In a nutshell yes, WordPress is free, but… there are parts that you probably need to pay for to make the most out of WordPress. Here is a quick outline of how WordPress is made up. There are three main components to the system:

  • WordPress Core
  • Plugins
  • Themes

WordPress Core – Free

This is free to download. You can start your own blog and install many free plugins to enhance the features of your website.

Plugins – Free

These are individual bits of software that fit into the WordPress Core and enable you to extend the features of your website. For example, if you wanted a contact form on your site you might install the contact 7 plugin.

Plugins – Paid

These are individual bits of software that you have to pay for that plugin to the WordPress Core and extend the functionality. For example, if you want to CRM (Custom Relationship Management System) on your website you might install the JetPack CRM plugin which costs a couple of hundred dollars.

Theme – Paid

There are paid and free themes, but the free themes aren’t a scratch on the paid ones in terms of style, so most WordPress Sites use a paid theme.

Updates – Paid

The Core, Plugins and Themes all need updating. We recommend paying for updates and then only applying critical security updates. This helps to keep the website as stable as possible without breaking stuff or randomly introducing new features released by automatic plugin updates that could break your website resulting in lost leads and sales.

The Core and Plugins should be updated whenever there are new security patches. The theme only needs to be updated every 3 – 5 years (unless there is a critical security patch).  The average lifecycle of a website, according to Google, is 2.7 years, so somewhere in the 3 – 5 year range of a website, we recommend updating everything, not just security patches. We update the entire WordPress core, the plugins, and the theme to the latest version. This can cause significant changes to the way your website looks and works. It is generally 8 – 16 hours of work to update your site, including minor restyling, depending on the complexity of the site.

Bear in mind there are 346,000 lines of code in the WordPress Core alone, so it can be a decent chunk of work to complete this major update properly without any corner cutting and a healthy amount of testing. Once everything has been update, your site should be good to go for another 3 – 5 years.