Wordpress is a content management system, which means you can manage all of your website's content (graphics, videos etc) without any coding knowledge. It's also open source so if you're a competent web developer, you can modify its code base and upgrade the platform to your desired level of complexity.
Now, here's where most people get confused. There are two different versions of the platform, there's Wordpress.org and Wordpress. What's the difference?
Wordpress.com is hosted on its own servers, so you just sign up to a package and instantly start building your website without having to install Wordpress.
Wordpress.org, on the other hand, needs to be installed on a seperate server. If you purchase your hosting from a host provider (such as Godaddy, Bluehost, HostGator etc) you'll need to manually install Wordpress.org on your server. If you're not technically inclined, hosting provider staff are usually expecting to help customers with this.
Since Wordpress.org is the more powerful option, we will be evaluating this version.
But how does Wordpress stack up against its ever increasing competitors? Let's take a closer look.
Quick verdict: Extremely flexible and powerful, with potential security issues.
What sets Wordpress miles apart from other website builders is just how capable it is. While other website builders only give access to a limited portion of its coding (if anything at all) Wordpress gives you access to its entire coding. So you can completely customize your website from the ground up without having to worry about hitting an upgrade ceiling.
If coding is not your forte, you can still build a stunning website with Wordpress's inbuilt codeless builder, or you can upgrade it into a dynamic drag and drop website builder by installing a free plugin such as Elementor.
Wordpress offers an extensive library of free plugins that can instantly upgrade different features of your website when installed. This, however, opens up an avenue for potential security breaches. Since Wordpress is open source, everybody has an equal opportunity to create Wordpress plugins. Installing a plugin created by a malicious minded, or even just an inexperienced, developer could either crash your website, or place it under the complete control of hackers that will only return ownership after a hostage price has been paid.
What we like:
Fantastic for SEOWordpress is a blogging platform so it is perfectly architectured to rank well in Google. And with editable access to all of the essential meta data of your posted content (page title, meta description, URL slug etc) you can easily SEO optimize all of your newly published content. Yoast SEO is a popular free plugin you can install to be guided through Google's optimization process even if you're completely new to the SEO game.
Unlimited customization and upgradabilityUnlimited access to its open source code base means you can build out your Wordpress website to a complexity level of your choosing. This makes Wordpress websites a great choice for startup businesses, You'll always have the option of upgrading your website as your business evolves, without the annoyance of having to continuously bounce between different website platforms.
Third party integrations with popular softwareDue to its immense popularity, many powerful software solutions have developed specific integrations for Wordpress websites. Some examples include accounting software, email marketing software, a range of payment gateways and much more.
What could be better
Drag and drop builder is not standardThere are a few manual steps required to turn Wordpress into a drag and drop builder. To be fair it's only a couple of steps really (install and activate a plugin) but it would be nice if it came preinstalled.
Plugin bugs should be mitigatedPlugin developers are continuously updating their plugins and sometimes bugs slip through the production lines. If a plugin bug nibbles at your Wordpress coding, your entire site could go offline, which is the worst thing that could happen during a website launch. If Wordpress could somehow monitor the sterility of all plugins and flag any potential threats it would make installing them a lot less stressful. In the absence of this, a QA specialist could help you troubleshoot faulty Wordpress plugins.
You need to manually monitor and manage updatesBoth the Wordpress platform and plugins need to be regularly updated. Failure to do so could make your website vulnerable to security breaches. Unfortunately there isn't a notification system that identifies available updates when you're not logged in, which means you need to periodically log in to check for updates.
Even though Wordpress itself is free to install, you need to pay for the hosting service that will support the platform. Many hosting providers offer Wordpress managed hosting which is a hosting plan with Wordpress already installed.
Pricing depends on the particular host you choose and each host offers tiered pricing plans with different levels of features.