WordPress 101

Why I Don’t Custom Code Websites

My background is math with an emphasis in computer programming, and for 13 years I worked as an engineer – spending my days writing Matlab, C, and Perl programs.

I am one of those geeky people who likes technology and enjoys programming … but I don’t custom code websites; instead, I use WordPress as the underlying platform for all of the sites that I develop.


My reasons for NOT custom coding websites fall into these three buckets:

  1. Technology is continually changing, and building a website from scratch means you must keep up with ALL of those changes.
  2. A custom-coded website takes a lot more time to build, which costs a lot more for the website owner.
  3. It is more challenging to make changes to a custom-coded website, so again, it costs the website owner more every time they want to update their site.

Let us take a deeper look into each of the reasons I prefer to build a website in WordPress than starting from scratch and custom-coding a site.

#1 Technology is continually changing 

Just think about one part of technology that has dramatically changed over the years – devices and screen sizes. According to statistics from https://gs.statcounter.com/ in 2010, Desktop computers accounted for 98% of devices used, and mobile devices were less than 2% of devices used worldwide. Today those statistics are very different – worldwide mobile accounts for 57% of all devices, desktop 40%, and tablet 3%.

Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet

Similar to the changes in screen sizes, the programming languages used to code websites are also changing and improving.

Websites are built using multiple computer programming languages, including:

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) – Tells the computer what to display on a website page
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – Styles the HTML output
  • PHP – A scripting programming language that manages databased and dynamic content
  • Other languages for website functionality include Java, JavaScript, and SQL to name a few

Instead of custom coding a website using many of the computer languages above, many websites instead use a CMS. CMS stands for Content Management System, and these are platforms that allow people to create websites without writing all of the code from scratch. A CMS provides the backend infrastructure, allowing website creators to focus on what people see when people view your website pages. Using a CMS allows website designers and developers to spend less time focusing on the intricacies and changes of these underlying languages.

Although you may never have heard of a CMS, you most likely know the “brand names” of the popular content management systems, including WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, and Wix.

Using a CMS allows website designers and developers to spend less time focusing on the intricacies and changes of these underlying languages.

#2 Cost

It is more time-consuming to create a custom-coded website and takes more time to maintain it long-term… and as you all know, time=money – so a custom-coded website costs a lot more to build.

How much more? Well, that depends on how complicated the website is, but at a minimum, it would take me at least twice as much time to custom code a website then use WordPress. So in terms of cost, that means a $4,000 WordPress website would cost a minimum $8,000 to custom code. In reality, I am probably a low-end estimate, and the cost would probably be 3x, or $12,000.

#3 Website Changes and Maintenance

And last, the main reason I don’t custom code websites is because of my clients.   It would be impossible for me to train a typical business owner to maintain, update and improve their website.

A custom-coded website is excellent job security for the original website developer, but not so great for the website owner who must rely on the developer for every minor change. What happens if the developer is busy and doesn’t have time for small updates, or maybe they aren’t available at all? It is more difficult and expensive to find a developer to work on a custom-coded website.

I believe in creating websites that the owner can update and maintain, or they can hire someone else for a reasonable rate.

Many website developers who custom code websites charge $250+ per hour! And these experts are in high demand, so even a small change might take days or weeks for them to finish.

So what does this mean for YOU?
(aka – Why did I write this blog post?)

I am telling you my reasons for not custom-coding a website so that as you look at different ways to create your website, you have some of the “cons” when a developer suggests that a custom-coded website is the way to go for your website.

  1. It will be more costly to maintain and make changes to the website – and this is an ongoing cost for the LIFETIME of your website (aka FOREVER)
  2. You will probably not be able to make quick changes to your website 
  3. You will need to find a reliable developer who is up-to-date with all of the latest coding practices who also has time for every small change you want to make in the future

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