Pagely recently published the results of a survey they conducted about “the biggest headaches in WordPress for 2018.”
I didn’t read the full report. I’m one of those people who like quick, easy information. I’m also dazzled by visuals. They posted a summary of the top results in an infographic.
Infographic source: https://pagely.com/blog/wordpress-survey-2018/
I was surprised to see that the many of gripes about WordPress had nothing to do with WordPress itself. They had to do with hosting. And many more were about things WordPress users are or aren’t doing.
Let’s take these one at a time.
Top Three Pain Points
Performance issues can almost always be traced back to a combination of hosting, plugins, and themes. Out of the box, WordPress performs great.
Hosting is the main culprit. Slowness on the server end leads to longer query times and longer page loads. Piling on plugins and a complex theme can multiply the problem, as more resources are needed to power everything.
Too few people take advantage of page caching. You’ll see a huge increase in performance (at least on the viewing end) if you install a good caching plugin.
Security issues are tricky. There will always be nasty people out there looking for new ways to break into your site. WordPress is vigilant in finding these vulnerabilities and addressing them. However, this means that you have to stay on top of updating the core files when they’re released.
Keeping plugins and themes updated is another concern. It’s easy to let them fall behind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve logged into a site and said, “Holy crap! I really haven’t updated that plugin in two years?!”
That’s assuming the plugin and theme developers release timely updates. Too many free ones — and some premium ones — are updated rarely. And many are simply abandoned. Relying heavily on these can cause headaches down the road.
Site-breaking updates are rarely the fault of WordPress core. That’s due to plugins and themes not updating to reflect changes in WordPress. It’s a slippery slope when relying on third-party functionality.
Or this could all be a result of custom code. If you or someone else has hacked a few lines into theme, plugin, or core files, they could turn buggy or be overwritten altogether when updating.
This seems like a good place to plug my current host. I use Anchor.host, and rarely have to deal with anything mentioned above. Updates are taken care of as they’re released. My sites are frequently backed up in case something bad happens. Page caching is the default.
I’ve also become very discerning when selecting plugins and themes. I use very few free ones, and when I do, I look at their history of updating and support. I’m a believer in using premium functionality, as they tend to be the ones who update and support their products the best. Makes sense — they’re getting paid.
I used to go dirt cheap with hosting. Until I experienced the pain of updating, backing up, and uptime. Support is often sketchy too. “We typically respond within 24-48 hours.” But my site is down right now!
I’ll say it again: you get what you pay for. Sure, you pay 3 bucks a month. But it’s slow, the site goes down at random, and they’re taking forever to get back to you.
Anchor.host isn’t the cheapest hosting. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that expensive either. And the value is fantastic — I don’t have to worry about security, uptime, or updates. Support is amazing.
The headache of hosting has nothing to do with WordPress, let alone something it would be able to fix itself.
Challenges When Hosting Your Own Site
I’ve already talked about security, uptime, and support. Those are all easily handled by a good host. The other challenges listed in the survey — updating and improving the site and staff productivity — seem to be more about planning and strategy than about WordPress.
Updating the site means writing and rewriting. Finding new images and videos to use. Improving the site implies providing more content and a better user experience.
Staff productivity? Sorry, WordPress can’t help much with that. It already allows collaboration on content. Seems like a lot of people need to plan better.
These are issues experienced by anyone hosting their own site, whether they use WordPress or not.
Most Common Goals for WordPress Sites
We all want to increase traffic and revenues.
Increasing traffic means increasing the value and experience your site delivers to visitors. People have to feel like they’re getting something wonderful. It has to be easy for them to find exactly what they went there for.
It doesn’t mean that your site has to be fancy and flashy (definitely NOT Flash-y). Minimalist design is a big trend now. But to get people to come back to your site and stay on it longer, you have to make it well worth their time.
Increasing revenues means converting visitors into buyers. This is an active, deliberate process that takes careful planning. Every step of the way, your site should be gently steering visitors in the direction you want them to go — toward buying.
“Gently” is the key word. You can’t litter your site with “Buy Now!” buttons and pop-ups. But there are effective ways to increase the chances of people buying stuff. Unfortunately that’s far beyond the scope of this post.
Becoming more efficient at running the site takes time. You have to dig into WordPress and use it over and over again. You’ll learn its strengths and weaknesses and ways to get it to do what you want.
Follow WordPress blogs. Watch videos. Take some courses. The only way to get better and more efficient is to keep learning.
While I’ll agree that WordPress has limitations, the results of the survey lead me to believe that if people learned more about WordPress and planning an effective strategy for their website in general, most of these headaches would be relieved.
Oh yeah, there’s hosting too. Really good hosting. I’ll give a shout out to Anchor.host again.