After reading a number of posts on Hacker News which seem to emphasize the lack of usefulness in WordPress as a startup foundation, I wanted to write a piece dedicated to launching projects on this platform. I have to agree that when you are looking for something very customized it will be easier to write your own code from scratch. However not every developer wants to do this, nor has the time for this.
It may be smarter and quicker to launch a WordPress website and then customize the backend features yourself. Generally this will take more time as you work to mimic the code affects that you desire. But it also doesn’t take as much time as you would think. I want to present a few ideas towards why you may consider launching a slew of projects under WordPress CMS. The open source PHP/MySQL platform has been around for years and it is only getting better as time goes on.
Possibly the most important aspect of your project launch is security. There are many open source projects out there which use database content and other backend scripts. The key point you should recognize is how WordPress actively pushes for user administration and security in the PHP code. Hackers are often working to exploit loopholes in the codebase, yet they do not last very long.
The WordPress development team is dedicated to keeping this project safe and reliable over the long haul. And I would rather launch a project on WordPress which could idle securely online for 10+ years, rather than use another obscure(or custom) CMS which could get attacked and have the database wiped clean 1 or 2 years down the road.
With me security is the #1 most important characteristic of a CMS. If you are going to put in all this time coding a theme, adding content, and marketing your posts… well it should be worth something for all your effort. And what’s the site worth if it gets taken offline? Also many of the WordPress plugins are frequently updated to match the latest WP release version.
Another big obstacle when learning a CMS is to understand the common settings, code snippets, function calls, etc. But thankfully WordPress has been around long enough to build up one tremendous community of dedicated users. Notably the WordPress StackExchange is full of amazing questions from developers & WP users who are familiar with the backend.
You could search in Google based on almost any issue and probably find helpful discussion threads. Also there are lots of blogs which publish WordPress-related content online. I have been shocked at how easy it is to find answers for some of the most obscure questions. But this is all made possible from years of other people working to solve these problems.
One thing about WordPress is the very basic theming system offers a lot of great support. I fell in love with the plugin system as well, since WordPress outlines the clear objectives for each plugin/theme and what should be required. There are also tons of similar tutorials written about these topics. So the process of customizing your own WP website through the backend has become an extremely simple task.
Developers have the ability to include user voting, user profiles, content submission, and lots of obscure pieces of functionality. Having the knowledge of PHP development can make building a WordPress project 10x easier. Since you know exactly where to get started and how to push forward it will save you loads of time compared to writing your own project from scratch.
Also the theme support for a notable functions.php file allows developers to split up their core functions into various file names. This way you can have theme-settings.php and voting-functions.php which could all be included into the same functions.php file. This splits up much of your included code, plus it will limit all this functionality to only run within a single theme on your site. WordPress plugins and themes can be verbose at times. However they just plain work – and that’s all you need to get a project or business running online.
Drawn Towards Familiarity
What keeps people coming back to the same CMS is the familiarity with their own backend. WordPress has been familiar to developers for over 10 years, and it is not slowing down anytime soon. I think the familiarity is what makes WordPress such a great project management tool for almost any new website launch.
If developers are more comfortable building on Rails or .NET then there are definitely alternatives. It may not be worthwhile to learn PHP just so you can get into coding WordPress development. But it is worth mentioning the inherent value to be found in PHP development, especially for people who are just getting started. WordPress provides the core from which you can build your own functions & classes.
Being overly familiar with something can lead to stagnation if you aren’t careful. I can admit that sticking to projects which you are familiar with can slow progress. Yet when launching a new website or web application, speed can often be a large factor. Ultimately it is your own personal choice and everybody will have a different perspective. My argument is that WordPress can provide an amazingly stable core which is perfect for rapidly prototyping & deploying new Internet ventures.
I have personally worked with a number of other CMS engines which are written over PHP. I do consider WordPress to be one of the safest and easiest solutions to manage. It is also very user friendly to developers who have never worked on top of a WordPress platform before. And it’s these facts coupled with the thousands of articles found all over the Internet which makes getting started in WordPress super easy. It certainly cannot be the solution for everything. But I have a strong belief that we will see WordPress greatly expand over the years to come.