First of all, WordPress isn’t the first free CMS to offer great functionality, and it’s not the only one available today, as Joomla and Drupal are very good alternatives in some cases. Movable Type and MODx used to have quite a following, and in many respects were more advanced than WordPress.
What it came down to was simplicity and economy of scale – developers are more likely to focus on the most popular platform than on niche ones. Once WordPress got a clear lead, more people got on board and that was it.
Despite its popularity, WordPress simply can’t do a lot of stuff, so you either need to look into alternative content management systems, or build everything from scratch. This is why we still need a lot of web developers (I work on a with a network that includes many ).
I’ve spent the better part of a decade working on various news sites, mostly WordPress and Joomla, and both platforms are relatively good. However, what happens when you need to revamp your site, add more features, boost your social strategy or maybe even deploy an e-commerce solution? What if you need a lot more customisation than a free CMS can provide? In my experience, whatever happens usually involves shouting, toxic email exchanges, and a few hundred thousand pissed off readers.
Of course, for small sites, WordPress and Joomla are the way to go, no contest. However, if you’re a bit more serious and need specific features that aren’t available in free systems “out of the box” or via popular add-ons, you may want to consider a flexible, custom approach.
Here are some of the key benefits of ditching WP in such situations:
- Superior optimisation
- Tailor-made database, UI, and design
- Superior UX (if done right)
- More flexibility
“Aha, but WP can be customised like no other CMS!”
I’m sure many people are thinking something along those lines, but it really can’t. Yes, you can get loads of themes and plugins, but often you have to hire developers to properly deploy them. By the end of the day, you might end up with a “free” site that uses loads of third-party components maintained by different companies or individuals, so you’ll still end up dealing with a lot of developers. This is my biggest problem with the idea of using WordPress for serious projects.
Now I see everyone on Quora using analogies, so let me try one too.
WordPress is a Swiss Army knife – it’s light, it can do a lot and it’s good enough for a lot of people. However, you won’t see a lot of carpenters or cooks using it for work. When you need a set of good Philips screwdrivers to take apart an old fridge, or a knife to slice some carpaccio in your restaurant, you’ll use something a bit more serious.