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The Dark Side of WordPress

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WordPress is the tremendously successful blogging application that has seen increasing use of late as a platform for creating database-driven websites. Many people are discovering via the school of hard knocks that there are some serious problems using WordPress for web applications other than blogging.


Security, or more correctly the lack thereof is probably the most important problem facing a business owner that uses WordPress as an online platform. Because of its ubiquity and open source development, WordPress has become a virtual playground for hackers. Although there are plugins that can help you secure a WordPress installation, at the end of the day WordPress security is a serious problem, and not an ideal home for your online business. As one blogger writes "It won’t be a matter of if your blog gets hacked, it will be just a matter of when."

That Syncing Feeling

Maintaining a WordPress site is a pain for a variety of reasons. Because it is designed as a blogging platform, much of the necessary functionality comes in the form of plugins written by third party developers. Additionally, because it is an open source project, it is subject to a continuous onslaught of updates as developers work to fix bugs and add features. While this might seem noble and advantageous at first glance, it can quickly become a nuisance or even a nightmare depending on the configuration of a given website.

But constant security updates are good right? Yes, unless the new version of WordPress renders some of your plugins useless because of incompatibility issues. You can always defer the upgrade to keep the plugins happy but that may leave your WordPress installation vulnerable to attack because of unlatched security issues. The necessity of having third party developers stay up to date with WordPress versions is a serious flaw in the platform that could be potentially disastrous for a business website.

Caveat Emptor

Let the buyer beware. I know what your thinking, WordPress is free! Well it is, unless you actually need it to do something other than basic blogging. If you do have more advanced needs then then you'll probably require:
  • a theme developed by a third party that may or may not be supported and/or updated
  • plugins to cover missing platform functionality
  • code customization - often needed to workaround platform related issues
  • someone to wire it up 
  • someone to maintain the installation over time and manage WordPress/plugin compatibility as WordPress cranks out the updates to keep on top of the security vulnerabilities.
In my experience the added effort and cost associated with WordPress can be exponential for non-blogging applications of the software. The price is right but you get what you pay for.