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WordPress is Not a Shopping Cart

September 5th, 2012 by Troy Newport


And Doesn’t Cure the Common Cold

Before you get out the flamethrower, let me start off by saying I love WordPress and use it to… well, blog.  (WordPress was after all originally developed as a blogging platform.)  Over the years entrepreneurial developers have created thousands of add-ons to  extend WordPress’ functionality.  Some have been awesome, some have been less than awesome.  Many are secure, while many others have security vulnerabilities and are susceptible to hacking.  Sometimes the plugin developer stops supporting it and when you update your WordPress version the plugin breaks.  Then you’re left either spending a lot of money to fix it, or not updating your WordPress, leaving it open to security vulnerabilities.

People in our industry have extended WordPress’ functionality to create websites.  More experienced web designers are better than others at pulling it off.  The only problem is that the more you customize the layout so the website doesn’t look like a blog, the more you have to “hard-code” areas of the website.  That means you’re taking away the ability for non-HTML-savvy clients to make changes to large areas of the website, even though likely one of the reasons you promoted WordPress for them is because of its content management capabilities.

What disappoints me is when WordPress (or any platform for that matter) is misrepresented and improperly recommended to clients when other solutions would work better and be more feature-rich and scalable.  A bit of advice I always give potential clients who are asking about Content Management Systems or eCommerce platforms is to call around and ask web development companies what platforms they use.   The answer is often a quick, “We use ‘X’ because it is the best thing since sliced bread and can do anything you want and more!”  (I’m paraphrasing.)

The right answer is, “Let’s find out more about your needs and long-term goals and select the right platform for you.”  If you have any aspirations of growing an eCommerce website to a large enterprise I’m sorry but WordPress with an eCommerce plugin isn’t the way to go.  With PCI Compliance and scalability concerns, I’m going to recommend a real shopping cart to my clients all day long.

Unfortunately I think some web developers often get attached to a single solution because it’s what they know.  Human nature kicks in and they don’t go outside their comfort zone.  Human nature is as much a problem in our industry as any other.  And sometimes we also get so focused on closing the sale we don’t take the time to fulfill our most important role with our clients: consultant. 

I have turned down business more than once because we didn’t offer the solution the client needed.  When I could I connected them with someone who did.  That’s what a responsible consultant does.  It pays dividends in goodwill for your company and prevents your company from getting a bad reputation because you couldn’t deliver what you promised.  There are bound to be positives and negatives to any solution you recommend.  Educate your clients and allow them to make an informed decision, they will love you for it.

So disagree if you like, flame me if you must, I believe my argument is firmly grounded.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to online marketing.  Prove me wrong!

 

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