I’ve been ruminating on the key differences between streamlined website builder tools like Squarespace or Wix vs. the boundless possibilities with WordPress.
As a 100% biased person that makes their living on WordPress products, I firmly believe that WP is the right tool for almost every website project. No other tool gives you the power of WordPress.
Here comes the big BUT: there are stark differences between SaaS and self-hosted WP if you’re considering our platform.
So here’s a list of my top “shockers” you might find when you switch from a site builder tool to self-hosted WordPress.
1. You have to maintain a WordPress site and keep everything up to date.
Sometimes an update introduces a new incompatibility. Sometimes an update include loads of new bundled stuff you didn’t ask for.
Updates are necessary for security but can fundamentally change your website.
2. Everything doesn’t work perfectly with everything else.
Yes, there’s a world of free code available to help you design your site or add features. But they aren’t all built to work together.
Testing theme or plugin compatibility is up to you.
3. You have to power to make a small change that blows up your whole business.
Most websites do not have a “staging” site and honestly most do not need one. One update or small code change can blow the whole thing up. There’s no tech support line to get help recovering your data.
4. Everyone is upselling you constantly.
Our community hasn’t solved the issue of “in app notifications” so your website admin is cluttered with messages & warnings. Sometimes taking over the entire screen.
Products can show notifications tastefully. The best WP products do.
5. You can do anything, so it’s hard to keep your blinders on.
New DIYers struggle with “shiny object syndrome” & lack focus on what their core business needs right now. It’s fun to tinker with new plugins & design elements. It’s hard work to write content & market your product.
6. Even the best WP developers disagree on the fundamentals.
How many plugins is too many? Custom tables or wp_posts? Customizer, Block Editor, Page Builders, FSE, oh my.
7. It’s constant decision making.
There are 3 to 100 plugins that do relatively the same thing.
When you need (or think you need) a new feature, you need to research, ask trusted experts, and (my favorite method) test out new plugins. There is rarely a single option on the shelf.
8. Most developers worth their fees don’t want once-off $500 projects.
There’s a gap for small needs. 15 years ago the community was flowing with local devs for tiny projects. Today these devs can charge over $200/hr. New businesses & managed services are trying to fill the gap.
9. You’re in the family now.
All warnings aside, when you choose WordPress you’re getting involved in a passionate community that I love.
There is no match for the support and selflessness you’ll find in the WP community. Even among “competitors”.
We’re a quirky family on the lookout for new members.
[…] the “WordPress way” and serve the traditional self-hosted WordPress market with many disadvantages (and strengths) compared to SaaS platforms. Looking to actual retailers innovating in simple, ubiquitous spaces […]
[…] Kim Coleman nailed all that on her blog recently, but her message can't be restated enough. The pain points she notes can't be reduced enough — and the onramps to onboarding new users and contributors smoothed out and celebrated enough. […]