WordPress Alternatives: 7 Reasons Why It's Time to Move On

Posted by Jake Lumetta on August 4, 2021


Pick a theme. Get a plugin. Click a button. Boom! You're on the web.

WordPress is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to build a website. 

Or so most marketers believe at first.

Developers — the people actually responsible for back- and front-end WP maintenance — often tell a different story. They see another side of WordPress: A CMS that's clumsy, cumbersome, and complicated. Out-of-date templates. Plugins that don't work. A user interface that makes them want to tear their hair out.

Their message is crystal clear: WordPress ain't that great. 

So why do marketers insist on using WordPress when it has these known issues? 

Maybe the bottom line is: It's just what you know. You use it because it’s comfortable and familiar, and you’ve never felt the need to try a WordPress alternative.

Illustration: Moving on from WordPress

But what if there were a better alternative to WordPress? A CMS that was faster, easier to use, and easier to maintain? A system that not only impressed your dev team but generated more explosive marketing results

In this post, we’ll cover seven reasons marketers are quitting WP and discovering an API-based WordPress alternative called ButterCMS. You might never want to use WordPress ever again.

Give your Marketers a CMS they'll love. Best part? No WordPress.

What Your Dev Team Won't Tell You About WordPress

Dev teams rarely raise their concerns about WordPress. Marketers give them a brief; they execute it the best they can. But, every so often, developers take to the internet and share what they really think. And it's juicy:

  • "Anyone else hate WordPress with a passion?"
  • "WP remains popular, not because it serves any client's purpose (it doesn't), but because those who deploy it already use it and don't know any better."
  • "It's a bit like running. People say they like to run. Hell, people even go so far as to be passionate about running. But really, deep down inside, everyone hates to run. Just like everyone hates WordPress."

Ask your dev team what they think. Then ask yourself if WordPress is still the best alternative. If the only good reason to use WordPress is that WordPress is what you’ve always used, then it might be a good idea to take a look at what else is out there.

Illustration: WordPress is hard

Is API-Based CMS an Alternative to WordPress?

API-based CMS — also called headless CMS — is a brand-spanking-new approach to content management. The best way to understand API-based CMS is to think of CMS as two separate parts: A 'head' and a 'body.'

  • Head: This is the presentation layer in website design — the place you send your content.
  • Body: This is the content repository — the place you store your content.

The idea behind API-based CMS is that you don't need a 'head' to manage content. Because the 'head' operates independently from the 'body,' you can chop it off and publish content via an API. Then someone else takes care of the 'head,' or presentation layer, for you. That means you get rid of all the scaling, security, and maintenance that slows your dev team down. 

The above might sound complicated, but it's not. An API-based CMS has a similar interface to WP, so you don't need to learn new skills to create and update content. You send your content to a decoupled presentation layer using the API. Another company does all the hard work for you. This approach allows your content to be stored in one central place so you can display it across different devices (websites, mobile sites, apps, and digital displays) each having its own presentation layer, or look and feel.

Illustration: ButterCMS API-based headless CMS

ButterCMS is a powerful headless CMS that you and your developers will love. It has a WordPress-like interface for content editors but radically improves the platform by managing all the back-end problems dev teams hate. Goodbye out-of-date templates, plugins, security issues, and scaling problems.

But more about Butter later.

Why is Quitting WordPress So Scary?

Jumping from WP to an API-based CMS might fill you with fear, and that's totally understandable. WordPress has dominated CMS for nearly 20 years:

  • WordPress "powers" 39.5 percent of all websites.
  • Many of the world's most successful corporations use WP, including countless Fortune 500 companies.
  • There are over 55,000 WordPress plugins. 

Perhaps WordPress is a platform you've used for some time. You're familiar with it. So quitting WP is hard. 

Illustration: Quitting WordPress

However, you'll soon realize there are better WordPress alternatives out there — platforms with a similar interface that offer better performance and productivity. Flexibility and freedom are available when you choose the best of breed digital marketing solutions for your entire organization.

Give your Marketers a CMS they'll love. Best part? No WordPress.

7 Reasons to Quit WordPress

#1. Your Developers Don't Like (Or Don't Know) WP

Many developers think WordPress is an outdated system that has evolved little since its conception in 2003. They know there are newer, better approaches to CMS that manage and publish content. But marketers still insist on WP.

It's a struggle.

Talk to your developers, and if they don't like WordPress, consider an alternative. Something like 'headless' CMS might sound like a big change. But it’s really a small change that makes life easier for your dev team and helps you generate better marketing results. 

Some developers don't know how to manage WordPress sites. That's because WP requires PHP knowledge, and some developers use more modern programming languages to enable better overall performance. Why not go with the faster, more scalable technology? Choosing a low-code CMS solution opens you up to new possibilities and better collaboration with your dev team.

#2. WordPress Slows You Down

Page load speed is one of the most critical metrics for SEO and user experience. Forty-seven percent of consumers expect web pages to load in two seconds, while bounce rates rise by 32 percent if page load times increase from one to three seconds. It's clear: Fast-loading pages prevent website visitors from clicking the 'Back' button on their browsers.

WordPress sites can be notoriously slow. You rely on third-party developers to keep their plugins and templates optimized - and sometimes they don’t do that. (More on that in a couple of sections.) Your in-house team might struggle to maintain page speeds because of problems that are completely out of their control.

Illustration: WordPress speed issues

Upgrading to a headless CMS solves these challenges. ButterCMS uses a global content delivery network (CDN) and caching, which optimizes page speeds. Because headless CMS requires less code, your team can focus on creating a faster, more performant user experience in the front-end application.

#3. The Upgrade 'Hole'

WordPress plugins and templates require constant maintenance. Adding a new element to your page can create a chain reaction that increases page loading times and causes other UX problems. 

Say a developer can't update a plugin because it doesn't support the newest version of WP yet. But another plugin requires the newest version of WP. Now add in the update requirements for several more plugins, a theme, and some other add-ons. It's a vicious cycle — an upgrade 'hole.' 

You need to update WordPress itself for performance and security reasons, whether you like it or not. But every upgrade kicks off another round of the plugin and theme conflicts. Not only is this expensive, but it also loads your dev team with work just to keep a live site up and running. 

An API-based CMS like ButterCMS requires no plugin updates. Or security patches. Ever. It's maintenance-free. You’ve severed the ‘body’ from the ‘head’. The body takes care of itself, and you only change the head when you want to.

#4. Developers Abandon Plugins and Themes

This problem is a major pain point for dev teams. You chose a great-looking theme, but the third-party developers who created it later abandon it and stop maintaining it. The result? The theme malfunctions. It now presents a security risk, so you have to go through the process of implementing a new theme all over again.

Your dev team ends up designing the same website over and over again, moving from one theme to the next. The same process happens for plugins. Some third-party developer - unknown to you and your team - stops maintaining their plugin, which causes serious problems for your site. You have a new security risk, and you’re facing a new chain reaction of upgrade conflicts. 

Rather than relying on strangers online, API-based CMS lets your in-house developers take ownership and build your pages with their existing tech stack. This is also great for you as a marketer, as you’re no longer chained to one platform. You can mix and match to get the best, most modern solution for each element of your marketing stack.

#5. WordPress is More Expensive Than You Think

Creating a very basic WordPress site might take a couple of days and a few hundred dollars, but you'll have to spend at least ten times that amount if you want to compete with your rivals. Some marketers have an agency build their site, but hiring a third-party team will set them back $50,000-100,000. And they have to pay a retainer — sometimes $10,000 or more a month — for maintenance.  

Illustration: WordPress is expensive

So marketers hire an in-house dev team, just for the build. But the build team often sticks around fixing plugins, managing update conflicts, backing up data, doing general maintenance, etc. 

As we mentioned above, outdated templates and plugins cause security vulnerabilities that inadvertently force you to redesign and rebuild your site periodically, which brings further costs. WordPress says it’s ‘free,’ but when you employ a full-time specialized PHP developer just to manage your software updates - you have to start asking some questions. 

An API-based solution results in a lower total cost of ownership compared to a WordPress solution because there's less maintenance and less code. Security patches, version control, and plugin conflicts become a thing of the past.

#6. WordPress Websites Look the Same

It's usually easy to tell which companies use WordPress (without checking the source code!). They’re all using different themes, but somehow they all have a certain ‘look.’ It’s the boxy design, the same old fonts, similar sidebars, etc. The templates create a cookie-cutter site. 

This might be fine for some businesses, but if you’re trying to differentiate your brand from your competition, this certainly doesn’t help. 

With a WP theme, if one element of the site becomes dated or deprecated, you might have to rebuild the whole site. With headless CMS, you just update that one element without touching the rest of the site. 

#7. WordPress Support

Customer support at WordPress is pretty much what you would expect from a free CMS. You’ll need to rely on your in-house dev team to resolve issues and troubleshoot conflicts. You can get in touch with a WordPress representative via live chat, but the process can be slow. 

ButterCMS provides world-class support and our customers rave about it. Our documentation is thorough and detailed, and we support any language or framework you want to use. We have an extensive knowledge base, and you can get in touch with an actual human being whenever you need help.


Final Word

There's more to life than WordPress, and more and more marketers are beginning to challenge the status quo. WP still feels safe and comfortable, but for many marketers, it’s no longer the best approach to CMS. Not in 2021. There are WordPress alternatives that can lighten the load for your dev team and provide you, the marketer, with better results.

ButterCMS is a headless CMS solution that allows you to take control of your content at any scale. It's secure, scalable, and stacks with almost anything, making it the No.1 choice for marketers and dev teams that don't want to deal with the back-end headaches of content management. Choose Butter for a zero maintenance, low-code alternative to WordPress.


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Jake Lumetta

Jake is the CEO of ButterCMS. He loves whipping up Butter puns and building tools that make developers' lives better.

ButterCMS is the #1 rated Headless CMS

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