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Building a Better Online Business
Creating and managing your online business requires you to follow the same basic principals of any business - relying on sound Business Strategies. There are however, a few practices that differ or that just are unique to an online business. Here we share our views and experience with you to help you develop a more effective and profitable online business.
Irrespective of whether you are a small or large business owner using Wordpress as your web CMS platform or even if you are a web developer using Wordpress for delivering web solutions, you should all pay close attention to the serious flaws in this platform (see our infographic). Sure no platform is perfect and we will always find someone who will scream loud enough that their solution is the best but this article does provide some not well publicised viewpoint from different sources about the weaknesses in Wordpress that should give you serious concern.
Why has Wordpress become so popular?
Quite simply Wordpress is relatively easy to use - in fact anyone can set up a Wordpress website very quickly. To build a web solution requires the inclusion of plugins to deliver that functionality you need. These are generally available for free as, like Wordpress itself, they are open source and readily available. The very things that make Wordpress so appealing are the root of its weaknesses - being an open source platform means it is difficult to ensure quality control over the plugins developed, constant updates to cover system weaknesses to Wordpress lead to incompatibility issues with many plugins and the fact that it is open source leaves its code and that of its plugins vulnerable to security breaches.
Wordpress was developed as a blogging platform. Someone then decided that by adding plugins they could expand on the base features of a blog to incorporate what businesses really needed from web solutions. Everything beyond being a blog platform is essentially an add-on patch to deliver broader functionality.
Documented Weaknesses in Wordpress
Working with Wordpress entails installation version updates, security patches, plugin compatibility, secure passwords, and a host of other maintenance requirements.
Elizabeth Maness of Social Media Today, has listed listed tips for Wordpress security and mentions a list of security plugins you can use to help you overcome these weaknesses. The problem of course is that we are seing plugins to fix the plugins. in our books, this does not make a lot of sense. Picking up from a Slashdot story on Wordpress vulnerability, according to Checkmark’s Research Lab, more than 20% of the 50 most popular, independently developed plugins are vulnerable to common web attacks. Further, 7 out of 10 e-commerce plugins are also vulnerable. Megan Totka of SmallBizTrends.com writes that there are at least 6 million things that can go wrong with Wordpress. Now we can't vouch for the accuracy of this list and would suggest that no one will ever prove the claim to be correct however, even if this is a list of just 60,000 - just 1/10th of what is claimed, this is still an alarming figure. Sufyan Bin Uzayr of WPMU actually takes the pain to list out Nine Most common problems associated with Wordpress, along with solutions to each of them.
Wordpress is a CMS, built for Blogging
It can be argued that blogging can be a business however this cannot be extended to claim that your business is a blog.
There is no doubt that your business' website should certainly include a blog for your content marketing efforts as this is the easiest way to create new and fresh content in your website and is very easy to distribute across the internet. Of course we need to understand that running your business website isn’t the same as running a blog.
Remember, Wordpress was created as a blogging platform and to suggest that it is a CMS is a stretch of the truth in that it was developed for article content only. A full blown CMS does a lot more than this. With the advent of plugins utilising the Wordpress platform, one could argue that Wordpress is now a CMS but it was not built for that originally. Thanks to the versatility of Wordpress itself, the original platform has been extended using themes, coding, and a variety of plugins to work as a front for small business websites. That’s where the functionality ends and troubles begin.
It makes sense for small businesses owners to have an easy to install website which is a breeze to run. Wordpress certainly allows for that.
What Wordpress cannot do, however, is present a stable core for you to run your business on. Updating Wordpress versions, managing plugin incompatibility, dealing with hacks, and living with other Wordpress-related problems are all website owner’s responsibility (and a major time suck). If you have no technical skills or lack the time to deep dive into Wordpress problems, it calls for paying an hourly fee for temporary Wordpress experts.
Separate needs, separate systems
You might use Wordpress as the core platform your website to live on. You will however be reuired to make use of other tools to complete your web solution - you’ll need Google Analytics for metrics, an email marketing solution such as MailChimp or iContact to help you manage your subscribers and email campaigns, standalone e-commerce plugins such as WooCommerce to allow for transactions on your website, and using a CRM such as Salesforce.com to keep track of business. Then you will be looking for some accounting software such as xero.com to manage cash flow and keep track of finances. The need for systems to run your business apparently never ends.
What you end up with is a collection of tools that are loosely joined together through Wordpress and with some smoke and mirrors it appears you have a real business solution.
In reality of course what we have is a platform with well documented flaws, security weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Solutions are not cohesively designed from the ground up but instead, developers choose a mish-mash of plugins they hope will do the job and continue to do so. There is little accountability from many of the plugin developers and businesses relying on these have no idea of their exposure. Yes, there are some good solid web solutions delivered on the Wordpress platform and some excellent plugins but these solutions are held together because the efforts of the developers and those responsible for maintaining these systems. This is not straight forwad, not for everyone and does incur overhead costs.