Client education is all in a day’s work for web developers and designers; often, it’s part of the pitching process.
Some clients don’t care how we build their sites, as long as we build them well. Others, however, know just enough to be dangerous – they want the details and are skeptical of WordPress. Worse yet, some think less of developers who use WordPress.
As WordPress professionals, we know why our favorite CMS works for so many projects; however, we internalize so much knowledge in our day-to-day work that it can be difficult to communicate why we feel what we feel. With that in mind, here are nine objections to WordPress an uninformed client might raise, along with the information you need to counter them.
Objection 1: Isn’t WordPress Just for Blogs?
You may be confusing WordPress (the open-source software package, found at WordPress.org) with WordPress.com. The former is a fully-fledged software package while the latter is a service that hosts personal websites in much the same way as Blogger, Tumblr and other such managed offerings.
WordPress began as a personal publishing system back in 2001, but by 2008 or so had evolved into a complete content management system.
It’s installed on your own server (or that of your hosting service). You own everything that’s created there and have full, unlimited creative freedom.
Furthermore, WordPress is built using widely used, fully tested programming languages including PHP and SQL, and can accomplish just about any task asked of a website. It’s eminently extensible with a vast and growing library of plugins – around 40,000 in the WordPress repository alone! Many plugins are free, which means you can get the site you want faster and at a lower cost than if it were hand-coded from scratch.
You’re not limited to preexisting ‘themes’ (i.e. designs) either. Developers often use these merely as starting points so that they can create unique designs without having to reinvent the proverbial wheel.
Objection 2: WordPress Is Just for Personal Sites and Small Businesses, Right?
WordPress is used by some of the most widely recognized brands in the world such as CNN, CBS New York, Harvard Business Review, Boise State University, New York Times, Dole, Glad, Mercedes-Benz and Vogue. Boom.
Think of it this way: If WordPress is good enough for the Library of Congress, government sites in the U.S. and Great Britain, and the U.S. military, it’s probably robust enough for your needs, too.
As of August 2015, WordPress powers nearly one in four sites on the Web – and of all sites that use a CMS, WordPress is the choice of more than 80%. In 2014, WordPress remained the fastest-growing CMS for the fifth year straight.
Objection 3: Won’t WordPress Negatively Affect SEO?
On the contrary, WordPress is an SEO powerhouse coded to be SEO-friendly “right out of the box.” It supports a wide variety of plugins that help developers fine-tune every aspect of SEO.
Google’s latest algorithm puts fresh, original content in the spotlight – and at the top of search result pages. WordPress makes adding content easy for you and your staff, if you’d like to do it on your own.
Objection 4: I’ve Heard That WordPress is “Responsive.” I Don’t Know/Care About That.
You should! A “responsive site” means that it’s built to perform well across all devices used to access the Web. Think you need a site that looks good only on desktop computers? Think again. More people now access the Web on mobile devices than on desktops.
Responsive sites are better for SEO. Google’s latest ranking methodology gives props to sites that perform well on mobile devices. You reach more people on more devices, and score higher in Google searches, thus adding reach and credibility to your brand.
WordPress helps with all this by supporting responsive themes – and if a given theme is not mobile-friendly, WordPress enables developers to change that without trashing the site. Like a boss.
Slightly exasperated WordPresser
Objection 5: WordPress Isn’t Secure!
The company behind WordPress, Automattic, employs a security team consisting of 25+ experts whose only job is to make sure the WordPress core is safe from attacks such as injections, viruses, etc. They even have a Security Czar, Nikolay Bachiyski, who really knows his stuff.
Objection 6: A Software Package This Good Can’t Possibly Be Free. What’s the Catch?
There isn’t any. Really. WordPress (and its updates) are open-source, which means you are free to use the software any way you like. And unlike sites hosted on WordPress.com, you have complete creative and functional freedom. If it can be coded, it’s okay to do.
A worldwide team of developers is constantly improving and rigorously testing WordPress. Some are employees of Automattic (the company behind WordPress), while others do it simply to contribute to the very active, supportive WordPress community. Updates are released regularly at no charge whatsoever.
The WordPress software package is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), meaning that anyone can use, copy and distribute the software itself. (Don’t worry: You have full copyright to the styling and content you add.)
Objection 7: So If It’s Coded and Maintained by a Bunch of Volunteers and Some Employees, How Good Can It Really Be?
The WordPress community comprises top-notch coders, testers and other contributors. Unlike software that’s marketed by a single company and developed and maintained by a single team, WordPress has thousands of talented, dedicated folks behind it. Updates, fixes and improvements come at a steady pace.
WordPress meets all guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium, an international community that aims to develop across-the-Web standards for coding.
WordPress also follows best practices as laid out by Google, Bing and Yahoo.
It works in all modern browsers. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and other browsers (particularly Internet Explorer) have their individual quirks, which websites coded “by hand” must address. That means more time (and therefore more money) is required to cover the reworking and testing needed to make sure your website displays properly no matter what browser a visitor uses. On the other hand, browser compatibility is baked right into WordPress. Sure, if your developer makes extensive changes and customizations, he’ll need to make sure those changes work across all browsers.
Objection 8: You ‘Specialize’ in WordPress Development, So It Will Cost Me More, Won’t It?
Quite the opposite in fact.
WordPress gives a developer all the basics, so he doesn’t have to create them anew each time, and it’s ready to be customized to your liking.
If you’re the least bit computer-savvy, you can add and style posts easily without paying for a developer’s time. And if a developer goes AWOL, another can pick up where she left off.
Not bad, eh?
Slightly jaded WordPresser
Objection 9: Real Developers Hand-Code.
Long story short, the skillsets of WordPress and traditional developers complement and overlap each other, and WordPress developers are no less professional than any others. The difference? The latter don’t start every project with a blank screen. Instead, they begin with tested, proven, widely used and well-coded framework that’s already done a lot of the heavy lifting.
Sounds smart, doesn’t it?
Use These Tools to Keep Frequently Used Responses Handy
As anyone who works on or with the Web (or anywhere, for that matter!) knows, the right tool for the job can make an enormous difference in productivity and convenience. In true WordPress fashion, stop writing the same things over and over again; instead, use these tools to find the snippet you need quickly and simply cut and paste into an email.
- Evernote. Create a notebook titled “Client Response Snippets” or something else you’ll recognize easily. Then, create a note for each of the nine points above and paste the responses into the relevant notes. Don’t forget to tag your notes to make retrieval easy.
- WeeNudge.com. This collection of snippets isn’t specific to WordPress, but they can be very useful when explaining general design concepts and strategies to clients.
- Use a plugin such as WordPress Notes, which enables you to add your snippets right on the WordPress Dashboard for quick access. Check out the WordPress repository for many more.
Send Still-Skeptical Clients to Reliable Sources of More Information
If your client is still unconvinced, here are a few links to send him:
- WordPress.org’s showcase, where your client will find many recognizable brands
- 35 Reasons a WordPress Site Is Better Than a Traditional Site
- 14 Surprising Statistics About WordPress Usage
- WordPress Market Usage Statistics
- How WordPress makes money
Unfortunately, WordPress is still sometimes vastly misunderstood. As with most problems, information is your best ally. When your client thinks that WordPress is a word-processing program, use this cheat sheet to tell him about its versatility, wide usage by brand heavyweights, SEO friendliness, security, technical excellence and value…or simply share this article 😉
Have your clients ever balked at the idea of using WordPress for their sites? How did you handle it? Tell us in the comments below!
Image credit: Max Griboedov/shutterstock.com