Is using WordPress cheating?

The other day someone asked if using WordPress is cheating. Specifically, cheating a client.

Why use WordPress or other CMS, such as Drupal, when you can (or should) code it in pure code.

That would mean you will have to write the front-end, which is HTML, CSS and JavaScript. However, that’s not the only thing when making a website. In addition to that, you would have to set up a database and write the website logic, which is the back-end. Finally, you would have to upload it to a live server.

We have to understand the purpose that WordPress and other CMS’s offer. They aren’t good to build a dating site or a social network site, nor they aren’t suitable option to build a very robust system like Amazon.

What is WordPress good for is to have a blog or some sort of e-commerce. Some say Shopify is better for e-commerce, and that’s okay. Shopify it’s also a CMS. You should really choose the best tool for the job.

Some of you might think that using WordPress or Shopify or any other CMS’s, is cheating a client. It’s stealing!


Let me challenge your thinking a bit.

You and client

A client contacts you, and he want’s a simple blog. He want’s the website to be easy to use. He want’s the ability to edit any part of the website within his admin dashboard, as well as add new users that can write the blog posts. Potentially expanding the whole blog and adding new features in the near future.

He has a business going on, and he needs a website right now.

The process

You can either use WordPress, and do a theme from scratch, or code the entire site from the ground up – let me tell you the two scenarios.

Vanilla Code

Alright, the client has handed you the PSD of the website he want’s to have. You look at it and you start off with the front-end.

You do the HTML/CSS part, then you include the JavaScript part, and it takes you about a week or so. Now it’s time to put dynamic logic to the website, back-end. Let’s say you’re using PHP. You will have to set up the database and create all the rows and columns, know how to name it and so on.

Now you can start off doing your web app. So you set up a hundred files, a database file, create different classes for the user and so on. You start coding it.

There is a lot of code to be written. You have to test it and secure. In addition, because there is no admin area, you’d have to create that too. Not only in the back-end, but you’d have to create the front-end too. Which will take you even more time, especially when you need to write more JavaScript to the front-end.

You might even get stuck, and that might take a while to figure out, with the current code you have.

All of this will take a lot of time – something that it’s a killer in today’s world.

The WordPress way

The client hands you the PSD’s, you do the front-end, it’ll take you a week. Now, depending on the site and experience of the person that’s doing it, as well as his past reference to older projects, he could probably write the code in few days.

He doesn’t have to create the admin area, the main logic and structure is there, so he’s just using a big abstraction to do things. You have documentation how to do most of the things you want, that you can find in google, and you can easily ask the other developers for help, as the code is universal – although there are a million ways to go on about building a theme.

Advantage using a CMS’s over Hand Coding All

A Client want’s a website done in a week. He want’s the website to be flexible, he wants to change the content inside. Perhaps he want’s a totally new thing (a plugin in WP). ANd he has a limited budget.

Now, that’s a LOT of work if you were to code all of that up!

The advantage of using a CMS is that the client will be able to find tutorials online. A better advantage to using a CMS like WordPress is that many people have probably used WordPress before, so they will be already familiar with it. Unlike with the system you build, you will have to train them, which will take more time, and cost more.

The CMS will be a lot more flexible if the client wants to do something after the contract between you and him is finished. What if he want’s to add a new feature, such as analytics tool? He can just install a plugin for that. Well, yes yes, but if you code the analytics tool, or use an API and all that fun, it will take more and again, he will need to hire another developer. That developer will then need to understand how you build the website. While WordPress has a sort of industry standard on how things work-ish.

Cost of the project

You can charge a fair price when building a WordPress site. It all depends on what sort of WordPress site you’re building, and what you have to offer.

Mover, if you’re building from scratch, it will take a lot more time, which means it will take more hours to finish it.

So assume you get paid $30 ph, it takes you a week to make a WordPress site, and 4weeks to make the same site, but all hand coded.

Which one do you think will be cheaper? The quality? WordPress has a great code! What you’re talking about?!

Now, let me challenge your thinking right now a bit.


It takes you 1week to finish the WordPress site from the moment you start. While it takes you 4weeks to hand code the site.

Now the client has to pay 3times more and wait 3times longer.

In addition, he could have made 7 week of progress! That’s almost two months of more business he could have from the website if it was only up. Where did I get the number 7?

If it takes you 1 week to do the site, the client can start earning more money with it. So on the 4th week, he would be already 3weeks in the online business. So he just lost 3weeks if you were to make the site.

Now, imagine that he starts on week 4, to be where he could have been, before, when we wrote, he would need 3weeks more. So that’s a lot of delayed work!


It will take you more time to do this, and then do the back-end of it, and set it up on the server. In addition, you will have to teach your client how to use what you just created, while WP is a lot easier since most people know it, if not, there is plenty of stuff out there.

He can hire any developer, so none is going to look at your code (in a way).

So it takes you 1months to produce this, and you charge him 5times more. So in the client view, you might now cheat him to prolong all of this and charge more.

Anyway, this doesn’t matter that much, most clients will want WordPress, and they already know about it. They are familiar with this. WordPress powers 25% of the web and it’s a multi-million(or billion) dollar industry. That’s how the economy of it works, and none of us needs to like it, but that’s the reality, as a side note.


You develop a WordPress theme for the client, it takes a lot faster, most of the functionality is already build and you can get that done in a week, provide more value and BAM, go to the next client, while the client now makes more money because of you. So instead of wasting 4weeks waiting for a site, now he get’s a site in 1week, which means he will earn for 3extra weeks so now he earned 7weeks of free time. That’s what he wants.

They don’t care what you do, or how you code it, all they care is if they have a website that works. Now, as a coder, you should care about the code, but your code will be spaghetti when you’re starting out anyway.

Skill Required

And at the end, it will take a lot of skill to create something like WordPress. WordPress wanst build in a day, so wasn’t a business or a city or your stamina or any other skill you might have.

To create user roles, a safe login system, user profile, all the little features. That’s a big project. The code needs to be effective, you will need to optimize it and such.

WordPress gives us this BIG abstraction where we need to use parts of code in a specific way to manipulate on how the website works.



Cheating is when a client want’s a theme and has no idea how much it costs, and you charge him $5000. THen you go to ThemeForest and buy a theme for $50, modify it in a day and sell it to the client for $5000. That’s cheating to me! That can ruin someone’s business.

If you do cheat, bare in mind that you might hurt your career as well, in some cases – it all depends. I talked with a friend a while ago, and he said he found out about this guy who did XYZ that lives at the other part of the states.


Do whatever is right. Look at both perspectives. At the end, you’re not cheating anyone unless you’re taking advantage of them. Coding a site from ground or scratch using a CMS like WordPress, it’s just a matter of preference and they are different things.

Many clients will want you to use WordPress in the first place, while you might want to hand code. Bear in mind what I wrote before.

Tell the client what you’ll be doing, explain everything cleary, and make a decision with him. Many clients don’t care how technology works, so that’ll be up to you!

Happy Freelancing!

Any questions, or if you want to add something just comment below!

Meet the author

Meet the author

Aurelian Spodarec

Front-end WordPress developer that blogs about web development. I like using the right tools for the job. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking healthy food and then eating it. Delicious!