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WordPress as a Web Site Design CMS Tool. Good Idea or Not?

There is a lot of talk in our industry today regarding WordPress.

WordPress is a tool on today’s market that allows you or your developer to create an Online BLOG and it can also be used to create a WordPress Web site.

And though we do have customers using WordPress on our Servers for their BLOGS, what I want address in this blog is using WordPress as a CMS for your Web site design. 

If you are considering having a WordPress Web site design take the place of your existing HTML/CSS or PHP site, please take a moment to consider the following information.

First, your Web Site is your number #1 online resource.  If your site is down, whether it be because of your host, or possible issues with the platform you choose (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.) you are literally out of business until your site appears back online for your guests to find.

There is a lot of talk about WordPress Web sites in our industry today.  Before you decide to put all your eggs in the WordPress Basket, please take time to read and then verify the information I have presented below.

WordPress is constantly updating their platform software.  Whether it is due to Security Issues, Bug Fixes, or Enhancements to their platform, the software is continually in a state of flux.

In 2009 alone there were 15 total releases (Details Below).  Every time a release to the WordPress platform software update occurs, your hosting company MUST go in and update not only your WordPress Software, but also all the Plugins you use for your Blog and/or Web site.  If your WordPress Software and Plugins are not updated in a timely manner, your Web site will become a prime target for hackers.  All this updating costs both time and money.

And yes, WordPress has provided automation for some of these steps, but they must be invoked, and verified by the supporting Host to make sure nothing went wrong during the update.  IE: by a human.  So be prepared to pay more for your hosting if you are using a platform such as WordPress that requires frequent updating to the underlying platform software and Plugins that support your Web site or Blog.

Secondly, we believe most important consideration is the Security issues that WordPress has continually had to deal with since their inception.  WordPress is an Open Source Platform.  An Open Source Platform is just what it sounds like.  The platform source code that makes WordPress function is open to any developer to be able to see how the code is written and how it works.

On one hand, Open Source is great for designers to be able to build cool and cutting edge Plugins, BUT on the other hand, Open Source is just that – OPEN - and Hackers love to find ways in to modify your Web Site or Blog to include their advertising or Viruses to support their causes.

Security Issues are well known, and even noted by Matt Cutts of Google in the following Video. 

A traditional Web site design with HTML/CSS is protected by the operating system, NOT an application platform such as WordPress. An operating system protected Web site is much more of a deterrent to Hackers trying to use your Web site as a conduit for their unsolicited hacker code.  We all know a thief is more likely to go through an open window of a house, than to break into one that has a security system.  Same concept goes here for Hackers, and Open Source application platforms such as WordPress.

Mark and I both owned our own inn for 9 years.  We know there are risks you must take as an innkeeper, and others that are unnecessary.  As we’ve pointed out in previous posts, WordPress as a Blog product is an acceptable alternative if you choose to take on the cost to continually install the updated releases. But do keep in mind that Blogging is not your lifeline to the public, and if your Blog is offline for a few days while your hosting company repairs any Security Issue damage, it’s not Business-Threatening, but more of an inconvenience.  But if your Web site is offline for a few days, you are looking at lost revenue.

Our Opinion at this time in regards to building a Web site in WordPress, is that we feel it is too much of a risk in an already risky environment, to recommend it to any Innkeeper as a Web site solution.

Be careful, 5K+ is not a small investment for a new Web site design, and you want to choose the most stable platform to support your business.   For now, and until WordPress is no longer having multiple releases every year, we strongly recommend Innkeepers choose a traditional design and platform, and not WordPress to build their new Web site.

Finally, if once you’ve read and studied the information provided, you are still seriously looking at WordPress as your Web site design tool, we highly recommend that you take the WordPress Editor out for a test drive before you make any decisions.

WordPress offers you the ability to change your site content, and add pages to your site.  But then, there are also products available like Contribute, Easy Edit and SnippetMaster, etc. that you may use for the same purpose on a traditional HTML/CSS Web site.

We’ve had customers move to Acorn IS with WordPress Web sites who have struggled and been frustrated with the WordPress editing tools.  So make sure your skill levels are appropriate for using WordPress as an Editor for your Web site changes and new page additions.

Oh, and don’t forget, you will need to include SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on each of these pages. If you yourself are adding pages, then you are going to be responsible for the Metas, Content, Internal Links, etc.  Defaults won’t work for good Organic Placement in Google.

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History Summary of WordPress Releases

  • 2003 – 8 Releases
  • 2004 – 11 Releases
  • 2005 – 5 Releases
  • 2006 – 6 Releases
  • 2007 – 16 Releases
  • 2008 – 11 Releases
  • 2009 - 15 Releases (6 involving Security Vulnerabilities)
  • 2010 – 2 Releases to date (1 involving Security Vulnerabilities)

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Detailed WordPress History of the past 12 months

February 10, 2009 (WordPress 2.7.1)
68 Ticket Changes

May 16, 2009 (WordPress 2.8 Beta 1)
200+ Fixes and New Features

June 11, 2009 (2.8 Release Jazzes Themes and Widgets)
Full Release of 2.8 Beta 1 Above

June 21, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.1 Beta 1)
Bug Fixes

June 26, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.1 Beta 2)
More Bug Fixes and Ticket Changes

July 7, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.1 Release Candidate 1)
Prep to Release 2.8.1 Beta 1&2 Above

July 9, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.1)
Release of 2.8.1 with Bug and Plug-In Security Fixes

July 20, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.2)
Fixes to Admin Security Vulnerabilities

August 3, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.3 Security Release)
Security Issues Fixed

August 12, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.4: Security Release)
Security Issue Fixed, Hackers found a vulnerability that provided access during login process

October 20, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.5: Hardening Release)
More Areas if Security that needed to be addressed up to keep hackers out.

November 12, 2009 (WordPress 2.8.6 Security Release)
Security Issues with Logged in Users

December 19, 2009 (WordPress 2.9, oh so fine)
New Features and Fixes

December 23, 2009 (WordPress 2.9.1 Beta 1)
Release 2.9 below triggered Bugs being fixed in this Beta.

December 29, 2009 (WordPress 2.9.1 Release Candidate 1)
Prep to Release 2.9.1 Beta 1 below

January 4, 2010 (WordPress 2.9.1)
Release including 23 tickets and Pingback Issues

February 15, 2010 (WordPress 2.9.2)
Includes Security Vulnerability patches regarding trashed posts

Mark Kolb
Vice-President and Co-Founder
Acorn Marketing

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