Techie Stuff

The Dark Side of WordPress

WordPress is wonderful!

It is user-friendly, so simple to use & a very powerful system for building websites.

There are stylish, appealing, and visually creative themes aplenty to choose from, as are plugins that provide features and functionality for almost any purpose.

It is ‘Open Source’ so there are no costly license fees at the outset or to renew regularly.

It is built using PHP coding and MySQL database systems, which are respected, robust, reliable, well supported and are also ‘open source’.

WordPress is so popular.

It has taken the internet by storm. Last time I looked 22% of all websites on the web were running websites with WordPress, that’s more than 74 million websites using it globally. Around 60% for all CMS (Content Management Systems) websites use it.

Some of the world’s very notable and respected websites are reported to be built with WordPress, including the websites for governments and internationally renowned newspapers.

WordPress is the ‘bees-knees’ and has left Joomla, Drupal, Magento and other CMSs languishing in the dust.

Unfortunately there is another side to the story.

The Dark Side

Updates & Backups

Websites operating on WordPress (WP) need to be backed up regularly including databases and the php code files. This is perhaps less of a big deal than it was, as there are now more automated systems to do this on a routine schedule. It was something that was initiated manually, until recently and unless you completely trust the system, it still needs to be monitored to ensure the integrity of the process.

To ensure security vulnerabilities and bug fixes are plugged and up-to-date, it is important to have the latest version of WP installed. This used to require doing a manual backup of the database and PHP files ahead of any updates as there was a risk that something would go wrong or not work. If you just have one or two websites this is not perhaps a very big issue, but if looking after 20-30 websites, as a small website developer may do, this becomes a regular and major chore.

Asynchronous Updates

Every time WP is updated or a new version released, there is a risk that plugins or themes will not be compatible with the updated version. In my experience asynchronous updates between WP and plugins/themes have been a major headache. When this happens, at best, that function or feature stops working. At worst the entire website goes down. This has happened to me on several occasions. The issue then needs to be debugged, usually from the back-end, which can be much more involved technically than the apparent simplicity WordPress touts. It’s not for the feint hearted and if you have numerous websites to look after, this is a nightmare.

At least in the days of manual updates you could deal with one website at a time and use learnings from upgrading/fixing one website for the next.

Plugin/themes updates can happen independently to WP updates

Imagine you operate 20 websites with an average of 12 plugins each

That’s 20 backups, potentially up to 20×12 plugin updates with the risk of incompatibility bugs every time for every one,

Static Fantastic

In the old days you built a static HTML site, backed it up and walked away. If something needed modified or extended, you did the mod, backed it up and walked away.

The price we pay for wonderful, user friendly, great looking, powerful, versatile WP websites is that they are a millstone around a website developer’s neck and to their customer who has to pay for a support package.

If someone with a good amount of web savy is looking after one or two of their own websites that could be easier to manage but they would still need to keep up to date with the state and complexity of the back-end ‘art’. This takes a lot of the glitzy shine off of the lauded user friendliness. Plus any foray into code that is required may be fine for those who have well developed HTML or PHP skills but it takes away the idea that anyone with moderate PC skills and web awareness can do it.

Will my customers wear the monthly or annual support charges?

Simple brochure style sites don’t need the high end CMS functions and while the increasingly drag and drop WP environment is a pleasure to use, the back-end complexity is overkill for these kinds of websites.

Unless you blog, publish news or other changeable information where archival, category & tag searches are useful then the back-end is superfluous.

Go Hard Wired

Commonly available free or low cost WP plugins for e-commerce are basic and okay for small trader websites, but not very great for customisation and large scale use. No doubt a professional developer could write some but with the likely costs involved it would be easier to write an entire dedicated solution.

Similarly there are numerous other functions that a user may require, that involve extensive and prolonged searches to find and test. In the end, there is no guarantee the search will find suitable plugins either free or commercially. Any plugins that look like they may do the job have to be installed to see if they do what is desired. they may or may not. It alkl takes up lots of time. Time that is hard to justify or charge against, either as a commercial enterprise or with the normal remit of any business.

Blogging on steroids

Wonderful though it is, WP is blogging on steroids. It is useful for a load of things but it has a plateau, it has limits.

It may be useful as a platform for developers to build there own custom plugins and themes but again they might choose to build their own site from scratch. Why risk the cost of building on a platform that may change beneath your feet?

The Perception of Free

Like many things on the web, if you know how to write code, there is so much that is free.

WordPress promotes the idea that it is free and easy to use. Charging professional fees for something that is ‘free’ is slightly harder to do and has many havc-a-goes chipping away at profit margins and the professional image of the industry.

Self Editing for Idiots

Then there is the self editing myth.

If you set up user accounts inside WordPress that allow the customer to create new content or of modify what the developer has set up, it is asking for trouble. Invariably Joe Public very often doesn’t have the knowledge of how to lay pages out attractively, how to use simple and effective user-friendly navigation, nor how to construct well written content.They don’t know the rules or net-etiquette.

Very soon the proud work of a developer will have spelling and grammatical errors to make the least erudite among us cringe. Strange or inappropriate graphics, images or colours that simply don’t work will have the developer rushing to take their credit and link to their own website off, before anyone thinks the hotch-potch is of their doing.

So keep the idiots away from self-editing and corrupting or destroying your tasteful hard work. If they must have some input keep it to the minimum and watch it like a hawk.

The Utopian Nightmare

For me, the wonders of WordPress have been undermined by the practical reality.

On one hand it is fantastic and wonderful. But don’t expect too much from it it you want to get creative and go off piste, unless you have the coding skills to maintain things when then go wrong.

I did create this article using WordPress. This website is a WordPress website. But when customers come along who want special functions on their website that I built for them, that’s when it can all get too much.

So I’m now in the ‘what’s next?’ zone.

WordPress Security Tips

Never use “Admin” as an ID. Some WordPress installers pre-populate your main login user ID to “Admin” during the initial installation. Never use “Admin” as a login ID on anything. Admin is the first and main username ID that hackers use in an attempt to access your website. I have enough experience of websites toContinue Reading

Data transfer & backup

Whether you are simply looking to backup your computer or laptop, or maybe transfer data between systems, the ‘Samsung M3 1TB USB 3.0 Slimline Portable Hard Drive’ is a great device. It’s small, light, has a decent capacity and powered via the USB connector, is easy and convenient to use. I’ve used these on severalContinue Reading

Best Ever Deal on Fujifilm X-M1

The latest deals on Fujifilm’s X-Trans Compact System Cameras have made them more attractive than ever. Check out the Fujifilm X-M1 at Amazon UK I’ve succumbed to the lure and ordered the Fujifilm X-M1 with 16-50mm kit lens from Amazon UK at an amazing price, the lowest so far. I just need to be patientContinue Reading

Pay As You Go Data, Voice & Text SIM Card with Adapters

Pay As You Go Data, Voice & Text SIM Card with Adapters Note that the products discussed on this page are for UK use only. Browsing some other articles on this website would make you aware of my experience using a preloaded data-only sim for my Tablet device, (for article click here). Having just obtainedContinue Reading

Moto G photos

A selection of photos taken with my new Moto G Android (4.3) Smartphone. I had a few days break at Kilconquhar Castle and took the opportunity to try out my new Moto G camera. All images are untouched apart from resizing, watermarking or by using the phones own apps to add effects. The first isContinue Reading

First Impressions of the Moto G

Okay. I’ve go one. I am now the proud owner of a Moto G (Motorola XT1032 Android smartphone). Yesterday, on the very first day of release to the public, I purchased one, although it has taken me a day to get into it and set it up with some of the great apps that areContinue Reading

Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

The Photographer’s Eye

People often buy expensive cameras but forget that to take great photos it is simply not enough to have a good camera and all the accessories. The greatest asset of any photographer is their own ‘creative eye’. Even those with a good natural creative talent can benefit from the knowledge and experience of others. SoContinue Reading

Mini hands-on review of Fujifilm X-Series

I had a brief hands-on with the Fujifilm X10, X100 & X-Pro1 at a local store recently. They were tethered so it was hard to make a full judgement of the ergonomics but it was a useful exercise and gave a good impression of how they might handle in proper use. Ergonomics are important AllContinue Reading

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Digital Camera (16MP)

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Digital Camera (16MP) with APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor Information, Fujifilm videos, review video, user video and purchasing link for the Fujifilm X-Pro1 Digital Camera. The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is the masterpiece in the X series range of cameras. Building on the hugely successful X100, the X-Pro1 is an interchangeable lens, compact system camera withContinue Reading

Interchangeable lens system camera from FUJIFILM: X-Pro1

Interchangeable lens system camera from FUJIFILM: X-Pro1 Featuring the new X-Trans CMOS sensor™ and an original FUJIFILM X-Mount and Hybrid Multi Viewfinder 09.01.2012 Press release from: FUJIFILM Corporation (President and CEO: Shigetaka Komori) are proud to announce the FUJIFILM X-Pro1, an all-new interchangeable lens camera system. The X-Pro1 features a 1 UPDATES: Click here toContinue Reading

Fujifilm Finepix X10 Fashion Photo Shoot

Fujifilm Finepix X10 Fashion Photo Shoot Fujifilm Finepix X10 – brand new camera for both professional and creative needs. The X10 functions will fire your passion for photography. Video of first fashion photo shot with only natural light, no studio flash, jpeg format, by photographer, Jacek Heliasz

The NEW Fujifilm X10 premium compact camera

The NEW Fujifilm X10 premium compact camera The NEW Fujifilm X10 premium compact camera sets new standards in style and quality for digital photography Announcement Date: 01 September 2011 Fujifilm is proud to announce the addition of a new premium compact camera to its digital camera line up for autumn 2011. The X10 features aContinue Reading

Samsung Galaxy Tab Accessories

Samsung Galaxy Tab Accessories Everything you need for your P1000 or P1010 Tab. Leather case, stand, 16GB microSDHC Memory Card, keyboard, multimedia desk dock, usb cable, car charger cable,  screen protector, portable fold up stand, Tab TV out cable, windscreen mount.