Two Hour Blogger

On Marketing and Writing

Trash WordPress! Why? If you’re a web design agency, you’re killing your credibility. That’s why.

It all started as a simple HTML/CSS/Javascript class everyone has to take here at Oklahoma State University. It’s a tight class for beginners, but it’s just a filler for those who already know the material.

I opted to test out.

Before he would even think about administering the test, the professor wanted to see a web site I’d built from scratch. As you probably imagine, 100% of my clients use WordPress, so I didn’t have anything to show him. It took my breath away. What could I do?

Biting my teeth, I sent him the URL to one of my WordPress sites and hoped he wouldn’t view the source code. I should have known better. He wrote back, confused. Was he missing something, he asked? No, he wasn’t. I was caught.

That embarrassing scenario got me to thinking. If redneck Oklahoma cowboys look down their noses at “web design gurus” that can’t even build their own site outside WordPress, what must potential clients on the West and East Coast think? They’re laughing their heads off!

Folks, there’s a subculture of so-called “Web developers” who know little more than basic HTML/CSS and WordPress-specific PHP functions. That’s scary.

About six months ago I asked if our shrewd optimizing has ruined our real conversion rate. At the time, you asked me what the implications were. I couldn’t answer. I wasn’t sure.

Now I’m sure.

People are getting smarter. They’re starting to realize that they’re not just buying a pretty picture when they commission a web site. They’re buying code. They’re buying how it works. Core functionality. Guts. Backend. Performance.

The implications? They’re not going to commission an iPhone app from a developer who goes around with a stick phone. They’re going to commission the dude that’s got the iPhone 4S and the iPad 3. They’re viewing your source code before they decide if you’re worth their money. Sure, the source is just the final product. They’re not seeing the server language, the stuff that’s actually generating the markup. But they can learn a LOT on how you’re handling your Content Management System by viewing your source.

For YOU, this means you can’t expect to come across as a web design expert if you’re using WordPress to power your company’s web site. You’re undermining your credibility. You’re admitting you might know a tiny bit of PHP, but you’ve certainly never worked with a MySQL database. What kind of a web developer are you? What you’re doing is called graphic design.

Enough is enough. I’ve finally launched my real company — Perfection Coding. It’s powered by a custom MySQL database. No, it’s not as fancy as WordPress yet, but it has the core functionality and if you view the source, you’ll know right away it’s a custom job, thank you very much Professor Ward.

What in the world are you even talking about? I don’t call myself a web developer, and I love WordPress. You’ve insulted me and an entire community! Unsubscribed.

Chill, it’s cool bro. All I’m saying is, if you’re a web design agency, you need to rethink your books. If you’re a small business, you can close this window and get back to it. In the next year, probably 100% of my new clients will be on WordPress. I LIKE that. WordPress is GOOD for them. I’ll RECOMMEND they use WordPress.

But I’m a design agency. If I have a class D fire extinguisher, that means I can put out A-, B-, C-, and D-class fires. If I’m using a custom database, I can SURELY build in WordPress on the fly.

Wouldn’t you agree?

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54 Replies

  1. Hey Martyn,
    So I guess your decision to go to college pays off. You’re learning. Judging from your blog, you are already ahead of most wordpress bloggers. Now you’re going upward. Also, most of your blog readers might not even understand your post, he, he.
    Keep learning. It’s one the best things to do. Cheers.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Thanks Derek. I certainly hope my readers can understand the gist of this … glad you did.

      I’m getting into object-oriented programming with C# over summer semester, and I’m really excited about it.

      Do you work with the Ruby on Rails framework any?

      1. Actually I only started reading “Build yr own website the right way” as you recommended some time ago. So I only know bits and pieces of HTML and CSS. And I got yr sign-up form design tutorial. I’ve been putting what I know here What do you think, master:)
        It’s still work in progress, but I enjoy learning. My biggest challenge now, positioning issues ;(
        I really just started this stuff a month ago. I’m waaaay behind you. What is your recommendation for building a really great website/blog?
        What’s Ruby for?

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Hey your site’s looking good man!

          Floating elements are perhaps the most involved aspect of CSS. In fact, it’s so involved that Ian Lloyd’s book doesn’t even cover them. He sticks with absolute positioning, which is good to get down before you move to floating.

          Unlike HTML and CSS, Ruby is a full-blown programming language that lets you build interactive web applications. My goal is to build a social network for geeks by the end of 2012.

          1. Something like Geekbook?
            I believe in you:)

            Thanks for all your input and help. Good luck in college. Your blog and your work have been my (tech) inspiration for a while now.


  2. Great company name Martyn. It’s perfection, really.

    As a non-coder, this won’t affect what I do today, but it makes sense and I’m glad to see you’re headed in the right direction.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Hey Stephen! Been meaning to swing by your place for a while. You’re really rocking it over there.

      Glad you like the name. It’s SO much more cool than “Two Hour Blogger.”

      1. hahaha, agreed on the coolness factor. Two Hour Blogger is still fine though. I’m somewhat surprised that the perfection coding domain wasn’t snatched up already.

  3. I actually disagree with almost the entire post. Clients don’t care about the source code or what a site is built in as long as it meets their needs and performs as they want it to. The only people who care about the source code and the originality of it are geeks and professors.

    I do agree that if you’re not using the latest technology (iphone, ipad, etc.) when you’re trying to sell your services then you won’t be taken seriously, but that is entirely different than saying that all of your code must be built from scratch. Most clients couldn’t tell the difference between html and css, let alone know what mysql is.

    1. Agree with Seth. I work at an agency, and while our clients’ needs are never really that complex (WordPress always fits the bill), none of them give a squat about the “code” or what platform we use. As long as it looks great and meets their organization’s needs.

      I think this post may ring true for larger brands of the world, but not for the other 90% of small and medium sized businesses and organizations in the world.

    2. Martyn Chamberlin

      There is truth to what you say, Seth, up to a point.

      If your goal is to become a REAL web agency like PINT or Twist Image, you absolutely cannot be using WordPress and attract six-figure clients. They won’t be viewing your source code per sé, but they will be asking you to develop technologies for them that you won’t be able to unless you’re capable of building custom databases.

      And if you ARE capable of building custom databases … what in the world is your company’s site doing in WordPress?!

      1. Ben

        I have to agree with those who say that clients don’t want to know about code. Many, many clients would prefer to ignore its existence. But really, I think it depends on what the website is, and what it’s used for.

        You’re talking about “six-figure” clients who need a website to be custom for some reason. Many smaller clients need simple websites to represent their business. They might want to run a little blog, etc. and they primarily need it to be easy to maintain and use, and they don’t even have $100,000+ to spend.

        So, they are not 6-figure clients, but I disagree that a legitimate “Web Developer” should NEVER use WordPress. If it makes sense for a client, use it. WordPress is pretty flexible, anyway, and why reinvent the wheel every time if you don’t have to?

  4. Hey Martyn

    You’ll most likely get commentary from both ends of the yardstick on this one. :)

    My take on your message?

    If you’re a short order cook in a local diner …
    Don’t profess to be a culinary chef.

    1. I like the analogy!

      1. Hey Joe — how ya be?

        Glad you liked my analogy. :)

    2. Martyn Chamberlin

      Your prediction was correct, Kissell! Oh my. I’m working fasts and furious to become that culinary chef. Can I take your order?

  5. As your #BigClient, it’s still a little over my head. As you say, WordPress is doing the trick for me. And I know the “big name” agency I use thumbs its nose at WordPress. I think it’s for “safety” and “reliability” reasons, but still it eludes me a bit.

    Since I want someone who understands WordPress, something that I, the client, know how to manipulate, you’re my guy.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      WordPress works great for you, Joe.

      I understand why big agencies thumb their noses at it though. It’s the difference between a Honda Civic and a Lamborghini Diablo. Custom solutions are more efficient and get the job done better than one-stop shops like WordPress. They’re also exponentially more expensive.

  6. Rare is the person that can come combine good graphic design with solid backend skills. Sounds like you’re well on your way toward becoming that person. Very smart move. Though I do agree with Seth that most of your clients won’t know the difference as long as they like the final product. And if using WordPress helps you release that product faster, then you have a more satisfied client.

    1. You can even just say “that person doesn’t exist”. I’ve seen many people writing “Web Designer/Developer” on their CV, but the two jobs actually require opposite skills. You can be sure that a person who can do both is not particularly good at neither of them (and I’ve worked with plenty of those people in the past 15 years).

      1. Martyn Chamberlin

        Harsh words, Diego. I find myself transitioning from frontend to backend.

        I would argue with you, but you have 14 years’ more experience.

        1. I know I’m harsh, but, unfortunately, that’s my experience. To cheer you up, here’s a funny picture that tells you the difference between the two types:

  7. We have been building websites for 15 years in several coding languages and platforms. That said you are completely wrong. WordPress is the right platform for most small business and if a design company use WordPress for their own website that in no way hurts their credibility.

    In my experience clients couldn’t care less about the code or the technology. Clients want a professional looking website that gets the phone ringing, contact forms submitted or shopping carts filled. WordPress – HTML or whatever has nothing to do with any of those things.

    (but I do appreciate the linkbait tactic of the post :)

    1. Mark

      Here here!

      I’m sick of seeing novice developers chime in thinking they know what they are on about,

      I’ve been built small to large scale sites on WordPress for a long time, custom building themes and plugin’s for the various needs of clients.

      Just because you use it as a novice (I’m also assuming you do very little tweaking via themes/plugins) doesn’t mean it’s not capable of large scale (high load, large database) websites.

      As David mentions, this is clearly a trolling post, or you are actually that narrow minded..

  8. Interesting point, and I agree that we should always seek to improve our coding skills. I guess my response, though, as to why I use WordPress on my own sites is this: If I’m recommending WordPress to clients as an easy-to-manage, highly functional CMS that provides the best solution for solo/small biz owners, then shouldn’t I put my money where my mouth is and use it myself?

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      That’s only true if you don’t want to land bigger clients who want custom solutions.

      Let’s look at it another way: anybody can use WordPress. Not just anybody can build a web site from scratch, let alone a database-driven one. If you can do the latter, you can certainly do the former, but not visa versa per sé.

  9. This is not about ditching WordPress, it is about not knowing how to code.

    I have found many web designers who can dabble a bit around html, css, and a bit of php and they think they can rewrite the internet because of that.

    Put them in front of a MySQL or even MS SQL command window and ask them to write a few basic queries and they are going to look at you like you’ve lost your mind.

    Martyn, I think that if you can charge more than 1K for building a website that is wordpress based and make it pretty by moving stuff around, I’m sure you know how much you could charge to build a CMS site from scratch while meeting your client’s requirements and needs.

    If you openly say you base your sites on WordPress to provide CMS features, better SEO rankings, etc, etc., I don’t see any problem with that.

    However, if you do claim to be a website developer and are actually trying to hide the fact that you use WordPress because you can’t do better any better with code alone, then that is a fail in my eyes.

    Just my points of view, take care man and I’m glad you’re loving the Uni life and learnings. 😉


    PS. I think your new site has a typo here: “…belives in perfection”.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      This is not about ditching WordPress, it is about not knowing how to code.

      Touché. I’ve not been pinning the problem to its source. Using WordPress and calling yourself an expert is the symptom, and ignorance is the problem.

      Thanks for catching that typo! We wouldn’t want such a mistake on a site that calls itself perfect. 😉 Fixed.

  10. Martyn, I’m afraid you’ve been put on the wrong track. Seth already raised a good point, i.e. that your customers don’t care about the code, as long as the solution is what they expect.

    Notice that the person who “got disappointed because you didn’t code the website yourself” was a professor: it was an *academic* exercise. The same term, in a commercial environment, is a synonym of “needless search for the best solution while we just need one which is good enough”. In short, anything academic is frowned upon, when you talk about project which involve money in any form.
    To a certain extent, I agree that someone who wants to call himself a “developer” should first of all get his hands dirty and create something by himself; nowadays, life has been made too easy, to the point that anyone and his mother think they are Web-gurus of sort. However, this should be part of a personal development plan to acquire skills and the proper mindset, not be the core driving force of a business (see “Not invented here” syndrome).

    Besides, I can tell you the number one reason why you should *not* give your customers something that you coded yourself from the ground up: support. As good or bad any framework can be, it brings an great amount of advantages:
    – It has been tested by many people.
    – Vulnerabilities are found and corrections made by a community/company.
    – Instead of coding everything from scratch, you can use or adapt existing modules/extensions/plugins.
    – When your company will expand, it will be easy to find someone who knows the framework (who the hell knows anything about the one that you, and only you, designed and coded?).
    – When you’ll retire to the Hawaii, your ex-customer will be able to find another supplier who can carry on the work you’ve done until then.

    These are just a few of the advantages, I could go on for ages. Please note I’m not a fan of any framework in particular, I’m speaking for personal experience. I started coding 15 years, trying to fix an Industrial Automation application which was made from scratch. We were dealing with chemicals (sometimes dangerous, sometimes extremely expensive), and the software had to be flawless. I still remember the sleepless nights trying to understand what the guy who wrote it was thinking. “All made in house”, was their motto: great stuff, I quit after one year in frustration and they had to call me for another five years after that because nobody (including me) would understand a thing.

    In short, based on my experience: learn the technicalities, but don’t be tempted to use all the tricks you know just because you know them. From a business perspective, it’s often better to reuse things than to reinvent them.

    If you’d like to go deeper into the topic, just drop me a line. :)

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Always appreciate your input, Diego. I’ve definitely noticed a disconnect between academia and what makes money in real life, and you’re right when you say that clients are typically more concerned with cost than whether their CMS is custom or mainstream.

      Your insight and experience here is invaluable. Your last two points about support are something I hadn’t thought about. When you’re out of the picture, your clients’ lives — and their businesses — go on. It’s irresponsible to not plan accordingly.

      Right now the adrenaline rush of building a database-driven application completely from scratch is heavily influencing my decision-making process. I shall think on this.

      1. Glad to have “enlightened” you a bit. :)
        It’s been a while since I had an “apprentice sorcerer” who was actually willing to listen to my advice, it’s nice to hear that I can still make sense.

        Sorry if I’m pedantic, but I have to correct you again. You wrote “clients are typically more concerned with cost than whether their CMS is custom or mainstream”, but this is wrong.
        Please, let me explain it a bit. All revolves around the old saying that “a customer doesn’t know what he wants, but he knows perfectly what he does not want”. What they need is something that they are happy with, whether it’s what they were asking initially (which might have been wrong) or not.

        Surprisingly enough, cost is almost never an issue, as long as you show them self-confidence and a clear understanding of their requirements. They have to *trust* you and feel that their money is well spent. Custom coding, Mainstream framework, Databases, WordPress, Drupal, CMS, they are just buzzwords. Replace them with “ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ”, it will sound the same to them. After all, have you ever seen an electrician inviting you to inspect his van and explaining you the technical details of each and every single tool and gadget?

        I can also answer a question that you might be asking yourself right now: how do you explain your customer the benefits of one or the other approach, if you can’t be technical? It’s simple, you have to take two steps:
        1- You don’t make comparisons. You understand the requirements, and you choose the tool. Don’t present options.
        2- Explain the advantages from an end user point of view.
        [With WordPress] you’ll be able to add news, press releases, pretty pictures any time you want. Cosmetic details are also easy to change [thanks to its theming system]; for example, we could also add your price list on the front page [by using a Widget that we’ll put in the sidebar]. Besides, writing content is easy, [as it includes a JavaScript WYSIWYG editor], it looks like Word! For a monthly fee I’ll take care of all the maintenance [such as backups, testing, bug fixing, and so on].

        That’s an extract of why WordPress could be a good solution for a customer who wants a brochure site. Now, take the text, remove everything between square brackets, and you’ll see that the benefits can be understood by anyone.

        I’ll close this second, eternal comment with an anecdote related to techies. Not long ago, I read a discussion about the reason why Marketing interns get hired, promoted and got raises more easily than IT interns. It all boiled down to communication skills.

        Example of typical interview question: “what are your responsibilities?”, here are the two answers:
        – IT intern: “I have to fix bugs in XYZ application, which was ported from classic ASP to ASP.NET. I’m currently spending the evenings refactoring some classes, as they are not performing well and violate encapsulation principles. I’m also responsible for reviewing the front-end, as all JavaScript is obsolete and could be replaced by jQuery.
        Although it’s not really my field of expertise, I’m checking if I can improve the SQL here and there, as current queries are often slow and it may be because of missing indexes”.

        Translation: “I’m managing the whole system single-handedly, with huge benefits for the company, but nobody seems to be noticing it”.

        – Marketing intern: “I’m responsible for delivering clear, reliable and up to date information about financial markets to the Manager and the CEO. It’s very demanding, as I often have to deliver them in a matter of minutes.”

        Translation: “I’m making photocopies all day long, but that’s a technical detail”.

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          Love that anecdote! I clearly need to work on how I talk around non-techies. Such a challenge to the ego though.

  11. I think you are missing the point of a CMS, let alone WordPress. It’s really about saving time and maximizing client budgets, while providing them a nice and friendly admin area to maintain their website.

    If we all built a custom CMS catering to each client, 95% of them could not afford it. Saying that programmers cannot code because they choose use a CMS is both ignorant and disrespectful.

  12. Disagree wholeheartedly. For more reasons than I have time to iterate. If this is what works for you, go for it.

    You like to take extreme positions, and make bold (nearly reckless), absolute statements, Martyn, with 100% conviction to make it seem like your voice it the ultimate authority. That’ll definitely garner some pageviews, but ultimately isn’t the best strategy in the long run.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I don’t see why it isn’t, Dustin.

      1. You have much to learn. People eventually get tired of the ego and hype. And most see right through it from the get go. Keep at it though, and you’ll eventually get it.

  13. Coming from one who knew how to design in CSS and HTML before WordPress, I have to disagree. Sergio put it well. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Don’t misrepresent that you are building it from scratch, but in my experience about 99% of your customers don’t care. They want efficiency and results. You don’t get that by building static HTML/CSS sites or by building a CMS from scratch.

  14. Hey bro.

    First up, love the controversial title and post. You have come a long way young Padiwan. 😉

    Secondly, I’ll agree and disagree. Having used WordPress for massive clients to do very custom stuff I can attest to the fact that it is flexible and powerful enough to suit pretty much every need I’ve come across.

    Hope to see some discussion on this one.


    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      WordPress is a great framework, there’s no question about it.

      But would it be capable of building (I built that). You could build an application like that within WordPress, but the code would have to be separate, and therefore independent, of WordPress.

      Thanks for weighing in man. Means a lot.

  15. Hey Martyn,
    Good to see your post. While I appreciate that you are learning programming and putting your heart into it, you will surely exposed to lots of concepts and will be in a better position to understand how things are actually made up of. A strong foundation in writing or understanding the code will give you incredible advantage when you want to quickly customize/develop a piece of module. So learn as much as you can.

    Having said this, my take on your take is, we can’t generalize that one should always build things from scratch to earn the love of customers. That’s not true in my opinion/expereince. If your clients are so knowledgeable that they want to read your source code and validate it against a validation checklist, then they are not your clients. They are your gurus :-)

    Even in object oriented programming, you don’t build things from srcatch. You will ‘reuse’ the objects which are already encapsulated with precoded functionailty. That’s how OOPS programming works. If you get a client who wants to read your source code and decide you are a great developer or not instead of testing the functionalities, then just dump him. He will be never satisfied. No two people can write the same functionalities in same way when it comes to coding :-)

    These are my two scents. And I am open to arguments (though I have close to 16 years expereince in this industry) :-)

    God bless you.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      You’ve brought up a really good point that I hadn’t thought about. We’re using other people’s code unless we’re writing binary.

  16. Hi Marty

    some great honesty here, kudos to you. I think I spend about 90% of my time redoing what other ” quick start-up, trying to make a quick buck, be the cheapest” organisations put out.
    Good thing when i started i actually didn’t know too much word press, so i had to learn html, css and a bit of Java on my own. No plugins or cut and past coding.

    When you learn this way its really tough at first and it takes at least about 2 years before your really comfortable, but its worth it. Now that i design websites in wordpress, I can really take it to pieces and customize it. Not just buy a theme, modify it a little and dump the content and hey presto.

    Good on you marty :)

  17. Christo

    I like the way Martyn writes, and the way he says what he’s thinking. But (and I suppose we can chalk up his brashness to his youth) he definitely has a lot to learn.

    No doubt he could code me under the table. It wouldn’t take much.

    But when it comes to dealing with customers who want web sites…doing that since 1995…I can assure you that customers do *not* care about the pristine and perfectly written code you say you will write for them.

    They only care about how the site will look…if the site will operate the way it’s supposed to…and how much it costs. (And if they’re brighter than average, they will also wonder about support).

    Coding? They don’t even know what it is. Half of them these days still ask about “How many hits will it get?” Ha ha ha.

    P.S. This has *got* to be the most interesting blog post (and comments) I have read in a long time. Great stuff….great site here….thanks, Martyn.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Thanks Christo! Glad you enjoyed the discussion.

  18. This was exactly the post and comments I was looking for! I’m currently deciding if I should purchase and modify a wordpress theme or build one from scratch for my portfolio redesign. I agree with both Sergio’s and Diego’s comments. I work with developers with over 20 years of experience, and the advice from the head developer when I asked this same question was: “If I’m marketing myself as a Company then I should build from scratch. But if I’m marketing myself as a contractor/independent designer, its ok to use a pre-made theme w/ modifications.

    Thanks for the excellent post Martyn!

  19. I think perhaps this article is a little confused. There are huge organisations investing money and other resources like time and expertise in deploying high-availability wordpress websites, just as those companies probably buy Microsoft or Apple Operating Systems and related software suites. “Rolling-your-own” to coin a phrase, is a great way to learn, and one I advocate to any who express an interest in technology. This is especially true of complex systems; However, I would not advise doing so in a live environment.

    I agree on the points that
    1. Businesses want web developers to be able to do their job (as such excuses like, wordpress doesn’t have a function for that are often extremely short-lived)
    2. WordPress Does a lot of heavy lifting for web developers
    3. There are a school of web developers that know only wordpress functions, basic css & html (possibly throw in the most rudimentary jQuery)
    4. WordPress does not show off a web-developers back-end capabilities

    I could also argue, that many programmers I know, lack any marketing experience, but to be fair a person only has enough room in a wardrobe for a certain amount of hats. This is what case-studies, specializations and reports are for; Highlighting technical facets to projects that show off the scalability of a solution, special measures and precautions and custom work-flows. Quite honestly I do not worry as a professional if someone would rather use another businesses or service because they go “the long way round”, the project may have the goal of being better targeted for the client business, however the slightest malfunction, hiccup or oversight could lead the project to disaster, or at least to taking more of my time. I think many of my clients would be more horrified that of two projects with similar goals, theirs was being billed at a higher hourly rate with the same functionality.

    As you probably guessed I do offer wordpress as one of my skills; I have “rolled-my-own” CMS’s in very specific circumstances, but I always point out the additional risks to a client, along with the benefits and costs of such a service. WordPress may be cumbersome, use more memory or have extraneous functionality, but at the end of the day it is stress tested over a wide-range of platforms and security holes are often quickly fixed, if I accidentally take on a larger project that I can handle, there would be scores of able developers out there doing the bits I hate, reducing my lead time. WordPress is not the only platform, just as PHP, HTML5, CSS & JavaScript are not the only technologies I use. Even when “rolling-my-own” I am often much more likely to build from a framework such as CakePHP or CodeIgniter, as they save time and allow me to focus on making a solid, polished product right off the bat. This is not an attack on you or your lecturer but more an alternative point of view from someone in industry, that also lectures in programming.

  20. I disagree also.

    While working at agency, as web developer, we realized, that working on your own code from scratch is just a waist of time. WP has a good code, flexible template engine and has EASY TO USE AND UNDERSTAND back-end for clients. And that is important, cause usually, content editing job from client side goes to people that have almost no idea about internet related topics – they are usually office stuff, so easy back-end is important.

    And saying that people that are using WP have just a tiny knowledge of php etc, is a generalization and probably an offend for most of them.

    I’m with computers as an every day tool from 1989. I saw a lot. I went through a lot… Writing a site from scratch is a challenge, a joy, and fun, but:
    – it takes time
    – it makes you work more expansive for client
    – it comes with a lot of shit like testing, etc.
    – security is also and issue…

    In today web-creation-design reality, you have to be able to build sites ready to use in days. Not weeks, months, but days. So using well tested, well designed engine is not a disgrace, it’s just logical, safe , sure and convenient.

    Everybody is using something. Company’s are using joomla, drupal, and wp too. There are companies that have their own “super power turbo boosted cms” – but none of them made it so efficient and well working as WP or other leading cms. And no client is willing to pay for “super power turbo boosted cms” as they can easily get well working, easy to maintain site from other once. And no company with “super power turbo boosted cms” had tested it with billions of users. That’s why i choose to work with easy to use for clients, well done software.
    Time is money.

    You said, that people know from php only wp functions. I agree, some of them does. But some knows more than that, and are still using wp, or joomla, etc. Why? Because there is no reason to write the same functionality from scratch.

    As a student, you have to show your skills. That’s good, for your learning progress. Real life is a bit different. 😉

    Sorry for my english, it might not be perfect, hope you don’t feel offended 😉

    Bartek. From Poland

  21. One more thing. As web-developer, if you have any idea about wp, you won’t look for ready to use wp themes. They are for end-users willing to build their site by themselves Writing a theme from scratch on wp takes one day. It’s that easy.

  22. While I agree with your conclusion (a custom build solution would be better) I STRONGLY disagree with your statement that I’m just a Graphic Designer because I “can’t expect to come across as a web design expert if [I’m] using WordPress to power [my] company’s web site”.

    I’m a web developer, I work with custom code, I can pull data from my databases using a CLI. I do not hide the fact that I use WordPress because I do not need to. Using it provides proof that the base software you use is good because it’s built and maintained by a collective of thousands of real developers who know what they are doing.

    Sure I could spend a few days and build a custom CMS for my own site but then why would I be selling tailor made WordPress sites if it wasn’t good enough for me to tailor and use myself? And why would a client trust me to use my own CMS on his site if there is no substantial proof that the software I’ve built is secure enough to handle his content, never mind his customer’s payment details? And you can’t expect to say to them ‘look at the source, it’s secure’ because if they could do that they wouldn’t need someone to build something for them, would they?

    You have been highly controversial with this post and to be honest it just comes across as you tooting your own horn about how what you’ve built is better than the software that I, and thousands of others, contribute to every day to improve. As a sole developer, or even a large agency, building a tailor made solution there is no way you could ever compete with the workflow of such a massive open source project.

    Fair enough there are a lot of features that you may never use, and most of them run in the background increasing the PHP execution time but a real developer knows how to pull out the code he doesn’t need (or simply perform a filter on it – something that is built directly into the core) to lower the response time.

    UX is very important, especially to a non-technical client. How user friendly is your admin dashboard in your own CMS? UX is something that is worked on by a team of experts day and night at WordPress and it’s one of the big selling points of the software. Looks like your solution requires clients to mess with ftp clients and update code themselves, do their own formatting and semantic markup. Do you expect inexperienced clients to do that?

    I mean there’s a couple of things I could call you out on here, for instance this very site (trashing WordPress) is build upon WordPress and it uses the fairly expensive Genesis Framework (a very bloated framework for a simple site like this). If this isn’t a bit of a double standard I don’t know what is.

    And your prices are extortionate! $1,400 for you basic package that should take you a 2 hour consultation and less than a day to build. $500 or $600 for that absolutely maximum. Of course if you can’t drum up the daily custom then you certainly need to charge more for the work you do.

  23. Hey Martyn

    Allow me to respectfully say that your wrong. I run a webdesign company here in Johannesburg South Africa, and most of our clients care very little about things like database and PHP and source code. 9 out of 10 clients are interested in 4 things: 1. will they make money from their site? 2. will it have the functions they want, 3. will they be able to update it on the fly? 4. Does it look good? and if wordpress can answer all those …. they are more than happy to pay $2000. At this point im possibly looking to hire a comp science grad to to make more customised sites, but for now wordpress is the “Holy Profitable Grail”.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Hi Edwin,

      Quick disclaimer: I wrote this article more than a year ago, and I’ve found myself changing over time. My Company web site is built in WordPress, as are most of the professional projects upon which I embark.

      Custom sites do have their place — I’m in the process of bidding one right now — but they should only be considered when the default WordPress functionality and scalability can no longer support the client’s interests.

  24. It appears that Perfection Coding is built using WordPress… That’s according to the page source.

  25. Yep I disagree with the author as well. Sounds like you’ve learnt a lot since writing the article though.

    I’m a lead web designer and developer for an Australia marketing company. I use WordPress everyday. Have roughly 30 sites live using it these days. I’m yet to find a place where it struggles with scalability. I have e-commerce sites with thousands of products running better than other systems with less server resources that are apparently “more powerful”. Guess that depends on your definition of those words. I also have it running a prominent medical blog using a decent server, full res image galleries (up to 8MB and image) and it is faster than another static HTML site I’ve built.

    Pretty hard to beat really. Why reinvent the wheel every time if there’s a perfectly good one ready to go?

  26. Paul

    I agree and disagree with the article. WordPress shouldn’t be trashed (if you are using it for yourself or clients), but it also shouldn’t be the only tool. WordPress is great for smaller clients who simply can’t afford a full custom development (or don’t need one). It’s also good for running smaller e-commerce stores. However, there are so called ‘Web Developers’ out there solely using WordPress, and they just install and go (perhaps a bit more).
    I love using WordPress for smaller sites as I love designing sites and developing the front-end (I’m a Web Designer, not a developer), and it has it’s place, a long with other open-source CMSs.

    However, if I got that 6 figure client – I wouldn’t put their site on WordPress, they would need some serious development.

    Also, I’m keen to keep learning new skills, and if you’re an agency, you need skilled developers and to be able to offer more than just a WordPress site, and I think that’s what this article is about, in which case, I agree with it.

    It’s also encouraged me to build my own custom MySQL Database – something on my to do list for a while!