WordPress wasn’t designed for it, so it’s not a good choice
“But WordPress wasn’t designed for eCommerce, so it’s not a good choice.”
That was the line I read in the email. It was my own fault, I’d signed up for a five part email course to learn about building an eCommerce store. I cringed inside, knowing that the author of the email, though well intentioned, wasn’t technical in nature. Yet, here he was, stating that WordPress was a poor choice for an eCommerce site.
My first thought was, ‘Wow, I really need to email him and straighten things out!’ I need to tell him about how WordPress runs millions of sites on the web, how it has stable and mature options for eCommerce, how it’s just as or more secure than many other platforms, etc, etc.
The importance of perception
Thankfully before doing that, I realized something much more important. The perception of a solution is often more powerful than the reality of the solution. WordPress is the perfect example of this. It’s true that it wasn’t designed for eCommerce, but it was designed to be stable and provide a lean set of mature tools that can be built on top of with other solutions (generally plugins). That does not make WordPress a bad choice for something like eCommerce – it just means that you approach things differently than if you were using something like Magento.
Not just eCommerce
This perception isn’t limited to just eCommerce, I’ve talked with people who say that you can’t use WordPress for ‘X’ – you’d have to use Drupal instead. Or you shouldn’t do ‘Y’ with WordPress, it’s too (insert problem here – buggy, slow, simple, etc). It’s also not limited to WordPress – Drupal can’t run a simple blog, Magento is only for eCommerce, – the list is a mile long of perceptions of what software can or can’t do.
Equal but different
Does that mean there’s a problem with WordPress, or any other app, doing something it wasn’t ‘designed’ to do?
Within reason, no. If you go back and look at the list of apps I mentioned, you’ll notice they’re all PHP and mySQL at the core. Each app is a set of tools that a developer can use to build solutions. So in a way, WordPress, Magento, and Drupal are all equal but different tools. You can build any solution you want on top of any set of quality tools. It’s true that some tools are better suited to certain tasks, however that judgement should not be made based on the perception of the tools, i.e. WordPress is only for blogging or Magento is only for eCommerce. Instead, it’s better to evaluate a solution based on which toolset actually provides the most benefit for a specific project.
So, is WordPress a good solution for eCommerce? Yes, it definitely is a good solution. It’s not the only solution, but it’s a good choice even though ‘it wasn’t designed for it.’