I was recently asked my advice from someone that needed a small business website. During the discussion I learned that he would need to make regular updates to the site but had no technical experience, nor interest, and did not want to depend on someone else to make the updates for him. While some websites are fairly static in their content, his needs dictated that the site content constantly change. He also insisted that it be kept simple with basic information. My advice to him, and others that may want or need this type of website is consider using WordPress. He had heard, however, that WordPress was blogging software and was not interested in a blog.
My justification to him for why WordPress makes a lot of sense for many simple web sites, that are not blogs, is that WordPress provides a good solid infrastructure for web publishing and gives you the tools necessary to build an interactive website. And while this is common knowledge in the WordPress community, those that have not fully researched WordPress are usually surprised that it is commonly used for other purposes.
Page Content vs Post Content
WordPress supports two basic types of content – pages and posts. Pages are normally used to publish more static information that rarely needs updating. You are still able to make changes to this content as often as needed but the changes will overwrite earlier versions of the content. Posts are used to publish dynamic content that needs to constantly evolve and change, like updates, news or possibly seasonal information. Instead of these changes overwriting earlier content, you will be building an archive over time. Earlier content becomes static as the archive builds.
Most websites today, whether they be corporate, small business, non-profit or personal, will have both types of content. Providing news and updates keeps website visitors and customers up-to-date either through return visits or subscriptions. Without frequent additions and changes to a website, search engines will lose interest in your site and traffic will fall. Using WordPress is very effective for these types of websites and allows those responsible to easily create, change and delete content.
In the later WordPress releases you can set one of your pages as a homepage. You are free to remove the blog, the archives and other features normally found in a blog and create a professional corporate or small business look and feel. In typical blog websites, post content is dominant; in more traditional business/non-profit websites, page content is more dominant.
Often you may find that you have more than one type of content for which posts are suitable, like news and articles. In such a case you can setup and use WordPress categories to differentiate between them. These categories can be hierarchical and there is no limit on the number of categories you can have. This is one of the best tools to use for content classification, allowing your visitors to find what they are looking for in the shortest amount of time.
Excellent Templates Availability
The use of design templates in WordPress allows you, as someone needing a website, to get a professionally designed website which supports customization through the use of template tags. It allows you complete freedom over HTML code, database access for your data and styling using CSS. Since you have control, you can to build a valid (X)HTML and CSS presence simply. It also means that you gain control of all Search Engine Optimization (SEO) aspects of the website. The implementation of a template does not mean that you are forced to compromise on the look and feel of website. You are able to control graphics, colors, typefaces, menus and virtually any other design element of the template. While the default template that comes with WordPress may look “bloglike”, it is just a generic theme that you can easily change to meet your needs.
Easy Administration Interface
When all is said and done, the administration interface of a web site is one of the biggest problems those responsible for maintaining a website have on an ongoing basis. WordPress provides an easy to use administration interface for writing and managing content as well as managing the configuration of the website. WordPress comes with a simple editor as a default, a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editor as an available option or you can add any of the many editing plug-ins. Whatever your skill level is you should find it easy to create, update and delete website content with WordPress. You can use whatever works best for you.
Comments are used heavily in blogging so WordPress made it easy thing to do. Comments can be used to interact with website visitors and, more importantly, your customers. They can easily contact you with questions, comments and problems or you can allow them to contribute content on your website. Comments can be used in support of both pages and post. If you should start having spam on your WordPress website, there is a Akismet plugin, as well as others, that will make it very easy for you to deal with that spam.
Roles & Permissions
Another WordPress feature that is very useful to the end user is the simple, but effective, roles and capabilities system. If you need to have different people providing and managing content, managing the configuration of the website, you will find this feature invaluable.
Permalinks are the URLs that are easy to read and easy to remember, without the question marks and ampersands. WordPress has a flexible way of constructing the permalinks and lets you create your own schema. Not only that, using code, you can even add your own terminology within the permalinks.
Feeds are one of the most often used techniques by readers to keep themselves informed. WordPress has the ability to generate feeds for both page and post content, which you can make available to your visitors/customers. These feeds can also easily be converted to emails using various services so you can reach out to web browsers, feed readers and email users by simply publishing the content to your website.
Saves Time & Effort, And Money
Because of the many features built into WordPress you can save a lot of time and money in developing your website whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it for you. Most of the time spent on a WordPress site is the customization of the template and the configuration. WordPress, which requires PHP and MySQL, is quick and easy to deploy with most website hosting companies. Often you will find that the hosting company has self install option for WordPress that will allow their customers to do the basic install themselves. If you have don’t have the technical skills necessary to make changes in the design template you might want to enlist some help but if you have an interest (and the time) you can probably work your way through it. Even hiring a professional web designer, will be reasonable for a basic implementation. WordPress is a very good tool for developing prototypes and pilot projects.
WordPress is an “open source” product with a large user community offering templates, plug-ins, tools and support for it. Suitable for both simple and more complex websites, it is an especially attractive solution for small businesses and non-profits like churches and charities.
I am hopeful that this will help remove some of the skepticism regarding the use of WordPress for your website. It is not suitable for every website but you owe it to yourself (and your budget) to at least look into it. If you have more questions or would like to look into a WordPress implementation, let us know. We have implemented many WordPress websites over the years and would be more than happy to help you decide.
And, if you notice a similarity between some of the sites I have built it is because the clients all seem to like clean, simple websites and they all seem to choose the same template. While this is not normally a problem, you do want to make sure that the template selected is not the same as your business competition. The template I mentioned is popular because it is full featured, it is easily modified to meet the client’s tastes and it is kept updated each time a new release of WordPress is announced. Another important consideration is that it’s free to use. There are, however, thousands of WordPress templates to choose from.