What Is WordPress? Why is it a Great Choice for Small Business?
I live and breathe WordPress every day in my work. I often take for granted that everyone who owns a website MUST know what it is and sometimes forget that not everyone is aware of the different types of websites out there. If you own a business, and therefore a website, I’m here to tell you that WordPress may be something you are missing out on and why it just might be the best option for managing your website.
Back in the day of early web development, websites were often developed using a piece of software; FrontPage is a good example, that allowed you to lay out the pages much like designing a flyer – as a static (putting everything in its’ place permanently) page that linked to other pages. The problem with this type of website design is that if you need to make a change to something that appears on every page, you have to go through every page and edit it. And, if you ever decide to change the layout of your page, all of the information on it is glued together like a collage of photos on paper, and the only way to transfer your information from one layout to another is to copy and paste EVERYTHING and re-format it once it’s in its new place. Enter Content Management Systems, or CMS.
A CMS is essentially a website interface that sits on top of a database (too technical for you? It’s ok, you don’t need to know any more than that for now) and the content is stored and handled completely separately from the layout and mechanics of the site. This is great because it allows someone who is not technical to be able to forget about getting things to go in the right place and how to make it look pretty, and instead, focus on making fantastic content. Everyone knows the phrase, Content is King, and it truly is. Search engines have really beefed up their abilities to position websites with excellent content and user interaction higher in ranking than those whose content is stale, not-engaging, and outdated. WordPress is a fantastic solution to let you worry more about your content and search engine rankings than why you can’t get your text to appear on the right column and why it’s taking up the whole width of the page, rather than one-third, like it’s supposed to, for example.
WordPress is one of a handful of CMS options available to Entrepreneurs and anyone who owns a website today. I happen to believe that MOST of the time, it is the best choice for Entrepreneurs, compared to simply not having a CMS at all, and the other options such as: Joomla, Drupal, and some other cloud-based systems out there. Here’s why:
- It’s FREE. WordPress is open-source, meaning that the source code is not locked for accessing and editing, meaning anyone can develop additional features and manipulate the code to suit their needs. I know you probably won’t be editing much of the code yourself, but there are thousands of WordPress developers out there just waiting to help you out! (I happen to know of a company called Ekcetera that can help you – wink, wink.) However, don’t misunderstand me. Just because something is Open-Source, doesn’t mean that additional services associated with running, customizing, and maintaining a piece of open software are free. It just eliminates the investment of the software itself, which makes it an extremely budget-friendly option. The Open Source Initiative is a beautiful thing!
- It’s easy. WordPress has an extremely easy-to-use interface, which makes it so simple for anyone to navigate and manipulate. It utilizes a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor, which allows you to add and edit your content in a simple and familiar way – much like editing a Microsoft Word document. On the development side of things, installation is very fast and easy, and updating the software is easy as well. Everybody loves easy!
- It’s flexible. In additon to the out-of-the box features that are included with WordPress, it allows you to customize with plugins, widgets, and themes. Ok, did I lose you? Plugins are small applications (think apps on your smartphone) that you PLUG IN that allow you to add specific, customized functionality that you need specific to your business. Widgets are content areas on the page, like a sidebar or footer, that allow you to move entire sections of information around quickly, like your twitter feed, newsletter subscription box, article category listing, etc. Themes are the graphic interface and layout of the site. There are literally thousands of paid and free themes available and more are being designed and released daily. In almost an instant, you can change the look of your site because your mood changes one day! In my experience of working with WordPress, I have yet to come across a demand a site has required that WordPress cannot meet. PLUS, because it’s open source, although there are thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes available, if you find a great developer, you can easily have something made or customized to further meet your needs. Don’t like the steps a plugin takes the user through? Customize it. Like a theme you found, but wish it had a different background? Change it, or build one from scratch – you have 100% control of the layout.
- It’s search engine friendly. Search engines love WordPress and it has wonderful tools available to take the guesswork out of Search Engine Optimization. WordPress was designed with proper SEO in mind and sites built in WordPress tend to naturally rank higher than those that don’t.
- Everybody’s doing it! Companies big and small use WordPress for their sites. It is the most popular CMS platform available and it continues to grow. While I’d be the first to say that just because everyone else is using it, doesn’t mean that you should, its popularity means that there are more and more web developers specializing in it, more and more plugins and themes are available, and its widespread popularity makes it so much easier to use and support. Which brings me to my next point…
- It’s got great support and a great community. The WordPress community is one of the best out there. This means that if you have a problem with your site, it’s extremely likely that someone else has had the same problem, they’ve posted about it online, and it will be much easier for you to solve your own problems much faster and easier than with other systems whose support is less readily available, as is often the case with Open-Source software. There are so many people that are extremely passionate about WordPress, that they will often look at your specific problem for you and suggest fixes for free! It’s such a giving community.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, let me share this. I was a skeptic at first. I was perfectly happy building my sites from scratch and re-inventing the wheel every time I needed to use the same functionality over again. I slowly got turned on to WordPress because a few of my clients asked for it and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have converted all of my sites to WordPress and think I’ll be here to stay. I’m open-minded enough to know that it isn’t for everyone. There are a few drawbacks to using it, but I’ve been able to overcome each and every one of its problems and find a solution that works well without compromising. I’ve never worked on a site that had more custom requirements than it was able to offer. Hands down, my choice is a WordPress site for any small business. I hope that at very least, this helps you open your mind to consider it as well.
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I love WordPress – to a certain extent. I use it on my personal website – I started out using it just for blogs, but I’m working to migrate my static pages to “WordPress Pages” and develop a personal theme with different templates for different types of pages. It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s a better option, for the reasons you put in the first or second paragraph.
I recently started on a job where they use joomla – and wow is it different. I was so used to WP and it’s extreme simplicity and logic, that when I went into joomla, I was so lost. It feels really backwards and complex, while essentially completing the same tasks as WP – making and managing a website, content and layout. I also allows widgets and plugins (with different names) and posts/pages is a little different – it’s all called “Articles” but then you can make a page (like a blog page in WP) that shows multiple articles or one that is more static and displays just one article (wordpress single post or page). It’s confusing in that you make the page, then go to the layout section and choose the template you want and within the template you choose the multiple(?) pages you want that template to appear on – whereas in WP you choose the template for each page when editing that page. So it’s a little backwards in that sense.
Anyway, WP is awesome and I wish more people would get how it can really be used as more than just a blog.
I agree, I hope more people learn about its benefits beyond blogging.