When I first started building websites in 1996, I used straight html code, images of text to get the right fonts to display, and tables to place content on the pages. As technology advanced, I adapted to cascading style sheets (CSS) and then experimented with various content management systems like PHP-Nuke, Joomla, and Drupal. Ultimately, I decided to focus on just one platform so I could better serve clients. After months of experimenting, researching, and pondering this decision, I settled on WordPress back in 2007. I have never once regretted that decision. Here are the top 5 reasons I chose to specialize in WordPress for my business.
#1 – WordPress provides a simple user-interface for editing pages.
Customers shouldn’t have to wait to update the key, static information on their pages. One of the biggest complaints I received from new clients who had existing websites was that they could never seem to get their content updated in a timely fashion (often basic changes like address, phone number, or email address). Many websites in the mid- to late-2000s still relied on editing html or php files and directly uploaded them to servers using an FTP program. When I explained I would be providing a platform that allowed them to easily log-in and update information, they were terrified they would be met with long lines of code and that they would ‘break’ their website. I chose WordPress because the dashboard was intuitive and after showing it to new customers, they almost always breathed a sigh of relief and stated, “Oh, I can do that.” (I did not always have the same reaction when demonstrating Drupal or Joomla)
#2 – WordPress posts provides flexibility in delivering fresh content.
While WordPress became famous as a blogging platform, the ‘Posts’ feature can do so much more than just output a standard blog; it is very flexible in how it displays entries. In addition to a general blog area, using categories and very little coding on my end, I can give customers the ability to feed content to different parts of their website just by simply clicking a separate category while authoring the blog post (especially useful for displaying company news and upcoming events or promotions separately from the main blog).
#3 – WordPress ‘Media’ allows easy upload of multimedia to the server.
WordPress’s “Media” capabilities gives customers direct access to the server without having to use an FTP program. It is almost as easy as Facebook to upload pictures, files, audio, and video (although I typically recommend embedding videos from YouTube or Vimeo). I donated server space and a custom WordPress installation to a church in San Angelo, TX, that uses the ‘Media’ capability to add sermon audio and pictures regularly without having to ask me for assistance.
#4 – WordPress has high quality plugins and themes.
Due to its popularity, talented developers have provided thousands of plugins that help WordPress do almost anything! I’ve rarely been met with a challenge that couldn’t be met through a plugin readily available–some for a fee–to WordPress users. Of course, there are so many plugins available it may be hard to know which one will be the best for the job, but that just means a little research and experimenting (user ratings, plug-in developer websites and forums, beta testing on live sites).
While I spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of creating custom WordPress themes from scratch, a few years ago I decided to take advantage of the many beautiful premium themes available through services such as ThemeForest. While some may be concerned about not having a completely custom design, after seeing the large quantity of professional styles and customizations available, as well as comparing the price and time differences between a customized premium theme vs. a from-scratch custom theme, I think premium themes provide a wonderful option for do-it-yourself web designers as well as professionals.
#5 – WordPress simplifies search engine optimization (SEO).
While there are things happening in the WordPress backend setup that help with SEO, the number one rule of having an SEO friendly site (without cheating) that puts your website on the front page of related Google search results is having relevant, original, and consistently updated content. This forms the basis of all other SEO success (being linked to and discussed in other reputable sites or being mentioned by readers and customers in their blog comments, social media sites, etc). While WordPress makes the web designer’s job easy (I use the Yoast SEO plugin and try to provide a relevant site name and tagline), it also makes it easy to add that fresh, new, original content on a regular basis. I think one could write an entire book about how WordPress is great for SEO (oh, it turns out there’s a lot of them already, like SEO Master Using The Power of WordPress), as a customer or user, it comes down to writing great content on a regular basis and by using WordPress, I give my customers the ability to do that easily from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
* Whether trying to do it yourself or in deciding on using a professional web designer, another benefit of WordPress is that you can easily experiment with pages, posts, plugins, and themes for free at WordPress.com. For more advanced functionality, you will want to have a hosted WordPress installation (more information at wordpress.org) — Ilex Web Design recommend PowWeb for hosting.