Roslyn Zolandor Team : User Experience and Information Architecture Tags : Web Development Online Trends WordPress

Using WordPress for your website

Roslyn Zolandor Team : User Experience and Information Architecture Tags : Web Development Online Trends WordPress

Here at Wiliam we are predominantly a Microsoft .NET development firm.  You may ask why then am I writing about the pros and cons of WordPress which is an open source PHP CMS. Like most of us in the web design and development industry we had heard about WordPress but until we had a request from a client for a blog website and quickly we hadn’t considered using it.

WordPress was initially developed for bloggers, because of this it has a strong blogging framework. However over the past few years with the growing community of followers and the continual development it has become a popular CMS for all kinds of websites such as ecommerce, portfolios, news/magazine and corporate sites to name a few. It was named the overall winner for “The 2009 Open Source CMS Award”. Also in the "2009 Open Source CMS Share Report" it was named 1 of the top 3 CMS’s for market share. Other findings:

- 433,767 weekly downloads (source: WordPress Download Counter)

- WordPress was the only system that had a higher rate of usage than evaluation.

- WordPress achieved the highest positive response of over 75% from participants surveyed


WordPress is a PHP platform with a MySQL database so the hosting packages out there are generally cheaper than those requiring a Microsoft environment.  I did a quick search online and found one for only $6.95 excluding GST a month but the old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here so it’s worth asking around for recommendations from friends and family along with keeping in mind the requirements of the site (storage space, expected traffic, uptime guarantee etc) before choosing a hosting company.


Because of the popularity of WordPress many hosting companies have a controlpanel where by you can just login and click a link to install WordPress.  This means you don’t even have to know how to setup the environment (folders and database).  A disadvantage of installing WordPress via some controlpanels is that you can’t update WordPress via its dashboard but instead you have to wait until the controlpanel updates it’s version which can take awhile.   If you however want to do it yourself there are full instructions on installing WordPress on the WordPress site.


Extending WordPress is I think its biggest advantage.  You can extend it by using both plugins and themes.  

Plugins can extended Wordpress to do almost anything you can imagine. There are over 10 thousand free plugins on the WordPress site ranging from shopping carts, payment gateways, SEO tools, image and video support, social tools and lots more.  These plugins are not developed by WordPress but 3rd party companies who either ask for a donation or offer a premium version of their plugin for a nominal cost.  

Themes allow you to change the look and feel of your website.  The advantage of this is that you don’t have to be a designer to have a good looking site.  Basic themes you can get for free but for the more professional ones you will have to pay for.  The disadvantage of using a common theme instead of getting one designed specifically for you is that there could be several websites out there that looks just like yours.  


Updating WordPress, plug-ins and themes is now easily done from within the dashboard.  The WordPress dashboard will notify you when an update is available and even gives you a button to click to update them.  As good as this is I must warn you that when WordPress does an update your plugins and/or theme can sometimes break.   And as mentioned before these are not developed by WordPress so you will have to wait for the 3rd party to post an update to fix the problem.  There are a few things you can do to avoid or mitigate this and that is to firstly always BACKUP both your files and database before running any updates, there are even plugins that will  help you do this.  Secondly if you can wait then wait until the plugins and theme are compatible with the new version before updating. 

Training, documentation and support

There are numerous resources out there for WordPress here are just a few:

- WordPress Docs

- WordPress Forum

- WordPress Blog

- Books

- Wordpress TV

If you need specific support say for a plugin then you will have to go direct to the source.  This can be a very big disadvantage if the plugin you are using is either not support any more or support is very limited. Hence why some companies who give away their plugin for free offer for a small cost a support package. 


No software is immune to security breaches, as there are so many variables to take into account (server, database, code, plugins, people). This is even more true when the software is open sourced and as popular as WordPress.  WordPress vulnerabilities according to the National Vulnerability Database peaked in 2007 but has drastically reduced in the past 3 years to 27.  To put this into perspective the other 2 top 3 CMS’s Joomla and Dupral came in at 199 and 41 vulnerabilites respectively.   One of the best things to keep your WordPress website secure is to ensure it is updated with the latest version.   More about WordPress approach can be found here


Here are just a few WordPress blogs we have built for our clients:

- In City Fashion -

- Sporting Bet - 

- Bear Solutions -