Wordpress Review

WordPress Review

User Rating
Last updated: 27 May 2018
Score
9.6
Ease of Use
Complex
Free Themes

Over 4,000

Intro

WordPress- available for download from WordPress.org- is a free, open source software for creating websites, blogs and apps. Originally designed as a blogging platform, WordPress quickly grew in popularity due to its ease-of-use, flexibility and power, becoming the content management system of choice for businesses of all sizes.

 

Not to be confused with WordPress.com- which functions more similarly to a website builder- WordPress is the top website creation platform for businesses that require customization, power and full control of their site. With tens of thousands of themes and plugins (free and premium) that easily integrate with any WordPress site, the site creation process is truly unlimited.

 

It is important to note, that as opposed to website builders, you will need some coding knowledge to build your website on WordPress. If you don’t have coding skills, be prepared to hire a web developer or designer to build your site and take care of the technical elements. However, once your site is live, the intuitive interface of WordPress makes it easy for those with even minimal tech skills to take care of ongoing site maintenance and content updates.

 

Installation

There are a number of methods available for installing WordPress. The most well known is the ‘Famous 5-Minute Installation’ which is a manual installation requiring access to a web server such as FTP (file transfer protocol) and the ability to create a MySQL database. This method of installation will require some technical know-how, as it involves the following steps:

 

  • Download the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org.
  • Upload those files to your web server, using FTP.
  • Create a MySQL database and user for WordPress.
  • Configure WordPress to connect to the newly-created database.
  • Complete the installation and setup your new website!

See how to perform the Famous 5- Minutes Installation in our tutorial video below:

 

 

If this installation process seems too complicated, you are still in luck, as most hosting companies offer ‘1-click’ or automatic installation when you purchase a WordPress hosting package. The process is relatively simple, only requires you enter basic details about your website and selecting this method means you can access the hosting service’s support lines if you need guidance during installation. Look out for apps such as Softaculous and Fantastico in the cPanel, to start the 1-click installation.

 

Themes

Unlike website builders, there is a difference between themes and templates in WordPress.

Themes provide the overall front-end design and layout of your WordPress website, whilst templates are files within that theme that define how parts of a page/whole pages will be displayed. WordPress themes include:

  • Overall site design and layout
  • Colors
  • Page and blog layouts
  • Font styles and more
  • Complex functionalities such as registration/login, checkout/payment- can all be implemented within a theme (or with a plugin).

Most themes include default templates for the following pages:

  • Post
  • 404 page
  • Search page
  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • And you can add as many templates (page types) as you desire

 

WordPress’s theme library contains thousands of free themes, each checked and inspected by a team of developers. Each year, WordPress creates one free responsive theme. On download, your WordPress will include three of the latest free default themes, created by WordPress. Although they are mobile-responsive, the default themes are generally suited to simple blogs due to their basic design.

 

Wordpress - basic theme

The ‘Twenty-Seventeen’ default theme from WordPress

We recommend taking the time to filter through the theme library to find a theme that matches your website’s layout and presentation needs. You can use the filter box in the library to search for themes related to your industry (eg. online store, real estate and more).

wordpress themes - photography

‘Photography’ Free Themes from WordPress’s Theme Library
Whilst these free themes offer a fresher design than the default offered by WordPress, many are quite generic and old fashioned. We recommend taking a look at third-party WordPress theme publishers who offer an even wider range of uniquely designed and industry-tailored themes. Take for example Themeforest, offering over 9,000 WordPress themes categorized into 16 unique topics (eg. corporate, retail, wedding and more). These themes do come with a nominal price tag (starting at $13- one-time fee), but with such a wide selection of beautiful and professionally designed themes to choose from- not to mention that most paid themes include customer support- the small fee is certainly worth it. You can compare the best WordPress theme publishers in our WordPress Theme Publishers Comparison.
Wordpress -wedding photography theme
‘Vivagh Photographer’ – A Wedding Photography theme from Themeforest
TIP: Given the global growth in mobile usage, most of today’s WordPress themes are responsive. But make sure to double check this before downloading or paying for a new theme.

 

The Editor

When you login to WordPress, you will enter the Dashboard screen, a kind of ‘home page’ for the administration area/editor of your website. It provides a quick overview of your site, including details of the latest activity, external sites linking to your site, draft posts, comments and more.

Wordpress - editor dashboard

Note the left-side menu in the screenshot above- these are the default sections of your WordPress administration area, each managing different elements on your site. As you customize your site or add plugins, this side menu will grow. Here we will touch on some of the core sections of the WordPress administration area:

 

Posts

 

Posts are content entries, presented in reverse chronological order on your website, most commonly used for blog posts or timely content. The Posts editor is a simple what you see is what you get content editor. If you are familiar with Microsoft Word, you shouldn’t encounter any major difficulties using the visual editor. The text editor allows you to enter HTML code to format your content. However, you can install the free TinyMCE Advanced plugin which adds enhanced features to the visual editor such as the ability to select Font Family and Font Sizes, table creation, better list options and more.

Wordpress - visual editor

Basic Visual Editor

Wordpress - text editor

Basic Text Editor
Wordpress TinyMCE visual aditor

Visual Editor Using TinyMCE Advanced Plugin

Media

 

The Media Library holds the images, video and recording files you upload for use in a post or page on WordPress. You can manage your media files through the library- edit (crop, resize or rotate), view or delete media uploaded to your website.

Wordpress media library

In order to add media to your post or page- such as an image- click on the ‘Add Media’ button above the content editor and then the ‘Upload Files’ tab in the window that opens. The process is simple and straightforward, allowing you to upload several images at once, customize their size, add captions and more.

Wordpress portfolio

Create beautiful portfolios, galleries and visual content with WordPress

Pages

 

Pages are different to posts in that they are designed for static, ‘timeless’ content, such as an About Us page or Contact Us page. The content editor for Pages functions the same as the Posts editor, explained above. Generally speaking, Pages can use different templates (such as an About Us template and a Contact Us template) whilst posts will usually use the same template.

Wordpress about screen

An ‘About Us’ Page

Appearance

 

The appearance section allows you to manage and edit several important elements on your site, including theme customization, widgets, site menus and more. The options here may seem a little overwhelming at first, and may differ according to the widgets you add, additional elements on your site or your chosen theme.

 

Plugins

 

Plugins (explained below in more detail) that have been downloaded and installed to your WordPress are presented in the Plugins Library. Here you can activate, deactivate and update the plugins.

 

Users

 

The Users section displays all users who have login access to your WordPress administration area. Users can be added, deleted or edited from this section. Generally speaking, there are six types of users (or ‘roles’) that can be created and given access to your website:

  • Super Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Subscriber

 

Each user has a predefined set of capabilities in terms of access and the actions they can take on the site. The capabilities that can be assigned or removed from users include creating pages, writing posts, moderating comments, managing plugins and more. So for example, if you have a writer who uploads content to your site that you wish to check before it goes live, you can assign them the role of Contributor so they can write and upload the content, but only you can publish it.

 

Mobile

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, it is likely that many of your clients or potential customers use their mobile devices when searching online. It is therefore imperative your website is mobile-friendly. WordPress’s default themes, as well as the majority of paid themes, are responsive, meaning your website’s display will readjust to fit any screen size (think desktop, tablet or mobile devices). However, if you are unsure of a template’s responsiveness, we suggest testing the theme using Google’s Mobile Friendliness Tool before purchasing it.

TIP: If your site is being custom designed and developed, check with the developers to ensure they create a responsive website for your business.
Wordpress home page desktop
Wordpress mobile homepage
Desktop and Mobile views of a responsive WordPress site
The WordPress CMS is also responsive, so you can manage and edit your website even when away from the office- via a mobile or tablet device. Additionally, you can download the WordPress mobile app (for Android and iOS devices) to write posts, upload photos, edit pages, and manage comments on your website whilst on the go.     
Wordpress mobile app

 

Plugins

Plugins are software that can be added to your CMS, offering new functionality and extended features for your website. Integrating seamlessly with WordPress, one of the main benefits of plugins is that they allow you to enhance your website without the need to write code. You can choose from over 51,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugin Library or through the plugins dashboard in the CMS. Plugins are mostly free but some may offer a premium version, additional features or 24/7 support for a set price.

The following are a selection of plugins we at WebCreate recommend for small business websites:

 

Contact Form 7

Purpose: Contact form builder & manager

Installs: 3 million +

Rating (from WP): 4.5  stars out of 5

Wordpress Contact form 7

Contact Form 7 is a free plugin enabling you to create, manage and insert an unlimited number of contact forms (or any form besides a login form) on your website. Thanks to automatic integration with Google Drive and a plugin for MailChimp integration called Contact Form 7 MailChimp Extension, you can easily collect the data entered into any form on your website through a Google Spreadsheet or in your MailChimp account. Note that to change the design elements of the forms to match those of your website, some coding is required.

Wordpress contact us form

A Contact Form built using Contact Form 7

 

All In One WP Security & Firewall

Purpose: Extra security & firewall for your WordPress site

Installs: 500,000 +

Rating (from WP): 5 stars out of 5

Wordpress all in one plugin

This free plugin offers an extra level of security for your website, covering all aspects of the CMS such as admin and login security, database security, firewall functionality, comment spam security, brute force attack prevention and more. The plugin monitors your website’s security settings and offers a grading system to measure and categorise its performance, indicating where improvements need to be made and how urgent they are.

 

WPML Widgets

Purpose: Language selector for WordPress Widgets

Installs: 30,000 +

Rating (from WP): 5 stars out of 5

 

The WPML Widgets plugin is a free tool that enables you to add a language selector drop-down menu to your WordPress widgets. This means instead of re-publishing a widget in each language, you can simply duplicate is and use the WPML plugin to select a different language. A very big time saver- especially for eCommerce sites using a lot of widgets throughout the checkout process (the plugin actually integrates with the eCommerce plugin WooCommerce, recommended below).

Wordpress WPML Widgets

 

Backup – UpdraftPlus

Purpose: File and Database Backup

Installs: 1 million +

Rating (from WP): 5 stars out of 5

 

It is crucial to use a backup system for your WordPress website. We at WebCreate recommend using the backup services of your hosting provider, however if this is not possible, we suggest using the UpdraftPlus plugin.

 

UpdraftPlus is a free plugin for WordPress database and files backup. Schedule automatic or on-demand backups of your WordPress site and store it on the cloud (including UpdraftPlus Vault, Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Cloud Storage, FTP and email) or download the backup to your computer. The plugin offers a lot of flexibility in terms of scheduling, storing and restoring files.

Wordpress UpdraftPlus

WooCommerce:

Purpose: A complete eCommerce solution for WordPress

Installs: 3 million +

Rating (from WP): 4.5 stars out of 5

Wordpress WooCommerce

Wordpress WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free, all-round eCommerce plugin enabling you to create, customize and manage an online store through your WordPress site. Upload and categorize products, track inventory levels, customize payment options, automatically calculate shipping costs for customers and more. The plugin also includes extensions for integration with Google Analytics, PDF Invoices and Packing Slips and more. WooCommerce accepts a multitude of payment options, from credit cards to PayPal, Stripe to Amazon Payments and more.

 

WP Super Cache

Purpose: Create cached pages for your website

Installs: 1 million +

Rating (from WP): 4.5 stars out of 5

Wordpress Super Cache

Simply put, a cache is the temporary storage of a page (including HTML code and images) in order to reduce load on the website’s server when that page is revisited on the same browser. The free plugin enables you to generate, manage and delete your site’s cache.

 

Yoast SEO:

Purpose: SEO

Installs: 3 million +

Rating (from WP): 5 stars out 5

 

The Yoast SEO plugin gives you control of your website’s on-page SEO, without having to delve into code. We elaborate more on the plugin in the SEO section of this review.

 

Jetpack by WordPress.com

Purpose: A tool-kit for growing, securing and designing your website.

Installs: 3 million +

Rating (from WP): 4 stars out 5

Wordpress Jetpack

 

Jetpack is a free ‘all-in-one’ style toolbox for your website. It includes tools designed to increase traffic to your site, engage your visitors and keep your site safe and secure. These tools include:

  • Website customization with free themes, image tools, and rich content.
  • Increase traffic and engagement with your website with social sharing and related content plugins.
  • Keep your site safe with secure logins and protection from brute force attacks.
  • Whilst the above tools are free, advanced features such as daily backups, spam protection, and SEO tools can be added for a fee.

 

Page Builder by SiteOrigin

Purpose: Enhanced content editor

Installs: 3 million +

Rating (from WP): 5 stars out of 5

This free plugin implements a drag-and-drop style editor within your Pages editor in WordPress. Enhance the layout of your site with widgets such as social sharing buttons, call to action buttons, post carousel, Google Maps and more. The plugin integrates with any theme, allowing you to alter the design of a page without the need to write or edit the code.

Wordpress SiteOrigin

Widgets that can be added to your website with Page Builder

Support

Whilst WordPress does not offer phone or online chat support as many of the builders do, there are comprehensive online resources available to all WordPress users. On their website, the support section is split into two main sections- Forums and Documentation.

The Support Forum, moderated by WordPress professionals and developers from around the world, contains millions of posts and is split into 9 main sections (You can expect to receive a response to your question within 1-2 days):

  • Installing WordPress: For problems encountered whilst setting up WordPress.
  • Fixing WordPress: Assistance with problems encountered after setting up WordPress.
  • Developing with WordPress: Help is offered for more complex WordPress issues.
  • Networking WordPress: For issues connected to the networking/multisite feature of WordPress.
  • Accessibility: Covers assistive technologies that can be integrated with WordPress such as screen readers, keyboard only navigation and voice control.
  • Localhost Installs: For users who installed WordPress on their computer.
  • Everything Else WordPress: If your question doesn’t match any of the other forum topics, you can post it (and find answers) here.
  • Requests and Feedback: You can post feature requests or criticisms in this sub-forum.
  • Alpha/Beta/RC: Find help, leave feedback and read bug reports on development versions of WordPress.
TIP: You are encouraged to search the forum topics before posting a question, however, as each individual WordPress website is built using different themes and plugins, the development side of every site functions (and malfunctions) differently. As such, it is rare that one answer fixes a similar issue on different sites, so you are welcome to post a question in one of the forums mentioned above. Being as specific as possible in your description of the problem will help the moderators solve your issues as efficiently as possible.

Wordpress Support forum

Interface of the ‘Installing WordPress’ Forum

Note: Support for themes and plugins can be found on each specific theme’s or plugin’s page (look for the ‘View support forum’).

 

The Documentation section of WordPress’s Support hub offers a comprehensive online manual full of informational guides covering everything from downloading WordPress to upgrades, using plugins and themes, creating posts and more. The wonderful thing about the support manual is that the information is published for users of all experience/knowledge levels. See the below screenshot from the ‘Getting started with WordPress’ guide – with information presented both for beginners and intermediates.

Wordpress - support documentation

 

SEO

Due to the ‘heat’ some website builders have received in recent years in connection to their SEO capabilities, some may be tricked into believing that using WordPress to build their site means it will automatically be optimized for SEO. But take note, this is not the case. Whilst WordPress is Google- friendly, you will be required to invest some time and effort to actually optimize your site for search engines.

 

Whilst maintaining your site’s SEO is an ongoing process, there are plugins that can help you manage the basic elements of your site’s on-page SEO elements within WordPress (and without the need to touch any code). We will briefly look at two of the most popular SEO plugins- WordPress SEO by Yoast and All in One SEO Pack. Having utilized both plugins here at WebCreate, we can attest that both offer a comprehensive set of tools for optimizing your website. Both plugins offer very similar features, such as:

  • Manage title tags and meta descriptions for each page
  • Set canonical tags for duplicate content
  • XML sitemap support
  • Social media meta data (eg. Facebook OpenGraph tags)
  • Generate robots.txt files
  • Google Search Console integration
  • Import and export SEO settings

 

Yoast SEO

Purpose: SEO

Installs: 3 million +

Rating (from WP): 5 stars out of 5

 

Yoast’s WordPress SEO also includes full control over your site’s breadcrumb navigation and content analysis of each page. The premium version includes a redirect manager to redirect old URLs to new URLs and 24/7 email support.

 

Yoast SEO

The Yoast SEO Plugin in WordPress’s Editor

All in One SEO Pack

Purpose: SEO

Installs: 3 million +

Rating (from WP): 4 stars out of 5

 

The All in One SEO pack supports Google Knowledge Graph and Schema.org management and the Pro version includes priority customer support.

All in One SEO

The All in One SEO Plugin in WordPress’s Editor

If we had to choose one over the other, our vote would go with Yoast. Both plugins are superb at what they do, but in our experience, Yoast’s interface is slightly more user friendly and its content analysis tool draws your attention to the content that requires further SEO work.

 

Hosting/Domain

Hosting

Unlike website builders such as Wix and Squarespace, a hosting service is not included when you create your site with WordPress. As such, you are free to choose from a wide range of hosting providers- WordPress even recommend certain providers on their website, such as BlueHost, SiteGround and DreamHost (Find out more in WebCreate’s detailed comparison of the most popular WordPress hosting providers). Due to the popularity of WordPress, you will find that many of the hosting companies offer full support for WordPress, including one-click installation, website staging, caching and CDN services and automatic updates. View our complete WordPress Hosting Comparison.

 

It is important to note that there are several types of hosting options, but for this review we will touch on the two most relevant hosting types for small business WordPress websites- shared hosting and managed WordPress hosting.

  • Shared Hosting: Shared hosting- the most common choice for WordPress hosting- involves a number of sites sharing the same, large server. Whilst the shared server may place your site at the mercy of other websites, this option is the most attractive for small business websites and blogs as the hosting costs are relatively low (starting at $3/month, with average prices between $5-10/month).
  • Managed WordPress Hosting: Offering a dedicated hosting solution for WordPress websites, managed WordPress hosting services offer you peace of mind as they manage and optimize your sites performance by keeping your WordPress versions up to date and identifying poor-performing plugins. With this higher level of service comes a higher price-tag. The average managed WordPress hosting package costs approximately $10-$30/month. WP Engine, a hosting provider offering managed WordPress hosting plans only, has packages starting at $29/month.

 

Domain

You will find that many hosting providers also include a free domain name for the first year with all of their packages. In this instance, we recommend securing your domain name through your hosting provider. If you wish to purchase your domain name separately (perhaps you are looking for a unique domain extension such as mydomain.tech which is not offered by your hosting provider) you can purchase your preferred domain from a Domain Name Provider. The price of the domain will differ according to the domain extension you select and the plan. You can find out more about selecting a domain and Domain Name Providers in WebCreate’s Domain Name Provider Comparison.

 

Pricing/Plans

As an open-source software, WordPress is free for all users. But in order to get your website up and running, there are additional costs you should consider, such as:

  • Hosting (starting at $3/month)
  • Domain Name (Free or starting at $10/year)
  • WordPress Theme (Free to approximately $100 one-time fee)
  • Developer and designer for customizations/ advanced technical work (hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the hours and work required)

 

Integrations

As we have already established, there are tens of thousands of plugins that will integrate with your WordPress site to enhance its functionality. The following table lists the plugins we recommend for your common website needs:

 

Integration Yes/No Details
Google Analytics  Yes Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) Plugin
Social Media Share Buttons  Yes Social Media Share Buttons and Social Icons Plugin
Mailbox  Yes Integration with G Suite through plugins
CRM  Yes WP-CRM – Customer Relations Management for WordPress Plugin
MailChimp  Yes MailChimp Plugin
Chat  Yes WP Live Chat Support Plugin
3rd Party Reviews  Yes WP Customer Reviews Plugin

Trustpilot & Tripadvisor reviews can be implemented through code or plugins

Tracking Tools  Yes Crazy Egg Plugin, HotJar Connecticator Plugin
Music  Yes PowerPress Plugin
Video  Yes WP Video Lightbox Plugin
Paypal  Yes WP Easy Paypal Payment Accept Plugin

Paypal Donations Plugin

SEO  Yes Yoast SEO Plugin
Cache  Yes WP Super Cache Plugin
eCommerce  Yes WooCommerce Plugin
TIP: Whilst all of these integrations can be handled by plugins, if you need something more customized, you will likely need the professional assistance of a developer.

 

Future Considerations

With over 28% of websites built using WordPress in 2017, it’s clear that it is the go-to platform for businesses (large and small) around the world. With constant updates, new plugins and themes being built around the clock and a never-ending supply of online support, you are bound to find the solutions your website needs as it grows and evolves in the online economy.

 

If you decide down the track that it’s time for a website redesign, your site’s theme and corresponding design can be easily changed without the need to rebuild the site from scratch. And in case you want to switch hosting providers or move your website to an entirely different content management system, content export can be done with ease through the backup function of your hosting service.

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Flexibility & Customization: With tens of thousands of themes and plugins available, the options for building your site are truly endless. And even the themes themselves are flexible- they can be individually customized (by editing the code or using a tool such as Visual Composer) to cater to your design preferences and need for certain functionalities. Furthermore, by installing a plugin(s) on your site, you eliminate the need to develop code in order to add that specific function(s) to your site, meaning you can control more areas of your site without the services of a developer, saving you both time and money.
  • Online Support: Although there is no support ‘phone line’ for WordPress users, WordPress.org offers an encyclopedia-worth of helpful materials through its Support Portal and Forum. If these materials do not suffice, a quick Google search will introduce you to the huge worldwide community of WordPress professionals- from additional forums to comprehensive blogs, you are bound to find the answer you need online.
  • Free: In comparison to website builders (such as Wix and Squarespace) that require you open an account and pay a monthly/yearly fee to use their services (build, edit and manage your site), the WordPress software is completely free. That is not to say there won’t be costs related to building a site with WordPress, but when you add the costs of a domain name and hosting plan as well as an optional paid theme, the sum of these ongoing costs is likely smaller than those of website builders. Additional costs may come in the way of development or designer fees, but if you can grasp the functionality of WordPress and especially plugins, the majority of these fees will be related to building the site and not the ongoing task of managing it.

 

Cons

  • Security: WordPress sites- especially when not up to date- can be prone to hacking and malware attacks. Luckily a range of top-rated security plugins is available to install on your website and many hosting companies also monitor and report on your site’s security status.
  • Need for code knowledge/ developer: Whilst many small business owners have enough technical savvy to manage the day-to-day needs of a WordPress site, major customizations to your site’s design or the addition of special functions (such as a log-in membership area or advanced eCommerce settings) will most likely require the services of a professional web developer (or designer). Users who are less tech-savvy and need to make ongoing changes to their site may need to consider the ongoing involvement of a developer to ensure all updates are performed smoothly, with no damage to the overall website.
  • Unforeseen Costs: Whilst the WordPress software itself is free and hosting and domain name costs are relatively cheap when compared to website builders, there may be unforeseen costs if you unexpectedly require the services of a web professional (as mentioned above). The web developer or designer will likely offer a quote for their services before building your website, so you can budget for these expenses accordingly. However, if you are not able to manage the content and ongoing maintenance of the site yourself, you may end up spending a lot more on professional fees than you budgeted for. So be sure to plan out your budget well in advance and check that you can either afford the additional fees or learn to manage the day-to-day needs of the site independently.

Websites Built with WordPress

Bottom Line

Find Out If Wordpress Is Right For Your Business

In comparison to website builders, WordPress clearly offers the most flexibility, customizable options and power. And as they say- with great power comes great responsibility- performing constant software and plugin updates, ensuring your site is secure and maintaining your site on an ongoing basis are basic requirements to keep your site running optimally. Yes, WordPress is free, and tech-savvy business owners only needing to update content on their website will likely encounter few issues with the software. But business owners with more complex needs or less technical know-how should be prepared to take on the assistance of a developer to create their ideal site with WordPress.

 

Build Your Site With WordPress If:

  • You want complete control over your website’s design (color scheme, fonts, layouts and more) and functionality.
  • You have the time and financial resources to invest in building and customizing your site- setting up your WordPress site (installing WordPress, selecting and uploading a theme and installing plugins) may take some time if you do it alone. A developer may cost more, but can help cut the time needed to build and customize your website to your exact business needs.
  • You want the freedom to make changes to your site in the future with minimal hassle, add additional capabilities, change the design or content layout, remove elements and more.
  • You are happy to invest financial resources in building your website but wish to maintain minimal monthly costs.

 

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