The Ever Resilient WordPress

Fair warning: I am going to talk about CMS systems here and you likely should not read this, because there is nothing more detrimental to writing than playing with your CMS instead of actually writing. So don’t read this if you are prone to think there are better tools out there.

As the title suggests, this is another installment of: WordPress is better than your CMS.

No, really, it is.

If you are followed by me on Twitter, and happen to talk about your CMS, you have likely been reminded about this by me. I like to do that. It’s a thing I do.

It keeps Working

I’ve mentioned a few times here and there on Twitter that I have working versions of this site on different CMS platforms — well everything except the paywall — and that’s a true statement. The two I have been playing with the most lately is Grav and Statamic — both PHP based which generate static HTML off plain text markdown files. They are both pretty great, with Grav looking really promising (I plan to launch a new site on it next year).

But here’s the thing: WordPress just keeps working where as the other two I have been playing with keep breaking each time I update OS X. You see Apple loves to screw around with the PHP setup in OS X with each update, and typically I end up losing mcrypt when I update OS X. I’ve got it down to a science to get that back, but when it happens both Statamic and Grav go down — and I don’t just mean any back ends, I mean the entire sites go down — until I fix things.

Now WordPress wants mcrypt too, but it doesn’t go down. Hell it doesn’t even stop working, it just gets a little slow, but speeds right back up when you reinstall the plugin. It’s not just my WordPress install either, as I have 8 different WordPress installs on my server and none of them are phased.

There’s a bunch of other examples I have run into, but the gist of it is this: I can really break my server config and still have a running WordPress site, whereas almost all the other systems I have tried are so picky they just stop working.

And I make money off of this site, not a lot, but not a small amount either. It’s important this site stay up and that’s why it stays on WordPress, because I’ve only managed to really take it offline twice in the last five years — which given how much I mess around with the server it runs on, is very impressive to say the least.

It has a huge team and huge community

You’ve heard this before, because I’ve said it before, but I am not sure people fully grasps this. What this really means is that anything I want to do, has likely been done before. This means I can either find instructions for doing it myself, or more typically, find a plugin or combination of plugins to do it myself.

I really mean this too. I created my plugin from scratch because I couldn’t find a combination which was what I wanted (Stripe billing), but within 2-3 months of my launching my site every other plugin I looked at supported Stripe — I was just a bit too early. (That’s not to imply anyone copied my system, just that had I been more patient I could have used an off the shelf version of something.)

If you don’t like code, but you want to be able to do some really cool stuff with your site, I just can’t understand why you would want to use another blogging platform — hell website platform — because you’ll easily be able to figure out most stuff based on the sheer amount of tutorials out there.

It got a bad rap

A lot of people who read Daring Fireball think very lowly of WordPress, partly because John Gruber used to love making light of taking down WordPress sites when he sent some of his traffic at them.

That’s not really a reflection of WordPress as much as it is of shitty hosting. Having said that though, you might also recognize he hasn’t said that in a long time — both because hosting is substantially better, but also because WordPress is substantially better, faster, and has a lot of free CDN and caching options which are dead simple to use.

There’s valid reasons not to like WordPress, but handling a lot of traffic is simply not one of them. If your WordPress site can’t handle loads of traffic, then it’s your fault, not WordPress’s fault. I ran this site fully uncached for two years and never had traffic take it down — and there were days when I wondered.

Forget about the tools, think about the words

Forget everything I wrote above — I wrote all of that to quiet the questions in your head about WordPress, because I really want to get to my main point here.

WordPress allows me to keep writing, which is why I keep using it.

It keeps working, it stays updated all on its own, it works with a lot of tools and it is dead simple to tweak. I can install and test new plugins and themes from the web UI on my iPhone, and be done in minutes so I can get back to writing. WordPress’s Jetpack plugin keeps adding things which allow users to stay out of the code more and more (like Favicon support built in).

So many people choose a CMS which is very nerdy and spend months getting it up and running and then every other month they stop writing because they are trying to do, or add, something new to their sites. That’s just wrong.

You install WordPress, hell use the default theme because it is pretty nice, and get blogging. When you think you want to tweak something you can install plugins and themes to your hearts content and get back to writing 30 minutes later. Minutes, not days.

Focus on the writing.

If you are spending more time thinking about your CMS, or the changes you want to make to it, then you are simply using the wrong CMS. Get one where you can indulge yourself with a lot of fast changes which are unlikely to break things and get yourself back to writing faster — and getting those changes done.

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Article Details

Published
by Ben Brooks
6 minutes to read.


tl;dr

And now allow me a few hundred words to tell you why Wordpress is still awesome.