It’s true. I’ve decided that it’s time for me to move away from WordPress for my future personal projects.
Before I go into why, a bit of background. I’ve been designing and building websites for myself and others since 1997. I’m a coder, which means I’ve generally built what I need from scratch for myself and my clients. This is why I build my own WordPress themes. I build what I know I need instead of using what someone else thinks I need.
Over the years I’ve used several CMS systems, even if they weren’t called that at the time. I started with Greymatter, then used Blogger, switched to Movabletype (the self-hosted version of Typepad), created my own small-scale CMS solutions, dabbled with Drupal and Joomla, and finally, WordPress.
All of those platforms served their purpose, and most did what they said on the tin. Once I started using WordPress, it’s what I stuck with. My experience with most of the other platforms told me that, relatively speaking, WordPress is the more user-friendly option for my clients, while also remaining flexible enough for their needs. To be perfectly frank, I think Drupal is much more powerful than WordPress in many ways, but its learning curve is very steep.
I’ve never held the position that WordPress is the solution for all of your website needs. In many cases, it’s not. Whether it’s the right solution for you, depends on what you’re planning to do. For example, while there are plenty of eCommerce plugins and themes for WordPress, if I were creating an online shop, I’d use something specifically created for eCommerce like Shopify or Big Cartel.
At the time of this writing, I have three live websites, but in the recent past, I’ve maintained as many as 7 live websites. Just to clarify, these are my own websites for my various projects. I generally don’t maintain websites for my clients.
The three sites I currently maintain, are all in WordPress. Do they need to be? Not really. The contents of all three are largely “static” pages. They do all contain a blog, but I don’t add posts that often on any of them. The infrequency of my blogging is a post for another day.
If I were going to write a blog, or publish writing on a regular basis, I would probably opt to use the Ghost platform. I’ve played with it, and as a writer, I love it. It’s recently been updated to include static pages in addition to blog posts, which makes it a little more WordPress-like, but it’s meant only for blogging/writing. I published a previous post about Ghost, that can provide you with more information about it. Ghost’s primary limitation is the hosting platform it requires. My hosting company won’t support it, and I don’t want to have to use two different hosting companies for my sites/projects.
My reason for deciding to not use WordPress moving forward for my own sites comes down to two things: the accelerated development cycle, and it’s overkill for most of what I’m doing.
Let’s take this site. It rarely changes. I’ve redesigned it twice in the past four years, but the content doesn’t usually change in any major way. In fact, I’ve deleted pages after the each redesign. The blog is the only part of the site that really ever changes. I’m not a prolific blogger, but even if I posted weekly, I could easily do so without a CMS system. I could manage this entire site without any CMS at all.
I freely admit that WordPress can be a pain in the neck because of the constant updates. The development cycle for it has become more rapid in the last year. So rapid that I’ve witnessed people struggling to keep up, even when they know they need to. I do this for a living, and even I’m annoyed by how often I need to make updates and how often I need to deal with security issues. The next major WordPress update, 3.9, is scheduled for Tax Day (April 15 for non-US folks) and WordPress 4.0 is scheduled for August. To be perfectly honest, I’m tired of keeping up, particularly when I’m not really utilizing the improvements in each release.
Let me be clear, ALL websites have to take security very seriously, whether they’re running on WordPress, some other CMS system, or not using a database at all. When you add a database to the mix, you’re increasing the amount of work you need to do on a lot of levels, especially security.
I’m not jumping ship from WordPress to Drupal, or some other MySQL-driven CMS system. For some things, I’ll be building projects in good old fashioned hand-coded HTML5/CSS3 (which is what I already do each time I create a custom WordPress theme), and for other things, I’ll be using Kirby, a flat-file CMS system. I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching a variety of flat-file and static site systems, and Kirby emerged the winner for me. Unlike WordPress, Kirby is not free. (No free beer for you!) It costs a one time fee of $39 per site license.
I’m currently working on a digest of mostly writing to be published once per month. I’ve chosen to create the site using just HTML5/CSS. I could easily modify the pages into Kirby templates, and then just fill in the content when needed using the Kirby Panel or directly in the pages using Markdown. That’s basically no different than what I already do in WordPress. The difference is there’s no database I have to lockdown, no plugins to constantly update and make sure are compatible with other plugins I may be using.
This method isn’t going to work for everyone. I’m certainly not advocating that anyone kick WordPress to the curb. You should choose the best tool for your needs, and then learn what’s required to use, maintain, and properly secure the tool.
It just so happens that WordPress is no longer the best tool for my needs. If it works for you, continue to use it. Just know that if it no longer best serves you, there are options.