For businesses looking to get the most flexibility, power, and affordability from their websites, WordPress is unmatched.
When it comes to choosing a platform, you have an incredible number of options. Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace are some of the most popular. For the most part, these platforms are designed so that you can launch something quickly in a few clicks and it looks good enough. They usually do that job well.
The problem comes when you inevitably need to do something that should be simple and straightforward, but the platform itself doesn't support it. To make things easier, many code editing capabilities need to be restricted. As a result, you are limited in what you can do.
The other problem is that when you use a payment platform, you are married to it. What you can do is tied to the monthly fee you pay, and critical business features often require a higher monthly subscription. In addition, most platforms make it difficult for your data (content) to leave the site, so the change is expensive and time consuming.
On top of that, you don't own the platform you use, so if you inadvertently violate their terms of service, your website may be taken down entirely and there's nothing you can do about it. The cost of comfort is enormous.
With custom development, you have no restrictions. But the problem is that it is easily expensive to create and expensive to maintain because you have to build everything from scratch. For most small businesses it is simply not a viable or affordable option.
If you want to make it easy for a non-technical content publisher to publish content, you either have to pay a license for another program, write something yourself, or hope you can find an open source program that fits your needs well enough how to implement it. All of that takes valuable time.
Most small businesses don't have the budget to build a development team, even a small one, or hire a competent agency. Also, managing a project like this is not easy. If you don't have experience doing it or don't understand the most common pitfalls, then it will be incredibly frustrating for you.
When you create something custom you have to have a full-fledged developer to make the changes. Even with the most popular frameworks, finding people who can get into your project, make changes, and fix bugs often costs hundreds, even thousands of dollars more. For example, when I debug or add features to a Django project, I can easily charge 10 times as much for the work.
WordPress lets you get the custom features you want without reinventing the wheel. If one of the 50,000 available plugins doesn't help you, you can do any custom coding you want with no restrictions.
WordPress powers such a high percentage of websites on the Internet that it is the de facto standard. This means that almost all software builds an integration with WordPress directly because they don't want to exclude 40% of all websites from using their services.
This also means it's incredibly easy and affordable to find courses, training and professionals to run your site. Websites are constantly evolving as your business evolves. Over time, you're going to need someone to help you scale it up or manage it. Most professional designers, developers, content managers, social media strategists, and admin assistants are at least familiar with WordPress and there are plenty of them.
One of the downsides of such an open and accessible platform, with such a low barrier to entry, is that it's easy to hire someone cheap to do shoddy work that then needs to be fixed. We have had to fix quite a few of these situations and they are not usually pleasant.
WordPress is available in two versions. WordPress.org is usually what most people want: It's completely independent and open source. This means that when you download a copy of WordPress and install it on your server (all hosts usually have a one-click WordPress install option), you can literally do whatever you want with it and no one can take your site away from you. This is called "self-hosted" WordPress in the technical community. The functioning of WordPress has no at no cost, other than what your host charges you for your website's server.
WordPress.com is owned by Automattic (founded by the co-founder of WordPress). It is a payment platform like Wix or Shopify. Although it is powered by WordPress, there are limitations to what it can do. For example, only approved plugins can be used and custom coding is restricted for almost everything that isn't CSS.
WordPress improvements are made by independent contributors who volunteer to improve the code, debug the code, and improve the platform, which means you have a collection of some of the best developers in the world working to improve the platform they power your website without having to pay a penny for it.
Optimizations are incredibly easy to implement and in any way you can imagine, from SEO to hosting, where most of the time there is a "one click" install and setup option.
WordPress is definitely flawed and always a work in progress, just like any major tech project. Like everything, it is not perfect for all situations, but it is the most powerful and flexible option for the vast majority. It does this without high monthly fees, development costs, or limitations on what you can add with some of the best developers in the world supporting it, while being extremely easy to train and find people who know how to use it.