I recently wrote how, in a ‘real-world’ business, I believe you should think about technology as the means, not the end. The ‘end’ being your business goals while technology is the tool to help you achieve them. (You can read more here)
I’d like to continue this theme looking specifically at websites and, even more specifically, why I am a fan of WordPress.
Why do you want a website?
A website is a business tool. So, what are the business goals that you want your website to help you achieve?
Most people answer this question quite generally (more sales, more leads, growth etc.) – but these goals aren’t very SMART. In fact, more often than not, the creation of the website becomes the goal itself – which brings us back to focusing on the wrong thing. Aaargh!
Having a website doesn’t make your business better. It is how you use your website to achieve business goals that can make your business better. However, if the focus is on building a website, it might only be after it is launched that you turn your attention to the business goals you want to achieve using it. This is where having a website you can ‘do stuff’ with yourself starts to be extremely valuable.
A traditional (coded) website needs a knowledgable webmaster to manage it. In a small business, this normally means outsourcing which tends to be either costly (if your supplier is good at their job, so ‘in demand’ and able to command higher fees), or frustrating (if you go down the ‘friend of a friend’ route but find your ‘web person’ ever more difficult to get hold of!)
Back in 2003, WordPress launched and started the trend of more accessible options for building websites and blogs. Since then, WordPress has developed into the single most popular website development platform in the world. Some estimates calculate that around 35% of the entire internet is powered by WordPress with over 50,000 new WordPress sites being launched every day!
At BSA we built our first WordPress website in 2011 and we haven’t looked back. I continue to be impressed with its flexibility and practicality. So what is so great about it? Why is WordPress ideal for most SME business websites?
The core WordPress software is open source meaning it is free to use. This is a great starting point for building a cost-effective website. Of course, involving a professional supplier to design and build your website does bring in some cost but the nature of WordPress allows sites to be built relatively quickly and efficiently meaning a lower project cost. Furthermore, the accessibility and flexibility I discuss below bring additional cost benefits in relation to the ongoing use of your website as a dynamic business tool.
Because WordPress is so popular, there are LOTS of people out there who build ‘plugins‘ to add functionality to the core WordPress platform. OK, many of the popular and respected plugins do come with a fee (though there are often free versions with fewer options) but the fees are normally modest and great value for the additional functionality you get. After all, you are using your website to make your business better and effective investment is at the heart of every successful business.
If you are looking to add bells and whistles to your website to make it work the way you want for your business, chances are that someone has written just the plugin you need!
WordPress is designed with Content Management in mind. Day to day management of your website content can be handled in-house (if you choose). Gone are the days when every change of a picture or text means tracking down your web developer and receiving their bill!
Bear in mind that making your website accessible and easy to use day to day should be part of the initial design and build project. Spending a bit more to get your site properly set up for you or your team to manage in-house is a valuable investment.
Great for Collaboration
I have no doubt that the best way to ensure your website really works for your business is to take ownership and manage the day to day updates and maintenance in-house. This way, your site will stay dynamic (good for SEO!) and relevant to your business (giving your visitors the right information and messages). A good website shouldn’t be one that you change completely every few years. rather it should evolve steadily over time. However, as part of this evolution, it is likely that you will want to make some more significant changes to your site from time to time. This is where collaboration works well. You manage the day to day while you have specialists on hand ready to ‘get their hands dirty’ to make more significant (and less frequent) changes. It just isn’t worth having these capabilities in-house.
When working with clients on websites, a collaborative approach is our favourite.
Is WordPress Perfect?
I like to keep a real-world perspective and, in the real-world, WordPress is not perfect. There are plenty of gain-sayers across the internet who will point out the weaknesses. However, we have nearly 10 years of practical experience and in all that time, we have found any of these weaknesses can be addressed and negated with a bit of organisation and planning.
Want to know a bit more about WordPress? Here are some links you may find useful/interesting:
- The BSA Showcase – some of the WordPress sites we have built
- WordPress Stats – some amazing stats showing just how big WordPress is
- Get WordPress – Download your own copy
If you have any questions or want to talk WordPress – do get in touch