Should I be concerned about building complex website using WordPress?

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Should I be concerned about building complex website using WordPress?

Should I be concerned about building complex website using WordPress? You should be concerned about building any complex project regardless of the underlying framework or a CMS.

Let me quote the original scope from the comment before discussing further:

I am currently in the process of obtaining quotes to build a website. The website is likely to be quite complex, with two user groups (e.g.buyers and sellers), payment system etc. Should I be concerned by a quote from a web designer who proposes to build it within WordPress?

Should I be concerned about building complex website using WordPress

Platform foundations

The first thing to consider is the high-end scope of your application. You’ve enumerated several key features:

  • Buyers
  • Sellers
  • Payments
  • Some sort of a traded service/product
  • Different user panels for both roles

You may be looking into additional features such as: messaging, archive pages for solutions or available service providers, a search engine, etc.

Alternative approaches

If we ignore the preferred programming language for a second, the three high-end alternatives for starting a project are:

  1. Building an application from scratch
  2. Using a development framework and building upon
  3. Starting with a CMS like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla

The leading factor for selecting the first option is efficiency.

There are several drawbacks to that “ideal” scenario:

  • It would require a team of rock solid engineers. Any deviations would drastically impact the end quality.
  • It would take a ton of time since every single bit would be custom made.
  • It would cost a fortune for the reasons described above.
  • The QA phase may take forever – too many new components that require thorough testing from all parties involved in the process.
  • You cannot leverage existing features available as add-ons, modules, or plugins in existing CMS

The CMS approach solves most of those problems, however:

  • You still need an expert team for a complex platform. The slightest oversight may cause ongoing stability or performance issues for the application.
  • There would be some components that persist in the platform without taking advantage of them. It’s slightly discomforting and impacts the load times.
  • The existing infrastructure of the platform (dashboard, APIs) may not be ideal for your business case.

The framework approach is somewhere in the middle. You get pros and cons from both scenarios.

WordPress considerations

WordPress is a proven CMS that handles various applications handling millions of users and tens or even 100M views a month. From my experience, scaling from 10M to 50M is feasible, 50M to 100M is challenging, 100M – 200M is quite complex and 200M+ may require some serious engineering effort.

Then again, it really depends on the most complex components and handling the right solutions with the corresponding vendor.

As long as you can leverage the WordPress core feature set, it would work well in the long run.

  1. Sellers and Buyers can be implemented as WordPress roles with different capabilities.
  2. The WordPress dashboard could be trimmed, including subpanels for each role.
  3. Most of the data management can be handled in the front-end as well – through protected page templates.
  4. The search functionality will be offloaded to Elasticsearch or a service like Swiftype anyway – therefore comparable in different implementations.
  5. Archives for jobs or sellers are fairly trivial and won’t impact the application as a whole.
  6. The template hierarchy of WordPress is incredible – and it would definitely come handy.

Overall, WordPress is not a terrible option for your solution as well as Think of the possible UX problems that you may have with WordPress as an application framework. Consider the growth of the platform over the next 3–5 years as well.


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