Laser Technik Ltd

Providing Internet services for over a quarter of a century

WordPress web-site building software 

WordPress is an Open Source project.  That means there is no cost for the product but its usage is covered by an open-source license (in summary that says you can’t sell copies of WordPress, you can’t reuse the underlying program code in other commercial products).   

WP was first released in 2003 as a blogging product.  Since then it has evolved beyond recognition and continues to keep up with the latest developments in internet technology.  A blog (aka. weblog) is essentially an online diary, typically one that is public and has the facility for third parties to add comments to the content). 

The benefits of WP

  • It is relatively easy to create extremely feature-rich web sites
  • Even an inexperienced individual with basic IT literacy can create a simple, small WP web site in a matter of hours
  • Those with deeper understanding of the product can create large and more complicated web sites much more cost-effectively than any alternative
  • Some updates to the content of a web site can be made by those with only basic IT literacy
  • Creating responsive web sites is relatively straightforward and there is good control over some of the ways that works (responsive means the site adjusts to suit the device it’s being used on, primarily in respect of screen size i.e. mobile phone or full size desktop PC screen) 
  • The site creator is not limited by the core functionality of WP.
    • There are large libraries of commercial Themes (ready-built templates) and plugins (code modules to extend the core product’s capabilities).  If that’s not sufficient then adding custom code is not only possible but facilitated and supported. 
    • If necessary there are millions of experienced coders who can create custom themes, plugins and customisations.
    • In situations where none of the above provide a solution it’s possible to create pages external to a WP site while retaining the WP header and footer so as to give the user a sense of continuity with the same menu options and styling
  • A Google search will find solutions to most queries and problems 
  • The administrator can add futher users and allocate them different levels of access.  For example some users may be fully trusted to create and publish new content, others may be able to create but not publish until it has been reviewed. 
  • WP is under continual improvement with frequent enhancements and prompt bug fixes
  • Version upgrades can be automated to reduce the need for administrative intervention
  • It is Open Source (what’s that? see another article here)
  • WP can still be used for blogs but the blogging features are usually turned off, it is now used primarily to create web sites

Any negatives?

  • It is important to keep the core product and any third-party add-ins up to date with new versions and bug fixes
  • Compared with straightforward HTML web sites WP sites tend to be large and hence slower to load
  • The more basic sites can all start to look rather similar, relying on standard templates and feature sets
  • It is reliant on some underlying technologies which are subject to updates, whilst the core WP product will be upgraded, if the end user doesn’t install the upgrades the site may fail
  • Updates to WP core may require that some plugins are also updated but plugins are sometimes “retired” rather than updated.  (In that case there are usually alternative plugins available offering similar capabilities)
  • After any version update it is advisable to check that everything still works as intended.  This can be time-consuming
  • Automated updates may expose an incompatibility.  There’s a risk that any consequential problem may not be spotted promptly
  • Some themes and plugins are subject to an annual renewal fee.  If that is not paid the site will usually continue to function until a critical upgrade is release
  • WP has a chequered history, the ability for third parties to add comments was widely misused for advertising, links to other web sites, sometimes a source of malware. The process of continued improvement rapidly addressed those issues.  WP then became so popular that it was a magnet for hackers.  If they could find a single weakness in the system they could attack millions of  WP sites.  While one can never say never, that issue too has been fixed and in any case were a security problem to arise there would be thousands of coders on the case immediately
  • The biggest risk now is from individual web site owners using weak passwords or sharing the login credentials with others who may prove careless

Any alternatives?

Yes there are hundreds, however WP has almost 40% market share, the nearest competitor (Joomla) around 2%.  Those statistics are for the installed base which includes global corporations who will use different and usually very costly alternatives and the millions of websites that have been created over the last 30 years some of which have had few upgrades and are still available.  Most NEW websites are created using WP which consequently has the highest growth rate.

One of the heavily advertised commercial “easy to use DIY website builders” appears to incorporate WP program code which, if true, would be in violation of the Open Source license.