Three years ago my friend Morten posted a great article called:
WordPress is not easy, and that’s OK. How we speak about WordPress.
The ease of use in setting up WordPress and start blogging right away has shifted the focus from “launching a blog” to “building a viable system running on top of WordPress”.
WordPress Powers 30% of The Web
The popular platform that has launched in 2003 is nowadays mature and used by various Fortune 500 companies, some of the most influential blogs and online magazines, large businesses and enterprises, eCommerce platforms and more. Based on the latest research studies, WordPress currently powers about 30% of the top 10 million Internet websites.
10 years ago or so, WordPress was one of the easiest platforms for starting a blog or a website built on top of the content management system. Competitive platforms were either paid and clumsy, or providing tedious user interface that was designed for programmers or tech geeks and not for the public.
Site Builders vs. The Power of WordPress
Nowadays, simple website builders like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly provide a more simplistic look and feel and a limited feature set that is often said to be easier to use than a generic WordPress installation.
Things get slightly more complicated if we account for the numerous settings and options that you can see in the dashboard. There’s the Media top level menu, Tools, Settings, Comments. Plenty of folks don’t use these menus at all (or rarely when they start using WordPress).
You have “Appearance” which is used for themes, menus, and widgets. Some folks are not aware of the best way to navigate to their navigation (pun intended) or adjust the flexible boxes in their sidebar.
Adding more and more plugins will likely result in additional top-level menu elements or somewhat “hidden” subelements under Tools, Settings, Appearance. That’s fine as long as you’re willing to search for them.
Content Writing and Editing
The writing experience in WordPress may also cause some friction. Add an SEO plugin that adjusts your meta data indexed by Google and a couple of plugins registering additional boxes and you may end up with plenty of fields to be filled out for each entry of yours.
That said, WordPress is not necessarily a complex platform for users. But it does require proper training and onboarding given its vast set of default options and the almost unlimited extensibility through plugins.
Developing Complex WordPress Solutions
WordPress is also not easy for development. Building a “LEGO” project by bundling plugins is not development. Programming plugins from scratch, adjusting the life cycle of the platform and connecting various services is development. Optimizing the platform for performance and security is development. Migrating proprietary platforms to WordPress and writing custom database migration and import scripts is development.
Everything else is “power user site building” craft that allows for quickly spinning up small blogs or sites as a proof of concept before hiring a professional developer who can take care of the system (and probably override part of the codebase).
But once you get used to the power of WordPress, the flexible engine behind the wheels may let you provide outstanding value to your users and visitors.