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As responsible professionals there has to be a line where we say, WordPress is not supposed to be used for that.

When is WordPress not the answer?

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closed as too broad by kaiser Apr 1 at 20:48

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When you want to serve content in more than one language. (I can not post answers, thus as comment) –  Marcel Oct 23 '13 at 12:29
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7 Answers 7

up vote 33 down vote accepted

Hi @Geo:

As a huge proponent of using WordPress for content management use-cases that surprise the many people who believe WordPress is only a blog, I've had many opportunities to defend it's use which has also allowed me to recognize where it is not useful. Here are the main areas where I've come to believe WordPress is in-fact not the best solution:

  1. Non CMS-related Software-as-a-Service: If you are building a solution that is primarily not about content management, or your content architecture looks very different from posts, pages and comments then you are probably better off building a fully custom website architecture on a framework such as CodeIgnitor. Examples could include Twitter, Twillio, MailChimp, FreshBooks, etc.

  2. Complex and/or Innovative e-Commerce: If you need an eCommerce website with very complex requirements (multi-currency, multi-sourcing, multi-payment, etc.) or if innovations in online retailing are core to your success, such as Esty.com don't plan to use WordPress. WordPress rocks for setting up a basic online store, but if your business lives and dies by it's online sales, especially if your online revenues exceed US$1 million then WordPress is probably not your best solution.

  3. Enterprise Intranet Solutions: While WordPress can be easily coerced into doing many things I would instead recommend something like SharePoint for large, complex use-cases, regardless of how much I dislike SharePoint.

  4. Complex and Enterprise-Scale Content Management: If you need to track and management tens of thousands of documents with hundreds of complex workflow rules and tens of distinct roles for thousands of people, you'll want to kill yourself for trying to manage it with WordPress. WordPress simply does not have the tools built in yet to make this viable, although someday in the not too distant future it may.

  5. Highly Collaborative/Social Sites: This last one may be controversial but I'll run with it and I'm not talking about use-cases that including commenting; clearly WordPress excels at that. But if you need a site that is highly collaborative such as for wikis-style editing and or for a community hub, I don't think WordPress can do a good job (yet?) Yes WordPress has some wiki features but it simply hasn't been optimized for that use-case. And yes there is BuddyPress but I'm not yet sold on it's utility. I've tried to set it up but really struggled with it. Unlike WordPress, which is lean, focused and flexible, BuddyPress seems to me to be highly coupled, complex and constrained making it a risky move unless "out-of-the-box" BuddyPress fits the use-case to a "T". All in my opinion, of course. :)

So that's what I've identified as use-cases for which I can't (currently?) recommend WordPress. And there are probably use-cases I didn't capture. However, for most use-cases on the web WordPress IS the best solution.

And even for some of those anti-use-cases above, you may still want to use WordPress for (a portion of) your corporate website and/or for microsites, just don't try to use it as key critical infrastructure component for one of the use-cases mentioned above.

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@MikeSchinkel - I don't know enough to know if your answer was right, but it sure was thoughtful and rational - Thanks –  Ray Mitchell Feb 27 '11 at 21:17
    
@MikeSchinkel Though I otherwise agree with what you've posted, I completely disagree on your point re: BuddyPress -- it's an incredibly flexible plugin that I find a new usage case for roughly every other month. Plus it itself is extensible -- you can add everything from wikis to group documents. It's as good -- if not way better -- than similar projects for, say, Joomla! (JomSocial, Community Builder, etc.), which is what I built community sites in exclusively before learning of BP. –  aendrew Feb 28 '11 at 1:17
    
@aendrew - Thanks for commenting. As I said, that part would like be controversial. I respect your opinion of BuddyPress, I just don't currently share it. Of course I have to do agree that BP is way better than anything based on Joomla; but what isn't? '-) –  MikeSchinkel Feb 28 '11 at 2:07
    
@Ray Mitchell - Thanks! And who knows if it is "right?" It's just my opinion. :) –  MikeSchinkel Feb 28 '11 at 2:08
    
@MikeSchinkel Great answer. I agree with your thoughts on BuddyPress. It is very complex and not very extensible. The codebase has gone through so much change that a lot of developers stopped trying to keep up (Plugins) out of frustration. Hopefully the upcoming 1.3 release will change a lot of this and bring it in line more with WordPress. –  Chris_O Feb 28 '11 at 5:49
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I've just completed a large book catalog site that automatically gets updated with books, their authors, and stuff like that. WP's custom post types are used heavily.

The advantages of WordPress that I found were:

  1. No need to build a clean backend. It's already there. Although backend creation has been greatly simplified by frameworks like Bootstrap, it still consumes a lot of time. The amount of time saved cannot be properly emphasized by this point.

  2. Features like custom taxonomies are highly useful, and a good UI for manipulating them already exists in the backend.

  3. Page templates allowed me to customize looks of particular pages that were way different than the other pages (though the header/footer portions were static)

  4. Automated updates could keep WP updated and secure with just a click (which we might not have with a custom CMS)

  5. Tonnes of plugins available for a lot of stuff. SEO being the most popular. You never have to reimplement SEO features in WP, because you have plugins created by people having a know-how of SEO.

  6. The meta table allows storing of arbitrary data that should be associated with each post or custom post type.

In short, using Custom Post Types and the meta table, you can structure any custom post type to resemble whatever you want.

However, there are some disadvantages as well:

  1. With frameworks like Laravel, business logic is faster to build than in WordPress. With frameworks, standard features follow standard practices. With Laravel 4 and increasing use of Composer, a lot of good packages become available to you. These are like WP Plugins, but way more powerful.

  2. Developing a site with a lot of custom features is possible in WP, but is much more easier in a framework. This is because you have total control over the database. Yes, you can create custom tables in WP too, but those you'll have to handle yourself. Doing the same in an ORM is much more easier.

  3. WP is niche, and not everyone can maintain a big website with a lot of custom code written. And WP code can be far uglier than what PHP 5.3+ frameworks have to offer today.

  4. At times, you'll have to write custom queries. If you're using meta tables, you might end up doing multiple joins on it just to retrieve multiple keys. Though the meta_key column is indexed, the approach is different from what you'd be used to.

If you're developing frequently, then you'd have an internal database of a lot of reusable components, both logical and UI. At the same time, using a framework also gives you a lot of flexibility. Of course, flexibility means you'll have more responsibility about how something happens.

In short, if WP with its custom post types and taxonomies can fulfil the requirements of your website, then go ahead. If it requires a lot of twisting, then reconsider, or at least think twice before committing to WP. Remember that websites need to get new features added down the line, and you don't want an inflexible twisted system wherein feature additions are difficult.

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I would avoid using WordPress to build social communities and web applications. Although WordPress can be used as a framework for web applications it just doesn't quite fit the bill.

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Don't forget BuddyPress - excellent tool/plugin exactly for that. –  kaiser Apr 1 at 20:30
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In my experience, Wordpress shouldn't be used as a future event listing/registration or booking system (classes, sessions, appointments). Yes there are plugins out there to accommodate, but they are buggy,and very hard to customize.

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In short: Don't recommend Wordpress to those who can afford something else (e.g. a customization or replacement of it).

I think you should not offer Wordpress to those customers, that already used it and came to the boundaries of the software.

Next to that Wordpress is not suitable for customers that are looking for a product with long-term support that has security and maintenance updates.

Next to that you can not recommend Wordpress to those customers who ask for a tested software. Wordpress is not really tested and a very complicated and unstructured piece of software.

And you cannot recommend Wordpress for podcasters and video sites. Media Management is lacking according to people of the industry.

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I cannot disagree with the opening statement here enough "In short: Don't recommend Wordpress to those who can afford something else." You make it sounds as if WordPress is a poor mans solution for web development. –  Ash G Aug 24 '11 at 4:33
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@Ash G: Well what's bad with poor mans solutions? And afford has a more broad meaning than just the few bucks you need to spend for maintenance. I don't dislike low-cost solutions per-se. The question is what a customer can afford, often this starts by the price-tag, but in the end there are many more factors that account into affordability. –  hakre Aug 24 '11 at 8:17
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My point is that WordPress isn't a poor mans solution. Yes it can be low cost, it can also be very expensive, it depends on what you want to do/have done. But it's not some second best "poor man's" solution, it is not somehow automatically inferior to another solution that costs more. My reply was in response to your statement "In short: don't recommend WordPress to those who can afford something else" which makes it sound as if WordPress is only of value and only suitable for the budget conscious. The value of WordPress isn't in its price, or at least not in that alone. –  Ash G Sep 10 '11 at 9:20
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As WordPress is available w/o a fee and easy to install, it's pretty well a poor mans solution and I don't think that this is bad. And I have not written that it is bad. If you can afford something else, e.g. because Wordpress with long term support of your install costs too much money (and you can't afford it), you must opt for something else. However, if you go the install, hack-me once in two years and get the site repaired for $50 route, it's not that expensive at all. I added a short note that it's more clearly worded. –  hakre Sep 12 '11 at 15:31
    
I think WordPress is probably some of the most tested software out there- if you consider users testers. –  Yarin Nov 23 '11 at 23:20
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I would also like to add two more.

Media content heavy sites. Though WordPress has some great media options they are primarily blog centric in nature, which is to say the management is simple and linear. For media heavy content that serve a lot of photos and video, especially multi-user based, WordPress is not a viable option yet ( example: any one of the million video sites).

Enterprise level security sites. Though I don't think this is directly WordPress related, sites that need a high level of security, even if it's just a front-end blog, should probably not be using WordPress. ( Example: payment processors, banks, etc.).

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+1; nice additions to the list. –  MikeSchinkel Feb 28 '11 at 2:09
    
Can you tell me why on the security? I'm trying to make the same decision. Are there modules that can make WP more secure?Thanks. –  johnny Apr 10 at 20:54
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I'll provide a point opposite to what Mike Schinkel laid out. He looked at high-scale or complex situations, I'll mention the opposite.

WordPress is a great solution for sites that are non-trivial and/or frequently updated. If the planned site is very small/simple, or frequent updates are not planned, using WordPress may well be overkill. Sites that may fall under this classification could include brochure sites, or business card sites. No need for a database or anything complex here.

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Grant- Curious, what do you use in those cases? Are you just down to basic files and includes at that point? –  Yarin Nov 23 '11 at 23:17
    
@Yarin my response was based on a site I've been maintaining for a couple of years now. Initially it was small and simple, so I did straight HTML with PHP includes. There's no blog, and fairly simple content, though it has been growing. –  Grant Palin Nov 24 '11 at 6:22
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protected by toscho Jun 8 '12 at 11:41

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