Every small business, every business even, every marketer, every church, every politician, needs a web presence. Years ago when I first began providing web presences for such people it took much more to convince them of the need. Today it seems almost every one of these people recognize the need even if they do not exactly know why. For the sake of this short article let’s assume everyone knows having a website gives direct access to your words, images and sound to nearly every person in your marketplace regardless of scope or size.
When the web first started gaining traction back in 1995 I could charge, and get, as much as $500-$1000 for a single web page, more for small business websites, that actually did something like accept information into a form or provide automated data responses to visitors. Plain static web pages would yield $150-$300 or more depending on graphics and how much content I created for the site owner. This trend continued for a few years and started to change when Microsoft and Macromedia (among others) came out with WYSIWYG, DIY solutions. Unfortunately this led to a proliferation of cookie cutter, amateurish websites which displayed awkwardly on various browsers, contained many errors in style and code, and all too often stayed out of date within days of being published.
By the opening of the new millennium various Content Management Systems were making their way onto the Internet to help solve some of these issues. These framework systems were created by groups of developers working on the code in teams and churning out stable, modifiable solutions almost always available for free. Many of these continue today and our subject, WordPress, was born in the same era and continues to grow and refine today.
But Why Choose WordPress?
Today’s selection of CMS solutions is wide. There are at least four major competitors, although another twenty or so would like to be considered a front-runner, vying for your attention today. Each of them offers a unique blend of solutions and all do so quite well. Only one is highly dominant, for reasons we will discuss, and that is WordPress.
While it is still possible to make a royal mess of a website and to present a cookie-cutter look and feel it is also possible to have a powerful solution, likely valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to have developed from scratch, for much less than I developed five page sites in the mid-nineties. Using the most widely supported CMS helps insure it is stable, secure and continually updated to keep up with changes and challenges every website owner eventually faces.
WordPress Uses Themes
Imagine clicking a button and your entire website look and feel changing instantly. You don’t actually have to imagine because this is exactly what happens with WordPress. There are thousands of free themes available, an equally exhaustive catalog of fee-paid themes, and even having a custom theme developed (most “WordPress experts” who claim to do this only change a few colors and images and do not actually create a custom theme) for a few hundred dollars. Once the theme is installed you can activate it, switch to another, or revert to the “out-of-the-box” default theme quite literally by clicking a button.
WordPress Uses Plugins
One of the most useful things about today’s smart phones and mobile devices is the ability to install min-applications. Plugins are very similar to apps. While I still contract to create custom web apps for non-WP sites today, often for thousands of dollars, there are thousands and thousands of plugins available for WordPress for free or very low fee. The range of what they do seems to be endless and when one cannot be found a custom one can be coded for just a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on need.
WordPress Updates Regularly
For the same cost as purchasing WP, zero dollars, every time an update (major or minor) is released the site owner or manager can upgrade their installation with the click of a button. The same goes for themes and plugins when updates are available for release. Updates often are to enhance security, keep up with changes in HTML, CSS or other protocols, or simply to release a more advanced version.
WordPress Is Widely Supported
According to live reports on WordPress.com there are some sixty million websites using WP today. The development team has a core of full-timers and an army of contributors. Making sure the core of WP is secure, fast, functional, and forward moving at all times is what they do. Any time a report or suggestion is filed by a user it is taken seriously and considered toward future developments and releases.
WordPress Is Responsive
The word responsive, in this case, means it displays well on every browser including mobile. With the release of Theme 2014 the out-of-the-box version of WP is ready for mobile just like it is for laptops, PC’s, and even large screens. What once required a separate plugin and theme set can now be achieved within seconds of installing and activating WP.
WordPress Is Easily Installed On Most Hosting Accounts
Whether your webhost uses CPanel or other management console it is almost certain they offer 1-click installation of multiple WordPress sites. This makes it possible, and simple, for virtually anyone to install and use WordPress online within a matter of minutes. Because each WP site can be installed in the same domain name creating dozens of sites like site1.myurl.com through site99.myurl.com is possible. This makes team management simple and even though it is beyond the scope of this article it is possible to tie all of those installations back together.
WordPress Is Simple To Use
If you can send an email with a photo attached you can post to WordPress. The management console is intuitive and even looks much like an email or word processing interface. Adding photos, changing text styles, including bullet points, inserting videos, and other common tasks are completed using the easy to navigate interface. With certain plugins it is also possible to extend the features and benefits of any WP installation.
A Word Of Caution
Just because you can sit in a race car doesn’t mean you can win a race. Just because you can sit at a piano doesn’t mean you can perform Beethoven. There is an art and a science to excellent presentation online. While it is possible to create a functional website using WordPress, and to be very proud of your results, if you are depending on your website for lead generation, customer interaction, or other crucial business tasks I encourage you to contact me for a free consultation. Sometimes that is all it takes.