What is WordPress, and Why Would a Small Business Use It?
WordPress is quite possibly the best thing that has happened to websites since the Internet itself.
If you ask someone what WordPress is, there’s a good chance they’ll tell you it’s a blog platform, but it’s so much more than that.
Since it first hit the web in 2003 as blog software, WordPress has evolved into a fully functioning content management system. It stores your content, keeps it organized, and makes your website easy to manage and navigate. Best of all, it’s free.
For those of us who once coded websites by typing HTML by hand, WordPress is a monumental blessing. It doesn’t have the same restrictions and complications that programs like WYSIWYG website design applications impose, and it organizes the content in a way that allows designers to manage fewer pages of code. In non-technical terms, that means it’s highly customizable and flexible enough that a website designer can take full control of the design and layout while simultaneously giving consideration to the content.
What is WordPress?
Most website hosting providers offer one-click installation for WordPress. That means once you’ve signed up for hosting, getting WordPress installed on your website is just a click away. Only a few, outdated hosting providers still require manual installation, which involves uploading the WordPress files and database to the server on which the site is hosted.
The code and files include instructions that tell a browser how to display the WordPress website on the screen. This is done through WordPress themes, which are templates that drive the design and layout of each site.
The content of a WordPress site is managed online, from the WordPress dashboard, which is as easy to use as web-based e-mail. From the dashboard, you can compose pages for your site as well as blog posts, and you can add content, including text, images, audio, and video.
Often, people are turned off when they hear words like themes and templates. But WordPress themes can be customized to the point that they don’t even resemble the original look and feel, and there are an enormous variety of themes available.
Most people want a completely original and unique website, especially if they want their business to stand out from the crowd, so it’s understandable that themes or templates don’t sound too appealing. However, there are a number of benefits to using these themes on a website.
For example, many themes have certain standardized components. A navigation menu across the top of a website, a clickable header, and sidebars are familiar to website visitors and make them feel at home. This makes any website easy to navigate and therefore more attractive to visitors.
Also, since the themes are so customizable, it’s entirely possible to strip down a theme and make it look completely different. You can even start with your own design, find a theme that loosely resembles it, and then tweak the theme to match what you have in mind. Or you can choose a theme you like and tweak it until it has a look and feel that satisfies you.
You can also purchase premium themes. Many premium themes are available via licenses through designers who have purchased the right to customize and resell the themes; otherwise, you can buy them directly from the theme creators.
If you have considerable HTML and CSS skills, you can learn how to customize a WordPress theme quickly and easily on your own. And if you don’t have those skills, you can simply hire someone to do it for you. Chances are, it will be a lot cheaper than hiring a website designer to code a fully custom site from scratch.
Problems with Traditional Websites
Traditional websites, which are coded with HTML, present a host of problems and frustrations for business owners:
- If you don’t know how to code your own site, you have to hire someone to do it for you, which means every time you need to make a change or update (no matter how small), you’re reliant on someone else. And you have to pay for it.
- Large amounts of content can be difficult to manage, add to a site, and keep track of without some kind of content management system.
- Small changes to a site’s structure could be costly and time-consuming. For example, you may need to change your URL structure to optimize the site for better search engine performance. That could be tedious and expensive for a larger site that’s not running on any kind of database.
- Designing a site from scratch without a theme or template costs more than customizing a theme because it takes a lot longer.
- It’s difficult to switch designers once your site is up and running. Because a WordPress site uses a theme, if your designer is unavailable or unsatisfactory, you can easily find another who can update your site for you.
WordPress solves many of the problems presented by traditionally coded websites:
- Once your WordPress theme customization is complete and your site is launched, you (or any of your employees) can quickly and easily add content or make changes. It’s literally as easy as composing e-mail.
- WordPress uses a database to manage all your content, and through the WordPress dashboard, you can view and manage that content with great ease.
- With WordPress, changing the URL structure, for example, is just a matter of renaming pages or categories, and that can be done in a matter of minutes.
- Because the site’s design starts from a theme and most coding is done by amending the style sheet, a WordPress website will probably be a lot less expensive than sites rendered the old-fashioned way. The code is already there and it just has to be customized.
- Once your site is up and running, anyone with knowledge of WordPress and themes can make changes to your design or content.
Small Business Websites and WordPress
Of course, there are plenty of other content management systems out there, and WordPress is not appropriate for all situations. Mammoth sites might need a more powerful (and costly) system. WordPress is ideal for small- to medium-sized websites and may even be appropriate for some large, content-oriented sites.
One of my favorite things about WordPress is that it allows you to grow your site with great ease. I can continually add content, and WordPress handles it seamlessly. I don’t have to keep track of all my files, file naming conventions, folders, and directories. WordPress handles all of that for me.
I also appreciate being able to update my site from any computer with an Internet connection as well as from my mobile phone. That definitely comes in handy.
Scribizzy provides WordPress services for small businesses, including website design and customization, website management, and WordPress coaching. For more information or to get a no-obligation quote, contact us.