WordPress is propped up by a lot of myths and outright lies. Worse, software developers and marketers piggyback on these lies to sell you products that end up making your life worse.
Today, we’ll examine 3 of the most insidious lies that have made your website slower and more difficult to manage:
- The Lie of Custom Design
- The Lie of MORE
- THE BIGGEST LIE (“it doesn’t matter very much”)
But I’ve got good news, too—behind each of these lies is a simple truth that will free you from the frustrations of WordPress!
Let’s dig in…
The Lie of Custom Design
Ask yourself: Do visitors care about your custom design, or is it more of a vanity thing for you?
Fact is, visitors don’t care about your design at all. The only thing they care about is the value you can provide for them—and how quickly and clearly you can provide it.
You might want a fancy design, but you need speed and clarity.
Also, just how “custom” is your design for visitors on mobile devices? On most mobile devices, your custom design boils down to…simple text.
In other words, big images, fancy doo-dads, and other “cool” customizations essentially disappear for the fastest-growing segment of your website audience.
So that begs the question:
Is a highly customized design really worth the significant investment?
Or is there a better approach that prioritizes clarity, connection, and easier maintenance over time?
After all, custom design is about a lot more than having a look that satisfies your ego. It’s about risks and responsibilities, too:
- Add-on components like Plugins must be integrated into the custom design
- Don’t forget the responsive design gotcha—add-ons require basic and responsive CSS integration!
- Updates are more likely to cause problems on highly customized sites
- And what happens if your designer quits, disappears, or is no longer available at a price you can afford? Uh oh…
If you don’t understand these risks, you may find yourself trapped with a highly customized Frankensite you can’t fix!
So what’s the solution here? To avoid customizations entirely?
No! Customization is fundamental to every great website.
The solution is to use a website foundation designed to accommodate intelligent customizations and Plugin integrations in an organized way.
This foundation should be optimized for speed, SEO, and ease of maintenance rather than clunky “features” that only slow down your site and make it worse on mobile devices.
Unfortunately, overbuilt Themes and Page Builders—which now dominate the WordPress market—do not work this way!
These platforms add layer after layer of complication and commit terrible performance sins that make your website slower, harder to manage, and less appealing to visitors.
(Oh, and let’s not even get into the continuous responsive design headaches you’ll endure with these clunky “solutions.”)
The bottom line here is that customization isn’t “free.” If you build out your site on the wrong platform:
- You’ll end up with expensive customizations you can’t maintain
- Your future flexibility will be limited
- Tweaking your design for mobile devices will always be a pain
- Your site will seem like a disorganized mess instead of a well-oiled machine
In other words…
If you want a customized website that’s fast and easy to maintain, you’re going to have to look in a different direction!
The Lie of MORE
People like to talk about the “WordPress way,” but as far as I can tell, this is just an operating state where WordPress, Themes, and Plugins all seem to move in a direction of more, more, MORE.
If all you ever do is add stuff, your website never gets less complicated.
As a result, you are constantly forced into a state of discomfort and obligation, and this is guaranteed to wear you down over time.
The burdens of over-complication are bad enough, but there is serious external pressure here, too:
- Way back in February of 2010, Google started making site speed a primary consideration in search rankings.
- The rise of mobile internet access—along with smaller screens and slower connections—has brought performance to the forefront.
And yet, despite these external pressures for improved performance, everything in the WordPress ecosystem is just getting bigger and slower.
In fact, I now routinely see WordPress sites that take over 10 seconds to load!
Think I’m joking? Run your site through this web page tester and see how it performs.
Any pages that take over 3 seconds to load are utter disasters—especially on mobile devices.
But over 10 seconds? Kill it with fire!
It’s clear the answer is not another Theme or Plugin that follows the “WordPress way” with promises of more, more, MORE.
(Real talk? These promises are only designed to make a sale; the developers don’t give a damn that you’re getting a bloated platform you won’t be able to manage or maintain.)
Remember—you can’t just focus on what you want. Ultimately, your site has to work for visitors, so you need to focus on them, too!
Visitors want speed and clarity. If you fail to provide that, your audience won’t stick around to see what else you have to offer.
And as we’ve seen, blindly following the “WordPress way” won’t get you a fast website that works everywhere. (In fact, it’ll get you the opposite.)
It’s up to you to understand what visitors want and to provide it for them!
The Biggest Lie: “It doesn’t matter very much”
(And emoji support is redundant anyway since every viewing device on the planet now supports them…)
I complained about this at the time because I think the performance of your website is sacred. As such, it should be the primary consideration for a foundational platform like WordPress.
“It’s only 2.4kB,” they said. “It doesn’t matter very much.”
Obviously, WordPress doesn’t care about performance as much as I do. Even worse, we now know that was just a warm-up act.
Fast forward to December 2018 and the release of the Gutenberg Editor in WordPress 5.0. This new “feature” is now adding 33kB of CSS to every page of your website.
I have raised this issue with powerful people in the WordPress ecosystem, and they are quick to downplay the significance of this never-ending largesse:
“Well, if you just add caching, it doesn’t matter very much.” 🤡
Everything you add to your website matters. Each piece affects performance and also adds customization and maintenance concerns.
WordPress’ failure to acknowledge this reality is completely unacceptable. Through their laziness and apathy, they’ve launched an assault on website performance on an unprecedented scale.
And it’s about more than 2.4kB here or 33kB there.
It’s about the lazy, bloated ethos that now permeates the entire WordPress landscape. This directly affects the products that emerge from that landscape.
It makes Themes slower. It makes Plugin integrations more difficult. It makes your site more of a hassle to run over time.
In other words, this negative ethos just asks more, more, MORE of you. Things never get easier or faster!
It’s time to reject the bloated WordPress ethos. It’s time to stop buying crappy Themes and Plugins that hide behind the deceitful veil of the “WordPress way.”
This lie has already ruined millions of websites. But it doesn’t have to ruin even one more.
Right now, you have a unique opportunity to place performance, your visitors, and your sanity above all other concerns.
You can have a faster website.
You can have a website that’s easier to manage.
You simply need to focus on the things that matter.
Focus is the Truth
The modern internet is an unforgiving place. People now spend most of their time online browsing social media feeds and managing email inboxes, and they only click through to websites when they’re looking for items or information of specific interest.
If you fail to deliver—if your site is too slow or loads clunkily, if the “meat” of your pages is unclear, if you badger people with unwanted offers—your visitors are going to leave.
After all, why stick around and wade through any crap when you can head right back to a dopamine-rich social media environment?
In other words, there is an increasing pressure on you to serve your visitors quickly and clearly.
I make a WordPress Theme called Focus that will help you do this in an easy, delightful way.
Focus gives you the power to deliver the characteristics of a winning website:
- Blazing-fast performance that delights visitors
- Gorgeous text formatting that’s easy and pleasant to read
- Optimized pages that rank well in search engines
- Easy customizations that are cheap to maintain
- Security and peace of mind from smart design management
- Stability for painless updates
On top of that, Focus comes with something no other product in the WordPress ecosystem can match: A community led by Chris Pearson, the only developer who will fight for you.
Your website performance matters to me. It’s sacred, and I will protect and enhance it with each update.
Perhaps more important, your happiness with this whole “website thing” matters deeply to me.
I know it’s tough out there. I know the technical demands are high, and I know designers and developers are too expensive for damn near everyone.
(Ask around—good help is getting harder to find every day.)
But you’ve still got big dreams for your website, and I know you can achieve them.
You just need a little Focus.