As we’ve said before, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. WordPress has allowed millions of individuals to build their own websites without any development expertise. What sounds like a great idea for building small, personal sites has quickly turned into a disaster for web development as a whole. The popularity of WordPress has created an era of crappy web development, and it's our responsibility to reverse that trend.
Wait - What Happened?
In short, WordPress happened. First released in 2003, the platform was designed to become a way for individuals to create their own, personal blogs without needing significant coding expertise.
As it has turned into the world's leading CMS, though, it has begun to affect web development even for much larger corporations. You may not know it, but the platform actually has introduced a number of drawbacks for its users, and web development as a whole.
The Sneaky Drawback Of WordPress
Novice users may consider it an advantage, but the largest drawback of WordPress is actually its simplicity. The platform, able to be stood up even by new internet users, has opened the door to anyone with a computer being able to build their own website.
At its core, that's a noble concept. Stop relying on expensive development projects, and become your own developer instead. On an individual level, that's a great idea. But for business success, it can be a fatal (and costly) assumption.
What matters most when developing your online presence? You likely have two priorities: a website that differentiates your business from your biggest competitors, and user experience that keeps people engaged with your brand. With WordPress, you may not get either.
How can you differentiate yourself when chances are that your competitors use the exact same software? That's not an exaggeration; 75 million websites worldwide are powered by this CMS. That's a 26.5% usage of all sites and a 59% market share among all CMS usage around the globe.
Similarly, the limitations of the platform mean that you will not be able to provide your users with a customized experience relevant specifically to your business. That's the hidden drawback of WordPress: the platform has become so possible that you cannot achieve your core goals.
A New Definition Of 'Web Developer'
But this drawback is far from the only problem with the continued rise of this CMS. In fact, we'd argue that one even more important has begun to reach a tipping point: in the age of WordPress, everyone considers themselves a web developer.
Googling the term 'web developer' yields more than 30 million results. Want to guess what tops the required skills for the vast majority of open job listings in this search? That's right - configuring WordPress.
That, in turn, is a huge problem. Web development no longer prioritizes coding expertise, but the configuration of a pre-existing platform. But what happens if something goes wrong?
The new 'web developers' will try to solve a WordPress problem with - you guessed it - more WordPress configurations. Their inability to code prevents them from getting to the root of the problem and fixing the cause rather than the symptoms. For that service, these new developers charge $50/hour.
The result is 75 million websites around the world that are built without much coding knowledge. Even when they look good, they're held together by a platform not originally intended for complex sites. Hanging on by a thread, they're just one step away from crashing without anyone in sight to fix them.
Reversing The Trend Of Bad Web Design
Does that sound like a doomsday scenario? That might be because, in terms of web development, we're close to it. WordPress has ushered in an era of crappy web development, and it's up to web designers themselves to pick up the pieces and fix the problem.
Fortunately, as long as smart businesses understand the significant value of the benefits of true web development through a custom CMS, we're not quite ready for the sky to be falling. We will continue to show evidence of the value of web design that begins at the source, and are be happy to work with clients who want to let their business needs guide their website.