What is WordPress & Who is using it?
WordPress originally started as a blogging platform 10 years ago and has evolved into a content management system (CMS) and is even used to power E-commerce websites. It is search engine friendly, open source and free, which means you don’t pay any licencing fees to use it. Getting started with WordPress for a blog can be really easy to setup, especially if you use the standard theme that comes with WordPress. If you are wanting to use WordPress for a professional business website then this is where you will probably need to get help.
WordPress currently powers over 17% of all websites on the internet. Companies and large publishers like eBay, Ford, Sony, Samsung, UPS, New York Times, Forbes, Reuters and CNN are using WordPress to power their own websites and blogs. This huge user base also means there is a global community of developers and designers who are constantly working on making WordPress even better. This means that if you choose WordPress as a solution for your business website then you know it is going to be around well in to the future and be well supported.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
If you are trying to find out more about WordPress for your website you might be confused at the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Here are they key differences:
Pros of WordPress.com
- All of the technical maintenance work is taken care of — Setup, upgrades, spam, backups, security, etc.
- Your blog is on hundreds of servers, so it’ll always remain available, even under high traffic
- Your content is backed up automatically
- It has a free option with extras that you can pay for such as your own domain name. If you just want a blog then this might be the right solution for you.
Cons of WordPress.com
- Your website may contain ads which is one way your free website is covered. (you can pay an additional yearly fee to have these removed)
- You cannot upload a custom theme. They do offer a variety of themes to choose from (some free and some premium that you pay for)
- You can’t modify the PHP code behind your blog
- You can’t upload plugins (one of the biggest disadvantages as this is how you can really customise how your website works)
- They don’t offer email accounts so you are stuck with a free email service, which doesn’t look professional to potential clients. You can also pay for external email hosting.
- You can’t sell your products with an E-commerce store
Pros of WordPress.org
- Ability to upload custom themes
- Ability to upload your own plugins (which allow for functionality like Ecommerce shopping carts)
- Complete control to change code if you’re technically minded
- Ability to have your own email addresses (some specialist WordPress hosting companies will not offer email as part of the service but most hosting companies do)
- Your website and any data sits on your own web host
Cons of WordPress.org
- You need a good web host, especially if you plan on getting a lot of traffic
- Requires more technical knowledge to set up and run
- You’re responsible for stopping spam (though WordPress comes with a great spam protection via Akismet for free if you use it for personal use and a small monthly fee if you use it for a business blog)
- You’re responsible for creating and maintaining backups of your site (which can easily be done with a backup plugin in combination with regular backups from your web host)
- You’re responsible for updating the WordPress software when new versions are released
- If you get a huge spike in traffic, your site will need a robust hosting setup
Choosing The Right WordPress Theme
When it comes to the look and feel of your website, this is done with the type of theme you use for your website. There are many free themes for WordPress and also premium themes that can be tailored to your industry. If you plan on using WordPress for your business you can also have a theme custom developed that suits your exact design and functionality requirements.
The most common approach by most web design agencies is to use an existing theme (or framework) and customise it to suit your requirements. This offers a good balance between look and feel, reliability of code, integrated features, reduced development time and reduced cost to the client.
WordPress is constantly evolving so over time you will need to update your theme to suit the changes too. You should always do a complete backup of your website and database before upgrading your theme. Our advice is to get this done by a reputable web design agency, especially if you are using a customised theme for your website. For this reason, make sure you have good support for your future website updates.
Key features of a good WordPress theme:
- Search engine friendly
- Quality code that is also secure
- Well supported
- Mobile Ready (responsive)
- E-commerce ready (if you plan to sell your products or services online)
Choosing The Right WordPress Plugins
There are over 24 000 plugins available for WordPress. The majority of these plugins are free but there are also a growing number of premium plugins. The main difference between free and premium plugins is usually the quality of the code and the support you get. The sheer number of plugins is a great resource but finding the right one for your needs can be confusing and time-consuming. Not all plugins work well together so this is certainly an area that you should get some good advice.
Key features of a good WordPress plugin:
- Available from a reputable source such as the Official WordPress repository
- Well supported and widely used
- Well coded and secure (Google the plugin name if you are unsure)
- Well documented
- Regularly maintained and updated along with new WordPress versions and updates (which are released several times a year)
So What Can WordPress Do?
There isn’t much that WordPress can’t do and it certainly meets the needs of small to medium (and even some very large) business websites. Here are some examples of specific WordPress website applications:
- E-commerce – integrate your website and blog with an online store that is easy to use and manage from the one administration
- Restaurant themes that allow for location, reservations and menus that can easily be updated
- Real estate themes that allow for listings, locations and property details to be easily searched and added
- Wedding themes with rsvp, gift registries and gallery functionality
- Business Directories
- Photography portfolios
- Job Boards
- E-Learning – integrate your website, blog and online courses. You can even setup subscriptions for premium course content and collect payment via PayPal or credit card.
- and the list goes on
Tips For Getting Your Own WordPress (self hosted) Business Website
I recently wrote some steps you can take for a better business website. The following tips will help if you are going to choose WordPress for your business website.
- Choose a reliable web host with good support
- Use a knowledgeable Web Design firm or web consultancy to develop and setup your website
- Make sure your WordPress installation is secure
- Only use reputable plugins and themes from reliable sources
- Make sure your website is mobile ready to cater for the big growth in mobile internet usage
- Make sure you have a regular backup plan in place
- Make sure you have someone regularly check for updates to the WordPress core files, theme files and plugins. This is extremely important for the security and reliability of your website.
- Use very strong unique passwords to access your website administration
- Consider using a professional search engine optimisation (SEO) service to make sure your website can easily be found on Google
Want to know more about a professional WordPress Business website for your business?
46digital is a web and digital marketing consultancy specialising in WordPress web design, development and support. If you would like to find out more about getting your own WordPress business website please click here to get in touch with us.