You have your own business and are even a little technically inclined, but you do not have any real experience in website design. And you probably don’t think you have the budget to pay for professional web design and development. Those instant website in one day deals you saw on TV didn’t look like they would be good enough for you either. So what can you do to get your business online with little to no funds?
Have you heard of WordPress? It’s a well known blog platform, but it is not just for us blogging nerds. WordPress (dot org, not dot com) is a full featured and easily expandable Content Management System or “CMS” that is very easy to install and use with very little technical skill. Wordpress makes it easy to write your own articles, home page, about and contact pages, upgrade with plugins to add your Twitter stream and Facebook like box to the sidebar, set up a photo gallery, add videos, give directions to your place of business, sell an eBook or DVD, make money running ads… get the point? It is virtually limitless.
Lower cost of ownership
Expandability is where WordPress as a CMS really shines in comparison to most other low budget website solutions. The “easy” one-click instant site offerings you have seen on TV are usually not able to grow with you without a price, and it is usually a subscription that will add up to much more than a “real” site would have cost. They are the Rent-a-Center of web design. Monthly payments that add up to half the value at twice the price in the long run.
You could get an offshore web developer to put together a basic site for very little money, but later on when you need to add some seemingly simple features you’ll have to pay more: “$75 to add the latest social media widget (oops it is already out of date, you’ll have to pay for another), $50 to add a new contact form, $150 to add video embedding, $100 to change your logo… Thank you, come again!”
Even if your original developer doesn’t gouge you for the add-ons, it will add up quickly.
With WordPress as your own CMS, you have the ability to do it yourself.
Should you find that something is too complicated for you, there are many experienced WordPress developers who can do it without having to spend hours of billable time figuring out just what your original developer was thinking. And it can usually be completed for a much better price than it would cost to do the same thing for a non-Wordpress site.
WordPress is easy, yet not exactly simple. It does require some time to learn. We have been building full featured websites with WordPress and maintaining them for our clients for some time, but many are quite capable of making their own edits to existing pages and posts, or even adding features, integrating the blog comments with Facebook, automatically Tweeting new articles as they are published, or linking to email list management or other CRM solutions with little hand holding. Nothing wrong with hand holding, but we like to empower our clients when we can. Independence is good.
The double-edged sword of an open source CMS
WordPress and many of its plugins and add ons are open source software. The good news is that you can do just about anything for free (or very cheap). The bad news is that you will have to learn how to use everything and the documentation is often limited and instructions can be confusing. Knowing which plugins work well and which ones are going to ruin your afternoon is useful, too. Maybe it doesn’t sound so silly to hire a professional to work on your open source CMS after all.
If you want to avoid the trial & error and filter the hype from the truth about thousands of plugins, techniques and SEO best practices – but you still want to be able to make your own content changes and do the basics – then having a professionally built WordPress site is a great idea. Experienced developers have already learned what works, what is coming soon and what is just plain junk you don’t need – and a really good WordPress designer can also make your site look like so much more than “just another WordPress blog”.
How does it look?
Sometimes people hear “blog” and think of a choppy, endlessly scrolling, steaming pile of random thoughts with too many time and date stamps… a mess. Sites built with WordPress don’t have to look like that. A site using WP as a CMS can look as simple or fancy as you want. There are thousands of free and inexpensive templates or “themes” that will allow you to customize the look and even the function of your website to fit your needs. This is where most people will probably be better off hiring a professional. Installing a theme is pretty simple, but if you really want to tweak it to perfection you will need to know a little CSS, PHP and HTML. A little JS and AJAX won’t hurt either. If you want a 100% original design, you can have that too. WP can be used as the framework that your totally customized website is built upon. You’ll have a custom site AND be able to make your own changes and updates without having to track down your developer.
If that isn’t enough, WordPress sites are extremely SEO friendly – especially with a properly configured search engine optimization plugin.
And one more thing – you can blog with it. I hear that is pretty useful for social media.
Go to WordPress.org to find more information about the content management capabilities, plugins, themes and possibilities.
Or contact Ker Communications and put our WordPress experience and web design skills to work for you.