dbdc specializes in building WordPress and Woocommerce websites for artists, makers, and small businesses. One of the most common questions I get asked is “Why should I use WordPress?” With so many other options out there for building a website, it’s a good question. The short answer? WordPress and Woocommerce are easy to use, powerful, open, and they put you in complete control of your website.
Why You Should Use WordPress Reason #1: WordPress is Powerful and WordPress is Easy
WordPress began over a decade ago as a blogging platform, but since then it’s matured into a full-fledged Content Management System (CMS) capable of running a website for a Fortune 500 corporation, serving as an eCommerce platform for sellers big or small, and running mobile web apps for smartphones.
WordPress is capable of running a website for a Fortune 500 corporation, serving as an eCommerce platform for sellers big or small, and running mobile web apps for smartphones.
If you’re technical you can go under the hood and add just about any feature you could want by coding with PHP, MySQL, HTML, and CSS. And if you’re not, you can use the work of thousands of volunteer and commercial developers and designers who have written custom plugins.
You can use WordPress.com to build a site just as easily as you can on Squarespace or Weebly, or you can go fully custom and build a site like the Chicago Sun-Times Or the Canadian Museum of History Or Method Soaps. Or the site that you’re reading this on right now.
Want to design your site to make it your own? There are thousands of custom themes that you can install with one click. Some are free, others have more features built-in and can be purchased for a small one-time fee.
Don’t like any of the themes? Want to perform some tweaks to or make a theme that’s all your own? Again, there are options for any skill level, from writing the code by hand to using drag-and-drop page designers like Beaver Builder, Cornerstone, or Layers.
Why You Should Use WordPress Reason #2: WordPress is Free
WordPress and Woocommerce are distributed under a special type of license called the GNU Public License, or GPL for short.
Unlike typical software licenses that place restrictions on what you can use the software for, where you can install it, whether you can share it with other people, and whether you can modify it for your uses, the GPL guarantees “four essential freedoms”:
- The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes.
Note that there is no requirement that a GPL-licensed product is free-of-charge, and many excellent programmers and designers make their livings writing WordPress themes and plugins. But you are free to do whatever you want with your website, add whatever features you need, and make it look exactly the way you want it to. You can even move it to another host if your needs change. You’re not locked in.
Why You Should Use WordPress Reason #3: WordPress is Open
The GPL has the effect of mandating that any GPL-licensed software make its source code open and freely available. Add that to the GPL’s mandate that all “derivative works” based on a GPL-licensed project must inherit the GPL and you get a very interesting result:
All themes and plugins written for WordPress are also covered by the four freedoms. So their source code is open, too.
With WordPress you are free to do whatever you want with your website, add whatever features you need, and make it look exactly the way you want it to.
That means that if you want to, you can modify any theme or plugin whether it was sold or distributed free of charge (though you can kiss any support agreement goodbye). You can also share it with others, though to the extent that doing so undermines the business model of the original creator it’s considered bad form to give out copies of software that another person is making their living off of.
All that aside, this ability to tinker under the hood is what has allowed the WordPress community to grow based on a foundation of collaboration—and to grow to serve so many different needs.
Why You Should Use WordPress Reason #4: WordPress is Not a Company
Currently the WordPress and Woocommerce core software is developed by hundreds of paid and volunteer developers, coordinated by a company called Automattic. But Automattic does not own WordPress, and it does not own Woocommerce.
In 2010 WordPress co-creator Matt Mullenweg transferred control of WordPress and all of its freely-available plugins and themes to a non-profit organization called the WordPress Foundation. In their own words:
The point of the foundation is to ensure free access, in perpetuity, to the software projects we support. People and businesses may come and go, so it is important to ensure that the source code for these projects will survive beyond the current contributor base, that we may create a stable platform for web publishing for generations to come.
WordPress and all of its freely-available plugins and themes are controlled by the non-profit WordPress Foundation.
If Automattic disappeared tomorrow or got bought by another company, WordPress would still be there. If Automattic or anyone else tried to move WordPress off the GPL and take away the four essential freedoms, they couldn’t. Contrast this to other company-owned platforms like Posterous that have shut down after being acquired by other companies. This can’t happen with WordPress.
Why You Should Use WordPress Reason #5: WordPress Puts You in Control
This is the most important part for me, and why I recommend WordPress to people looking to build a lasting, durable foundation for their businesses online. If you host your blog on Medium, or your company’s website on Weebly, or your online store on Etsy, you are building your house on rented land.
If you host your business’ site on another company’s platform, you are building your house on rented land.
You could wake up one morning and discover that your site or store is suddenly in violation of your service’s new terms of service. Or they might change how stores and sites are ranked, and your visitor stream dries up. Or the worst case scenario: the company gets sold or goes out of business and your site is shut down, leaving you to start from scratch.
Using WordPress for your small business website puts all the control in your hands. You own the content, and the site that it runs on. You can back up your whole site automatically every night in case anything ever goes wrong.
If your web host shuts down or no longer meets your needs, you can move to another one because WordPress can run on almost any web hosting provider out there. Even if your web host crashes and loses all your data, you’ll have your backup and you can pick up right where you left off. The best WordPress-optimized hosting companies will even perform the import for you.
Why You Should Use WordPress Reason #6: WordPress is Built to Last
I admit that if you sat two people down with a stopwatch, the average person would be able to go from zero to website more quickly with a service like Squarespace than with WordPress—though with WordPress.com’s hosted option, it would be a close race. And the more customization you want to do, the more up-front work you’ll have to put in or get help with.
But the end result is a house that you built for your business, that you own, and that you never have to worry about letting you down or going away. That’s a trade off I’ll pick every time, and that’s why I think you should use WordPress for your business.