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Understanding Why WordPress Is a Liability for Your Dealership

March 31, 2017

According to the team over at ManageWP, an astounding 74.6 million sites out there lean on the WordPress platform when it comes to laying the foundation for their digital domains. With this kind of market saturation and coverage across such a wide swath of the web, using WordPress to handle your dealership's website needs is a no-brainer, right?

Not exactly.

The truth of the matter is that this platform is exceptionally popular and a strong tool – if you're a weekend blogger or a small eCommerce site that doesn't know a hyperlink from a meta tag. For a dealership that is truly looking to maximize its online presence and convert intrigued browsers into satisfied customers, going beyond the "set it and forget" allure of WordPress isn't just recommended, it's essential.

Taking such a strong stance does requires a hefty amount of evidence to corroborate. With this in mind, we invite you to take a moment to join the team here at Remora as we break down all of the reasons why utilizing a website solution built around WordPress is nothing more than a liability for your auto dealership.

Using WordPress Means Kicking Security to the Curb

If you know anything about WordPress, then you know that the best way to kick off the argument against this platform is by pointing out that it presents a plethora of security issues to dealerships that rely upon it. In fact, the experts over at Stream9 note that the lax protection that comes with WordPress is the single greatest threat to your site's success. From hackings to data leaks, and everything in between, the life of the average WordPress site is fraught with concerns that keep plenty of developers and site owners up into the late hours of the night.

WordPress source code download page screenshot. If you work with a vendor that utilizes WordPress, the base source code to your site is only one click away for anyone on the web.

Unfortunately, when the source code for your platform is readily available and open to anyone with an Internet connection and the ability to click a download link (as shown in the screenshot above), it's hard not to face down daily lapses and targeted assaults from the less than savory portion of the digital world.

WordPress even goes so far as to offer up a page that covers the standard procedure for dealing with a hacked site – a clear sign that these malicious undertakings against WordPress-based sites are simply par for the course. Is your dealership really okay with having the constant threat of hackings be a regular part of its digital process?

If that wasn't bad enough, the third-party plugins that serve as the backbone to most WordPress setups also often end up as nothing more than an open invitation to hackings and other breaches. Just this past week, Graham Cluely of ESET's Welivesecurity blog reported that the core developers behind this system had to roll out an emergency series of updates and hotfixes to plug the holes in the platform's often porous connections to these plugins.

"Another day, another important security update for WordPress. Oh boy."
– Graham Cluley, ESET's Welivesecurity Blog

What makes this round of stopgap fixes even more alarming than its predecessors is the realization that the vulnerabilities found within this latest edition of the software aren't just relegated to how WordPress interacts with third-party plugins – they also extend to the core of WordPress itself.

"Security vulnerabilities are frequently uncovered in third-party WordPress plugins, but these latest fixes address security vulnerabilities in the WordPress core itself."
– Graham Cluley, ESET's Welivesecurity Blog

In other words, even if your dealership somehow manages to avoid the myriad risks that come with third-party plugin usage (which is unlikely, considering that the barebones WordPress setup offers little in the way of utility for your website), then it still has to contest with the fact that the platform itself is inherently flawed and susceptible to unwanted intrusions.

Of course, all of these updates and prognostications regarding the vulnerabilities of WordPress didn't do much good for the 100,000 websites that were hacked last month thanks to a series of unaddressed security flaws.

"Over 100,000 websites were hacked into and defaced in the past fortnight following the discovery of an undisclosed critical vulnerability in the WordPress content management system (CMS)."
– Tim Lince, World Trademark Review

As Tim Lince of World Trademark Review explains, the vast majority of these 100,000 compromised sites were related to law firms and other providers of legal services. However, there's nothing standing in the way of the automotive industry and the dealer websites that utilize WordPress from being the next targets that fall within the crosshairs of these malicious digital forces.

It's Really Just a Supercharged Blogging Platform

Even if it was possible to turn a blind eye to the astounding lapses in security that come with working with a vendor that leans on the WordPress platform, there's still the fact that WordPress is really nothing more than a supercharged blogging platform. As the official WordPress site states, the software was born with the desire to be the ultimate "self-publishing" system.

At the end of the day, there's nothing wrong with embracing blogging and developing your content marketing strategy as a dealership. In fact, we wholeheartedly recommended enacting these strategies as part of the cultivation of your greater digital presence – and as a way to ensure that you make the most out of your interactions with online customers.

(Quick aside: Feel free to check out our in-depth reviews of why content marketing matters and how to write conversationally if you're interested in bolstering engagement with your target audience.)

Digital marketing expert Robin Waite explains why WordPress is actually nothing more than a supercharged blogging platform.

As the video above from digital marketing expert Robin Waite of the United Kingdom explains, WordPress does not have the power and utility needed to handle enterprise level operations and business functions. Additionally, it doesn't have the tools necessary to scale with your business if you're not already at this level and plan on growing your dealership into a top tier competitor.

Does WordPress solve some cost and time issues in the short term for smaller businesses? Of course! Despite this truth, there's no denying that it also creates more headaches down the road as your dealership attempts to grow and prosper within its Internet marketing endeavors.

Slow Performance and Downtime = Lost Customers

Perhaps the biggest downfall of leveraging WordPress on behalf of your dealership is the fact that this system, as explained by Torque magazine's Shaun Quarton, is prone to misusing (and outright overusing) code structures known as shortcodes. When used improperly, these inclusions link back to excessive or poorly constructed code (often referred to as "spaghetti code"), thereby leading to bloated site structure. From here it's only natural for load times to bog down and ruin the end user experience.

While businesses in other industries might be able to make due with a laggy or unoptimized website, dealerships that understand today's digital marketplace realize that this issue is the fastest way to have incoming viewers click back to the Google search engine result page (SERP) and find a website that can keep up with their lightning fast expectations.

"Those simple shortcodes we were talking about before are basically shortcuts for longer, more complicated strings of code. When you use lots of modules, you’re placing more shortcodes on your page, and this means there’s lots of extra hidden code. This places a greater demand on your web server. The result: a slow, sluggish website."
– Shaun Quarton, Torque Magazine

For the more intrepid Internet marketing managers out there who want to see this bloated code for themselves, WordPress at least makes getting to the root of this specific problem fairly simple. All you have to do is open up the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) visual editor and convert your page into the source code visualization. From here, you'll be given the chance to peruse all of the bloat-hiding shortcodes and other inefficient inclusions found within to your heart's desire.

Digging a little deeper into the shortcode discussion, Quarton goes on to point out that these digital constructs are both the main source for the well-touted flexibility of the platform and the leading reason why WordPress sites are plagued with crashes, downtime, and broken components.

The big key here is that most of the fancy plugins that keep a WordPress site running at a reasonable level lean on suspect programming and development practices. As the staff over at WebHostingMedia.net notes, should you move away from a plugin or have one of these pieces fail, you can expect an avalanche of errors and other backbreaking issues to follow suit.

"…most third-party plugins and themes are created by unskilled persons. Not optimized code can not only slow down your site or cause errors, but can also be the back-door for a hacker to break into your site."
– WebHostingMedia.net

To put it in simple terms, WordPress leans heavily on unskilled developers to craft bad code for plugins, which then inevitably causes critical errors on your dealership's site – and also paves the way for hackers to take advantage of this poor coding structure. Even if you've never scripted out a single line of code in your life, it's easy to see that these low standards are simply not good enough for your dealership.

Is a "One Size Fits All" Approach Really Good Enough for Your Dealership?

Is a one size fits all approach really good enough for your dealership?

Differentiating yourself in today's highly competitive automotive marketplace requires a platform built to your needs – which is the exact opposite of what WordPress offers to those who use it for their website solutions. Fortunately, by aligning with a team of specialists (like the ones found here at Remora) that are capable of crafting website solutions and software exclusively for modern dealerships, you can skip the whole "one size fits all" approach and focus instead on crafting a website experience that actually converts visitors into happy customers.

Naturally, the argument most often used against the power of a custom solution like the one provided by our team here at Remora is the "common sense" assumption that even if WordPress isn't tailor-made for automotive, it's still the best CMS out there, right? As Tim Bennett of Texelate explains in his report on why WordPress is often far from the right answer when it comes to your digital needs, putting all of your eggs in this basket just because this software is popular is far from sound logic.

"'It’s the best CMS out there.' That’s a completely meaningless statement. Best for what? If you’re going to choose a platform, you choose the right one for the right job. Saying it’s the best CMS is like saying 'that’s the best car.' There’s no context. A Porsche may be better for racing down the Autobahn but a Defender is better for crossing the Sahara."
– Tim Bennett, World Trademark Review

Is WordPress the best option for all of the local bakeries out there? Maybe. How about watch repair shops? Potentially. Even so, such claims offer little justification for the mindset of "going with the flow" and using WordPress just because organizations in other industries follow this approach.

What we do know from the information covered here is that making this sort of blanket statement for auto dealerships (large chains and independents alike) is both erroneous and outright damaging to dealers that can't afford to utilize substandard website solutions as they seek to increase their market share and pump up sales.

Should My Auto Dealership Use WordPress?

Obviously, we've covered quite a bit of ground in this post and clearly made a compelling case against using WordPress on behalf of your dealership. To recap, and to bring those of you who skipped all of the research above and jumped straight to the conclusion right away up to speed, using this platform creates a series of liabilities and concerns that your automotive dealership simply cannot ignore if it intends to take its digital presence seriously.

Specifically, working with a site development vendor that utilizes WordPress to build your web page means opening yourself up to the following threats and concerns:

  • Substandard Security and Protection – Open source code, a reliance upon third-party plugins for basic functionality, and a bevy of other poor practices ensures that the threat of hacks and data leaks are part of everyday life in the world of WordPress.
  • A System Designed for Bloggers, Not Dealers – Originally designed for personal blogging and casual website development, WordPress was never intended to handle the rigors of running a successful automotive dealership in the online space.
  • Bloated Code and a Poor End User Experience – Thanks to a laggy end user experience, complete with broken components and delayed load times, the only area in which most WordPress sites show any sort of expedience is the process of running off potential customers in a hurry.
  • A Limited and Constrained "One Size Fits All" Approach – The tools, features, and functionality of WordPress are designed from a generic, "one size fits all" perspective that covers everything from shoe repair shops to book stores, so it is only natural for inefficiency and ill-suited inclusions to be par for the course for dealerships leveraging this platform.

As you can see, the shortcomings of the WordPress platform are simply too significant to overlook any longer. Fortunately, by making the switch to a dedicated service provider, like Remora, that lays claim to a platform developed entirely with the best interests of automotive dealerships in mind, you can upgrade your dealer's digital standing in no time.

Considering how important a strong online presence – and having access to a state of the art website – is to your dealership's success in today's marketplace, can you really afford to leverage a substandard platform like WordPress (and miss out on boatloads of business) for even one more day?



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