You might have seen WordPress being recommended as a tool of choice to create an author website or landing pages for your book marketing campaigns. But do you really need it and are there any tools better suited for the job?
To answer that question you first need to understand what a website really is, what WordPress does for you, and whether its pros outweigh the cons.
A web page is a single page on a website, like book's details page or an article. The page you are reading now is an example of a web page.
A website is a collection of web pages, accessible under a single domain, which are connected with each other via hyperlinks. Visitors can navigate between the pages of the website to discover all its content. The page you are reading now is part of a larger website, which you can navigate by clicking links in this article or call-to-action button at the bottom. Another example is the website of self-publishing services company which consists of the homepage providing overview of all the services offered, pages describing individual services and article pages.
A landing page is a single web page which, unlike a typical website, is aimed at driving a visitor to take a specific action, such as signing up for a mailing list, downloading a reader magnet, or clicking a link to go to a retailer where they can buy a book. An example of a book landing page is this page which shows a cover of a book about a history of a football team, its description and a button which takes readers to Amazon page where they can buy it. Another example is this page for a romance author, which consists of an attractive offer to download one of the books in the series in ebook and audiobook formats after the visitor provides their email address. There isn't much a reader can do other than take the intended action (or leave the page).
From technical point of view all web pages, and by extension websites and landing pages, are a combination of the following files:
When you visit a page, all of this code is downloaded and rendered by your web browser and there it is: the web page in all its glory. Web browsers, search engines, and, most importantly, website visitors, don't know or care how this website code was created. All they care about is the content, how it looks, and how fast it loaded for them.
In other words WordPress and website-creation tools like Wix and Squarespace are just one of many tools that can help in generating the website code. With that said, there are differences between the tools and processes used to create websites in quality of the end result, ease of use, speed, security, reliability, among other factors.
Once installed, the underlying WordPress software is always active on your web server (hosting) with admin (editing) interface available on the Internet to you (and anyone else who can discover your password by brute-force attack or find a security flaw that allows them to log in without knowing your password).
Once you log in to your WordPress dashboard, you can edit content, and the changes are saved to a database. You can also edit site settings, install plugins and themes, as well as update the software.
Each time someone visits a page on your WordPress website, WordPress generates the page from scratch, by pulling the content of the page from a database and putting it together with the page template. If you are using plugins which modify the page content, this plugin's code is executed at the same time as well. When another visitor accesses the same or a different page, the process is repeated.
The list below includes only the most fundamental WordPress disadvantages from a perspective of book authors and other non-technical users. There are additional cons from web developer perspective that add to the cost and expense of developing and maintaining a website. (Those cons mean developers need to spend time working around WordPress limitations and risk spending nights and weekends bringing existing sites back online after they go down instead of focusing on creating great sites.)
While some of these disadvantages can be worked around by caching, firewalls, moving your admin dashboard to a non-standard path to prevent automated login attempts, offline WordPress installation for content management, and other complex solutions requiring technical assistance, why bother with WordPress in the first place if it doesn't really benefit your website?
It's fast. The website can be served right away to website visitors without the server needing extra time and processing power to read information from the database and render the page. Distributed hosting means your site's files are stored in multiple locations across the world, so no matter whether your visitor is in the US, Europe, Africa, or Asia, they load the files from the server closest to them to get the fastest loading speeds possible. Take a look at landing pages and websites we created to see how fast they are compared to your typical WordPress website.
It's reliable and always stays online. Once your website is online and works as you expect, it will continue to work the same way in the future. No functionality or security software updates in the background are required to keep your site live, so there is no risk the site will stop working all of the sudden.
It can handle any traffic you throw at it. Pre-rendered website files can be delivered much faster and require fewer resources at scale. This means that if you do get hundreds or thousands of visitors at the same moment, the site will continue to work just as fast and as reliably as it does when you are the only person visiting it.
It's secure. There is no complex software exposed to the Internet that could be used to hack your site, alter its content, or spread malware. People (including web and security experts) sometimes make mistakes. With this in mind, the good news is that the security and stable functioning of our sites does not depend on the expertise or proactive actions of people supporting them. It's simply a result of the technology itself. Hacking a pre-rendered page is like trying to hack a piece of paper: it's just not possible.
It's affordable: The productivity and low maintenance made possible by not using WordPress is one of the main reasons we are able to offer premium "Done For You" service that combines custom landing page design service and hosting for a price that is lower than your usual hosting fees (or a price of self-serve website builder platforms).
It's future-proof: If you decide to discontinue hosting with us, you can get the website files from us and upload them to any hosting. No complicated setup, no need for a database, or PHP version requirements. It's just a website, without any fluff or software dependencies. It just works.
If you think WordPress can provide anything crucial for you that non-WordPress site can't, please let us know.