WordPress Was Never Meant For Small Businesses

By Ariel Rule

wordpress_was_never_meant_for_small_businesses_1For anyone who has been around the world of WordPress for any length of time, it comes as no surprise to hear the statistic that about 25 percent of all websites are built on the platform. As far as market share goes, that’s rather impressive.

What’s even more astounding is it lays claim to more than 60 percent market share of open source content management systems (CMS). Government sites, media companies, and news outlets have made the move to the WordPress platform and many others have followed suit.

So it’s clear that WordPress rose up as a fast favorite, but what few know or remember is how this happened or why.

The foundation of WordPress has not changed, and while the tool has evolved and gained mass market appeal that doesn’t mean it’s lost its roots.

And those roots run deep. Deep enough that taking a look at the original purpose of the platform can be a bit eye-opening if you’re considering building small business websites on it.

The Roots Of WordPress

It’s rather remarkable to think that just over fifteen years ago, no one had ever heard of WordPress.

In fact, the start of WordPress can be found on an outdated and still-running platform called b2 Cafelog.


Originally, this project started in 2001 as a weblog tool that was eventually abandoned. One of the main users on b2 was Matt Mullenweg who was upset that development of this tool had ceased. At this point, the light bulb struck him. As he wrote:

My logging software hasn’t been updated for months, and the main developer has disappeared…  Fortunately, b2/cafelog is GPL, which means that I could use the existing codebase to create a fork, integrating all the cool stuff that Michel would be working on right now if only he was around. The work would never be lost, as if I fell off the face of the planet a year from now, whatever code I made would be free to the world, and if someone else wanted to pick it up they could. I’ve decided that this the course of action I’d like to go in, now all I need is a name.

The name of that software fork was WordPress.

This little piece of the software’s history is extremely important. “How so?” you ask?

Because WordPress was built on, and still primarily is to this day, a blogging tool. The About Page of WordPress.org even says as much:

[I]t (being WordPress) has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.

Is this a big deal? Yes, in a way is it.

Why WordPress Calling Itself a Blogging Tool is Significant

As we’ve seen, WordPress’ roots and status stand in the center of blogging central.

If you want to start a blog, great. This is a blogging tool.

All you need is a host, WordPress installed on your URL, one of the free blogging themes like TwentySixteen and you’re good to go.

But what about building a website?

In a time when most websites have a blog, we tend to forget that the two are not synonymous.

A blog can be just a blog; a series of posts published and rolled out in chronological order. A website can be just a site on the web with no blog to speak of.

They’re different, but in today’s marketing world they tend to go hand in hand.

But, again, WordPress categorizes itself as a blogging tool and not a website builder.

While you can use it to build a website for small businesses, the expansion that WordPress took into this area makes doing this much harder than it needs to be.

The layout of a self-hosted WordPress site is broken down into three key components that make up the software:

  • The Editor. This is the backend of a WordPress site where you create and manage your content.
  • The Theme. This is the face of a site. Like a storefront, it greets the world.
  • The Plugins. Lines of code packed into a file that you activate on your site to add features and functionality that WordPress inherently lacks.

If you just have a blog, these components all work together to make creating and publishing content pretty simple. But if you’re building a full-blown SMB website, these same components create a lot of hoops you have to jump through because you’re venturing outside of WordPress’ ordained purpose.

If you’ve worked with WordPress for any amount of time, then you’ll be familiar with the drill when it comes time to write up an estimate for your web design client.

In fact, I’d bet you wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning for a full site design where the budget was less than $3,000. While a lot of business owners you talk to will be struck with sticker shock, you know this to be a fair rate for a small business site.

“Why so much?” they ask.

And while you’re sure to do a great job of explaining and selling your price to them, the reason why you have to charge so much is because of the following truth.

WordPress is a blogging tool and not a website builder. It never was, and still isn’t, structured to be one.

To build a website with it means spending more money for the right tools to bend the software to fit your client’s needs. Plus you have to charge for the time involved to smooth out the glitches when developing and building a website on it because you’re working outside its purpose.

Designing and developing a website is no easy feat, and WordPress doesn’t make it any easier.

Peter Wolfgram with digital agency RoundPeg, wrote a very poignant article called “When WordPress is Bad For Business” explaining why WordPress is not always a good choice for businesses and why choosing another platform can be the best move at a time.

In there he states,

“… WordPress isn’t right for everyone or for every stage of your business… If your website needs to get complicated, there’s a point where I no longer recommend WordPress.

He wraps up his post saying,

When WordPress is misused, websites become a tangle of frayed and buzzing wires. You don’t want that. Consider what your true website needs are and ask a web developer if WordPress is good for your business.

Another digital agency, Conscious Commerce, found that WordPress cost too much time and money for developing their customers’ small business sites, which left their marketing budget pretty much depleted.

Therefore he switched over many of his clients to a responsive website building platform that cut his development costs from $3K to only $300 and reduced his development time by 75 percent and has moved this entire agency away from WordPress development.

WordPress Has Its Strengths, but Small Business Isn’t One of Them

Small business owners don’t need just a blog, but a fully functional, business-centric website that drives leads and revenue.

WordPress has a ton of options out there that allow you to extend it beyond its original capacity and create what they probably need. But in some cases, WordPress does offer more than is needed and requires more work to produce something simple. Other times, WordPress is too restrictive and then requires more time to get it to do what it required.

The point is this.

WordPress is not always the right tool for the job. For small business sites, it’s usually the wrong one.

By switching smaller businesses with fewer needs to a website builder, not only can you save time and take a bigger profit, but you can also get your clients’ sites published faster.

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About Ariel Rule

Ariel is a long-time blogger and Duda's Social Media Manager. When she's not engaging the social community you can often find her hiding behind her Mac sipping on coffee, writing Duda's next blog post or strumming on her guitar.
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