WordPress is no secret in the blogging world. What may be less known is how great WordPress is as a content management system for regular business sites.
Why Use WordPress To Create A Website?
In my several years of working with business owners to create websites, I’ve encountered two very typical scenarios.
The first scenario is the do-it-yourself business owner who learns just enough HTML to cobble together a website either from scratch or from some template or theme-based site. Typically, the website is just adequate, and maybe not quite as professional looking as expected. “But it’s just temporary until I get the time to really do it right,” says the owner. More often than not, the site is quickly neglected because additions and modifications are just too cumbersome for the busy owner.
The second scenario is the business owner who is willing to spend some money on a web developer to create a site. In this case, the website often ends up costing more than expected. Additionally, the business owner often becomes dependent on the web developer for any future additions or modifications, driving costs even higher.
Both of these scenarios are far from ideal.
If you find yourself in, or contemplating, either of these scenarios, then consider these top-5 reasons to build a website with WordPress:
1. Easy Interface (even for beginners)
The WordPress interface is intuitive and easy to learn. Chances are, if you’ve used a word-processor and have browsed the web, you’ll find the interface familiar. Even if you haven’t, spending a half hour in the Posts and Pages areas (which is where you will live most of the time) will be sufficient.
The areas of WordPress’ interface are neatly organized in drop-down tabs along a right sidebar (See A in above illustration.) Text formatting and media placement in WordPress is similar to most modern-day word-processing applications (See B in illustration.)
After creating one or two posts or pages, you’ll wonder why you ever considered any other tool.
2. Large Selection of Themes
The selection of themes is almost too large. As of this post, the WordPress Theme Directory boasts over 1,300 free themes! Now, to be fair, not every one of them is a gem. But there are plenty of great free themes from which you can build a smart, functional business website.
There are also hundreds of commercial themes to choose from. Again, some are much better than others. My experience is that most of the well-designed commercial themes cost $50-$90 for a single license. If you are a website developer and plan to use the theme on multiple sites, the cost $120-$200. This cost will seem trivial when you realize what these themes can do, and how much time they will save.
My advice is to first browse through the free themes at the WordPress Theme Directory, pick 4 or 5, and play with them.
3. Extended Functionality from Plugins
The number of plugins for WordPress is also impressive. While WordPress has built-in CMS (Content Management System) capabilities, it’s the plugins that truly extend this functionality to another level. Like with themes, not all plugins are created equal. It’s especially important to know your plugins well, as sometimes they can conflict with each other and cause unexpected problems.
For most business websites built on WordPress, there are between 10 and 15 plugins that I would consider essential.
Like themes, most plugins are free (though donations are encouraged, and it’s good karma). There are also a number of commercial plugins that address specific needs on a high level.
The WordPress Plugin Directory is a great place to spend some time learning about which plugins do what. Here you can also see how users have rated each plugin.
4. Large Developer & Support Community
WordPress has been around since 2003 and has become the most popular blogging platform in the world. As a business owner, it should be comforting to know that WordPress is likely to be around for a very long time.
Since WordPress is opensource, it has literally hundreds of developers from around the world working on improving performance, features, and security. This is far more developers than are typically devoted to any one commercial software.
WordPress also has a very large and active support community. There have been many times in the past that I’ve gone to the WordPress Forums to ask a question and either discovered the answer already listed, or posted and received an answer within an hour. That’s impressive customer support, especially when you consider the price!
5. It’s FREE!
Any top 5 list about WordPress must include the fact that it’s opensource and therefore free.
Of course, “free” can be a bit deceiving. While it cost no money to download and install the software on your server or a host, it will cost you some of your time. And presumably, your time is not free.
If you’re a true do-it-yourself business owner, then WordPress is definitely the right choice. Even if you’re a dabbler, you may find that you can get quite far in building and managing your own website with WordPress.
A Hybrid Approach
A very common and successful approach to building a business website with WordPress is what I call a “Hybrid” approach. That is, the business owner hires a WordPress expert to come in and install and setup WordPress. Then, the expert spends an hour or two tutoring the owner on the basics. Then, the expert goes away and the owner spends some time playing and experimenting with themes, designs, posts and pages.
Sometimes the owner learns enough to become proficient on his/her own and the WordPress expert is no longer needed. Occasionally, the expert returns for some refreshers, or to tweak one or two things. Usually, from that point on, the owner is autonomous.
I’ve seen this scenario play out time and time again.
This is why I’m a firm believer in the power of WordPress for business websites. WordPress is an option that every business owner should seriously consider when building or redesigning their website.