The pros and cons of pitching WordPress

The pros and cons of pitching WordPress

Ashley Gainer's Layout avatar

Let’s say you’ve got a client who needs a website, and you’re putting together the pitch. You’ve listened to their needs, and you’ve got a great solution that involves building a site on WordPress.

Pitching WordPress can be tricky. Folks have their preconceptions, whether they’re based on current information or not. Here are some of the pros and cons to pitching WordPress, as well as how to overcome those pesky cons.

Pros of pitching WordPress

september-6

  • It’s comfortable. It’s fast to implement, easy to navigate, and (I’m guessing) familiar to you at this point in your career. You know how to get done what you need done, so you can work your way around it efficiently.
  • It’s easy to learn. It’s got a user-friendly interface that makes self-managed content feasible, even for the folks who aren’t so familiar with the interwebs. (Pro tip: if you’re going to talk about how WordPress makes it easy for the client to manage the content, be sure the client plans to manage the content. It’s entirely possible they might want to hire you for ongoing maintenance work. Make no assumptions!)
  • It can do a lot, and it’ll keep doing more. When you factor in all the available themes and plugins, WordPress is quite robust and can meet the needs of the vast majority of websites out there. And because it’s all open source, it’s getting more robust as time passes.
  • The community is large and supportive. Because it’s some of the most widely used software out there, there’s a whole host of support available to you in the form of tutorials, videos, forums, and experts.

Want to get more involved in the WordPress community? Start with the guide. It’s easy, we promise!

As a designer already familiar with WordPress, it’s to your benefit to make the platform attractive to your client. You can finish projects faster and command a better hourly rate, and clients can easily learn to manage their own content. In short, WordPress is ubiquitous for good reasons.

Cons of pitching WordPress

A36543_009

  • Its reputation got a little tarnished. Fortunately with each new software update, the security gaps inherent in its PHP code have become smaller and smaller. At this point, the vast majority of the issues have been resolved, though its reputation still has some room for improvement with those who aren’t so plugged in.
  • There are frequent core updates. These can sometimes lead to trouble with plugins, not to mention the possible irritation of updating so frequently.
  • Plugins can be unpredictable. And because they’re open source as well, you’re tapping into a potentially unknown universe each time you add a new one. It’s always possible that a plugin will have code written into it that gives more access than you’d like to the rest of the site’s code.
  • Its permissions and security settings have limitations. The WordPress software doesn’t let you get to the granular level when it comes to these settings. There are ways to get highly customized security settings, but these involve more plugins, which might be counterintuitive. Other CMSes do allow for these highly customized settings.
  • It’s not the greatest (yet) at eCommerce. But it’s getting there! Some new themes and integrations lately have made that much easier to set up.
  • It’s meant for small-content websites. There’s no out-of-the-box solution for large sites, so loading speed and traffic management can sometimes be problematic for the occasional spikes.

Security concerns, plugin inconsistencies, and a client’s preconceived ideas about WordPress can all work against you if you’re trying to plan a new site. But there’s one more drawback to pitching WordPress that you absolutely must overcome if you’re going to win over your client.

How to overcome the biggest con of pitching WordPress

idaho-133

If you’re pitching WordPress, you’re pitching a technology. And that’s not what you need to be pitching.

When a client is looking for a designer for their site, they aren’t looking for a cutting-edge theme with custom modifications and smooth integration with opt-ins and landing page templates. What they’re really looking for is the solution to an important problem for their business.

So when you’re propping up WordPress as the solution, you aren’t really addressing their issue. Plus, you risk bumping up against their preconceived notions, which could work against you unnecessarily. Instead, you need to focus on YOU and your unique value to this client. You’ve got a clear understanding of the issue they’re facing, you’ve worked out a solution, and you need to show how your design will solve their problem.

When you focus on the technology instead of your solutions, you’re taking some unnecessary risks, and you overlook the very thing they’ve come to you for: a solution. Instead of pitching the how, focus on the what. Impress them with the end result and don’t even get into the specifics of how you’ll build it. Ultimately, if you’ve got the solution that meets the client’s needs in the way the client wants them met, the technology won’t even matter.

Now that you’ve pitched WordPress, you need to pitch your design. Follow these tips!

Comments ( 8 )

  1. Heather Wood

    November 12, 2014

    As a Pro, I like to boast about other companies that use Wordpress such as Martha stewart, the new york times, and the wall street journal. that seems to build some confidence if your clients seem to have some negativity about it.

  2. Amanda Wray

    November 12, 2014

    Wordpress was a slam-dunk sell for a recent restaurant client because I was able to find a fully supported plugin for their current payment system, Mercury, that didn't cost us anything, and enabled all purchases to be logged right into their system, thereby eliminating any need to for their bookkeeper to do extra work. Combined with Woo Commerce and Gravity forms, we were able to give them a very suitable and attractive online menu ordering system.

    • Michael R. Murphy

      January 1, 2015

      Amanda, I think even in this case, the value you sold and provided wasn't WordPress. It was a solution that "enabled all purchases to be logged right into their system, thereby eliminating any need to for their bookkeeper to do extra work." That sounds like a solution that saves their bookkeeper time (time=money). That solution also just happened to be built using WordPress.

    • Edward

      April 11, 2015

      Amanda. That's great! You just gave me a great idea for a client.

  3. Bill Hipsher

    November 12, 2014

    Great article Ashley & Flywheel team. Something we run into all the time. There are pros and cons but for budget minded clients who want to manage a lot themselves and need room to grow in the future WordPress is increasingly one of the better values.

    • Rick

      November 17, 2014

      Thanks for the comment Bill! WordPress really has been a game-changer for a lot of agencies. We love watching you guys from afar. Congrats on all of the success!

  4. Kirk Bowman

    November 13, 2014

    I would respectfully suggest stop selling WordPress. The technology should not matter. What is important is the value (results) the customer will achieve. If you focus on the value, you can have better conversations and retain the customers you really want to serve.

    • Rick

      November 17, 2014

      Kirk,

      You have a very good point. In every pitch it is best to sell the what not the how. Your clients shouldn't be too concerned with what technology produces the desired result.

      However, often times you run into issues with site hand-off concerns, clients demanding certain CMS frameworks, etc which makes it's very hard to avoid the technology questions. At which point, being able to sell what platform sets your client up for the future is a good skill to have. It gets you out of the pitches and back to building faster. That said, selling the value of a well designed website is just as important.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion!

      Rick

    • Mike

      October 14, 2015

      Wordpress is the best, I don't care what anyone says. Other than the occasional security breach, it is a solid and versatile platform.

  5. Filipe Varela

    November 14, 2014

    “It’s meant for small-content websites.” — not true at all. WordPress.com VIP has some of the biggest clients on the world, running some pretty hefty and complex sites.

    WordPress, at its core, is highly scalable. Usually, the problem you describe, has more to do with server setup and configuration than actually being a limitation of the software.

    • Rick

      November 17, 2014

      Hey Filipe,

      You're exactly right. I think the authors point was mostly the perception. A perception that is changing.

      WordPress has been proven to be incredibly scalable. Like you said, top brands use it on some of the highest trafficked sites in the world.

      That said, I would agree with the author that WordPress is in no world the best solution for every project. At least at this point. However, the vast majority of websites on the web today can benefit from WordPress :) - that's just a fact!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Rick

  6. Aryan Duntley

    January 1, 2015

    "When you factor in all the available themes and plugins, WordPress is quite robust and can meet the needs of the vast majority of websites out there." I really, really dislike arguments like these for wordpress. It implies amateur knowledge of web applications development. It implies that the dev or "designer" is limited to themes and other peoples' plugins. Wordpress is quite simply a framework, a library of php files that allow streamlining a lot of dev and design work that must be undergone in the initial stages of any website or web application. You can do anything at all with wordpress. Wordpress is only limited by the expertise of the developer. You want to build a trading platform with wordpress? You build a trading platform using wordpress. Simple. No, you probably won't find a pre-built theme or plugin that provides you all the essentials of a trading platform, you will have to code that yourself. You will have to be creative with your use of custom post types and taxonomies, or build your own additions to the admin panel. Wordpress provides a groundwork for any and all web applications. It does not mean you are limited to that groundwork, not unless you do not know how to lay your own groundwork.

    I continue to see people out there who rely on themes and plugins to do their web dev and making money. I can't believe it. How do they get away with it? I can do virtually anything, limited by only any lack of knowledge I have with php and other web coding tools as well as whatever limitations exist in php and I find it difficult to obtain clients. Marketing and sales is the key here I guess, and I have not proven to be effective at those.

    The only limitation I would say wordpress had is that because it already has a foundation, changing that foundation can be very time consuming and serious changes will take years to accomplish. The one main concern I have for php and wordpress is that it is blocking. Node.js is non-blocking and is much, much faster. I would love to see non-blocking php and ReactPHP is working on an api for this. If at some point in time wordpress could adopt this, that would be very ideal. PHP may never be as quick as node.js, even it you build your structure with asynchronous php by way of using commands like (http://php.net/manual/en/function.socket-set-nonblock.php), but if wordpress could incorporate this at some point, then the sky would be the limit.

  7. Dalton

    January 7, 2015

    I have to disagree slightly with your conclusion about not pitching technology. While I agree that the outcome is more important than the tools used to get there, I've never had a client that didn't want to know what kind of technology expertise we bring to the table. Clients have been burned by lack of foresight in the past and want to be sure we're using something modern and capable on the back-end. Being able to sell your experience with a particular platform is very helpful.

    Our proposal outline looks something like this:

    Overview - What are the business goals you want to achieve, and how do we fit in?
    Content and Design - How will we organize and present your content for maximum impact?
    Technology & Process - What are the tools and methodology we'll use to achieve those goals?

    We don't lead with the technical aspects of the process, but I do believe it's a crucially important part of the overall proposal.

  8. Matthew Snider

    October 29, 2015

    After reading the cons, I am not so sure they really are cons any longer. And honestly haven't been in years.

    For most clients, at least of mine, they know WordPress and basically how to spell it. Not much different.

    Also there are HUGE sites that run WordPress VIP that get millions of hits a date along with content that is scaled to large sizes.

    Great write up for sure though.

Join the discussion