If you’re a business owner, you need to have a website. And as far as we’re concerned, your search for how to build that website should stop at WordPress. But this piece of advice is sometimes met with resistance. Why?
The Myth: WordPress is just for blogging
Anyone that works with websites hears this a lot, and we’re no exception. You suggest (or strongly recommend) using WordPress for their site and the response is:
“WordPress? Isn’t that just for blogging?”
Here’s where the confusion comes in:
- WordPress.com is intended primarily as a blogging platform, and it’s not typically what we recommend for business use.
- WordPress.org, however, is where you can get all the information you need to install self-hosted WordPress on your site.
With WordPress.com, you can buy your own domain name and make some changes, but you don’t have as much control as if you use self-hosted WordPress. With self-hosted WordPress, your site is hosted somewhere else (like WPEngine or Bluehost), and you install the WordPress software onto your site. This gives you complete control over the look and feel of your website, which you can then build to your needs.
Of course, we recommend you have a blog on your site–they’re great for a multitude of reasons. But to say WordPress is “just for blogging” would be the same thing as saying a pen is “just for writing on post-it notes.” Which is to say, it’s only a tiny fraction of the full range of possibility.
What WordPress really is:
Now that we’ve addressed where a lot of the confusion about WordPress arises, let’s talk about what it really is:
WordPress is a CMS: a content management system. The best way to explain this is that WordPress makes it easy to manage the content on your website. The problem that business owners used to have–and which you may have had in the past–is that you hire a designer/developer to create a beautiful site and get it live. And then, unless you have a strong background in coding yourself, the website sites there, untouched and without updates, because you don’t have the time to figure out how to update it, and you don’t want to pay your developer every time the copy needs refreshing.
This is bad news. It leads to a stale and unappealing site from a potential customer’s point of view (and potentially, outdated information that will then frustrate and confuse the potential customer). Outside of that, search engine algorithms look at when a site was last updated and how often it’s updated as a sign of freshness and reliability. If your site hasn’t been updated in years, it’s probably not ranking as well for search keywords as it should.
WordPress, on the other hand, makes it so that once you’ve got your gorgeous custom designed site up, it’s as easy as logging in and going to the easy-to-use text editor to update your content or write a blog post. If you’re starting out at ground zero when it comes to tech proficiency, there will still be a learning curve, but if you’re familiar with even the most basic pieces of HTML and WYSIWYG editors, then you’ll be good to go. And if you’ve done any kind of writing online, you’re probably familiar with those–even if you don’t know the acronym. “WYSIWYG” just stands for “What You See Is What You Get” and means that you can see how the text and images will actually appear when laid out on the webpage. All in all, it’s very easy to get started using WordPress, and you’ll be able to update your copy and write blog posts without paying an outsider to do so for you.
Not only that, but WordPress’s flexibility and ease of use makes it suitable for any size of business. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is check out this list of “big name” brands using WordPress for their sites, or browse through the WordPress showcase. Everyone from local pet shops to the New York Post uses WordPress; in fact, 23.2% of all websites use it. So you’ll be in good company.
Part of the flexibility of WordPress comes from it being open source. That means the code is openly available for others to use, edit, and add on to, which is part of the reason that there are thousand upon thousands of plugins (both free and paid) you can use to extend the functionality of WordPress. There are ways to integrate WordPress with pretty much every other business tool on the market, from analytics to email marketing to social media.
To sum up: WordPress is used by hundreds of thousands of sites, big and small, it’s open-source and flexible, it’s easy to learn and you can update your content yourself, it integrates with all your favorite business tools, and you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for the software. Sounds pretty good when you put it that way!
You’ve convinced me to switch–how do I start?
Ready to jump on the WordPress bandwagon? Here’s your starter toolkit:
- Make sure you’re educated on your WordPress hosting options.
- Choose a theme. WooThemes is one popular marketplace for themes, and Genesis is another popular theme framework that can be completely customized.
- Decide what plugins you’re going to start with. Here’s one top-ten list, and here’s a more comprehensive list.
- And of course, if you need help at any step of the way, we’re here for you.