Management Systems (CMS) on the market.
Why is WordPress so popular?
WordPress allows non-programmers to build websites. The ability to create a website with little to no programming knowledge quickly made WordPress popular. This was especially true among amateur website enthusiasts and marketing agencies with little to no website development experience.
WordPress is feature rich through the use of a large library of 3rd party addons called "plugins." Plugins allow webmasters to add fancy features to a website they might not be able to build themselves or might find infeasible to build from scratch due to high development costs. Some plugins are free, some charge a recurring fee. Either way, the cost is usually nominal compared with developing the functionality from scratch.
The look and feel of a website can be quickly set by installing a premade "theme." Instead of hand-coding a responsive website interface to work on mobile devices, laptops and PCs, webmasters can select a "look and feel" from a variety of free WordPress "themes" or purchase a premade theme and install it within minutes. Most themes allow varying degrees of customization.
As with plugins, some themes are free while others charge a recurring fee. Again, the cost of purchasing a theme is usually far less than developing a responsive site from scratch.
WordPress allows the end-customer to make "minor" updates to their own website. While most end-customers will not have the knowledge to edit the underlying structure of their WordPress website, many customers are able to quickly learn how to edit certain text, replace some photos or add new blog articles.
What Do I Need to Know About WordPress?
WordPress websites must be monitored and updated. Because inexperienced people can build a website in WordPress, their lack of knowledge regarding the importance of properly maintaining the WordPress website can sometimes lead to higher instances of virus infection and hacking. Some WordPress users build the WordPress website and assume they can leave it running without performing any kind of maintenance.
The fact is that the WordPress platform must be properly and regularly maintained on a recurring schedule. If not, WordPress websites can become less and less secure over time risking virus infection or turning the website into a Spammer, sending thousands of unsolicited emails across the globe.
An infected or spammy WordPress website can upset customers, scare off visitors, and even jeopardize your relationship with your website hosting company who must keep their web servers clean of infections. It is critical that WordPress be regularly updated to keep it as secure as possible.
Third party WordPress plugins are only as good as the developer who built them. Because WordPress runs on open-source technology, anyone can have access to the source code and then change or enhance it as they desire. This openness allows developers to create additional features beyond the scope of the original program.
While this openness allows people from around the world to create plugins to enable fancy features on websites, the quality and security of the developed code can vary greatly. So, website designers must hope that a plugin developer knew how to program clean, secure programming code when the plugin was built.
Website designers should determine if plugin developers publish regular security patches and bug fixes before using a plugin. And if such updates are published, who will be responsible for installing those security patches and bug fixes as they are released to the public.
Hackers love to take advantage of security exploits within 3rd party plugins to infiltrate websites.
Third party WordPress themes and plugins must be monitored and updated. WordPress themes (the "look and feel") as well as third party plugins must be regularly updated to stay compliant with the current version of WordPress. There have been instances where the WordPress platform gets updated to the latest version and this causes the website to crash because the theme and/or one or more plugins were not compatible with the most current version of WordPress.
It is imperative that your webmaster follow a regular procedure of backing up your WordPress website before updating it to allow a recovery point when compatibility issues occur.
Occasional downtime may occur with WordPress websites. Even IF your webmaster does everything right with regular backups and recurring security patches and bug fixes, your WordPress website could still crash due to a compatibility issue. Expect that, from time to time, your website may need to be down for maintenance or repair.
Higher Ongoing Fees Than Traditional Websites. With all of the ongoing maintenance required, WordPress sites typically cost more to properly maintain than a traditional website built on industry standard technology (HTML, CSS, PHP). You can expect higher monthly fees to keep your WordPress themes, plugins and WordPress itself up to date.
Be sure to find an experienced webmaster who understands the importance of recurring WordPress maintenance and security.