WordPress – Your Best Choice

I'm often asked, "What is the best way to create a website?"

Well, there is not just one, always-correct way to create a website. Which tools you use to build your site depends on a number of factors: What is the purpose and size of your site? Who will create it? Who will edit and maintain it? What is your budget? Will it be an e-commerce site? And so on.

Today, three of the common ways to build a website are:

  1. Use a website design and development software program such as Adobe's Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver is a powerful and popular tool. Especially for advanced website development. But, it has a bigger learning curve, its a bit costly, and it can be intimidating for most website owners whose main purpose in life is not designing websites.
  2. b. Use a Build-It-Yourself online software program. These are plenty of these today. They are rather inexpensive and the learning curve is less than it is for a program like Dreamweaver. They can be suitable for a basic website being created by someone with little experience and on a limited budget. The downside is that they usually do not have every feature that you might need to build a comprehensive website. And, they are proprietary. They are owned by a particular company and don't necessarily use standards and features that are common across the world of website development. With some, you may even lose your entire site if you change providers.
  3. Use a so-called "content management system" (CMS). There are several of these available, such as Drupal or Joomla, which let you create your own CMS-type website.
  4. Then there is WordPress. While WordPress was first spoken of as a "CMS", it has long since surpassed that designation and now is used for blogging and website development purposes as well as a "CMS". It is by far the world's most popular and common website development tool, used by literally millions of websites and businesses both large and small. And there are many reasons for its popularity, especially among small-to-medium size businesses and organizations.

 Here are just a few of the reasons WordPress is so popular.

  1. Ease of Use

First, WordPress is easy to setup. Since it is hosted online, there is no software to install. Usually it comes along with your hosting account.

Next, it's easy to update, edit, and maintain. One of the primary problems I have seen over the 20 plus years I have been designing and developing websites, especially for small businesses, is the need to be able to update and make changes to the site by the owner or an employee without having to rely on a web developer.

WordPress solves that problem nicely. It is very easy for anyone to access and change content. Or, even to add a new page and get it onto the navigation menu. Virtually, anyone can use the basic functions of WordPress.

And, since WordPress is hosted online, as opposed to being installed on your local computer, you can log on and make changes from anywhere you have access to the Internet, whether at home or your favorite coffee shop.

  1. WordPress is expandable, scaleable and cost-effective

WordPress uses what are called "plugins" and "widgets". Briefly, these are add-on modules and programs that give WordPress additional functionality and design capability without requiring programming by the site owner or site manager. For instance, do you want to create a calendar of events for your site? There are plugins for that. Quite a few. Do you want to add a slideshow to a page? A number of plugins for that, too. Want to add a custom form? Don't have a lot of HTLM coding experience? Plugins can handle that. There are literally thousands of plugins to achieve just about anything you want to do. And, it gets even better. Most of them are free. Take a look at the plugin section of www.wordpress.org to see what I mean.

  1. WordPress is inexpensive

Using WordPress at WordPress.com is free. You can set up an account, build and maintain your site with no cost. You can't get much more inexpensive than that.

But, alas, "free" is not always "best".  Using WordPress.com comes with limitations and restrictions. For one, you can't extend the features and functions of the program using all of the widgets and plugins that you might need to make your site more efficient and useful. Widgets and plugins give WordPress its power. Using them, you can add hundreds of useful features, such as search engines tools, marketing tools, design and format tools - to mention just a few.

So, there's a better way, which is to use your own copy of WordPress on your own hosted site. Hosting is not free, but so very inexpensive today that it's close to free. Especially when you compare the cost of hosting to the amount of money your website will be (or, should be) generating. And, WordPress is included in most hosting accounts without any additional cost.

For any serious business, a hosted account with WordPress is the better option. It gives you more growth and site improvement potential. You can use any plugins or widgets that you choose, without restriction. And, these are what give WordPress it's power and expandibility.

I should mention here, too, that if you do use WordPress on a hosted account, there are two options - "Cpanel" WordPress hosting  (Click here for examples and pricing) and Managed WordPress Hosting, which can be considered the "standard".  (Click here for examples and pricing) This is is  a relatively newer option that can make WordPress even easier to maintain and which costs no more.

  1. WordPress offers built-in marketing opportunities

Google, and other search engines love WordPress. And that's exactly what you need in order to bring the right traffic to your site. Search engine robots will search your entire site frequently, indexing your page content and keywords. New content gets indexed quickly, which means your are improving your SERP (search engine response position), which is, where you appear on the page when someone searches using a keyword that is relevant to your business. WordPress is SEO friendly! (Search Engine Optimization - the practice of creating the content on your site to improve search engine placement) Every time you blog and create a new post you are improving your chances of people being able to find you among the millions of websites on the Internet.

  1. WordPress is site-visitor-friendly

One way to create a better website - and a better business - is to provide two-way communication with your customers and prospects. Using the blogging features of WordPress gives you a number of ways to do that. The two most common methods are to allow users to comment on your articles and posts and/or to allow them to post their own thoughts and ideas. These two methods create a dialogue between you and them and among other site visitors as well. This alone can create a community of people around your products and services, create confidence in you and your company, bring in referrals, and generate sales - to name just a few of the benefits. This interactivity is important.

This is just a brief discussion of five reasons why WordPress has become the top website design and development tool on the Internet. There are more - which we will leave for another time.

Cheers -

Ted Lang