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.
Every small business must have a mobile friendly website. Forget expensive mobile applications that people don’t want to download; we’re talking about a responsive design website people can use on their mobile device. With today’s powerful content delivery systems small business owners, and individuals, can be online and ready for mobile in just a matter of hours. Here is why they should:
Nearly 30% of US shopping involves online research or inspiration.
Obviously no intelligent business owner would choose to neglect such a large buying population. In real numbers that percentage represents millions of people. As Google continues to improve their search results you can be sure they will, at least consider, omitting sites which are not mobile ready from the results of searches performed on a mobile device. Continue reading →
I suppose this is a common question for ghost writers, content creators and contract employees who create content for their clients. I get it all the time from my web content and blog content clients. The answer, for my services, is simple: If you buy ready made or generic content my name goes on it. If you retain my services (that means pay me to work for you) then your name goes on the content.
You may or may not be aware than many “authors” actually give their writers the idea they want portrayed whether it’s for books, movies or blog articles and that’s the end of their involvement. In other words many “authors” do not actually write their own content. I know, right? Because I cannot speak on behalf of the many content writers out there who choose to write content on which others place their names I will use my services as an example to give you an understanding of how it works. With that said know when I am writing about services or fees I am writing about my services and my fees which may, or may not, be the general rule.
If a client comes to me with a very specific idea of what they want written and my services will mostly be research and assembly of data followed by a corrective re-write or less I generally charge $100 or more for a blog style article giving all rights to the client. On the other hand if someone simply wants 200 words give or take a dozen on the keyword topic of their choice and my name will stay on the blurb it’s literally only five bucks. Now bear in mind this is partially for my publicity so I do not release the full license for use of the content – this is a one off content license for the single purpose and it does not allow for the removal of the author’s information.
This is still so very simple to do literally anyone can do it. This is how to add a theme (change the look) of your Google site.
Using Google Sites for you business is not recommended but certainly as an extension of your Internet reach or to get you started they are an option freely available to you. Be sure to work along on your Google Site and I am relatively certain you will soon out-run the tutorials and take off on your own. If you have ever created a site anywhere you will find you don’t even need the tutorials.
Google provides several themes for your site and there are developers who create themes for Google sites as well. I am available to do so or you may already know someone who can. If I have time to take the tutorials that far you will learn how to do them yourself.
Back in the ancient days of web development, around 1995 or so, the common name most “gurus” chose for themselves was “Webmaster”. Of course that is, and was, a real term which was not clearly understood in the main stream. The definition, clearly being written, for a Webmaster was essentially: the person charged with overseeing the operation of a website. This included everything from development and design to content and data control. Within the name Webmaster, however, fall two distinct services which are rarely separated in main stream conversation yet when one is engaging the services needed it is relative and of high importance to know and comprehend the differentiations of these two terms developer and designer.
iCobb has provided development since the mid 90's
Why is it important to know the difference between a designer and a developer?
Almost certainly there will be a few who read this post and make the argument it really does not matter. For the person or company writing the checks that statement could be dangerous and costly. Understanding the difference and knowing which tasks are performed by each can help even a small site owner save time and money as well as other types of capital simply by knowing what goals each position is charged with attaining.
Designers, for the purpose of websites, are charged with the look, interface, navigation, and presentation of the site. They are the one who determines the colors, graphics, menu positioning, text styles and other meta-physical attributes of the site. The designer is the one who is, or should be, charged with what you see, what you click and how you describe a site. Generally speaking a new web client will want to show the provider another site to help set a visual direction for the creation of the new site. Understanding how to direct the creation of the website for visual purposes is the responsibility of the designer.
You have heard it, you’ve read about it, people who appear to know stuff have told you: the digital revolution is unwired and if you don’t feed it what it needs to exist it will move on without you. When is this going to happen? It’s already, almost, so last year.
We cannot imagine the resistance Alexander Bell experienced. I remember hearing old people talking about it back int he 60’s saying they thought the phone would be a huge invasion and some called it “the devil’s box”. Why do we always credit “the devil” with innovation? But I digress. Let’s look at communications changes over the last few thousand years:
When I was in communcations classes some 30 years ago we were told 90% of the advancements in communications had been made since 1900. The number today must be closer to 99% of the advancements since 1969.
Many humans are slow to embrace change. Those who are generally miss the opportunity to leverage the excitement of new chances. Now we all know not everyone can do everything. You can’t be a specialist at real estate and a social media guru and a web programmer and a mobile technology expert … the list goes on. You can, however, use the technology as it is made available to you as an “early adopter”.
The important reason to be an early adopter is because if you are a late adopter by the time you start using the old technology another technology has come into play and the old technology is dead. Why is this important? Be where your buyers are coming instead of where they have already been.
We know, now, after me being laughed and scoffed at by Mrs. Garner some 15 years ago, over 80% of all home searches are started on the internet. I bet if she were still in the business she’d have a website just like every other agent. But I wonder if she would scoff at me when I called to tell her she needs to optimze her website for mobile?
We’ve been playing with it. As developers we’ve checked our themes, plugins and widgets. We’ve talked about it in the WP develoepr community. We’ve seen things we really liked and saluted. We’ve seen things we didn’t like and submitted them for changes … and finally, after months of hard effort – WordPress 3.1 is live!
If you self host or host with a WP developer it is possible, certainly not probable, a few things may break along with all the joys of the new features:
Internal Linking – click a button for an internal link and it allows you to search for a post or browse a list of existing content and select it for inclusion.
Admin Bar – contains various links to useful admin screens. By default, the admin bar is displayed when a user is logged in and visiting the site and is not displayed in admin screens for single blog installs. For multisite installs, the admin bar is displayed both when visiting the site and in the admin screens.
Streamlined Writing Interface – new users of WordPress will find the write screen much less cluttered than before, as more of the options are hidden by default. You can click on Screen Options in the top right to bring them back.
Post Formats – meta information that can be used by themes to customize presentation of a post. Read more in the article Post Formats.
Network Admin – move Super Admin menus and related pages out of the regular admin and into a new Network Admin screen.
List-type Admin Screens – sortable columns for list-type screens and better pagination.
Exporter/Importer Overhaul – many under the hood changes including adding author information, better handling for taxonomies and terms, and proper support for navigation menus.
Custom Content Type Improvements – allows developers to generate archive pages, and have better menu and capability controls. Read more in the article Post Types.
Advanced Queries – allows developers to query multiple taxonomies and custom fields.
Refreshed Blue Admin Color Scheme – puts the focus more squarely on your content.
Back between 1995 and about 2000 one of the most costly website jobs to program was a dynamic and interactive website the user could update and maintain on their own. During that period I was able to create some pretty amazing sites, or extensions to sites, for companies like Loomis&Fargo, Shari’s Restaurants, SiGARMS, CrossGeneration Comics, The American Outdoorsman, and many more. Honestly my team and I worked quite diligently to create those sites, mostly eCommerce solutions, to allow the company’s webmasters to update and make minimal changes to the site.
If WordPress had existed back then instead of a few thousand dollars for each site the companies could have had a much more powerful solution for a few hundred or at the most a couple thousand. They also could have been online in hours instead of weeks. So when you try to comprehend what WordPress is just think of a website you can update yourself by adding pages, images, videos, calendars, mailing lists, appointment scheduling, online stores … so much more.
Repeat after me, “WordPress is not a blog.” WordPress can be used as a blog because it’s just that powerful. It can also be used as a user community, an online store, a matchmaking service, an inventory control system, a static website (old school), a photo album community, a real estate site, an auction site … seriously.
WordPress is a Content Management System. If you can send an email you can run one of the most robust websites available.
Here’s a short video with picture and words and music and ….
Don’t get ripped off. Don’t pay hundreds of dollars for what is only worth maybe $300 at max.
First question from most people’s mouth: do you have any sites you can show me?
Here’s the thing – it’s WordPress. The theme is the site. You pick your look. Click on the link to the right and choose from hundreds of looks. (Don’t let the word “membership” confuse you. Call me if it does 877-700-0536) Or you can give me $1500-$2000 and I will choose for you. (That’s a joke that many people fall for – by getting burned paying for someone to install one of these themes for that price.)
ANYBODY CAN INSTALL A THEME. If you are paying someone to install a theme it should not be more than about $35. Even to customize a theme’s looks you should not pay more than about $150 including the creation of a custom header/banner image for most cases.
I DON’T GET IT. The other people are charging $750 – $2500 and you expect me to believe you will do the same thing for less than $300?
Yes. They don’t “design” those WordPress sites. They use a theme, create a custom header, install a few plugins then call me when they can’t get it to work right. Furthermore the chances they actually know PHP, MySQL, AJAX and JSON enough to truly customize a theme is highly unlikely.
If you use a Woo theme purchased through me and web hosting purchased through me you never even write me a check – at all. I will setup your WordPress, install all the applications you need for SEO and social engagement to get you started, install your choice of themes and spend an hour showing you how to use it.