You may have heard that WordPress is the most popular website builder platform, but maybe you aren’t sure if WordPress is the right choice for you.
This is why if you search for “WordPress review”, you will hardly find anything useful because bloggers often tend to write reviews for products that they earn a referral commission from.
To help you make the right business decision, we have created the ultimate WordPress software review with the pros and cons of using WordPress so you can decide if WordPress is the right choice for your website.
Because our WordPress review is extremely detailed, we have added a table of contents so you can jump between different sections:
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is the world’s most popular site builder. It powers more than 43% of all websites on the internet, that’s millions of websites all over the world.
It’s important that you don’t confuse the WordPress.org content management system (CMS) with the WordPress.com blog hosting service.
Our WordPress review is for the popular self-hosted WordPress software that everyone loves and uses (not the WordPress.com hosting service). We recommend WordPress.org because it gives you full access to all WordPress features out of the box.
For more details, see our side-by-side comparison of WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.
From now on, when we say WordPress, we are talking about the free WordPress.org software.
WordPress started as a simple blogging platform back in 2003. Since then, it has evolved to become a content management system and an application development framework. In simple words, you can easily build any type of website using WordPress.
To see how WordPress changed over the years, please see our article on the evolution of the WordPress user interface.
It is free as an in freedom. You can use it for any purpose, and no one can suspend your website due to censorship or terms of service violation. You also have the freedom to customize WordPress to your needs without any restrictions.
But like all websites, you will need to register a domain name and web hosting.
We recommend using Bluehost because they are an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider. Plus, WPBeginner readers can get up to 77% off WordPress hosting and a FREE domain name.
Based on your needs, you may have to purchase premium WordPress themes or extensions that will have additional costs. For a complete cost breakdown, see our article on the real cost of making a WordPress site.
That being said, now let’s take a look at what you can do with WordPress and how it actually works.
What Kind of Websites You Can Make With WordPress?
WordPress is extremely flexible, which is the main reason why it is a popular choice to build a website. You can use WordPress to build almost any kind of website imaginable!
You can use WordPress to:
- Start a blog
- Make a small business website
- Create an online store
- Build a membership site
- Sell online courses
- Run a marketplace
- And more
No matter what kind of website you want to build, chances are that there is probably an existing WordPress plugin (extension) for that. In case you don’t find a plugin, you can easily hire a developer to make it for you.
Here’s a list of the most popular types of websites people are making with WordPress.
How Does WordPress Really Work?
Unlike other website builders, WordPress keeps design, content, and functionality separate from each other. This allows for data portability.
In other words, you can add content regardless of the design you are using, modify the design without changing your content, and add new features without affecting the other areas.
Let’s dig deeper into that.
1. Adding Content in WordPress
WordPress stores content in a database and media files like images in a separate folder. You will mainly be adding content to your website using the WordPress block editor.
The block editor is very easy to use for beginners because it allows you to create content and style it using content blocks.
You can add blocks for each paragraph, images, videos, galleries, audio, lists, and more. There are blocks for all common content elements, and more can be added by WordPress plugins.
If you prefer, you can also use the Classic editor, but it lacks all the new features that the Block editor offers.
2. Managing Design and Appearance in WordPress
WordPress uses a powerful templating engine to manage the appearance of a website. This templating engine allows developers to create a set of templates called ‘Themes.’ There are thousands of pre-made WordPress themes available on the market.
Each WordPress theme comes with a stylesheet and basic template files to display different sections of a typical WordPress website.
Depending on which theme you are using, it will come with its own settings, which you can use to customize the appearance of your website.
Many new themes use the full site editor, which uses the WordPress block editor to edit your theme’s design.
Other themes may use the Theme Customizer and offer different customization options.
There are thousands of free and paid WordPress themes available that you can use to build a website. These themes allow you to use your own colors, layout combinations, and logos.
If you are looking for a new theme, you can start with our guide on the best WordPress multi-purpose themes.
You can also hire someone to create a custom WordPress theme from scratch, but it would cost significantly more than using a free or premium WordPress theme.
For more details, see this guide on how to easily create a custom WordPress theme.
3. Extending WordPress with Add-ons
Due to its popularity, WordPress has become the go-to platform for developers to write their own add-ons. These add-ons are called ‘Plugins.’
Plugins are like apps for your WordPress site. Just like apps on your mobile phone, you can install WordPress plugins to add new features to your website.
At the time of writing this article, there are more than 60,000 plugins available in the WordPress.org plugins directory alone. This means if you can think of a feature for your website, then there is a very good chance that there is already a plugin for that.
Some WordPress plugins are simple and only add a specific feature. Other plugins add a large set of features and functionalities.
There are even WordPress plugins like WooCommerce, the most popular eCommerce solution, which have their own ecosystem of WooCommerce plugins and themes. These plugins are like a platform built on top of the WordPress platform itself.
To learn more, see our article on WordPress plugins and how they work.
Some of the best WordPress plugins that we recommend for every website are:
- WPForms Lite – Add contact forms, feedback forms, and more to your WordPress site.
- OptinMonster – The best lead generation plugin to get more email subscribers and sales from your website.
- MonsterInsights (Free) – Helps you track website activity and visitor stats from the WordPress dashboard using Google Analytics.
- WP Super Cache – Improves your website’s speed by adding cache.
- All in One SEO (AIOSEO) – Improve your WordPress SEO, improve your rankings, and get more traffic from Google.
- Duplicator – Free WordPress backup plugin to keep a copy of your site in case something goes wrong.
- Smash Balloon – Social media feed plugins that help you connect Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to WordPress.
Plugins are often cited as the top reason why smart business owners choose WordPress over site builders like Wix and Weebly.
What Are the Pros and Cons of WordPress?
Just like everything else in the world, WordPress has its own advantages and disadvantages, which you may want to consider before making your website.
Pros of Using WordPress
The advantages of using WordPress to build your website deserve an entirely new article (See why you should use WordPress). Here is a summary of the pros of using WordPress for your website.
- WordPress is free and gives you complete control of your website. You own and control all your website files and data. You are not tied to a web hosting company and can move your website anywhere you want.
- It gives you access to a huge collection of extensions, add-ons, and plugins to extend your website. This enormous access to professional applications allows you to make anything you want.
- You are in charge of your website, so you can keep it simple and only add new features as your website grows. You can make your website super fast and use all the SEO best practices to bring new users.
- It is super easy to customize, with thousands of website designs and templates to choose from. Each of them comes with different customization options, allowing you to create truly unique websites. Simply put, it makes website building easy.
- Due to its popularity, almost all popular third-party tools already have integrations available for WordPress. So, your email marketing software, lead generation tools, SEO tools, CRM software, payment gateways, and business phone services will all work with WordPress.
Cons of Using WordPress
WordPress is not perfect. It has some disadvantages that you may want to keep in mind when choosing your platform.
- You are in charge of your website. This means you are also responsible for security, making backups, and installing updates. You can automate all these tasks, but they would still require your attention unless you are using one of these managed WordPress hosting companies.
- WordPress does not come with a built-in drag-and-drop website builder. It takes some time for most beginners to get familiar with it and learn the basics. However, you can use one of the popular drag and drop page builder plugins for WordPress.
- You do not need to learn coding to use WordPress. However, some basic knowledge of HTML and CSS will make things a lot easier. Most beginners acquire these basic skills as they use WordPress.
Who Should Use WordPress? Is WordPress Right for You?
The beautiful thing about WordPress is that it adapts to your needs. It can be as easy and simple as you want or as complex and sophisticated as you need it to be.
Since you are completely in charge and in full ownership, you can make things simple, control the cost, and efficiently run your website.
Over the years, we have helped thousands of beginners learn WordPress, and we have seen them quickly graduate to the intermediate or even advanced level.
Here is a simple checklist to see if WordPress is right for you:
- You want to make a professional business website without spending a lot of money.
- You can easily follow simple tutorials to learn the basics.
- You want to grow your business online with complete freedom.
- You want to make a blog, portfolio, or personal website and use it to make money online.
If you agree with any of the above statements, then WordPress is the perfect platform for you to build a website.
Who should not use WordPress?
While we sincerely believe that WordPress is the best platform for anyone who wants to make a website, we understand that some users may not actually need WordPress and would be fine with another solution.
Here is a simple checklist to see if you don’t need WordPress:
- You just want to run a blog and have no plans to make money or use any third-party services.
- You are fine with limited features as long as you never have to write code, make backups, or worry about updates.
- You just want a small website, and you are not worried about growing your business online or using the website to make more sales.
We also have a quick comparison guide of WordPress vs. other popular platforms:
- WordPress vs. Wix
- WordPress vs. Squarespace
- WordPress vs. Weebly
- WordPress vs. Blogger
- WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com
- WooCommerce (WordPress) vs. Shopify
6. How to Get Started With WordPress – the Right Way
To start a self-hosted WordPress.org website, you will need to register a domain name and purchase website hosting.
We recommend using Bluehost. They are offering our readers a FREE domain name + free SSL certificate + 77% discount on WordPress hosting. This means you can start your website for as low as $2.75 per month.
Bluehost is one of the largest hosting companies in the world, and they are an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.
Once you have purchased hosting, head over to our guide on how to make a website for step-by-step instructions.
Mastering WordPress Skills
While WordPress is easy to use, you may want to ask a question or need some help every now and again. The good news is that there are plenty of free resources to help you with that.
WPBeginner itself is the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners. Here are our resources that you can use to learn WordPress (all of them are completely free).
- WPBeginner Blog – This is where we regularly publish new WordPress tutorials and how-to guides.
- WPBeginner Videos – These step-by-step videos will help you learn WordPress FAST.
- WPBeginner on YouTube – Need more video instructions? Subscribe to our YouTube channel with more than 288,000+ subscribers and 48 Million+ views.
- WPBeginner Dictionary – Familiarize yourself with the WordPress lingo and improve your WordPress skills.
- WPBeginner Solution Center – Quickly find the best WordPress tools, curated by WPBeginner WordPress experts.
- WPBeginner Deals – Exclusive discounts on WordPress products and services for WPBeginner users.
If you have a WordPress-specific question, then you can also reach out to us using our contact form.
We hope this WordPress review helped you understand the pros and cons of using WordPress. You may also want to see these actionable tips to bring more traffic to your new website and our guide on how to create a free professional business email address for your website.