It’s 2020 and the world is a little crazy right now. You might look at your old website and think it’s time for an update. Alternatively, maybe you’ve never had one and think it’s time to build one. But where do you start? There are a myriad of tools available for building websites. You’ve heard of WordPress, it powers around 30% of the web, but you’ve also heard criticism of it. Is it the best tool for you? Let’s dive in and see how it stacks up in 2020.

A couple of years ago, I was a full-time WordPress developer. I used a starter theme to build custom WordPress websites using PHP, JavaScript and SCSS. It has a large community and you can use it to build just about any type of website you can think of. However, like any tool, there are some areas where WordPress exceeds and others where it falls short. Let’s look at the scenarios to help you decide:

What WordPress is good for

Many moons ago, WordPress started out as a blogging platform. Unsurprisingly, it’s still a solid choice if you’re building a blog. The tools by which you can write, edit and publish blog posts gets better with every release, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good at other types of websites. Over the years, WordPress has grown to become a fully-fledged content management system.

WordPress is my go-to tool for building dynamic websites. That means any website where the content changes often like a blog or an e-commerce site. To make things better, if you don’t want to use WordPress to render your web front-end you don’t have to. A more modern approach is to use your favorite JavaScript front-end framework to display your website while using WordPress’ REST API to fetch your content. ✨

What WordPress is not good for

If the website you’re going to build will be mostly static, like most brochureware websites, you’re probably better off using something like Hugo or Jekyll. Static websites, unlike dynamic ones, don’t use databases. This improves loading times and makes the site more secure because there are less points of access for would-be hackers.

With that being said, loading speed is a much smaller drawback of WordPress websites than most people believe. The addition of PHP and MySQL compared to static sites does mean that there is more to load. However, most WordPress websites can be optimized to load under a second, which is plenty fast.

WordPress Pros

Ready-made templates
There are thousands of professionally crafted templates that you can use out of the box if you’re not much of a designer to showcase your content in style.

Easy to update
Updating is usually as simple as clicking a couple of buttons once you’ve logged in.

Easy to change content
WYSIWIG editors help you manage content on your pages and posts, making editing content on your website a breeze.

Lots of plugins
Need to handle things like payment gateways, SSL or caching? There are a ton of free and paid plugins for WordPress making managing extensions to your website easy as pie.

WordPress Cons

All of those wonderful themes and plugins you download need to be kept up to date in order for you to have more peace of mind that your website will not get hacked.

Learning Curve
Using WordPress is simple enough, but if you want to do things like build your own custom themes, there is a bit of boilerplate and you’ll have to learn how to do it the correct way.

Server Costs
Unlike a statically-hosted website, to run a WordPress website you need PHP and MySQL with at least one database. This usually makes hosting a bit more expensive.

My verdict

Whether or not you use WordPress for your website will depend entirely on your own site, but in my opinion, WordPress is still a very viable option for dynamic websites in 2020.

There are however many other CMS tools out there, and you can even build your own if you’re so inclined. What did you use to build your personal website? Reach out to me on Twitter and let me know.