6 Common WordPress Myths Debunked (and What Marketers Need to Know)

10.06.2022 3 Minutes

Professional and B2B firms will sometimes discount WordPress as a content management system (CMS) due to numerous myths about the software prevalent around the internet.

Some of these myths are grounded in the platform’s history and older functionalities. Others stem from misconceptions about how WordPress functions. Regardless, these myths can push users away from a robust and intuitive platform with the potential to solve all their content management needs.

This article tackles six such myths and explains the basics of what marketers need to know to make an informed choice about their content management systems.

WordPress is only for blogging

This myth used to be true. WordPress was a blogging system back in 2003-2004 when it was first created. When an existing blogging software, b2/cafelog, was discontinued by its developers, the original creators of WordPress decided to build a new platform out of b2’s ashes to fill the gap in the blogging space.

This first iteration of WordPress offered a stable, easy-to-use, and flexible platform based around modular elements (themes and plugins) that users could add and enable to extend the functionality of their site. It was a tool for connecting a database (the back-end functionality) with a website. Essentially, WordPress allowed non-developers to build complex websites quickly and easily by automating certain elements of the website creation process. Over time, developers realized that this setup was exceptionally valuable and began building themes and plugins to meet every possible business and user need.

Today, you can build a WordPress site to match any use-case. In fact, numerous large and popular websites currently use WordPress as their primary content management systems. TechCrunch, Microsoft News, the TED Blog, MTV News, Vogue, BBC America, Sony Music, the Walt Disney Company, and the White House all use WordPress to manage the content on their sites.

Put simply, WordPress is an effective way to manage large amounts of content through a standardized and scalable system. While WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform, its functionality has expanded over time to allow for the creation of any type of website.

WordPress’s key strength lies in bridging the gap between developers and creators, allowing for easier content management without the hassle of needing to manually adjust lines of code or database entries.

All WordPress sites look the same

This myth is common due to several popular WordPress themes and page builders that first-time users or small companies may use to build their websites. However, the idea that “all WordPress websites look the same” is based on a misunderstanding of how WordPress works.

Namely, WordPress websites can be simplified into the following workflow:

  • Install WordPress -> Choose and Activate a Theme -> Activate Relevant Plugins -> Add Content and Images -> Further Customize the Theme to Match Your Design Preferences

Viewed from this angle, a few things become readily apparent.

First, the choice of a theme is entirely user-based, meaning that first-time users will often choose themes and designs that are already popular in the WordPress ecosystem. This gives many WordPress websites their signature “look.”

Second, customizing the theme to match your individual design preferences often happens at the end of the process, once the website has been in use for a little while. This means that many users without development knowledge will shy away from altering or customizing their theme or pages once the site is set up.

Or, put another way, if most WordPress websites look similar it’s not because of a flaw in the software. Rather, it’s because many users choose to implement popular themes that generally follow a similar set of design principles. Further, they often fail to refine their designs over time to better match the needs of their users and the broader market.

WordPress is exceptionably customizable, provided you have the development knowledge to either edit your base theme, build your own theme, or implement some other kind of design adjustments on your own. As a few examples, all the following websites are built on top of the core WordPress architecture:

  1. Simpson, Gumpertz, & Heger (SGH)
  2. Cuba Center Botanical Garden
  3. Lansing Building Products
  4. Design Museum Denmark
  5. Houston Zoo

If you’d like a truly unique WordPress website that sets you apart from the competition, you should partner with a developer or design agency that can build you a custom WordPress website. Custom WordPress sites (meaning sites that are built from the ground up with your business’s needs in mind) are an excellent way to get access to the customization options you need without having to rely on numerous plugins or heavy themes that may slow down your site.

Best of all, because WordPress is specifically built to act as a middle ground between developers and non-developer stakeholders, it’s incredibly easy for teams to build pages and articles on top of the custom design.

WordPress is difficult to use

Because WordPress presents itself as an open-source content management platform — as opposed to a product offered by a business with a dedicated support team — first-time users sometimes feel intimidated or overwhelmed. However, the whole point of WordPress is to be as easy and beginner friendly as possible.

Everything in WordPress is designed to help users quickly and easily publish pages and posts using a standardized style guide (via custom or customized theme files). Plugins can then add additional functionality to improve the user experience. For example, a plugin could add SEO metadata to the site or add a feature for website visitors to sign up for an email newsletter.

Using this workflow of adding content and letting the platform do all the hard work, users can quickly build attractive web pages that follow a certain theme or template. Users with a greater need for customized solutions can also partner with developers to leverage WordPress’s “plug-and-play” architecture through custom plugins, themes, and other add-ins that can expand the functionality and usability of the website.

If you choose to go down the fully custom route, the options for what you can design and build are innumerable. The only limiting factors are the imaginations of your design team and how much you want to spend on building a fully custom website. Further, fully custom websites can even make the content entry side of things easier with custom fields on the back-end that auto-populate sections of the front-end design, making it even easier for non-technical users to manage and update their sites.

Put simply, WordPress is intentionally built to be as accessible and user-friendly as possible right out of the box. Further, it remains flexible and scalable through plug-and-play themes and plugins that can add additional features as needed.

As such, WordPress is easier to use than comparable content management systems, while also having the flexibility to scale up in complexity to match the user’s needs. This makes it an ideal tool for all types of users, from small business owners creating their first website all the way up to multi-billion-dollar companies and national governments.

Too many plugins will slow down a WordPress site

As one might expect, installing 500+ plugins on your website will slow everything down (and potentially open you up to security vulnerabilities). For this reason, most industry professionals will say that a website with less plugins is better than one with more. However, only using 1-2 plugins on your website means that you’re missing out on some key functionalities that could improve the experience for your users.

So, what’s the sweet spot? In most cases the answer depends on (1) the types of plugins you’re using, and (2) whether these plugins load assets on the front end of your website.

It’s like packing for a hike. Your primary concern is making the backpack as light as possible while packing all the things that will make your hike enjoyable. In this situation, your main concern isn’t the number of items in the backpack but their relative weight and usefulness when compared to the limited space.

The same principal applies to WordPress plugins. Namely, different plugins will have different effects on your website’s speed depending on their weight (referring to the amount of assets they load on the front end of your website). While the overall number of plugins is correlated to website performance, there is no specific number of plugins you should shoot for.

In general, however, most websites can get away with anywhere between five and fifty plugins before there is noticeable slow-down on the site. The key is finding the perfect balance between functionality and loading times for website visitors. It’s a practice of trial and error based in years of experience in building fast websites, and everyone has a different mix of plugins they use to hit that sweet spot.

WordPress (and PHP) is old tech and on the decline

Historical data has shown that roughly 43% of all website builds use WordPress in at least some capacity. This means that roughly two in five websites you use on a daily basis are be built on or use WordPress in some fashion.

Further, it’s important to keep in mind that WordPress is free and open source. This means the software isn’t developed by a single person, but rather maintained by a community of passionate developers. This passion extends into the 3rd party ecosystem as well, as there are quite literally thousands of businesses built around selling products and services in and around the WordPress ecosystem.

In total, there is an enormous, combined interest between businesses and the 3rd party developers that serve them to keep WordPress as fast and up-to-date as possible.

For this reason, you shouldn’t think of WordPress as being backed by a single person or business that is selling you software. It’s backed by tens if not hundreds of thousands of people who all have a vested interest in keeping the software alive and well.

WordPress has been around for so long because it provides a simple, dependable, easily replicable solution to a common problem. The best-in-class product isn’t going away anytime soon.

WordPress isn’t secure

The most popular myth about WordPress centers around the idea that WordPress, as a whole, is not a secure platform, and that WordPress websites are prone to hacks and security vulnerabilities. However, while it’s certainly true that WordPress sites, in the aggregate, are hacked at a higher rate than some other content management systems, the reasons for why WordPress sites are targeted are much more nuanced than it may seem at first glance.

Put simply, WordPress is secure as long as you take precautions to harden your site and follow industry best practices, such as using safe plugins and themes, regularly auditing your login procedures, updating your site regularly, and using a security plugin.

In most cases where a WordPress website has been hacked, the vulnerability can be directly traced back to some core oversight in one of these areas. For example, according to Sucuri’s 2021 Website Threat Research Report, 52% of all WordPress websites scanned were running an outdated version of WordPress, while two thirds were running versions of PHP that have reach their End of Life deadlines (meaning they no longer receive security updates).

Further, to quote directly from the report, “usage of vulnerable security components such as plugins and themes remains one of the top two causes of website infection — the other being the usage of weak passwords, especially those used for unprotected admin panels.”

With this information in mind, we can land on a few key takeaways:

  • WordPress core is secure as long as you regularly update your version of WordPress and PHP to the latest version.
  • The most common reasons for a hack involving a WordPress website are insecure or out-of-date plugins and poor password management practices, which provide a path for hackers to enter your site and alter its code.
  • Publicly hosting content such as a website on the internet will always carry a risk of hacks. The important thing is taking steps to reduce the risk of a hack and enacting best practices that ensure the hack is contained in scope and easily fixable. Often, this means taking steps to harden your website against attacks using a security plugin and following industry best practices regarding plugins, themes, and password processes.

WordPress is often seen as less secure than other platforms when it comes to security vulnerabilities. However, this reputation largely stems from a combination of (1) the disproportionate number of people who use WordPress as opposed to any other content management system, and (2) user errors relating to out-of-date software and poor password security practices.

When businesses make security a priority and take steps to harden their WordPress websites against attackers, it quickly becomes apparent that WordPress is exceptionally secure, even by the standards of the largest of organizations.

Your website is an important asset for business growth

While there are certainly numerous other myths we could cover here, these five are the ones that most commonly prevent the adoption of WordPress at the corporate level.

In a world where prospective clients and partners will make a snap decision about your business with just one look at your website, it’s increasingly important for companies to cultivate powerful experiences online. In this context, dismissing WordPress as a CMS because of a few myths is a mistake many businesses can’t afford to make.


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