There is a large contingent of people who just want to get stuff done, they don’t want to fuss with the tech. They don’t care about open source or owning their data. They don’t want to install a theme and setup their widgets, or search thousands of results to find the best SEO plugin. They don’t want to setup “managed hosting”, an SSL certificate, or a payment gateway. They just want to sell their products and make money as fast and easily as possible.
WordPress isn’t easy. It’s just relatively easy compared to other content management systems. It’s in this grey area between a simple DIY SaaS product and a web application framework.
The WordPress community pulls in two directions. On one side, we’re pulling towards enterprise usage by making WordPress more sophisticated. Think REST API and WP-CLI.
On the other side, we’re pulling towards small businesses and hobbyists and bloggers by making WordPress even easier to use. Look at the Customizer, Gutenberg, and the growing popularity of plugins like Beaver Builder and the ecosystems that grow around them.
The open source upside of WordPress is still a strong selling point. The fact that you can migrate a WordPress site from one hosting provider to another, the fact that you don’t have vendor lock-in the same way you do with SaaS products. That’s all great.
But as Scott covers in his post, those are moot points to a good number of people. Maybe even the majority of people. Because they just want to get their site up and running. And they’d rather deal with a solution from a single vendor who they can call up if something goes wrong.
Getting help with WordPress is harder. There’s more to troubleshoot, and depending on where the problem is, the solution may be out of scope of whoever’s providing the support.
This is why I fall back to the “it depends” response when someone asks if it’s better to use WordPress or a website builder. It depends on your comfort level; it depends on your budget; it depends on what you’re trying to build; it depends on how you want that to evolve.
These days I’m generally in favour of site builders for small businesses. WordPress gets recommended for publications (blogs, media sites) and sites that need more sophistication (basically acting like a lightweight web app).