I have been web designing since 2008 and have used all sorts of systems and platforms, from Site Build It! (which I love for many reasons, including the solid protocols around good content marketing and white-hat SEO but is just too clunky overall), to my own HTML sites, designed in Dreamweaver or Kompozer to Apple’s ‘me’ sites, designed in iWeb.
Although I am not claiming to be a designing/web tech expert by any stretch of the imagination, I have gained a good insight into what works best as a small business owner who wants versatile functionality, ease of use, cost-effectiveness and the ability to update and add to my site without paying a webmaster at every turn.
I have designed and ran at least 20 of my own websites since 2008, many of which I no longer use or have sold (old affiliate sites, sites for products that I no longer sell, or experimental sites as a new business owner finding my feet). Plus my iBrand Boost services team have designed sites for a few of our clients.
All in all, there’s only one web platform that I now use for my 5 main sites and recommend to my clients and that’s WordPress.org. It’s amongst my top 10 online business systems recommendations.
First off, let’s be clear, I’m not talking about a Wordpres.com blog. This is hosted by WordPress and means that they own and control the content, so you can’t place ads on it, for example. There’s room for a WordPress.com blog as a good social networking and additional marketing platform, but not for your main site.
I’m talking about a SELF-hosted WordPress.ORG site. So you buy your domain (from somewhere like Godaddy), get yourself some hosting (from somewhere like Bluehost, Hostgator or WPEngine) an then install the WordPress.org free, open-source platform on your own domain. All this is very simple by the way.
So let’s look at the reasons why I and the vast majority of other website owners in all fields, from small business to big business to portfolio sites, to bloggers to ecommerce sites, all use and are big fans of WP.
1. It’s Free & Open Source
Yep, it’s 100% free – always has been and doesn’t matter how big your site gets, or how profitable. Because it’s open source, there are thousands of useful tools, features, themes and plugins that have been built and constantly innovating, to make WordPress truly a super-versatile an easy solution for any type of business and website need.
2. Easy ‘1-Click Install’ & Secure
If you’re a technophobe or your mind is boggling with the thought of hosting and installing things then fear not, I promise you, it’s very simple. The vast majority of hosting companies do a ‘1-click install’ for WordPress so you can literally have your site up and running in a matter of minutes. Plus, there’s lots of really good free tutorials on YouTube to show exactly how to get your site up and running with the 1-Click functionality on your hosting service.
Support is great, there are frequent upgrades being released to tighten your site’s security and functionality. Plus, it’s easy and cheap to back up your site with various plugins like WP Backup.
3. Great Content Management System (CMS)
It is super-easy to add images, videos, media files, new pages and posts. It’s as easy as creating documents in Word and saving files on your hard drive. Anyone can do it. Plus you can add multiple users with different rights – admin, author, publisher. So you could give your assistant or staff member permissions to add new pages but not be able to change backend functionality and settings.
4. Better than Joomla or Droopal
There are only really three main contentders in the ‘best CMS’ runnings and WordPress really beats these other two hands down.
WordPress is cheaper on average to set up and run, it has many more themes, plugins and extensions designed for it, it is much easier to use.
Joomla and Droopal may be a better choice if you want a very scalable site or a front-end ecommerce site. That said, if WP is good enough for giants like Time, Ford and MTV then it should be good and scalable enough for our (likely) more modest sites.
There are currently over 24,000 plugins that you can add to your WordPress site. Do you need a contact form? There’s a plugin. Want to add Google analytics? There’s a plugin. Want to add a sitemap for good SEO and Google indexing/user navigation (essential by the way), there’s a plugin. Want social media share buttons? There’s a plugin.
And there’s not just one plugin, there’s multiple for all of our needs and differences in preference for look and feel. Whilst most of the plugins are free, there are some premium, paid plugins that really take your site to the next level.
For example, I use Digital Access Pass to add a paid membership area and product deliverability to my WordPress sites. I use Social Metrics Pro to track my SEO and social signals. You can add shopping carts, forums and anything else you could think of.
6. Visual WYSIWYG Editor is Great
If you can use MS Word to type a document, you can add and change web pages using WordPress. The visual editor is simple, robust and means that anyone in your organisation can add new pages and blog posts easily to your site. No more learning HTML, no more FTPing new pages up to your site – no more contacting Mr Webmaster to add a new page or update your business opening hours, with a significant bill attached to it.
7. Saves a Lot of Money on a Web Designer
Mentioned above but I think that this is so significant that it deserves its own section. Honestly, using WordPress will likely save you thousands of pounds in both your own time and employing a professional webmaster
That’s not to say that you will want to do EVERYTHING yourself but what I’ve found works best is, if you are not technically minded or want to outsource the more technical stuff to save time (and that would be a very smart move, so you can focus on what you’re best at), to get all that done by someone else and then you can simply add new material – i.e. good quality content.
See my other post which goes into detail about what you should do on your site and what to outsource.
There are endless different themes to explore in WordPress that will customise the look, feel and functionality of your site just how you want it. Again, this saves web design costs.
There are many free themes for WordPress and these will do just fine but the premium paid themes are also pretty inexpensive and are worth the investment for a superior site owner and visitor experience.
Some classic WP premium themes that I and thousands of other site owners love are Thesis from DIY Themes, any of the Woo Themes, the Genesis Framework themes from Studiopress and my favourite of all time, that I use now fr this site and my main niche health site Alkaline Diet Health Tips site is Optimizepress by James Dyson. I am about to do a full review of Optimizepress 2.0 which is about to be released, so keep an eye out for that.
Once WP is installed on your domain via your hosting company, everything you do is accessed via your online admin dashboard. So rather than designing pages offline and then uploading them (FTPing them) online, you simply login online and make changes and additions to your site. The advantage of this is that you can work from anywhere, on any computer.
You can also e-mail new content to your site and it will appear as a new page or post. Very handy, especially if your aim is to run a 4-Hour Work Week style business – working from anywhere with an internet connection.
Although WordPress is much more than just a blog – it is exceptional for use as your whole website for the reasons I am talking about in this post, it shouldn’t be overlooked that a lot of other website platforms require a blog to be added to it as a kind of extension. With WP, it’s all-in-one.
Out-of-the-box, WP is pretty search engine optimized, in terms of on-site factors. With a simple tweak, URL structure is good, you can add an SEO plugin that will enable adding your page and post meta data really simple, as well as image ALT tags and various other factors. You can easily add a sitemap and robots.txt files, as well as Google Analytics.
Google is known to like WordPress sites and having one could aid your other SEO efforts.
12. Displays Well on All Devices & Browsers
WordPress websites render well on all operating systems, devices and browsers – truly a universally recognised platform. You still need to consider your mobile users though
13. Responsive Design-Ready
With internet usage via mobile devices set to reach 50% by the end of 2014, one of the things that you need to factor in with your web design is being mobile-accessible. Having a site that people have to scroll and pinch and zoom around endlessly is a real pain and will lose you visitors and repeat visitors. Think about it, YOU access the internet on your phone don’t you? So all your potential customers are too.
One of the easiest ways to get our site mobile-friendly, is to use a ‘responsive design’ WordPress theme. This means that when your site is accessed on a tablet or smartphone, it automatically resizes itself down to fit the screen.
Google has announced (unusual for Google to state a cod-hard fact about its preferences, so we should take this seriously) that it favours responsive sites.
This is taken straight from the Google Developers site:
“We recommend using responsive web design because it has many good aspects: Using a single URL for a piece of content makes it easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to your content, and a single URL for the content helps Google’s algorithms assign the indexing properties for the content.” – Google
14. Social Media Integration
WordPress makes it really easy to add social media share factors – plugins like Digg Digg and Add This allow you to have any number and combination of social media share buttons before, after or at the side of your content on any or selected pages and posts. You can pre-populate tweets with your web links, add your Facebook business page box widget to your site’s sidebar and many other great social media features that will help your site get noticed, shared and build up credit in the Google ranking stakes, since social signals are now a significant factor in the Google ranking algorithm, since Panda & Penguin.
15. Versatility & Functionality
Your site can truly grow with you as your business grows. I have used WordPress for a simple blog, a 5-page affiliate site, a full-blown paid membership site, a product launch site and various other things in between.
If you want to add a forum, you can, easily and for free. If you want to get rid of an out-dated forum and add a membership site or e-commerce store, you can. Want to completely change the look and feel of your site without a massive rehaul? Simply change the theme.
Bottom line – WordPress is EASY, versatile, robust, FREE, favoured by millions of other web users and site owners, well-supported and upgraded frequently.
In my view, you’d have to have a very specific and compelling reason NOT to choose WP for your business website.
Let me know about your WordPress experience in the comments below. Are there any other reasons why you like or dislike WordPress?