We’ve built sites using tons of different platforms. Drupal, Joomla, SiteCore, Thismoment, CodeIgniter and Laravel, you name it. We never liked to identify as a “WordPress shop.” And we still develop with all of these different platforms when a client has specific needs. But since WordPress version 3 came out (they’re at 4.3.1 as of September 2015), WordPress has consistently won out when weighing cost effectiveness, and more importantly, our clients are most consistently happy with the value of the WordPress platform. If a client is open to anything as long as it works and meets their needs, and a fully custom solution isn’t necessarily called for, WordPress is usually one of our top choices.
One of the big reasons both Dot Squirrels and our clients tends to like WordPress is its popularity. WordPress developers are easy to find, and WordPress plugins are even easier to find. We never want to be type of shop that gets business because we’re just the only developers that knows or is willing to deal with some odd, niche technology. And we don’t want our clients to be told by the next guys that we built something weird that doesn’t make sense to them. WordPress problems are easy to solve with the help of its large development community, and that helps keep everyone happy. So if all things are equal, popularity is more than just a comforting thought, it’s a distinction with real value.
Some common exceptions, where we would look at other platforms or fully custom solutions, have been sites that require a lot of user-generated content (UGC), external API services, complex data relationships / calculations, and/or military-grade security, and until recently, eCommerce. We’ve done a lot of work with Magento and Shopify, and we’ve worked with with Volusion, and Zen Cart as well. But with version 2, WooCommerce matured enough to be a real contender in the eCommerce space. Since WooCommerce just extends WordPress, it is able to share that development community while focusing only on what WordPress doesn’t already do perfectly, which is goods inventory and eCommerce.
The upshot of choosing WordPress & WooCommerce to power an eCommerce service is that you can get your site live in under six months, usually for less than $50k, and you don’t have to pay a premium to keep evolving it month after month as your business grows. It makes flexible eCommerce accessible. Magento might suit your needs, but you’d have to pay a premium for Magento development to make any changes. Drupal and Drupal Commerce or Ubercart would give you comparable features but with less flexibility, longer dev cycles, and higher hourly dev rates. Eventually, as a business grows, moving to enterprise-class software or building a custom platform might be worth a six figure development fee. But most clients are wise to stick with WordPress for as long as they can.