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For the sake of simplicity, my question is focused specifically on Wordpress instead of focusing on all Content Management Systems including Joomla, Drupal, Concrete5, or you-name-it.

Wordpress is becoming ever more popular. You can extend it's feature set with widely available plugins or you can simply design your own plugins if you know a little bit about programming. There are more and more "big" (read well-known, famous or credible) websites that are built using Wordpress. For some examples, take a look at this link.

Abraham Maslow once said, "It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." I see this tendency within the community of Wordpress developers, and while I value their knowledge and advice on what can be done using Wordpress, I'm afraid that asking them my question about "when to use Wordpress" will only be met with a blank stare that says "is there a time you would not use Wordpress?" This fact is very visible when you do a google search for "when to use wordpress". The situation does improve slightly if you search for "when not to use wordpress".

So my question is, in this year 2011, what criteria should best help a web developer determine whether or not to use Wordpress for a given project?

Edit1:
After some more searching I found this excellent post on this topic: http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/10594/when-should-we-not-recommend-a-client-use-wordpress

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put on hold as off-topic by gnat, gbjbaanb, Ixrec, Snowman, Jim G. 2 days ago

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Is there a time you would not use Wordpress? (only kidding, good question) – pdr Apr 10 '11 at 17:24
    
I think this belongs on wordpress SE. – Mahmoud Hossam Apr 10 '11 at 18:01
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I didn't even know there is a wordpress SE community. The only problem I see is that it might be doing exactly what I was complaining about above, asking a bunch of people why they wouldn't use their only hammer on a given nail. – HK1 Apr 10 '11 at 18:15
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@Mahmoud Everyone at that community would be biased to Wordpress since thats the entire reason they joined the site. At least here the OP can get a subjective opinion. And besides, this question is written well enough to fit here – TheLQ Apr 10 '11 at 19:41
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@TheLQ they might be biased towards the platform, but they also happen to know better about it than anyone, the OP gets to decide whether their opinions are of benefit to him/her or not. – Mahmoud Hossam Apr 10 '11 at 19:46
up vote 15 down vote accepted

On my projects I ask myself: What primarily is this site?

  • Is it primarily a blog? - Use Wordpress
  • Is it primarily a bunch of static pages? - Use Plone CMS, Radiant CMS, or write my own
  • Is it primarily a community site? - Use Drupal or (rarely) Joomla

Don't use Wordpress or any CMS for that matter for something that it wasn't meant to be used for.

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I think the more important question is "why"? Are there any technical reasons that a tool aren't the best tool for the job. After all, the primary functionalities of a blogging tool and CMS are very similar, to edit and manage a bunch of texts. – Lie Ryan Sep 7 '11 at 13:46
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@Lie Because over time you'll start fighting the software to do something it wasn't intended to. – TheLQ Sep 7 '11 at 15:22
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like, editing text? Seen from any angle, Wordpress is a CMS, it just calls itself a blogging engine. There is no merit in distinguishing what they are by what they decided to call themselves, that's just like claiming seahorse and horse are related because they are both called horses. – Lie Ryan Sep 7 '11 at 20:36

For the projects that I've worked on, it depends on the size and functionality that the client requests. If they just want a CMS-esque system that they can update content easily, with few people using it, I would use Wordpress, have it themed and off they go.

If they wanted more granular permission structures (aka certain users only have rights to upload images, etc..), other features like forums, or multi-site configurations to name a few, I would move more to a CMS like Drupal or Joomla.

Now the new changes to Wordpress will negate some of that (multi-site config mostly), but there's still a divide. If it's a smaller site for say a local realtor or small business Wordpress would be my choice. For something like an online magazine I'd look at the other options outlined above.

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Ok, there is a difference between wordpress.com and self-hosted verion commonly but erroneously called wordpress.org

The .com version is hosted by WordPress servers and have limitations on commercial use, so you would not use it if you have a commercial agenda. It also is limited to what themes and plugins you can use. So if you want to use special non-approved themes or plugins .com is a no no. See http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/what-are-the-limitations-of-wordpress-com/

I started off with hand coding websites a decade ago and have used other CMS's but now prefer using WordPress (self-hosted) for nearly all my and my clients' needs. However, I would not use it for a simple website (like an online CV) as it would be an overkill.

Another point is that it is not very compatible with cheap (usually shared) hosting as it can easily hit the unpublished I/O limits of these packages. The effect of this is to drastically slow down your site especially when editing in "admin" dashboard.

But with the latest plugins and themes, WordPress can be used for most needs from personal home pages to a full blown e-commerce site. Developers can also "hook" into its core to provide unlimited customisations.

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