Even if you are not a seasoned Web Designer you have probably heard of WordPress. It is, first and foremost, a Content Management System (CMS) that you can build your website with. It has an integrated designer, so the entire site can be built from within WordPress.
WordPress is a bit of a two-edge sword in the web design world. There are many pros and many cons to using it for your site or your project. There are some projects where it is the perfect tool, whereas many others that it can easily become a nightmare. But lets start with the ""pros"" of WordPress.
I have "free" in quotes because using the basic features of WordPress is free. This is a huge draw to many people, and rightfully so!
This is probably the best thing about WordPress in our minds. You can pretty much add almost any functionality you can think of to your site through adding in various plugins. From beautiful photo galleries to complicated booking and appointment features, the possibilities are endless with what you can add to your website! All of these require no coding or development to add into your site so a site can "usually" be developed pretty fast, even with amazing functionality.
Because WordPress is so widely used, it isn't hard to find resources to help you learn how to do things with WordPress or companies/developers to do it for you. Many developers work exclusively with WordPress, and many developers only write plug-ins for WordPress. This helps you to know that you will not only be able to find what you need for your WordPress Site, but WordPress will be around for quite some time and it will continue to be developed well into the future!
Even though WordPress itself is free, plugins that are of good value usually have a fee associated with them. More often than not, this fee is usually a monthly or yearly subscription. This ensures that the plugins get updated and stay in development (which is a great thing), but the costs can add up significantly. Lets say you have a WordPress Site that uses 5 plugins (a Gallery, A Security Plugin, An Designer Plugin, and a Member Forum). If each has a yearly fee of $60, you are looking at $300/year for your WordPress Site - not counting hosting or domain! This can add up. Many WordPress Sites can use 10+ Plugins! Not to mention, for the best "WordPress Site Speed" you would probably want to go with a hosting account that is specially designed for WordPress Sites - these are often much more than standard shared hosting (which will work with WordPress, but might not give you the desired speed), now your overall cost has just increased!
Since so many people use WordPress for their sites, the nefarious among us who try to hack sites for their own amusement usually target WordPress Sites. Because of this, you will likely want to have a service that monitors and protects your WordPress Site on top of any security plugins. They will fix your site if it is hacked and will also do backups of the site itself. These services range in price (some are monthly, others are yearly). On the low end, you would probably want to figure in $300/year for this service.
Because of the constant development, and especially due to the constant security risks, WordPress is constantly getting updates. This is a good thing, but it does require you to go in and constantly update your site from within WordPress and check to make sure everything is working well. Yes, you can set it to auto-update, but you want to be sure you still take the time to check your site after each update. Why? see the next Con below!
Another "Pro" can easily turn into a "Con"! The plugins, which are a great strength of WordPress, need to also work with each other and with the version of WordPress you are running. Since each plugin is created by a different developer, you are at their mercy when they get updated and if they will play nicely with all the other plugins you have added to your site. This has the potential for a variety of scenarios that can end up breaking a site (all of these happen more often than you think!):
In most of these cases, you might not know the underlying "cause" why your site has broken (no longer displays) or why something isn't working. You usually have to disable your plugins one at a time until you can find the culprit. Once you do, you then have to find a suitable replacement or lose the functionality that the plugin provided.
Many people who don't know much about web design figure they will build their own site themselves to save money and decide they will try to do it in WordPress since, "that is what people use". Only then do they realize how confusing and complicated WordPress can be to set up if you are unfamiliar with it.
Even if you have the site developed for you in WordPress, to do content updates to your site can be very confusing. It usually isn't super easy to navigate and update what you want to update, and it is fairly easy to mess things ups. Many people who get frustrated with computer things "give up" on updating their WordPress Sites.
This really depends on your project, budget, and mentality. If your project is a pretty standard site with basic-common features, than it probably would be wise to avoid WordPress. There are plenty of other options out there (we usually use a CMS called PowerCMS for our clients that is very user friendly and straight forward - even for those that aren't computer people!). For most of our clients we also hand code the site, instead of using WordPress and a "Theme" for their design. This also gives us maximum control on how the site will look. We also use a variety of modules to add in functionality at a very reasonable one-time cost - which saves a lot of money over custom coding in functionality or using WordPress with plugins that have a monthly or yearly fee.
If you have a more complex project that requires a lot of functionality, it might be cheaper (especially at first) to have your site built in WordPress so you can leverage some amazing plugins and the functionality they offer. This would be a lot cheaper than hiring a developer to create or code in the same type of functionality. Just be prepared for the ongoing costs of updating the plugins!