WordPress is not easy



WordPress isn’t easy. There, I said it.

I’m willing to bet if you’ve spent any time using the software, you probably feel the same way. Even if you’re a WordPress expert, using the software is not without frustration. As a consultant, what I find even more frustrating, is the difficulty I have in recommending WordPress to a lot of new-to-the-web users or users with strict goals to launch their new business online.

I’m mentoring an accelerator class and 90% of the students need to make their mark on the web. Sounds easy enough, but within a deluge of learning business legalese, accelerator students can’t come up for air to learn the best practices of WordPress too. Quite frankly, they shouldn’t have to.

In the end, there’s simply too many moving parts for the newcomer to comprehend.

Why is WordPress hard?

First, there’s the major hurdle of web hosting:

  • What is web hosting?
  • Where do I get it?
  • Who is the best?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Who supports me?

Then you have to GET WordPress installed on the web host you finally chose:

  • How do I get latest .tar.gz there? (wtf is .tar.gz?)
  • 1-Click install or something else?
  • What’s this database thing?
  • Who is sparky?
  • Did I do this right? Can someone help?

So it took you two weeks to finally get the famous five-minute install finished and now you have to build your site!

  • What’s a page vs a post?
  • What theme is the best?
  • What are plugins and why do I need them?
  • Hello Dolly? Do I need to active that? (Can we move on from this?)
  • I want to change the colors of this theme to match my logo.
  • Where do I upload my logo?
  • I don’t like how there’s a sidebar on the homepage …
  • I thought setting up my website would be easy.

Finally, if you’re lucky, it only took you a month to get your site “live,” and you’re still not 100% sure how the hell you did it all. Pray no one asks you how you made those two columns on the homepage either.

Two ladies want to start a honey company

Here’s a quick story about two lovely ladies looking to start a honey company.

Entrepreneurs at heart, they’ve caught the bug (ha!), to kickstart their next venture. Two well-educated, smart, competent individuals that work with bees to create and bottle honey. The process and science behind it is astonishing. Their product can cure colds, calm allergies and make your tea taste even better — a product that improves human life! Amazing. I mean, I won’t even go within five yards of a bumblebee when I’m cutting the grass, let alone build them a colony to harvest their honey.

Even with all of the knowledge and can-do attitude it takes to launch a company, they’re lost when it comes to starting a website. Never mind a WordPress website. I recently spoke to them about the importance of “owning” online presence:

• The only platform you can control.
• Build an audience.
• Publish your story.
• Create measurable actions for your business.

Ponder this for a moment: In the midst of formalizing a legal company, finding product/market fit, and prepping to ready the hives + strategy for the spring — they need to launch their new website. This, amongst the seemingly never-ending to-do list of tasks. It’s Overwhelming.

I left recommending Squarespace to them. Not a good feeling for me.


How do we make WordPress easier?

I don’t want to (attempt to) provide a solution in this case, but to present the question and gather feedback from folks pondering this same situation. What would you do to make WordPress easier?

I’m a huge advocate for using WordPress, but I also get paid to build web solutions and support commercial WordPress products. I feel it’s the onus of the private market to aide in shaping the adoption of WordPress to new users, not just community contributors.

My argument is that as “consultants” and “WordPress experts” we need to do a better job at onboarding WordPress to our clients. Commercial product creators need to accept the same challenge and make software and the onboarding experience easier if the context calls for it. In the latter case, pay more attention to core WordPress user experiences of the software and not forking that on the unassuming user.

WordPress has a branding problem

this is the most defining discussion to come along in a while, which will shape what WordPress is for the next decade.

Last monkey wrench for the day: What is WordPress?

• An open source blogging platform
• A content management system
• Website builder
• E-commerce platform
• An application framework
• WordPress.com?
• The web’s operating system?

Before we define it, I don’t think we can fix a branding problem without knowing who we are and what we do. For example:

There’s a fast and furious debate going on about WordPress’ up-and-coming REST API, and whether or not it’s making it to core anytime soon.

… hold up … let’s break that down for the layperson: REST API? Core? What?

These discussions are for the 1% of the 1%, but they send ripple effects through the future timeline of our beloved software. In fact, I’d argue this is the most defining discussion to come along in a while, which will shape what WordPress is for the next decade. If you’re someone that doesn’t live and breathe WordPress like I do, why do you care? You probably don’t and quite frankly, why take on this cognitive load?

My honey bee entrepreneurs don’t care — they care that they can make a website easy. A famous Internet entrepreneur doesn’t care, so long as she can build an e-mail list. The Amazon drop ship guy just wants great SEO and a place to sell his stock. While we quibble about endpoints, people just want easy-to-use software they can depend on.

Unless, of course, we’re not building for them anymore?


48 responses to “WordPress is not easy”

  1. A remarkably good post, Matt.

    I was asking myself this same question a few days back. I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in thinking this way.

    Quite frequently I encounter business people who are confused about all the terminology and requirements around building a site with a CMS. Its more of a “tech” problem than a “WordPress” problem.

    Business objectives tend to drive solutions and their adoption. In my opinion this is one reason why WordPress has become very popular: early business adopters (of WordPress) have proven that there is an opportunity and advantage to using it. The cost efficiencies and flexibility of using WordPress as a platform has allowed some of these businesses to demonstrate agility when it comes to “first-mover” advantage.

    But…..not every business will be able to replicate the success of these early adopters. Smaller businesses, who may either not be tech-savvy, or who may be struggling with streamlining their internal processes and objectives, will find it difficult to have the headspace for WordPress (or any) tech.

    From experience, such businesses are better off starting out with a managed solution before arriving to WordPress. It just serves them better. Case in point: your SquareSpace suggestion to those lovely ladies. Nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, I believe you’ve done them a service.

    How do we make WordPress easier for clients and small businesses?

    In my opinion, the answer is “abstraction”. Rather than speaking about WordPress and tech, suppliers and tech providers should speak the business’ language. Clients will understand that and respond…positively. Then we should help these businesses strategize their adoption of WordPress as a technology platform.

    Taking the approach of being a technology partner tends to yield better results and satisfaction for businesses; but this often means also having to take a wider view of web solutions than just WordPress.

    Now, the above is a different argument than what one would make if one’s entire audience were technology experts themselves; but in my mind, businesses shouldn’t need to understand the details. They should be guided, because they simply don’t know the technology, and tech experts sometimes simply don’t understand what these businesses *really* want.

    I’ll tell a short story: A few months ago, I was very active on Social Media; posting stuff on my Facebook page and all. One weekend, I felt reflective and posted something on my page. The post was about “WordPress Competencies”. My expectation was that some of my page followers (few as they were) would relate to my reflection and respond with a comment or like. Instead, I got a comment from someone whom I didn’t recognise as a follower at all. Their message, and I quote was:

    “I’ve never heard about WordPress, and I don’t think I care”.

    I was a bit disappointed at first, but then I thought: “Hey, this guy has a point. Why should he care what WordPress is, unless he’s a coder or developer. Who is he anyway?”

    So I investigated.

    Turns out the guy owns a chain of restaurants, and they were looking to expand their online reach, and implement web and mobile purchases, etc.

    Did I think he could use a website and perhaps a payment gateway for this? Sure! But would he care if I built him a solution with WordPress, or Zend Framework, or heck, even hand-coded it in Pascal? I think not.

    I’m on the periphery of the WordPress community, and I can appreciate how passionately its expert practitioners feel about this wonderful platform. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    But, the outside world are not in the WordPress bubble, however.

    WordPress is hard because it is internalized…tacit to its practitioners; at least as far as its greatest volume of adopters are concerned (i.e. small businesses).

    The solution? abstract the tech for “the others”. They’ll love us for it!

    1. My takeaway from reading the post and CJ’s comment: WordPress is a tool that I can use to provide business solutions to my customers.

      In the same way that a tradesman doesn’t sell his tools, but rather sells the benefit of whatever he makes with them, I should give up trying to sell WordPress websites and just find out what the customer needs, and sell them that.

      I will still use WordPress to make the solution, because it is great as a tool, and can help me earn big margins on my time. More than I would using Pascal.

      1. Spot on, William.

        I think in many cases, good tools just help one deliver higher quality work. The end result is more indicative of individual achievement and value than the tools that were used to create the coveted result.

        In my opinion WordPress is an awesome platform. A real business enabler. And its able to cater for both business and tech adopters in a way that no other platform has done in recent years.

        I feel grateful for the opportunity to use WordPress. 🙂

    2. “I’ve never heard about WordPress, and I don’t think I care”.

      Hey, this guy has a point. Why should he care what WordPress is, unless he’s a coder or developer.

      Whenever I read or hear someone who understands the technical side advocate that customers should not care about the technology they select, it really troubles me.

      Now I get it that it might be smart business to cater to those who don't care — and I agree with that when you have people who are not open to understand — but I think that bit of savvy marketing differs from the question "Are clients best served when their service provides treat the technical aspects of a solution as something a client never need to be concerned about."

      My position is that clients should care, and should consultants should try to help them understand why they should care.

      That does not mean that all "others" need to understand technical considerations, it only means they need to be informed by someone they trust who does understand the implications. And sometimes — especially for smaller businesses — the only someone they have to trust for that understanding is you.

      Mission-critical technical decisions made by a Fortune 500 CEO are not made regardless of the technical solution; they have a CTO/CIO/IT department to evaluate the technology; why should a smaller business not have the benefit of similar?

      For example, you (almost certainly wouldn't) tell a company leader who is about to choose 1000 Blackberry phones for his workforce that "All phones make calls, so don't worry about the technology"; you would tell them that they should also seriously consider Android and/or iOS, and why.

      And you (almost certainly wouldn't) tell a company leader who is about to choose 1000 gas-powered fleet vehicles for his workforce that "All vehicles can move cargo, so don't worry about the technology"; you would tell them that they should consider electric, fuel cell, natural gas and diesel before buying because one of those could be far better than getting stuck with many years of the wrong fleet technology.

      So why would you not think that it is not important to explain the pros and cons of using WordPress in laymans terms so that the "others" can make an intelligent and educated decision? Of course, if at that point they reply I don't care" then the onus is on them in case of a bad choice, and not you…


    3. I spent 4-5hrs trying to get WordPress install. It’s alot of technical adjustments you have to do. And for a newbie very complicated. So it awas unsuccessful install . What happen to download it that’s it, done.

  2. Amen… I could not have said it better CJ.

    And I agree, this is a great post, something that I almost start writing weekly. I believe Matt and I have discussed this to great lengths in the past 🙂

    I was at a training the other day with a business and everything you said here rings true with that experience, as well as others. Three very non-tech people, but brilliant when it comes to business, who just needed it broken down where they could relate it to their needs. One of them, previously an actress on a comedy show, appreciated the sense of humor thrown in when explaining things.

    It all boiled down to exactly what you said, abstract the tech for “the others”.

    Great comment, great post… cheers!

    1. Hey Bob. Thanks for the kind words.

      Breaking down the terminology and communicating the principles behind websites in general is hard, especially if our audience are not web developers; add a platform like WordPress on top of that, and it just gets overwhelming.

      If we assume that people who don’t use WordPress day to day should understand it, then its like saying that we as lay members of the public, should understand what Doctors or Surgeons do. That’s a specialist field, and in some cases niche, even.

      WordPress is not surgery or rocket-science, but its a niche field (regardless of what its experts think).

      This is where the work of WordPress education (as you teach it, Bob), is vital; because it helps to explain the awesome things that WordPress can do.

      Education of this nature will help businesses ask better questions of their WordPress providers, because they can see the connect between the technology and their business goals.

      Thanks for all you do Bob!

  3. I’ve been saying this … well, something similar anyway … for at least a couple of years now. Open source is great until it becomes a thing for developers who may or may not be interested in moving the beast in the direction it should move in. Sure, lots of people could/should contribute, who don’t, but that’s the nature of the beast as well. The reality is that those who do the actual work of making WP what it is, have lost the thread when it comes to moving WP farther along the track of ease of use for end users. Nothing against them per se, it’s just natural I guess, that those contributing will contribute things that are of interest to them, regardless of whether or not that’s in the best interest of the average user. And without someone guiding the ship in that direction, it just never gets there. I love WordPress, but I don’t love explaining to the moms and pops of the world why it’s so hard to comprehend and use a WP site. I’ve also recommended Squarespace at times, and it annoys me to have to do so.

  4. When you’re expertise is the business of honey, why DIY your website? There are startup costs with any new business, it makes sense for a marketing platform to be one of them.

  5. When people come to me and say they don’t want to buy a site from me, they just want to build it themselves, I find myself telling them to go to Squarespace. They start asking me questions about Squarespace and I politely let them know, I don’t know. I guess I’ve never looked at the platform. But after looking at the features, I could see myself not getting asked all of the crazy questions about hosting and features and whatnot.

    I think that there is still a place for WordPress and I think they are going through an identity crisis right now. People are getting frustrated with WordPress. Developers want to stay on the forefront of technology. Business Owners want to watch their bottom dollar.

    I think as a community we have grown the community to something really mature, but I think that for today’s users, it may be a little to techie. I was just approached not 30 minutes ago by someone. He said that WordPress is like hieroglyphics to him now. It really takes someone who uses it on a regular basis to really understand what’s going on. I think this will in time scare people away.

  6. I had the almost exact encounter a couple days ago. I’m huge advocate for WordPress but it needs to be easier for the novice.

  7. There is a tradeoff between power and complexity. WordPress isn’t “easy”, but it’s not hard either. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but you don’t have to have an engineering degree to create a WP site.

    As WordPress has grown and become more powerful, more useful, it has also become more complex. Squarespace is easy because it’s simple, WordPress is not easy because it is robust. Yes, we should strive to make WordPress as straightforward as possible, but no, we should not dumb it down to compete with the bottom feeders of the Internet world.

  8. I’m encountering this with a client now — *after* the site has launched. Even though I’ve minimized the learning curve significantly but creating videos to be referred to, and included a written manual, just the prospect of having to read a manual/watch a bunch of videos is daunting to the client.

    It would be a huge boost for it to be less complex for those who want to manage their own sites once they are built.

  9. I have a lot of clients that think they can DIY. They request WordPress because they’ve heard it’s easy, popular and good for DIY.

    But none of them have done anything with the sites I’ve built them after delivery. Even when I’ve provided training. You’ll have to trust that I keep the site, and training, very simple.

    Instead they email me their changes. They’re busy with their business and they overestimated their interest. Sometimes they install a plugin and mess something up, and I get an email, but that’s the extent of it.

    I’m starting to decide WordPress is more for me – so I’m choosing simpler, non-builder themes that are quicker for me to get set up because I have more low-level control. I’m turning off the p-and-br-inserting WYSIWYG editor and putting clean, semantic markup in as page content – more control, cleaner content, faster layout implementation. But not editable in TInyMCE.

    WordPress is better for some clients than Squarespace because it can offer them more control and flexibility as future needs arise, and because it’s so popular they know they can hire just about anyone to take it over if they get unhappy with me.

    Other than that, it’s for me.

    1. Hey Greg, thanks for stopping by!

      I totally agree with what you’re saying. You can build yourself a nice business taking care of client’s day-to-day with WordPress and they find *that* more valuable than the software. You’re smart to build your own workflow to accommodate that. Good luck with everything!

  10. After reading through more of the comments, had to return.

    WordPress is a pretty powerful tool, especially when it’s compared to other simpler tools out there. And in the sense, we are comparing apples to oranges. As much as we all like simple, I think there is another issue.

    We need to stay away from shouting out to the world that it’s easy. We have put ourselves in that spot. Or at least some have. Sure, if you just need “A”, it will be a bit easier to setup. But if you need your site to do “A”, “B” and “C”, well, it’s going to take some work. We have created an expectation for people that no matter what your needs are, it’s easy to set up a site.

    People need to understand more the power behind WordPress and what it can do rather than just labeling it simple. There are other options for that and people need to understand their own needs and what the best choice for them is.

    Just a thought….

    1. I agree, Bob. WordPress is becoming the *best* solution for someone that wants full-control and the ability to build a real & complete platform for their business. A platform that big businesses invest 100k’s if not millions in proprietary software. Dare I say, we’re actually moving upstream?

      That said, while we’re moving in that direction, we are leaving the “little gal” behind. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. This could be the start of companies seeing more value in professional services, but it could hinder the overall adoption of WP. Only time will tell.

  11. James Kamor Avatar
    James Kamor

    We use WordPress for our company’s site and also for the task of building out a community of our users. WordPress has been excellent (as we all know), but you’re right that it’s becoming harder and harder for any newcomer to figure out quickly how to get it up and running. Recently, we’ve been also exploring other options for more “community-oriented” CMS like Discourse (http://www.discourse.org/) and HelloBox (http://www.hellobox.co) – but time will tell. 🙂 Thanks for the thorough post – I’m sure many of us WP users will agree with your points.

  12. I sat with a small business owner last week and together we set up her new site on wordpress.com. She is on a limited budget, so only having to pay $18 per year for her domain name, with no monthly fee, was an advantage.

    When she outgrows that site, we will move her to wordpress.org and she will already be familiar with the backend interface and some of the tools.

    Often clients come to me knowing they need a website, but not understanding all the other factors that make up digital marketing. It’s my job to point out that they should update their Google+ profile, pick one or two other social media platforms, develop email marketing, learn to write for SEO, check out what their competition is doing, set up analytics, and suggest best practices for how to design their web navigation and create compelling content.

    No matter what platform you start with, the above it not simple or easy, but it is important for creating an effective website and this is what people need to understand.

  13. How many ways do I love this post. I’m so tired of reading how easy WordPress is. My target customers are small business owners who can’t figure out the difference between site hosting and content management, hosting vs. domain registration, heck they probably can’t even tell you what browser they’re using on their computer. Figuring out the differences between posts, pages, and widgets, well. Not easy at all. And many web designers want to hand over the site and its management to their client upon completion. After that hurdle, they’re expected to go on and master security, SEO, and opt-in lead generation. Like Greg, providing all those services for my customers without overwhelming them with jargon is my business niche.

  14. This post and the previous comments are so awesome! I’m a little surprised how long it took for someone to mention WordPress.com as a good starter site alternative to Squarespace. I recently interviewed one of my favorite authors about moving her site from Blogger to wordpress.com and it was a great chat. She’s not someone who considers herself technical either. She got help from a friend who was a developer who did some custom stuff on the home page but now she manages it herself. She made herself a second site in about an hour. I don’t think enough people explore this option.

    I also love what Mike Schinkel said about business owners needing to care about technology. Quick story: I got an email from the CEO of NTEN (Non-profit Tech Network) asking if I knew of any women or women lead companies who could help a women’s org with their website that was build on a custom CMS using PHP and Laravel. I wanted to find whoever gave that small non-profit with a low budget, a site built on some obscure framework that they A) can barely manage themselves and B) will be really more expensive to maintain and more difficult to find developers, esp given that their mission mandates working with women. SERIOUSLY? So yes, I think owners DO need to care to a certain extent and we should explain to them in user-friendly terms the BENEFITS of the choices we recommend.

    That’s why I have a ton of blog posts on my site that just try to educate normal users and I’m building a product for those DIYers to give them a clear path to good ways to build a site that doesn’t require coding. One person from my beta class actually finished her redesigned site already!

    Lastly, I’ll leave you with this pretty awesome post from Aaron Hockley comparing WP and Squarespace to a DSLR vs a point and shoot camera:


  15. WordPress has made sales people think they’re web developers and have unfortunately given birth to the era of “entrepreneurs” who simply sell five page websites with Gravity Forms. It’s insulting to haven spent half of your life learning a craft and know that someone out there with no real world experience is milking thousands of dollars out of unsuspecting clients.

    WordPress is easy because (many) business owners do not care about the technology behind the scenes and never will.


    Qualifications: I work with over 700 clients a year that experience issues with their websites on various platforms and hate that I have to divert people to a forum because the WordPress gets upset a business is profiting off their inability to manage expectations of its user base.

    1. “… and hate that I have to divert people to a forum because the WordPress gets upset a business is profiting off their inability to manage expectations of its user base.”

      Can you please fix up this English and/or clarify what you mean? What forum? How does “WordPress” “get upset a business”?

      1. You do well at parties I take it?

        The few free resources that exist for a website owner to get help with WordPress do not allow you to contact someone directly to help resolve their issue, and instead make you sit through a series of responses from people who cannot get the full picture of whats wrong with their WordPress based website, inevitably given them a bad impression of the WordPress platform as a whole when they were lead to believe it was supported and easy to manage.

        What I meant by my statement was: having to tell someone to go to the official WordPress support forums, just to allow someone who may not know what they’re doing to respond to their query and lead them towards a bulky solution, if they even get that far in the conversation.

  16. To me, the question of making WordPress easier is akin to making car repair easier, or law for that matter, or medicine. WordPress, as several have already said is an amazing tool… when you know how to use it. Not everyone wants to change their own oil in their car, or build their own house, or be their own lawyer. Most people want to run their business and not take the time to learn web design, layout, image optimization, information architecture, site navigation, internal vs external hyperlinks, etc…

    For a while I was offering WordPress classes to business owners. My experience was, they would much rather just have someone take care of it all for them at a reasonable price tag (which is an article unto itself).

  17. No cms is easy when you have no experience and you want to design, set up and maintain your own website the right way. No matter how many “specialists” say how easy WordPress (or Joomla, or Drupal) is.
    As an experienced application manager I am specialized in setting up and maintaining WordPress websites. And keeping these sites updated, safe and findable. That only can be challenging at times.

    I sometimes advise people to have the website designed, set up and maintained by specialists, and only deliver the content to be put on ti. Or only learn how to put the content on themselves, but only that.

    I think it is a good thing that WordPress is versatile. That is why I love it and do not need anything else. But when building a website, you just have to keep focused on what you want and need, especially because the possibilities are seemingly endless. All the other possibilities? Just ignore them, if you don’t need them! I

    Internet technology will never be easy. It will only get more complex. And so does WordPress. As specialists just have to adjust, whenever new technology or functionality is implemented…

  18. Mindy L. Avatar
    Mindy L.

    I feel like WordPress is only for people willing to take a course on how to navigate WordPress, and hope they can learn enough to format it in a sophisticated way so it doesn’t look rough or amateur. OR it is for people to just pay a professional to do every last bit of formatting for them, and have to call on a professional for every little website change except making blog posts.

    I’m a generally computer literate person and I have a design background. I want to be able to change the appearance of my site, line up videos with headings and text effortlessly, add in buttons or pictures as I wish at the exact place on the website I want them positioned, and call on a professional only for modifying more complex back-end settings and plug-ins etc. I can create sites with my eyes closed on Wix or Squarespace and make them look how I want faster than I could tell a Website professional to create what is in my brain, yet would still need them to optimaize my site and figure out more complex plugins and listen to my functionality wishlist and help bring my site up to a level that I envision. I don’t think I’m alone – having a bit of design savvy but needing a professional to help convert the vision into a functioning website. Yet the situation I described is not conducive to WordPress. I tried WordPress a couple of times. I was hostage to a professional doing every last thing for me and sending messages back and forth just to get a photo to be the right size and lined up with the right content etc. The email correspondence was unmanageable to accomplish the tiniest tasks because it was like I was a designer with my hands cut off and he was my acting as my hands. I asked him if it was normal to communicate so much just to create one page and he said “YES”. He said on his end it was awesome and easy because I knew what I wanted and could send him drawings or clear descriptions while most people can’t articulate what they want or don’t know what they want. But on my end i felt like half of my work days were dedicated to communicating with him. It felt like I should just sign up for Wix and get it done myself until I hit dead ends and need a professional. I believe in paying professionals what they are worth and letting them do what they are good at (he was amazing) but the time commitment to work together just to complete the home page made me throw in the towel. Again, I felt hostage by not knowing how to just go into the back-end and move things around and line up edges, and change font sizes etc. on my own to just get the trivial things done and move on.

    Still I’m told that WordPress is the best choice for business owners/bloggers. I don’t see how it is the best choice in my situation. People show me ugly, rough WordPress sites and say “See? I thought it was easy to make my site.” It is so discouraging. I had even chosen a wordpress them that I liked the default demo for, and had said he could just set it up like the demo and we will just modify a few things. I wasn’t even that picky and I still felt like I would need to full on go to school and become a WordPress expert just to set up a theme demo and then add in my own photos, text, buttons sidebars etc.

    1. I totally sympathize with you, Mindy. There’s so much in your comment to unpack, but I’ll try and answer the reasons why you *should* pick WordPress — granted, the stars have to align perfectly:

      1. A great professional *should* be able to communicate with you, and help you achieve your goals. As long as both of your expectations align, usually, the budget 🙂
      2. WordPress is the *most* flexible platform for your business. While it might come with some geek-speak, and rough edges, whatever you want your website to do, WordPress can be customized to do it. In contrast to a Wix or other hosted platform, you have to play within their boundaries.
      3. You own the platform. With hosted platforms, you don’t have direct access to your stored content, and in the event you ever want to migrate away, or that company gets sold, you have to deal with the migration headaches. If you’re blogging and publishing content on your Wix site, and suddenly you’re flagged for spam or it’s against their terms, you lose. All what ifs, but valuable to know where the buck stops.
      4. Design is still a challenge, but page builders like Beaver Builder & Elementor are making new strides to get better at serving the needs of folks like yourself. It’s still geeky code, so it’s not the same as designing in Photoshop, but the right tools could get you going in the right direction.

      For most people who are running a business, especially if they are just starting out, there’s not enough time & revenue to re-invest into a solid WordPress solution. Just know that when the business is rocking-and-rolling, and you need to beat out your competition, WordPress gives you tools to do it. I really appreciate your comment, as it’s telling of a lot of situations. Hope my comments shed a little positive light in WordPress’ direction.

    2. You’re right on with your criticisms, Mindy.

      That’s why I tell most small businesses that contact me to go with Squarespace (no affiliation).

      But, when someone wants ownership of their content, and full control (even through me), they still seem to want to come to people like me. It doesn’t usually take as many back-and-forth emails as you’ve experienced – they send a mockup done in Photoshop or GIMP, and emails are usually about functionality & behavior.

      Moving something 1px to the right shouldn’t be necessary unless you’ve changed your mind since you did the mockup, and even then, no biggy.

      Your wishes to be able to easily control layout yourself, down the the pixel, without needing a professional or writing code, have been heard and answered, several times over.

      People like Squarespace, and the WordPress community has come up with competition.

      Specifically, check out Upfront (https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/introducing-upfront/) and X theme (http://theme.co/x/). I have no affiliation with either, or experience for that matter since I build custom themes from starter themes like _s.

    3. Kevin Scott Avatar
      Kevin Scott

      oh my word Mindy – you have just totally encapsulated my feelings about wordpress .. I am a designer with a master degree in Ergonomics – I understand user journey and know how I want things to look ( and as such have used Adobe muse to make what i consider to be lovely to look at functional sites – that work ) ..but all my clients want CMS – they sometimes don’t really know why or what it is but they WANT it .. off they go and get WordPress done by somebody who clearly isn’t that great at WordPress – and it looks UGLY – is clearly a NIGHTMARE for them to maintain – which means very quickly it starts to look even UGLIER – and very quickly they lose interest and their site degrades.

      I know Woocommerce is “awsome” and good wordpress developers can make sites look great – but clients just can’t seem to understand how to maintain it – and I’m not surprised because the user interface is often unfathomable Widgets, sidebars, sliders, slides – none of which you can really see til you preview / publish – the images crop strangely – and the way a lot of “themes” are “responsive” is just a joke !!

      Ultimately – trying to control a wordpress site without understanding some HTML and CSS seems at best hopeful and and worst impossible.. maybe expectations are set too high, maybe i want too much control over how the thing looks – the impression is that its a doddle – it isn’t. Website builders are getting better but people are still very sniffy about recommending them ( but they do what I think most people REALLY want which is WYSIWYG editing) – and I know that in terms of numbers wordpress drives the web – but how many of those sites have crashed into a lampost and bust into flames..

      some developers are close to building CMS into muse – and some WordPress developers we work with are very good at taking the dirty code from muse and putting it into a WordPress CMS environment – but as it stands I just find WordPress frustrating .

      1. Kevin, you have no idea how much I appreciate your comment. It’s a great help to me.

    4. Hear, hear!
      Thanks for your comment. WordPress has been my dream killer and Beaver Builder has been my nightmare. After months at an impasse with these, I’m on the hunt for alternatives.

      1. Hey Ken, I’d love to learn more about your situation. What was so troubling with using BB with WordPress?


    Yes!!! Someone that speaks the truth. Yes WP is hard… for me its been impossible. I started trying to learn WP in June of 2012 to get a basic website on line for my recording studio. Its now the 20th of April 2017 and I still can not get a website on line with WP. I initially spent 5 months …every day with tutorials using instant WP to create a site using a few templates. At the end of October I literally wanted to cut myself, I was that depressed. Ive gone back at it for two to four months per year ever since with more tutorials and I still wanna cut myself. WP is useless, its hard to lear and ANYONE that says its easy to get going is a bald faced liar from my experience with it. Every blog I see citing how easy WP is to get going makes me wanna reach thru the screen and choke them. Theres gotta be an easier way…but…Ive got five years into WP now…and Ill get it sooner or later or die trying…. yes, the struggle is real. If youre thinking of trying WP, my advice is to run fast and far away from it or get your doctor to prescribe some heavy anti-depressants for you. You WILL need them.

    1. Greg Bell Avatar
      Greg Bell

      That’s crazy Alexander – get someone to help you. Obviously it depends on what you’re trying to do, but a “basic website” is a very easy operation for someone with basic computer skills, not a multi-year effort. Something’s wrong, and an on-site mentor/tutor would likely get you unstuck quickly.


        Ive been using instant wordpress in an effort to come up with a basic useable website for my recording studio for 5 years now. I have a ton of tutorials but I always get to the point where the tutorials and the real world useage of these templates dont match. The “click here” and “this” happens always hits a bottle neck and then its ” lets leave it for a while” and try anew. In June of 2012 I started with a couple of WP basics books and a template. After spending 5 months of 2 – 8 hours every day I gave up. Id made a little progress but a useable web site from a template I bought was out of the question. The template specific tutorials looked easy enough until I tried the same mouse clicks to bring stuff up to edit and bingo… nothing similar would happen. Fast forward to last week I DL a free template from WP…installed it….DL the demo content for it and installed that …called up the template like the tutorial said and voilla!!! NOTHING like the demo at all. THIS is the quagmire of WP for me. Everytime someone says this is easy I literraly belly laugh. Is IS a multi year trek thru the total illogic of this app, but…Im no quitter. There will be yet another set of tutorials and more of me wanting to hurl my computer against the wall, but THAT is what WP is for me. Luckily Im self employed so I have enough free years to spend trying to work this out. The struggle continues….

        1. Hey Alex,

          It’s been a while, so I hope you’re reading this…which is honestly option C after your last rant…
          (A) throwing the pc out the window and saying you can’t install the software anymore because of copyright bullshit,
          (B) Cut yourself a little too much (wtf?? get help for that! Trust me, had an ex like that)
          (C) Hi!
          (D) You swallowed your shame and gave up..like a loser
          (E) You started smoking weed and found the whole experience rather pleasurable; you shouldn’t be asked to replicate anything, but you’ll know there’s a true understanding behind your “I don’t know anymore”
          I do really feel your pain though…the most annoying thing about WP is the fact that the information you receive to solve a problem just isn’t correct…especially if you try to build a site as cheap as possible you have to find so many workarounds that it turns into a somewhat stable mount of garbage…every little change will make the system collapse…
          However…there are pieces of tech that are waaaay more frustrating…You should’ve had something passable by now, no matter how high your standards…I am in absolutely no way an expert at WP, or even decent at it actually…but every problem has a solution and if you’re spending 8 hours in a row watching youtube videos,maybe you should’ve realized you weren’t going to find the answer there…the next source of information comes in the form of the various forums that come in various forms…all of which seem way to technical for what you’re trying to do (change a colour) and seem quite intimidating…
          And it’s at this point you have to ask yourself a question: am I here to learn the workings or work the learnings…I think you’re unappreciative of all you’ve been given already, without putting any effort in…the moment you want to do anything beyond the beaten path you get lost. You’re simply trying to go from A to C without passing through B…and blaming microphones for not being in the Jackson 5.
          Running hurdles is difficult, that’s why most people don’t do it…I’m not saying I’ll ever win a race at any level, but at least I’m not knocking my head on the starting line…

    2. Alexander! THANK YOU!


  20. Great post!!! You perfectly validated my arguments in a recent discussion. Without being able to place specific blame on any particular party in the marketing chain, I feel that if the term false advertising were ever applicable, the manner in which WP is being presented to the general end-user public, would certainly meet the criteria.
    If you draw a parallel to for example cooking, it’d be similar to saying that an amateur could create a world class dish in five minutes…but although throwing raw ingredients into a dishwasher for 5 minutes might render something that looks like soup, everyone seeing/tasting it would know the cook would have no place in the kitchen. (yet/ever!)
    In order to create even the most basic stuff beyond the beaten path (microwave dinners), you need an understanding of the tools you’re working with. I just feel that WordPress exists in two extremes, pancakes and triple michellin…if you wan’t to learn how to make a fairly good burger, you first need to learn how to make spaghetti frutti di mare cartoccio.
    Ps. making a soup which smeels throughout the house so I’m really hungry haha

    1. Rich babonday Avatar
      Rich babonday

      Spot on. more i waste my time on wordpress the more i want to call trading standards.

      If it wasnt ‘free’ and charged even £1 to download , people wouldnt stand for it.

      Its not free either. WordPress is useless with out plugins that cost money. .org is nice but only good for plumbers who need to look like a genuine business.

  21. Yep. I liken WP to a drug dealer…you have to keep going back to someone when all you wanted was a way to build, maintain and update content on a website. Without learning how to code…oh, umm…that theme changes the font if you don’t recode….and so on. The feedback loop is very frustrating. Change something here, go over here to see how it looks graphically, go over here to see how the change looks on the page. Repeat. Like being in the driver’s seat and using a phone to convey control inputs to a guy in the trunk who has a steering wheel, accelerator, brake pedals and shift lever to work.
    I built websites with NetObjects back in the FTP days. I’m not an artist or designer but those were understandable and the templates even 20 years ago were flexible. But I was advised WP was ‘easy’…. maybe if that’s all you do every day. Pretty easy to land an airplane if you know how and do it every day. But otherwise it takes awhile and a lot of practice. And then there are the constant updates that need to be installed and possibly coded somehow to keep the system from falling apart. Oooops….better call whoever built the site to get than done…just keep them on retainer forever so you can get a photo changed in couple of days…
    Am I missing anything?

  22. Rich Babonday Avatar
    Rich Babonday

    Web development should be licencensed and fake wordpress should be banned from the public.
    I have wasted months messing around and still dont trust the speed or security.

    If you want a crappy landing page that takes 2 minutes to open then fine..use it// if you want anything more then this then pay someone to do it and concentrate on your business…

    All the plugins are hiding behind fake claims of being free…they are free if you want them to do nothing…. who wants that? Iam sick of wordpress . Trading standards should also make them change .org and .com to 2 diffrent brands… its another way to get fake stats to say they’ve got 30% of the internet..

  23. After trying to build my website in WP because I kept hearing how great it is, I’m officially so frustrated I want to scream. (but I do have neighbors) I’m not a web developer or even a quarter as knowledgeable as everyone else who’s writing on this thread; I simply put in a search “word press is not easy” and it came up. I do consider to be somewhat tech savvy and have created a few websites using various sites. But with WP, I can’t insert photos and have the text wrap except for what’s in the same block. Ugh. And I can’t indent my text so I thought maybe I could find a way to make this section of my page two columns. I couldn’t find how to do that until I finally opened the Beaver Builder, which I’ve been avoiding because I didn’t understand why there were two editors. BB might some potential to do columns but I couldn’t figure how why the columns moved even after I check the switch that said to keep them stable. Also it showed all my text with some crazy spacing that isn’t even close to the way it looks when I click on “view page.” Why??? I keep thinking somehow WP is going to get easier and even have a hint of being as easy to figure out how to format text and appearance as Word is, but I fear it never will. I don’t think WP cares one iota about making it easy to use for most of us. Luckily there are people who will build it for you using WP. Unfortunately those of us who are just trying to get our business started can’t afford what that costs. I respect what all the people on this thread who are so far beyond the rest of us when it comes to website building and I think you’re worth what you’re getting paid and probably more.
    All I wanted was a program that I could figure out with some effort and make things look the way I want them to and the way I have with other programs in the past, but WP is way too confusing, inconsistent, and illogical. Kudos and my utmost respect to all you programming gurus out there who are helping people like me who just can’t get it no matter how much we try.

  24. I accept WordPress is not easy when compared to many other platforms because of the huge number of options available for each feature. But, I feel these wide number of options is what makes it powerful.

  25. Aaron Schwartz Avatar
    Aaron Schwartz

    I have a Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction from CMU and I’m frustrated as hell trying to put together a “simple” site to showcase some work.

    If someone wants to make a case that WordPress is for professionals and not end users, meh. There’s a balancing act between power and simplicity that WP has completely failed at… As for me, I’m off to check out Wix

  26. Thank you for giving voice to what’s been rattling around in my frustrated brain all week. I’m a musician trying to make my own website. I left Squarespace because a deal with Bluehost made me think I’d be getting more versatility for about the same amount of money. But every day my site sits unpublished – because it looks terrible and functions terribly – I’m losing money.

    I had no idea using WordPress would be this hard. I’m not a web dev. This isn’t how my brain works and I don’t have the money to just hire someone to solve the problem. And then every time I plough ahead and finally resolve an issue, it turns out I’ve inadvertently created another one.

    So I’m really tired of tech-savvy people going on and on about how easy WordPress is. If I’d heard more honesty about the learning curve for lay users, I’d have stayed ten miles away. I had no interest in learning web development and now I have to invest a lot of effort and time into learning this to get any kind of return.

  27. Were there awards for compelling, well-written tech articles that greatly benefit ordinary schmoes, ( a.k.a. ‘moi’ ), this would be one.
    Oh yeah.
    As a tech-troglodyte, I’ve been subject to the very unnecessary ‘why-can’t-I-do this’ syndrome when trying to create a WP website. WHY?
    In short, I’m not an idiot, but when WP folks insist that mastering WP only involves a simple learning curve sweat, they’re talking Mt Everest curves, not not the kind most ordinary humans would envision. There’s just no need for al that complexity. Long story shorter, I went from kinda’ sorta’ paying a friend in Vancouver to help me design a site to having another, true friend, put the damn Frankenstein out of its misery, and now I am looking to Wix or Weebly to meet my needs.

    Great article, well written and a joy to read!


    Paris, France

  28. Thank you , fantastic read and appreciate your shares.

    I had no idea using WordPress would be this hard.

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