WordPress, code, design, business

WordPress Saves You Money on a Website

A few days ago I was checking up on what some hosted website building services are doing. They’re something like WordPress as far as being “do it yourself” content management systems, but proprietary and hosted by their makers. Some are good solutions. I ran across one that is perhaps good but their marketing strategy was interesting. They had a page detailing all the reasons not to use WordPress, possibly because WordPress solutions are significant competition.

I disagreed with much of what was written but one reason in particular stood out — the cost. Their premise was that WordPress is low cost and therefore a low quality solution that should be avoided, lest hidden costs and difficulties arise.

Does Inexpensive Mean Lousy?

The cost of WordPress is one reason so many use it to power their website (almost 20% of all new websites). Does that mean it’s a lousy solution? It’s true that something that is more expensive is typically better but that is not universally true. The question is, why is WordPress a low-cost website building solution? Here’s the answer I tweeted after reading the page that encouraged people not to choose WordPress.

WordPress has been built over the last ten years by hundreds of people, many of whom are full-time professional web developers. Many of them are able to charge $50 per hour and even in excess of $200 per hour for their time and skill. WordPress is not an inexpensive website solution because a bunch of bums scrapped together something loosey goosey. It’s inexpensive because capable people volunteered their time.

Isn’t it amazing that strangers have poured millions of dollars worth of time and skill into a tool that is offered to you and I for free?

Pausing to Say Thank You

Let’s stop here and give a hearty thank you to all have contributed even the slightest bit to the WordPress project. I am personally grateful to have been able to make a full-time living providing WordPress-based solutions for more than a year now.

Example #1: Selling Downloads

I ran into an announcement by Pippin Williamson of Easy Digital Downloads today. He announced the release of some new extensions and themes for his e-commerce plugin. One of them is a child theme that makes the default Twenty Twelve WordPress theme suitable for use as an online store. Consider this:

  • WordPress is free, made by skilled developers
  • Easy Digital Downloads is free, made by a reputable professional plugin developer
  • Twenty Twelve is a free theme, made by a professional theme developer from The Theme Foundry
  • The Easy Digital Downloads child theme for Twenty Twelve is free too

It’s true that there are addons and support you may end up paying for if you need them but I’m not talking about WordPress being a totally free solution (you’ll pay for hosting too) so I think this example illustrates my point very well. If you want to sell ebooks, music, software, etc., you can actually build a free website using professional made tools. For a little more, you can get some extra features and support.

Example #2: Church Websites

I have to use my own theme shop as an example. At churchthemes.com, we sell WordPress themes for churches.

  • WordPress is free, made by skilled developers
  • The Church Theme Content plugin is free. Justin Tadlock gives it 5 stars, for whatever that’s worth.
  • Our first theme, Resurrect, is only $50 (we even have a free theme on the to do list)

What do you get? A site like this and one-on-one support for a year. If you want another year of support, renew at $25. Hosting will run you about $10/mo or even free if you take advantage of Dreamhost’s nonprofit hosting offer. We’re being told by churches that they’re happy with the product, support and price (if anyone’s unhappy, we’ll give them their money back). We’re able to do this at such a low cost because of the starting point that WordPress has provided.

It might not be impossible to list 98 more examples of different types of websites that could be built with WordPress at a low cost without compromising quality or support.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that WordPress saves you money on a website because so much of your website’s foundation has been donated.

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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for this! I think you’re right on with this post. WordPress can be low-cost to the end user, but that doesn’t make it “cheap” at all. It’s probably had more resources poured into it in terms of developer time than any proprietary church web hosting solution. I think people frequently misunderstand the nature of open-source software.

  2. I’d go even further and say that WordPress is better than most, if not all, proprietary content management systems because of its sheer flexibility.

    Last time I looked there were 27,000 plugins in the official directory (and that’s just the free ones), allowing the basic WordPress core to be extended to do almost anything. Then there’s the premium plug ins.

    With proprietary software you are stuck with what the original developers wanted to do – and that’s it. If you want a feature that isn’t there your choice is either to pay them a lot of money to do it or do without.

    There’s also another risk: Many a time we have moved people from proprietary CMSes into WordPress because development has ceased on the original CMS.

    The other thing the in-house development companies really don’t like about WordPress is that it can be hosted almost anywhere, which does not tie website owners to an individual company.

    And, of course, not only can a WordPress install easily be moved, but the content belongs to the website owner. With some proprietary content management systems, especially those run by the big providers (mentioning no names), it’s almost impossible to get the content of the original site, meaning you have to start all over again.

    The only reason I can see that the provider you found was so keen to discourage people from using WordPress would be that they see WordPress as a threat, as it is to anyone who sells custom content management systems these days.

    I hope in the end these things will mean that the web agencies that do not look after their customers and get the rest of us a bad name will have to change their ways or go out of business.

    • Excellent points. You might need to start over from scratch if you choose to leave a proprietary hosted solution.

      I have an idea in the back of my mind for a hosted church website service using WordPress multisite (easier said than done). It’d use our themes from churchthemes.com and our functionality plugin which is in the wordpress.org plugin directory. In theory if a customer is unhappy with our hosted solution, they could switch to self-hosted like wordpress.com users are able to do.

      I imagine that a lot of times a user does switch from hosted wordpress.com to self-hosted wordpress.org because they want to use one of those 20,000+ plugins.

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