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9 disadvantages of WordPress that are holding you back

Let’s show you some reasons why WordPress is holding you back.
Jing Li

Jing Li

May 21, 2024
Wordpress disadvantages

It’s no longer news that many websites on the internet use WordPress. Recent WordPress usage statistics boasted that it powers 43.3% of all websites as their content management system (CMS) and around 472 million WordPress websites.

Statistics like this end up convincing beginners or individuals not ready to do more research that WordPress is the best way to set up all types of websites, but that is not true.

It could be great for you as an individual blogger, but you should reconsider if you are building a complicated enterprise website.

Let’s show you some reasons why WordPress is holding you back. We'll explore some of its technical foundations and their strategic implications for how you can (or can’t) make the most of your content.

#1. Compromised security

Using WordPress can sometimes feel like you're constantly playing defense against potential security issues, which can be draining.

Imagine constantly checking if your core software is up to date; if not, your whole site could be vulnerable to hackers who know precisely how to exploit outdated systems. These updates must also be vetted to ensure they don’t break existing functionality or introduce new vulnerabilities.

In 2020, Wordfence reported more than 2,800 attacks per second targeting WordPress. WordPress, being an open-source platform, is a double-edged sword. It’s fantastic for fostering a vibrant community and innovation, as anyone with coding skills can contribute themes and plugins.

This means a vast ocean of themes and plugins is available, which is great for personalizing your site. However, regardless of expertise or intentions, anyone can develop these add-ons, so the quality and security standards can wildly vary.

For example, a well-intentioned developer might create a theme that works perfectly under certain conditions but hasn’t been rigorously tested for security vulnerabilities. This can inadvertently lead to security breaches in your site. On the flip side, malicious actors can also intentionally create plugins that seem legitimate but are designed to compromise your site by stealing data or hijacking its resources.

Then, there's the matter of logging into your WordPress site. A 2022 WordPress security statistic says that 8% of WordPress sites are hacked due to weak passwords. This is because WordPress doesn’t implement two-factor authentication (2FA) by default—It requires an additional plugin. This adds another layer of complexity and introduces more potential points of failure, as each plugin needs to be managed and updated.

In contrast to the challenges posed by WordPress, the rise of headless CMS platforms presents a compelling alternative. You get awesome built-in security like 2FA right off the bat—no plugins needed. Plus, with the frontend and backend separated, if hackers mess with one part, they won’t wreck the whole site.

There are so many other headless CMS features that help safeguard your website. For many of us, moving to headless CMS is a no-brainer for a smoother, more secure website experience.

#2. High maintenance

Imagine you're running a business with a WordPress website. It's like having a car that's constantly in need of repair.

Whenever WordPress or any of your many plugins releases a new update, it’s like a dash light, signaling you to check under the hood. Skip these updates, and you're cruising towards a breakdown.

You're forever tweaking settings, checking for conflicts between plugins, and sometimes dealing with parts of your site suddenly breaking. This ongoing maintenance eats into the time you could spend growing your business or improving other technologies.

With a CMS like WordPress, you develop custom solutions and middleware to handle different scenarios where plugins cannot be used, and maintaining this middleware can be an innovation bottleneck.

A recent survey of 400 technology leaders highlighted that nearly all organizations (97%) resort to custom development to integrate data with their CMS. Notably, 40% of development teams spend over 40% of their time constructing and maintaining these custom solutions, which becomes a major innovation bottleneck, as 88% of respondents agreed.

For many businesses, this high maintenance isn't just an annoyance—it’s a drain on resources and a real bottleneck for growth.

Today, many headless CMS platforms help us avoid time-consuming maintenance. As the next point explains, these platforms don't need plugins; they work with integrations.

#3. You work with plugins instead of integrations

In the traditional WordPress setup, you live practically in Plugin City — thousands of plugins exist. You're installing a plugin for almost every feature you want to add, like integrating Cloudinary to optimize images.

This also applies to headless WordPress, a REST API that lets you access data from WordPress. Many people compare headless WordPress with headless CMS — but that’s simply wrong.

It’s still the same WordPress architecture that controls headless WordPress. You still work with plugins to manipulate data—your dependence on plugins has only reduced since the frontend is handled externally.

Contrast this with the modern tech landscape, where integrations are designed to be incorporated or composed directly into your projects just once, running smoothly without the need for continuous updates or maintenance. These integrations are seamless, melding into your project and enhancing functionality without the overhead of constant checks.

#4. Maintaining a WordPress site is costly

Maintaining a WordPress site can often feel like constantly opening your wallet. At first glance, WordPress might seem like a budget-friendly option, with plenty of free and premium plugins and themes.

However, as your site grows, so do your needs, and suddenly, you're in a bit of a trap. You might need to upgrade to more secure, robust hosting services or buy premium themes and plugins to add necessary functionalities or enhance security.

These costs can add up quickly, turning what seemed like an affordable option into a pricier endeavor.

I recently came across a post highlighting how easily WordPress sites can crash with new updates. The author shared a harrowing tale:

WordPress released a new version, which automatically installed on a whole bunch of sites I manage. Well, some software I often use did not play nicely with the new version. At all. One by one, I started to get notifications about websites being down. Completely. Words like “fatal error” showed on the screen. Then, I started getting texts and emails from clients.

This instability is inconvenient and detrimental to any business that relies on its website for operations and customer engagement.

Today, we have headless CMS platforms, which offer a more stable and predictable experience. The separation of the frontend and backend means that updates on one side don’t impact the other, mitigating the risk of your site crashing due to incompatible updates.

Headless CMS platforms also often provide a clear pricing structure. You pay for the services you need, and there are no hidden maintenance fees. Many start with a generous free tier, perfect for getting started, and then offer transparent pricing tiers as your needs increase.

#5. Slow page speed

When developing a site, speed is important as it is a significant factor in Google’s algorithm. Fast-loading websites can expect to rank higher in the search engine rankings and attract more visitors.

Speed and bounce rates correlation – Source: ThinkwithGoogle

Speed and bounce rates correlation – Source: Think with Google

The top-performing blog posts on many WordPress-related blogs are those about performance; there are always questions on forums about boosting the page speed of WordPress sites — why? This is due to its older codebase, extensive plugin use, and heavy themes.

WordPress is server-side generated, meaning it builds pages on the fly each time someone visits. This can drag down performance, especially as you add more plugins. Each plugin adds more load time because the server must process everything during each visit.

Sure, plugins like Simply Static convert your WordPress site to a static one, speeding things up. But it's like sticking a plaster on a broken leg if you need dynamic features like eCommerce or user interaction—these just won’t work on a static site.

This makes WordPress, in its traditional form, less appealing to those needing speed and modern web capabilities. In contrast, headless CMS systems offer a more efficient alternative, blending quick static delivery with dynamic backend capabilities.

For example, headless CMS platforms like Hygraph, with its MACH approach, make it easy for companies to integrate content with their preferred stack that boasts page speed, e.g., Next.js, while still using its API to connect to other MACH-certified microservices like Algolia. This was the case for Dr. Oetker.

#6. Website design

When using WordPress for website design, you might feel a bit constrained compared to the liberating structure of a headless CMS.

It ties you down a bit with its template-based system. Sure, you can modify templates by introducing popular website builders like Elementor. Still, it's not the same as crafting a page from scratch with zero limitations to match your exact vision. Plus, in WordPress, if you want to go beyond basic customization, you must get your hands dirty with PHP.

This requirement can be a hurdle if you're more comfortable with or interested in using other technologies. So, if you aim for ultimate design freedom and tech flexibility, WordPress might feel like it's holding you back.

You may begin to think about headless WordPress and its relation to other headless CMS, but that's not true. With headless CMSes, you enjoy extra features.

For example, Hygraph’s Content Federation capability solves the data challenge of composable tech stacks. It offers a low-code solution to API configuration that eliminates the need for custom middleware. Companies can quickly connect the backend and external APIs, choose the data points to source, and fetch all data in a single query with a universal GraphQL API.

Evolution of CMS

#7. Rigidity and platform lock-in

WordPress can sometimes feel like a barrier, especially when you're trying to prepare for tomorrow's content needs.

When we talk about tomorrow's content needs, we mean the ability to quickly adapt and respond to emerging trends, consumer interests, and real-time analytics. This means having a digital presence swiftly updating and distributing new content across various channels, such as websites, social media, apps, and more. It's about being proactive rather than reactive.

For instance, if a new trend pops up overnight or there's a sudden shift in consumer behavior, businesses need to be able to capitalize on these changes immediately. This might involve publishing new blog posts, updating product descriptions, or launching targeted marketing campaigns across different platforms simultaneously.

However, traditional content management systems like WordPress might not offer the flexibility or the integration capabilities required for such dynamic content delivery. They often require more steps and new plugins to publish or update content and might not integrate as seamlessly with other digital marketing tools or data analytics platforms.

Hygraph’s survey of 400 technology leaders also revealed that 84% believe their CMS prevents their organization from fully unlocking the value of content. This proves why you need a flexible content management system.

For example, consider the experiences of organizations like Dr. Oetker and Vision Healthcare. They managed to accelerate their growth by switching to more advanced composable tech stacks and embracing omnichannel content strategies, which empowers businesses to stay ahead of the curve and ensure they're always ready to meet the next day's challenges head-on.

#8. Developer experience

Working with WordPress can frustrate developers because it's like learning a whole new language just to get started, especially if you want to tweak themes or add special features. It's not just about mastering basic coding; it's about dealing with WordPress' old and complex system.

Today, a headless CMS lifts many of these burdens. It lets you use your favorite tools and technologies to build the user interface. This flexibility means you can develop faster and more responsive sites and integrate seamlessly with various services without wrestling with a clunky codebase or risky plugins.

74% of Hygraph’s State of CMS survey respondents agreed that improving the ability to expose content would significantly reduce operational costs.

#9. Collaboration

In a typical WordPress scenario, only one person can edit a piece, page, or template at a time. This limitation is stark compared to the demands of modern digital environments where speed and multi-user collaboration are essential.

With headless CMS platforms, multiple users can simultaneously work on content because the system can handle various requests without conflict. This setup speeds up content management processes and enhances the team's ability to collaborate effectively and efficiently.

By enabling real-time updates and multiple editors, a headless CMS removes the sequential barriers of traditional WordPress, making it a robust solution for dynamic and collaborative digital workspaces.

#What’s next?

Throughout this article, we've explored various ways WordPress might limit your digital capabilities. If the points discussed resonate with you, you might wonder what your next steps should be. Is there a better alternative to WordPress?

I believe the answer lies in adopting a headless CMS. Two decades ago, WordPress reigned supreme in content management as a top blogging platform. However, as we navigate through the 21st century, a lot has evolved. Technologies are advancing at an unprecedented pace, and sticking with WordPress simply because it's familiar or widely used could prevent you from leveraging the benefits of more modern solutions.

Take, for example, Hygraph—a cutting-edge headless CMS that leverages the power of GraphQL. This platform is designed to eliminate the traditional pain points associated with content management. Hygraph stands out by supporting a composable approach to technology. This means businesses can tailor their tech stack with the best tools, data sources, and channels suited to their specific needs without being constrained by the limitations of traditional CMS platforms.

One of Hygraph’s standout features is its Content Federation capability, which addresses the complex data challenges many companies face today. It provides a low-code solution for API configuration that eliminates the need for custom middleware. This allows companies to connect to backend and external APIs effortlessly, select essential data points, and retrieve all necessary information through a single, universal GraphQL API.

Moving away from WordPress and embracing a headless CMS empowers your team to build a more flexible, efficient, and innovative digital presence.

Learn about headless CMS with our Headless CMS 101 eBook.

Blog Author

Jing Li

Jing Li

Jing is the Content Marketing Manager at Hygraph. Besides telling compelling stories, Jing enjoys dining out and catching occasional waves on the ocean.

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