Developers · MVP Development

How far can you go with Wordpress?

Austin Johnson Free Agent - AustinJohnson.me

Last updated on August 9th, 2017

If you are building a web based application, how far can you go with Wordpress?


The platform appears to be strong choice for quickly developing ideas into clickable concepts, and creating low cost MVPs.


However, at what point in a business' maturation does a Wordpress based application accumulate significant technical debt and require redevelopment in a more scalable stack?

K. Robbins Head Moose at Moose WorldWide Digital

August 9th, 2017

You can haul an entire house in a VW Bus if you make a lot of trips, but do you want to?


We've developed plenty of Word Press sites with excess of 100 unique pages.


WordPress excels at rapid development, as it's a simple framework. There are thousands of plug-ins that allow junior developers to do amazing things. There are several really slick page builders that let non developers create beautiful pages. You can buy a theme that has all the creative elements you need for $50.


But for all that flexibility, you pay a price:


Pages are database heavy. In other words, a single page may require multiple trips to the database. There are some plugins that are horribly written, and will make ten, twenty queries on every page load.


If you use a page builder, the bigger the page gets, the slower it loads.


If you go plugin happy, and you don't know what you're doing, it's not that hard to create a huge mess, where the plug-ins are actually waging war with each other under the covers, resulting in a quirky, unstable site.


WordPress is like Windows - It's very popular, and a result is a huge hacker target. Apply updates or get hacked.


So if you want fast/cheap/easy go WordPress. If you want high performance, scalable, and elegant look at an ORM framework such as Laravel. If you want to land in the middle look at Drupal.


There are thousands of fringe CMS systems that are really good, but if it's on the fringe will there be a developer to work on it in two years?


Hope this helps.

Shrihari Prabhakar

August 9th, 2017

I think it all depends on how things are running and scaling. I have managed a project which was built on wordpress as MVP and for a Non Banking Financial Company and it was scale to around 5k transactions a month and had around 7 plugins. It took 4 people to build it and later 3 people to maintain it.


Whereas another one which was an e-learning module could not progress much further than the basic MVP because of the constant business requirement changes and stuff which required plugin changes and code, theme changes ( though it was also the team that was working on it was changed and the new resources were interested to work on JS framework. So it is not really a problem until the internal and external factors play in to make your strategic change. Because wordpress itself can easily scale and the community also is very matured. :)

Chris Hill Global Marketing Leader and General Manager - Mobile and Wireless

August 9th, 2017

That would really depend on what you are trying to achieve with your website. At my last company, we had two websites. Both started as Wordpress sites. We used one as a landing page to describe our mobile app and send users off to the app stores to download it. We kept that on Wordpress for years and never moved off the platform. Our main corporate site was used to inform biz customers, distribute b2b content, and move potential customers through a digital process to get them to buy. Wordpress worked well in the early years but as we got more sophisticated in our lead generation and qualification, we needed to port to a platform that would better support integrated marketing automation technology (we used Hubspot).

Ashwajit Patil Founder of Imperial Services Group

August 9th, 2017

Hi Austin,


As you know that you can quickly put your thoughts into production with the help of WordPress. Every technology has its own merits and demerits, decision always depends on the what is your objective.


Merits:

1) Quick and easy to implement.

2) Cost effective.

3) Easy to create a good UI


Demerits:

1) If you want to implement a unique functionality then you might not get it in WP.

2) Ease to hack but, with minor tweak you can get control of it.


In terms of data scalability there is no limit as such, it will depend on which database you are using.


To answer you question "How far we can go with WP", one can go as far he/she wants, only problem is when you dont get the desire functionality in the WP theme or in Plugin.


I can suggest you can go-ahead with the WP for start, which will lower your initial investment and if you are getting the desire results for your idea then invest the money you are making using the initial WP site.


If you have any specific query/doubts regarding the WP do let me know.


Regards,


Ash

Paul Adams Design Technologist at frog

August 10th, 2017

Wordpress as a CMS does one thing well, it manages your content, what it sucks at is the UI layer, we use wordpress CMS as our data store to manage content, empower editors with an intuitive UI that they are use to, and render that content using the restapi

Johan Janssens Innovator.Developer.Speaker.Advisor

August 13th, 2017

Hello Austin,


"web based application" is a very broad term. It applies to about anything and everything that runs on the web. Happy to try and answer your question but could you be more specific about what kind of problem your business is trying to solve through a web app?


Thanks!


Johan

João Correia

August 15th, 2017

I've seen $50m/year e-commerce business running on wordpress. They had three full-time developers dedicated to maintaining it.


If you are thinking of applications I would give a look at MVC platforms like Symfony and Ruby on Rails.

Alex H Always tinkering, always building.

Last updated on August 16th, 2017

The answer to your question really comes down to what functionality you require. Comparing Wordpress to a web app built upon a custom, deliberately chosen tech stack is a little like comparing a car off the lot to a factory that could churn out any kind of vehicle. Wordpress does what it does, is what it is. You can upgrade - add stock or custom plugins, hardcode plugins, dive in the PHP and do, well, anything PHP can do, pretty much. But if you need do anything complex or sophisticated off the bat, you'd be getting into programming that flies above the sandbox of Wordpress anyway. It wouldn't make much sense to tether yourself to Wordpress in that case.


As for technical debt, it's quite easy to figure out if Wordpress is scalable enough relative to the functionality you need. For example, if you were to need a better way to store and serve tons of e-commerce images, that's easily conquered. But if you were to want to expand the functionality of say, a social media/membership plugin that you're using, you might get into tricky territory. What Wordpress does well and best can be scaled pretty effectively. But if you're going into the territory of what it doesn't quite do, or isn't generally intended to do, and you need to scale that, it might not be too easy.


All of this said, for what Wordpress is, it's powerful. If the functionality you need initially is within the realm of Wordpress, and if you can pivot to a different tech stack/redevelop in the future if need be, then I wouldn't hesitate to use it, or at least try it out. Seeing as it's so easy to use, you can figure out if it has what you need quite quickly.


Kathy Keating Techie that loves solving wicked problems

August 9th, 2017

I know several companies that have Wordpress at their core for managing all the content portions (public and private) of their web application. I know a few others that use Wordpress as their full platform simply because their product revolves around content and Wordpress' user, categorization and security model works for them.


There comes a point at which the plugin concept for creating custom content might get into the way. But as you said, its a great way to build a content-focused MVP really quickly. If your product isn't content focused, then it seems more trouble than it's worth.

Dom DaFonte I build products and see if they stick.

August 9th, 2017

If you are building a blog then Wordpress is great . If you are building a blog to explain what your future application will do and share wireframes of the look and feel then Wordpress can also help.


However, Wordpress isn't a framework to develop an application. I'd recommend some sort of wire framing tool or platform to show what it would look like, or to hire a developer to create your base data model and initial forms / screens.