Every day, I talk to people who have websites but need something else. They need a blog. They need a way to easily publish and share content. They need tools for engaging their customers and prospects in conversations. The need performance and value. In short, they need WordPress.
WordPress is among the most popular and widely used publishing platforms on the internet. In my opinion, there are very few websites out there that couldn’t be better run on a WordPress platform – and probably for far less cost. Here are a few reasons why I feel this way:
1. It’s free. WordPress is a free, open-source internet publishing platform. If you already have a website with content management functionality, you are probably paying for something that is inferior in many ways to WordPress. To be fair, there are some incredible, enterprise-scale content management systems (CMS) out there, but they are overbuilt for most website needs. Back in the 1990s, I was in web development and built these kind of custom content management systems (CMS) as one-offs for a lot of money. Beware of web developers who have been in business since the 1990s because they probably still think you should pay them for their proprietary CMS. You shouldn’t. You should pay someone to customize and deploy a WordPress-based website for you.
2. It’s a CMS, not only a blog. WordPress is a robust publishing system and is capable of being configured as a traditional website, a blog, an online magazine and any combination of those. The beauty of it is that it incorporates blogging and social media right into the heart of your online presence – rather than bolting it on the side like so many proprietary CMS products sold by website builders. WordPress incorporates basic functionality for assigning users with varying permission levels (administrators, editors, authors, etc.) and what it doesn’t do “out of the box” you can often find a plugin to do for you.
3. It’s intuitive and easy to use. WordPress has been so successful because it’s simple and smart. Simple in that with a bit of training ANYONE can publish online. Smart because the architecture separates design from function, so you can make it look like almost anything you want and there are thousands upon thousands of functional enhancements that are free and easy for non programmers to install.
4. Customized premium designs and free themes. A growing number of designers are focusing on creating professionally designed themes for WordPress that can be customized to suit your business. Some designers sell individual themes while others sell monthly access for unlimited use of their themes and pricing is very affordable. Most premium theme designers offer free premium WordPress themes as a promotional strategy and some of these can be very high quality and too. Some of my favourite theme designers are: Obox, Design Disease, Bizzartic, ThemeForest, Press75, WooThemes, and Elegant Themes.
4. There’s a plugin for everything. Want to make it easy to install Google Analytics code – there’s a free plugin for that. Want to make it easy for readers to share your content on other social media sites – there’s a great plugin for that called AddThis. Want to just add a simple Facebook ‘like’ button to the top or bottom of all your posts, there’s a few dozen plugins for that. There are some mind-blowing WordPress plugins that allow you to do almost anything with the base software and most are freely available and easy to install and configure. Again, I cannot fathom why you would want to be dependent on a developer for something you can install and configure yourself for free.
5. Almost everything in WordPress can be done by non-programmers. Even if that person is not you, an administrative assistant or an outsourced support person can manage your WordPress site and it’s content through the administrative backend interface, including upgrading and installation of the program itself, plugin installation, design changes – virtually everything. Then, there is a whole other realm of things you can do with WordPress if you have some familiarity with code, but are far from a programmer.
6. Low cost hosting. Since WordPress is free, open source software, many ISPs offer it freely as part of their hosting accounts. Depending on your hosting and traffic requirements, WordPress site hosting can be as little as $50 per year. Yeah – per year. I strongly advise that you look long and hard at any value proposition that has you paying double or triple that amount per month for hosting. I’m not recommending cheap and cheerful hosting for everyone, but I am suggesting that in many situations the price you are paying for hosting bears little relation to the cost of providing that service or it’s quality. In other words, there are still a lot of businesses getting snowed on website hosting.
7. Portability. WordPress makes it easy for you to back-up all your content – that is, static pages, blog postings and comments can all be exported and saved offline for back-up purposes. This also means that your WordPress-based website and all its content can be easily migrated from one vendor to another and YOU are in control of that process – not your vendor.
8. Search engine optimization. SEO is a big topic these days and WordPress is way ahead of that game. Search engines don’t like the coded URLs that CMS websites tend to generate because they cannot index them as easily for human consumption. WordPress makes it easy to create your site with word-based URL strings that search engines love and then there are another 20 WordPress plugins for SEO that you can download for free.
WordPress is available in a free hosting form at WordPress.com. However, the differences between WordPress.com and hosting WordPress yourself on your own domain is not always apparent. In summary, if you host yourself you have much more control and ownership over the content than if you go the free route – and you get that for a modest cost. At the end of the day, this is a cost for which the benefit is enormous.
Join the social media revolution and rebuild your website using WordPress today!
[Illustrations courtesy of Norebbo Designs.]