What’s Cheaper? WordPress vs. Modern Website Development Tools

An article by Darrell Wilkins on 07 Mar 2022

Summary: WordPress is often the most affordable option. However, enterprise-level organisations demanding high-performance websites may find that while cheaper at the onset, the costs needed to actually achieve your goals quickly add up.

When it’s time to build a new website or migrate platforms, you’ll of course consider what the final result needs to look like, how it will function, and what it will actually cost to get there. Platforms like WordPress have long been the most popular option in this scenario — and for good reason. They function relatively well out of the box, cost very little to create, and there is no shortage of dev firms who specialise in setting them up.

The truth is, basic platforms may be fine for most organisations, but are usually the wrong choice for the kind of high-performance website enterprise-level organisations like yours truly need.

Entry-Level Platforms Are Cheap to Set Up, Expensive to Maintain

To most developers, working in WordPress is like wearing knock-off, supermarket trainers to school. Rather than risk their image, the most skilled developers never select WordPress as their platform of choice. It’s entry-level software that doesn’t require much development training or expertise to get started. In other words, it’s too basic for industry veterans.

That means there are a lot of low-to-mid-range development shops staffed with unseasoned or unscrupulous developers creating WordPress websites in that £250 price range. They know they can get a lot done quickly using just a few plugins. And WordPress itself is free to use, unlike some modern technologies that cost upwards of £1,000 just for an account.

The good developers who do continue to work in the WordPress ecosystem are therefore able to charge a premium — often fixing the problems less-skilled developers cause. If you are lucky enough to find an agency with top-notch WordPress developers, you’ll likely pay more than you would for a modern platform, especially if they have to correct the mistakes of the previous shops you’ve engaged.

Do You Need an All-Purpose Platform or More Specialisation?

Here’s another analogy. WordPress and platforms like it are the general purpose sports utility vehicle of website building. Like SUVs, they offer a lot of mass appeal functionality. They’re designed to be all things to all people (and businesses), from a personal blog to a local cheese shop to a large-scale publication like the New Yorker.

But you wouldn’t race an SUV. Unless you spent serious time modifying your SUV until it ran like an actual race car, that is.

So yes, you can do amazing things with WordPress, including the creation of effective, enterprise-level websites. The catch is you have to make tons of adjustments and compromises to get a WordPress site to obtain that race car (high-performance) speed and functionality.

Making these adjustments and modifications takes just as much (if not more) skill and experience as it would using a more suitable modern technology from the get-go. Because let’s be honest, an SUV is not a race car. WordPress is not a modern development tool. Offering lots of functionality to lots of people means you don’t do any one thing all that well.

Is WordPress Ever a Good Choice?

For the most part, FinTechs should not select or retain WordPress for new site builds. But there are some notable exceptions. You might consider staying on or using WordPress if:

  • Your current WordPress website has tons of legacy content. Migrations are incredibly complicated and time-consuming, so consider scale as you look to build a new site. Do you have 1,000 pages to migrate or 10,000? The more content you need to retain on the new site, the more keeping WordPress makes sense.
  • You have a lot of SEO equity. Improving SEO performance is hard work. And ranking on the first page of Google search results for a meaningful term that’s winning you business matters. As mentioned, migrating your content to a new CMS involves a lot of vigilance and time. It’s easy to miss pages or fail to set up a redirect. Too many 404s can hurt you. If this risk is too high, you might want to stick with what you have.
  • You or someone in your company already knows how to use WordPress effectively. It’s costly to outsource your website build, let alone every little post-launch change you need to make. If someone in your office is a WordPress expert, keeping your site in WordPress might be the most realistic option.

Obviously, WordPress can also work well for small businesses and solopreneurs. But that doesn’t describe your company. If you do go with WordPress and you need a high-performance website, just know you’ll end up spending a lot of money and time on your build (or refresh).

How do we know? Because FinTechs are fast-growing. You want and need to add new features to your website at the drop of a hat. And once you start doing all of that customisation and optimisation on a WordPress site, it’s no longer the low cost choice. It becomes no easier to attain high-performance with WordPress than it is with modern dev tools. In fact, it’s likely more difficult.

It’s Not About the Technology Anyway

Steer clear of any agency that works exclusively with one web development platform — particularly WordPress-only consultants.

In reality, great websites are born from:

  • Clear objectives
  • Great UX research (business goals and user needs)
  • Great UX design (information architecture, interaction design, and content and visual design)
  • Solid development skills
  • Continuous improvement

The best website development firms are consultants first, developers second. The people who excel at this sort of work, the ones who know how to drive real business value through a website, are technology agnostic. They choose the best tool for the job.

Building websites is easy. Knowing what to build is the hard part. Find a partner who will help you diagnose the problem, then decide on the proper solution. This is certainly our philosophy at Under2. Get in touch to learn more about our process.