Sallie Goetsch speaking at WordCamp LA '16 on the topic "Is WordPress the Best Tool for This Job?"

Sallie Goetsch


There’s an old saying that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. You can build almost anything with WordPress, but should you? If you build a single landing page or a 5-page brochure site in WordPress, you may be burdening your client with the cost and effort of constant maintenance of a site they might update once in a year. But if you don’t use a CMS when you need one, managing that site is going to be a nightmare for the client. Here’s how to explain to clients what a content management system is, how to tell whether they need one, where to go if they don’t, and why WordPress is worth the higher cost of hosting, the ongoing maintenance, and the time it takes to learn how to use it in the first place.


You can make anything with WordPress. But should you?

WordPress does a lot of different things pretty well.

  • Sometimes you need to do just one thing. Spectacularly.
  • You probably don’t want to build on WordPress.
  • You’d have to contort yourself so much, it’s not worth it
  • The REST API will likely make a lot more things possible
  • Sometimes WordPress is overkill
  • In 2005 there was pretty much 1 thing you could do with WP
  • Sometimes the power of today’s WP CMS isn’t what clients need or want to pay for

I had a perfect client for a WordPress website. But it was 1994. Matt Mullenweg was 10 years old. So I made a crude HTML site. They still don’t use WP today. But I wish they did.

More recently I had a client that had no interest in blogging or a compelex website. Just a very simple site: small number of pages, small budget, cheap hosting, just has to sit there, content doesn’t change. I made a WP website for them because that was the tool I used, but they would have been better served by a simple HTML website.

  • Maintenance
  • Security Risks

Having a WP site isn’t like a car that needs its oil changed occasionally. It’s like a lawn that needs constant maintenance.

Some projects would be great for WP but the client doesn’t want the cost of building it or the responsibility of maintaining it.

Hosted Services have a place

  • Wix
  • Squarespace

Good Fit 4WP

  • Multiple types of content that need regular updates
  • Need custom design or functionality not available from hosted services
  • Ownership & Data Portability matter
  • Site needs to do many different things (blog, portfolio, LMS, etc)


Written by Glenn Zucman

BA, Psychology, University of Hawaii, MFA, Intermedia Art, Long Beach State. Host of American Public Media's "Border Patrol." Host of KBeach Radio's "Strange Angels." Interested in Identity Art that explores our Oracle-at-Delphi-like straddling of corporeal and virtual realms in our new media century. Civil rights in online space. 10 years...
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