1. Why choose WordPress in 2023
Why WordPress in 2023? WordPress has been with us for a while, with first versions in 2003, and the first stable version in 2004. In IT terms, this is an eternity. Who can still imagine what the web looked like in 2004? Why still choose WordPress in 2023, is WordPress not a dinosaur and is in danger of extinction, as is the underlying technology stack?
Aren’t there better solutions available today ? Why choose WordPress in 2023?
In this article we explain why we still choose WordPress or Woocommerce for our websites in most cases. Have you already invested in another technology or product? No stress, we are not averse to other technologies.
Disclaimer: The products discussed below are constantly evolving, so it is possible that certain advantages or disadvantages described below are no longer 100% correct by the time you read this. Do you notice that something is not right? Then let us know.
2. WordPress in 2023
WordPress has been transformed over the years from a simple blog software to a complete Content Management System with all conceivable functionalities. In 20 years, it has firmly held the absolute leading position as website software. An estimated 810 million websites will run on WordPress in 2023. That’s 34% of the internet! As a CMS, it has about 62% market share! Thanks to a combination of user-friendliness, functionality and extensibility, it is the perfect choice to build a website with. And above all, WordPress software is open-source and free! However, this also has disadvantages: Due to the large market share, WordPress is of course also in the spotlight with hackers and people with less good intentions.
Where the basic functionality of WordPress ends, the plugins begin. These plugins, both free and paid, extend the functionality of WordPress. Think for example of a booking system, forms, members module, search engine integration and so on. There is a plugin for just about every conceivable function. Does it not exist? For example, do you have a very specific need for certain functionality? Then it can be custom made by a WordPress developer, as we do at Stormlabs.
3. WordPress vs Wix vs Squarespace vs Shopify vs Drupal
Stormlabs has been making websites since 2014, before that also in student employment. In that time we have worked with different technologies. Drupal, WordPress and just PHP and HTML/CSS development. WordPress turned out to be the winner after a few years, in terms of ease of use and the time it takes to make a good site. But in recent years, website builders such as Squarespace and Wix have emerged. These builders allow you to do everything yourself as a layman. You don’t need to know anything about code, servers, hosting, etc. Telecom operators and web hosting companies also often offer their own builders these days.
We will not make a detailed comparison below between the different features and plans of these players, that would lead us too far, but they do have one thing in common: you build a website with their tools and software, which runs on their environment, with all advantages and disadvantages associated with this, for as long as you pay (monthly). It is a closed system, which is called SaaS, Software as a Service, or in this case, Website as a Service.
This in contrast to the more hands-on approach when we use WordPress, Drupal, Joomla! or start using another open-source system. In this way we will run the code ourselves on a server. This brings more responsibility, but also much more freedom. You run your own version of the code, so you can decide for yourself which functionality you use and you can adjust almost everything to your own liking. This code is also ‘portable’, you can easily switch to another service provider or hosting without having to start again. For example, are you not satisfied with your payment provider? Then you can easily switch to another. Do you need a very specific application for your business? Then this approach can be perfectly tailored.
We’ll start with Wix, one of the most popular ‘website as a service’ platforms of the moment. Anyone can build a website quickly and easily on this platform, no technical knowledge required. Everything is done via a drag-and-drop interface and Wix takes care of the rest. In exchange for a monthly fee, your website is hosted on top of the Wix platform. Depending on which functionalities you want, you pay more or less each month. If you want search engine optimization or analytics, you pay extra for this, if you want to have payments made through your site, you pay for this at… At Wix, at the time of writing this article, you pay between € 5.5 and € 44 per month, depending on the options you want. Of course, you still have to add the cost price for developing the site, unless you are going to do this yourself.
What Wix excels at is the ease with which you can launch a site, even without design experience. Among other things, there is an AI tool that generates a theme for your site based on a few questions and answers. Certainly useful for companies and individuals who do not yet have a corporate identity or design in mind. Be careful, because once you have chosen a theme, you cannot change it afterwards! Speaking of themes, there are over 800 themes to choose from. That sounds like a lot, but there are more than 10,000 themes available for WordPress, although they are not all of the same quality. We also read that many themes are a bit dated compared to other services such as Squarespace.
If you want special functionalities in your site, you should check in advance whether this is possible in Wix. Wix also has an app store, where you can buy extensions from third parties, but that is much more limited than the choice of plugins at WordPress.
Our conclusion is that Wix can be a good tool for projects such as pop-up stores, wedding parties. But there are also a number of reasons not to opt for Wix: for example, you are stuck with the themes that Wix makes available and you cannot change them afterwards. You also depend on Wix for all the features, bells and whistles you want on your site. And if you ever want to switch to another website provider, you will have to start from scratch. Also, the way Wix works its editor can lead to annoying layout problems between different devices (responsive).
Squarespace is very similar to Wix: the model behind it is pretty much the same. You pay a monthly fee and Squarespace takes care of the software and hosting of your website. There are some differences between the two though. For example, Squarespace has more structure in the page builder than Wix, which in turn affects the adaptability of your website. The choice of templates/themes is also more limited with Squarespace, although the quality is generally much better. As a result, you will experience fewer layout issues with Squarespace. In terms of layout and templates, Squarespace beats Wix.
If we look at the possibilities or features of the website, Squarespace is also better than Wix. You can get various extra functions from the Wix app store. With Squarespace you will then have to focus on third parties. The possibilities or features at Squarespace, although they are fewer, are often more complete or more user-friendly compared to Squarespace.
Conclusion: Squarespace offers fewer themes as well as features, but they put quality over quantity. So if you want to quickly set up a beautiful website with limited technical knowledge, Squarespace is a good choice. The themes are nicer, more modern and the editor is more user-friendly and structured compared to Wix. Just like with Wix, you have a vendor lock-in with Squarespace, which means that you cannot just switch to another service, you have to build your website from scratch. Squarespace’s cost is similar to Wix, with differences between different plans and features.
As the name suggests, Shopify focuses on e-commerce, i.e. webshops. Wix and Squarespace also offer ecommerce features, but Shopify is miles ahead of them. Shopify has focused purely on webshops and e-commerce since its foundation in 2006, where Wix and Squarespace serve a wider target audience. As a large or expanding webshop, you will quickly run into the limits of Wix and Squarespace. Then Shopify and Woocommerce, the most popular webshop plugin for WordPress, come up. Since we want to compare apples to apples, it’s more interesting to compare Shopify and Woocommerce.
Shopify is by far the most popular ecommerce platform right now. Since it was open to other developers from the start, it has a thriving app store. All conceivable e-commerce functionality can be found. If we talk purely about webshops, there is actually little to note about Shopify.
But Shopify’s high specialization also has its drawbacks. For example, the site editor can’t match those of WordPress, Wix or Squarespace. And if your website contains a lot of other content in addition to a webshop, such as information, galleries, forms… then it will be quite difficult with Shopify. We therefore sometimes recommend running the webshop in Shopify, and the rest of the website on another system, such as WordPress.
Furthermore, Shopify is also quite pricey, with prices between € 32 and € 384 per month, it nibbles firmly on the margins of smaller shops. In addition, you also pay transaction costs ranging from 1.6% to 2% + € 0.25 per transaction. If we look at payment with Bancontact, you only pay € 0.39 per transaction here at Woocommerce with Mollie as a payment provider. Which is not negligible as sales go up.
Drupal is a completely different story. Like WordPress, it is an open source project. This means that we download the code ourselves and run it on a server. That is why, like WordPress, it is completely customizable and can be adjusted to your liking. With its 3.2% market share, Drupal seems to be a small player, compared to WordPress’ 62%. But don’t forget that 44% of the CMS market consists of custom solutions. Drupal is a product of Belgian soil. It is the brainchild of Dries Buytaert who wrote the system during his time at the University of Antwerp.
What makes Drupal different from WordPress? Drupal is a very modular system and works largely by configuring the different modules. It is very suitable for custom-written code and for developing very specific or complex use cases. Consider, for example, a customer zone where your customers can manage their invoices, contracts and services. That makes Drupal a popular choice as a B2C platform when things get a bit more complex.
Drupal has a very steep learning curve and most of the functionality does not come out-of-the-box, but through configuring and concatenating different modules. Drupal, for example, does not have a visual editor that comes with it by default. Drupal also tends to be cumbersome due to the many configuration options and workflows. The ecosystem of modules or plugins is also much smaller than WordPress.
In short, Joomla! a mix between WordPress and Drupal. It contains a lot of configuration options, but is less overwhelming and technical compared to Drupal. A number of advantages are the advanced user management and support for different languages. Yet the popularity of Joomla! been steadily declining for years. However, it is a good choice for websites with user portals or communities for people with little or no programming experience.
Here too, the learning curve is steeper than WordPress, Wix or Squarespace, but you get more freedom in return.
4. Why choose WordPress?
Technically: WordPress runs on a classic stack or environment: A web server (Apache, Nginx or Litespeed) that runs PHP with a MySQL or MariaDB as database. Proven technology, PHP was released in 1995! Proven can also be read as ‘outdated’, it is true that a PHP stack is not the most modern approach, but it is perfectly suited for what WordPress is supposed to do. In addition, it is the standard offered by web hosting companies, which in turn reduces the operational price. PHP has a reputation for being slower than newer programming languages, but that is easily solved by using caching mechanisms.
WordPress itself has a modular structure, which means that the standard functionality can be expanded relatively easily by means of plugins and custom code. This also applies to Drupal and Joomla! but the range of plugins and the user-friendliness make WordPress the undisputed leader in the CMS market.
One major caveat must be made here: Due to its immense popularity, it is also the favorite target of hackers. Of course, all websites that run WordPress largely use the same code. This means that when a vulnerability is discovered in this code, a large part of the websites online can be potentially attacked immediately. The risk of hacking can be reduced to a minimum by installing security plugins and by regularly updating the site and the associated code. Due to the large community, bugs and vulnerabilities are also resolved very quickly. Joomla! for example, has a percentage of more hacked or infected websites on the internet than WordPress.
5. Why choosing Stormlabs is a sustainable choice
At Stormlabs we always choose the system that suits you best, depending on the requirements. We prefer WordPress for most projects, because of its versatility and ease of use it is often the logical choice. That does not alter the fact that we can also work with other systems, if it turns out that this would work better. Stormlabs thinks along with your company and proactively proposes action points and opportunities.
We also believe in the power of Open Source software. Thanks to Open Source software we are where we are today. Almost every device we hold today has open source components in it. In addition, the transparent code gives us a lot of freedom and creative possibilities.
As digital nomads and great nature lovers, Stormlabs also thinks about the climate, the data center of our web hosting strives to be completely CO2 neutral by 2030.
Frankly, it doesn’t really matter what software or technology is used, it’s the team behind the buttons that ensures that a site is attractive, fast and, above all, found on the internet. As with craftsmen, knowledge and skills are just as important as the tools. We can tell you one thing: Stormlabs will last you for years to come.