Are you thinking of using WordPress to build a website? In our WordPress review, we’ll go in-depth and help you understand what this platform does well and what its weak points are. By the end of this post, you should know whether or not WordPress is the right tool for your website.
If you decide that WordPress is right for you, you’ll be in good company. WordPress is, by far, the most popular way to make a website. Over 43.1% of all websites on the Internet use WordPress, which is miles ahead of any other website builder.
Keep reading to learn more about why that is and how WordPress works. Here’s everything that we’ll cover in this review:
What is WordPress? 🤔
Let’s kick off our WordPress review with a basic introduction to what it actually is.
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS), which basically means that it helps you build a website.
You can think of it kind of like your website’s operating system. Just like iOS or Android power your smartphone, WordPress powers your website so that you can add content and display it to your visitors.
Instead of needing to work directly with code (complicated), you’ll manage content and configure your website from your WordPress dashboard (beginner-friendly). Then, WordPress will take all of your content/settings and turn them into a working website.
Basically, thanks to WordPress, you never need to get your hands dirty with code and you don’t need any technical knowledge.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
If you’ve googled the term “WordPress”, you might’ve noticed that there are actually two different websites that pop up when you search for WordPress.
No WordPress review would be complete without addressing the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. In a nutshell:
- WordPress.org, also called self-hosted WordPress, is the non-profit home of the open-source WordPress software that anyone can use to build a website.
- WordPress.com is a for-profit company that makes it simpler to use the WordPress software, but it doesn’t give you as much flexibility as using self-hosted WordPress.
In our WordPress review, we’re focused on WordPress.org, AKA self-hosted WordPress, because we believe that self-hosted WordPress is the best choice for most webmasters.
Similarly, when most people say “WordPress”, they’re also talking about self-hosted WordPress.
What kinds of websites can you build with WordPress? 🏗️
WordPress originally started as a blogging tool. However, it’s long-since turned into a complete website builder tool that you can use for everything from a business website to an ecommerce store, a portfolio, and more.
Of course, it also still works great as a blog! Or, you can also easily add a blog to another type of website. For example, you can create a portfolio site for your work and also have a blog at the same time.
Here are some examples of the kinds of websites that you can build with WordPress:
- Business website
- Ecommerce store
- Online course
- Social network
- Membership site
- …lots more – if you can think of it, you can probably do it with WordPress (though that doesn’t mean WordPress is always the best tool for the job)
Let’s look at a few examples…
TIME Magazine uses WordPress to power its publishing site (kind of like a blog on steroids):
Root Science uses WordPress to power its ecommerce store:
Even The Rolling Stones use WordPress for their band website:
Basically, no matter what you’re trying to build, WordPress can probably help you build it.
Six pros of using WordPress 👍
Now, let’s get into some of the advantages and disadvantages of choosing WordPress for your website.
1. The WordPress software is free & running a site is affordable
One of the biggest advantages is that the WordPress software itself is 100% free.
Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to run a WordPress site for free – there are some costs for things that you need to run WordPress in the form of:
- Web hosting – this is what powers the WordPress software. For example, Bluehost or SiteGround.
- Domain name – this is your website’s permanent address on the Internet.
However, even with those costs, you can still run a simple WordPress site for ~$60 for the entire year, which is a lot less than you’d pay for other website builders like Squarespace or Wix.
Note – as your site grows, you might need to purchase more expensive hosting to handle the increase in traffic. That’s a good problem, though – it means your website is growing!
Another note – you actually can find free WordPress hosting if you’re on a really tight budget, but we don’t recommend it for serious websites.
2. It’s easy to create content on WordPress
To help you create and manage your content, WordPress gives you a beginner-friendly block editor that lets you create complex layouts without needing any technical knowledge.
To add text, you can just click and type. And if you want to go further, all you do is open the block inserter. You can use blocks to add new content elements, like images or buttons, as well as create layouts, like multi-column designs or spacers:
If the block editor isn’t enough for what you have in mind, you can install something called a page builder plugin. With a page builder, you can use a visual interface and drag-and-drop to create complex designs – just like you can with Wix or Squarespace.
Speaking of WordPress plugins…
3. It’s easy to customize WordPress (no technical knowledge needed)
Another huge advantage of WordPress is its extensibility. You’ll find tens of thousands of themes and plugins that let you change how your site looks and functions without requiring any technical knowledge:
- Themes – these control how your site looks. Think of them like your website’s “clothing”. For example, our Neve theme comes with all kinds of professional-looking demos that you can use.
- Plugins – these add new features to your site, like adding a contact form or a popup.
All you need to do is install the extension and then you’ll instantly get new features/design options – no code required.
If you want to check out which types of themes and plugins are available, you can browse the official directories at WordPress.org. All of the extensions in these directories are free:
4. You can use WordPress for anything
As we covered in the section on what WordPress is used for, you can use WordPress for pretty much anything, from a blog to an ecommerce store and more.
This is incredibly beneficial because you never know where your website might end up.
For example, let’s say you start out with just a blog. When your blog eventually becomes a smashing success, you then might want to expand into offering your own online courses or selling merch via an ecommerce store.
With another website platform, you might be stuck or otherwise limited. But because WordPress is so flexible, you can easily add on those features at any point in the future.
5. You control everything
With self-hosted WordPress, you 100% own your site and all of its data. Your data “lives” on your own web hosting, not some third-party’s servers.
What’s more, you also have complete control over everything. If you have the technical knowledge (or the budget to hire a developer), you can even customize the underlying software and database as needed.
Basically, if 100% control and ownership is important to you, using a self-hosted tool like WordPress is the best route.
6. It’s easy to find learning resources
Because WordPress is so popular, it’s easy to find resources to learn about the platform. You’ll find tons of blogs (like the one you’re reading right now), courses, and social communities that can teach you about WordPress.
This makes it easy to level up your knowledge and smooth out the WordPress learning curve.
- 👉 Five places to learn about WordPress
- 👉 Eight places to find WordPress training videos
- 👉 Five online WordPress courses
Two cons of using WordPress 👎
Our WordPress review isn’t all positive! There are also some potential downsides to using WordPress – let’s go through them.
1. There’s no official support
While it’s easy to find learning resources for WordPress, one downside is that there’s no official support channel.
Instead, you’ll need to rely on the community for help. But again, the WordPress community is huge, so you can usually find help with what you need.
2. You’re responsible for maintenance and security
Another consequence of WordPress’ self-hosted, open-source nature is that you’re the one responsible for maintaining and securing your website. That sounds daunting, but it’s really not a huge deal – there are tools that can help you with this and you don’t need any technical knowledge.
However, you definitely have extra responsibilities vs tools like Squarespace or Wix, with which you really don’t need to think about maintenance or security at all.
If you’re worried about this, we’d recommend something called managed WordPress hosting, which is web hosting dedicated to WordPress that can automatically handle basic maintenance and security for you. It costs a little bit more, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind.
Another option would be to hire a WordPress maintenance service, though this can get a little pricey.
How to create a WordPress website ⛏️
Overall, self-hosted WordPress is the best choice for most people who want to build a website because:
- It’s affordable
- It’s still accessible to non-technical users
- You can extend your site using pre-made themes and plugins
- You have 100% control over your website, its data, and how you make money
- It’s easy to learn about WordPress because there are so many resources
If you’ve decided that, like 37% of all the websites on the Internet, WordPress is the right choice for you, we have some in-depth guides to help you get started:
- 👉 How to make a WordPress website
- 👉 How to create a blog with WordPress
- 👉 How to create an ecommerce store with WordPress
On the other hand, if, after reading our WordPress review, you feel overwhelmed by the idea of buying your own web hosting and using WordPress, you might be better off with a hosted website builder like Squarespace or Wix.
You’ll lose some flexibility and control, but these tools make it even simpler to create a website. Check out these comparisons to decide if a website builder is right for you:
- 👉 WordPress vs Squarespace
- 👉 WordPress vs Wix (plus our tutorial on how to make a website with Wix)
- 👉 Website Builder vs WordPress: How to choose between them
Still have any questions about our WordPress review and whether it’s right for you? Ask us in the comments and we’ll try to help!