Terry and Clarence Low, Bits ‘N’ Bytes: WordPress has its upsides and downsides

Q I’ve heard that WordPress is a very popular web tool for building websites. What are the pros and cons?

A WordPress is indeed a very popular tool for building websites and blogs and as a Content Management System (CMS). At last count some 75 million sites worldwide use the free platform with its open source structure that allows users to save time by using code that is already written. Additionally, WordPress is incredibly easy to use — there’s no complicated programming to learn and practically anyone can get a site up and running quickly and efficiently.

Additionally, WordPress can be easily installed on a hosting server of your choice, it’s search engine optimized-friendly (for good rankings and results from Google queries), there are lots of plug-ins that allow users to customize their pages in creative ways and, most importantly, the administrator interface is incredibly convenient and intuitive, ideal for those who aren’t tech experts. And of course, the basic version of the platform is free, and users can upgrade to a more advanced version for relatively cheap.

On the downside, because it’s open source, it’s easy for hackers to find security holes and corrupt your site. Therefore, it’s critical to constantly update your system to close those gaps in security that constantly appear — the aforementioned plug-ins are particularly vulnerable. Also, it’s really designed for smaller websites, so if someone wants to embark on a huge e-tail project, the options for expansion are limited. Many users lament the fact that, due to the limited design options, many WordPress sites tend to look too similar; the speed of the site, including page-loading times, are slower because of all the generic code inherent in the platform; and, unlike custom-built sites, WordPress pages don’t afford complete copyright protection for all the concepts and ideas you post.

Q Is buying computer software a thing of the past now that applications are moving to the cloud on a subscription basis?

A There’s been a major shift in how we use software and especially in how we pay for it. And this shift is happening now thanks to the advent of cloud computing.

When you purchase software in the traditional manner, you install the program onto your computer and get a perpetual license, meaning it lives on your system and belongs to you forever. And if problems arise with the software such as security holes or glitches the software company will often offer free patches and updates as well as deals on upgrades when they release a new version. However, with this option all the data stored within the program is contained on your local network, meaning it’s susceptible to corruption or loss and you need to back it up yourself on a regular basis. Also, if the program fails, plan on needing a tech specialist to fix the problem.

Cloud subscription pricing, on the other hand, usually work on a pay-per-user fee on a monthly or yearly basis. The software is delivered over the Internet and doesn’t live on your hard drive, and this option sometimes comes with a free trial version. Utilizing software in this manner is akin to renting or leasing: you can stop using it when you want and your payments will cease. Additionally, your data, like the software itself, is automatically backed up on the cloud, so even if your network crashes you won’t lose all your hard work. And lastly, all IT services are on the cloud as well, so it’s easier to get help with the software if you’re having problems.

In general, most tech experts agree that the days of installing a hard copy — such as a physical CD — of a program onto your hard drive are coming to an end. But the option will likely be available for at least the near future as many people just aren’t ready to allow their software and data to exist only in the virtual world. And in terms of bottom line cost, paying a monthly or yearly fee for a cloud-based program will probably cost more than buying the software outright.

The bottom line

On a straight cost basis, pay-per-user monthly cloud services currently turn out to be generally more expensive than conventional software ownership. This is especially the case when nonprofits and libraries can get TechSoup on-premises software donations. Cloud services may tend to save money in overall IT costs in the amount of tech support and maintenance they require. In other words, they may cost more per month, but save money in the number of IT staffing hours you need. In any case, interesting times are ahead on this.

Terry and Clarence Low are co-founders of Byte Technology, a web design firm serving nonprofits. Their personal technology column appears on alternating Saturdays. Read more news on their blog at www.byte-technology.com/blog. Send questions to tlow@byte-technology.com, or write to Bits ‘N’ Bytes, 400 Camino El Estero, Monterey 93940. Reach the author at tlow@byte-technology.com.

Article source: http://www.montereyherald.com/opinion/20151002/terry-and-clarence-low-bits-n-bytes-wordpress-has-its-upsides-and-downsides

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