Is WordPress really free and suitable for my website?

Since opening our doors in 2006 in Ottawa, we have had a large number of requests and RFPs from associations, charities, and businesses needing assistance with their web design, CRM or membership portal.

And there is one reason why we didn't bid on a number of them. It wasn't the schedule, the budget, or their goals.

Imagine walking into your dentist's office, telling them you have a pain, and then telling them what tools to use to fix it. We don't bid on many projects because they required WordPress as the solution.

Quick Case Study

Here is a case study TLDR around one of our clients, Health Locator - a healthcare platform.

The Health Locator team had gone through multiple WordPress website iterations, with multiple development teams to the tune of burning over $75,000 because each team recommended a complete re-build from the previous iteration and no team was able to maintain the code of the previous team.

The owners were frustrated as they were stuck with their WordPress solution depending on developers and not being able to do much themselves. In the end they couldn't even receive updates because of the number of customizations.

We consulted with the owners, our virtual CTO services were used to develop a strategy and re-built the entire portal at a fraction of a cost, in a fraction of the time and provided the owners with powerful data tools so that the company can easily scale and maintain its data.

The portal was re-launched in the summer of 2022, and what has been the result? Just check out this traffic trend.

Where WordPress Falls Short

When asked to provide a web or data solution, we use a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes security, support, and scalability, and WordPress falls short in the following areas:

  1. Cost
    Our biggest issue with WordPress is the perception that it is free. Hosting, code maintenance, and premium themes and plugins are not included. These costs can add up, especially if you need to hire a developer to customize those because they aren't exactly what you need.
  2. Customization
    While WordPress does provide a selection of themes and plugins, the platform only allows for a certain amount of personalization. If you have specific design or functionality needs, you will need a developer, and your WordPress installation may no longer be able to update because of changes to the configuration.
  3. Performance
    WordPress is a resource hog, resulting in sluggish loading times and diminished performance. If your site is expecting a large influx of visitors, you will experience downtime. And in the long term it will have a negative effect on your SEO strategy.
  4. Hackers
    As a widely-used platform, WordPress is a regular target for cyber-criminals. While there are plugins you may use to safeguard your website, vulnerabilities and assaults are relentless. Our advice is simple: if you're using WordPress, it's not a matter of if you'll get hacked, but when.
  5. Hosting
    Depending on the developer you choose, it's possible that your data is being stored in contravention of Canadian privacy regulations on cheap web servers in the United States or other third-world countries. If you are within compliance you will also need to ensure that the hosting has capacity - most cheap hosting solutions overload their servers, slowing down your website.
  6. Scalability
    Despite the availability of a robust number of plugins and themes, WordPress at its heart is a blogging software. It will be time consuming and expensive to set up and modify it to get the result you want, meaning you will have to settle for what is possible and not your ideal solution. For anything beyond basic content management, you will need a developer.

WordPress is adequate for brochure and blog-driven websites; however, the risks of using it as a data platform outweigh the benefits.

WordPress is too risky if you need a lot of control over your site, wish to operate securely, need a lot of customization options or wish to offer advanced features or portals.

WordPress vs. Members Village Myths and Realities

Software Myth Reality
 WordPress Cost Free to install and use. Plugins and themes come with an extra individual cost. Database tools are custom and at extra cost. Hosting is an extra cost. No personalized training resources. Custom functionality or themes are an extra cost.
Members Village    Cost All plugins are included. CRM and database tools are all included. Hosting with backups is included. Personalized training sessions. Custom functionality or themes are an extra cost.    
WordPress Customization By design it is a blog software. You will experience long development times and high costs trying to make it more than that.   
Members Village    Customization    By design it is a data platform, modules, e-commerce and security is integrated. Any custom application can be built upon the core.   
WordPress    Performance    Not optimized for performance by design. Any optimizations must be achieved via plugins or customization at additional cost.   
Members Village    Performance    Multiple layers of performance and optimization built directly into the platform and adjusted via free regular updates.   
WordPress Hackers    Multiple vulnerabilities exist via plugins, since these are created by independent developers not working in consistent security philosophy.   
Members Village    Hackers    Cybersecurity is a founding pillar of the platform. Attempted attacks are monitored and mitigated by dedicated team working in an enterprise environment.   
WordPress    Hosting    Hosting is an additional cost, often provided at discretion of developer. You will most likely end up on a discount server which is susceptible to slowdown from other WordPress sites which aren't optimized.   
Members Village    Hosting    Hosting is included. A cloud environment which is not allowed to run past 75% of capacity and hosted fully within Canada. CASL + PIPEDA are automated.  
WordPress    Scalability    As a blog software there is a hard ceiling on growing additional layers of functionality. There is a big cost on development and loss of potential core updates.   
Members Village    Scalability    As a data platform independent permutations of business requirements and functionality are easily added without affecting core updates. The customer gets exactly what they want.

Given these shortcomings we developed our own web + database software - Members Village, to address the need for organizations to have the reliability of a cloud based platform, ensure the security of their data, have a simple to use CRM tool and be able to customize their portal any which way to get exactly what they envisioned.

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