Clutch spoke with Hans Skillrud, the Founder of StickOutSocial, about WordPress and what people should consider when choosing a CMS. Learn more about StickOutSocial on their Clutch profile or at stickoutsocial.com.
Introduce your business and what you do there.
StickOutSocial is a web design & support firm. We partner with marketing companies, servicing their clients, as well as manage our own direct clients. I am the Founder.
When someone plans to create a new site for their company, what should people consider when choosing a platform?
I think they need to understand that they are going to a third party for their expertise. If you’re a company looking to choose the right platform, I think a better question is, ‘Who’s the right partner to guide you in making that decision?’ Clients often don’t know what they actually need. It’s a professional’s job to identify what they actually need. I think clients are almost fundamentally making a mistake by saying, ‘I want this,’ without having an in-depth understanding of it.
When a client comes to you for one of these projects, what is usually the challenge or goal they’re looking to address?
Typically, clients want more business. They either dislike their current website, or they truly are goal-focused on generating new business. From there, we ask a lot of questions to understand their true needs.
The biggest goal they’re trying to address is, ‘How can we generate more business?’ From there, assuming it’s not an application that they need to develop that business, we generally find ourselves having a conversation about the benefits of the WordPress CMS and how it gives the ability to make change a very easy possibility, even for a non-coder.
Looking at WordPress specifically, is there anyone you think would be an ideal client for the platform? Is there anyone you think should avoid WordPress?
I think businesses with very small budgets should avoid it. Businesses that are going to be hiring a professional firm to develop their WordPress is a good move. Typically, with smaller budgets, you might be interested in cutting corners and getting the lowest deal possible or doing it yourself. With WordPress being open-source by nature, I don’t believe that’s the best move. There are too many security issues that could come up without their knowledge. There’s too much ongoing effort needed. I think WordPress should be set up by a third-party professional who’s experienced in it. Companies may have the desire to add content on their own in the future which is great, or would like to have that third party provide that with quick turnarounds.
I don’t think it’s a good fit for very small businesses. Wix or Squarespace can benefit those companies, but that goes into a whole separate conversation. Small or mid-sized businesses would probably be the best fit for WordPress.
What do potential clients need to think about in terms of cost?
WordPress specifically is an open-source CMS by nature. This means features and content can easily be added. This also means it involves databases and logging in to edit content. That’s a hacker’s dream. That’s what hackers look for. So, with WordPress, there has to be an ongoing understanding that some general maintenance and security monitoring must be done. The conversation seems like it’s very CMS-based, and each CMS fundamentally means that there’s a login and password for a non-coder to do stuff.
I feel that security is probably a conversation for any one of these CMS’s. When you get into more of the do-it-yourself CMS systems, like Wix and Squarespace, you don’t need to concern yourself so much with the ongoing security efforts, because they take care of that. It should be understood that WordPress, and I assume all other CMS systems, are making ongoing, conscious efforts to improve the security of the system in and out, better and better. A year from now, we may find ourselves able to say that WordPress is as good as it gets in terms of security. Not that it’s impenetrable, but it’s really good.
Are there any limits to optimizing a WordPress site for SEO?
Almost always, we advise clients to use Yoast. This is a plugin you add onto your site which gives suggestions, as you create content, how to structure correctly to get the exposure you desire. SEO isn’t for everyone. There are a lot of companies that have a brand-new, revolutionary product idea. I ask them, ‘Why would someone be searching that on a search engine?’ That may not be the best case to showcase a brand-new idea. However, for a lawyer in Chicago, SEO should be a conversation.
WordPress, by nature, is structured to be very SEO friendly. They cover a lot of the basics, but then the Yoast tool really adds in the rest of it, in terms of getting your website set up correctly. That being said, sitting on a server is also a big part of having a good functioning WordPress site, or any good site. The better your server is, the faster your website loads. There are various other factors, but that’s a big part of it. Page load speeds definitely affect your SEO score with search engines.
Is there any specific aspect or feature you think is very impressive?
I would say it’s the community of contributors to the WordPress CMS. I think 30% of all websites are WordPress based. That’s why I love it. It is the most popular CMS by far, and it’s open-source. To me, that is a perfect recipe for innovation to occur and be shared with others. When a company has needs that go outside of what WordPress offers when you install it and set it up, we find ourselves more and more being able to offer solutions to client needs at less cost because of how open the community is with sharing information and available functionalities. I have yet to find a CMS system that is as extensive in providing that after-market service, performance enhancers and plugins for additional functionality. The access to information is the best, bar none, for WordPress.
Are there any limitations or drawbacks to using WordPress as a platform?
I would say that it’s a low barrier to entry, and that can cause issues. I think that’s why WordPress sometimes gets a bad name for itself. It is so easy to set up a website. Some people set it up, and they don’t really know what corners they’re even cutting, but they are, and they’re creating risk for their users. That’s definitely a con to WordPress. The barrier to entry is so low to create a website, and it is still on you to do the hosting and oversee it all. There’s more security risk.
The second thing would be that, if you’re really looking for a customized application that is very unique to your business and isn’t available elsewhere, WordPress might not be a good solution for you. Integrations that are super-unique to your business, or integrations to your own server, that’s where WordPress might not be as good of a fit, where custom application development might be.
That being said, the founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, gave his ‘State of the Word’ for 2016, which is a two-hour video. In that video, he was discussing the fact that WordPress is making actual efforts to improve their ability to develop applications on top of the CMS. The REST API is something they’re very excited about and will give developers a better tool to create applications on top of WordPress. Is that functionality there today? It actually is there. They did launch the REST API, but it’s at its infancy stage of what it can become in the future.
How would you rate WordPress for the functionality of features?
For ease of use and implementation?
For support and responsiveness of the community and resources?
How likely are you to recommend it to a client?
What is your overall satisfaction using WordPress?