Wordpress Websites to Power Business Online
Wordpress is hands-down the market leader and offers a framework system that integrates security, scalability and a robust set of tools to maximize any websites potential. We believe that every business can find a broad number of advantages with WordPress. Benefits that will help modernize your company website, content, services and ultimately lead generation.
Quick WordPress Stats
Getting Started & Proof of Concept
Wordpress offers a rapid deployment model that can help push websites live in a short amount of time. However, many companies see that benefit as a window to low cost of entry. While there are clear cost advantages with the WordPress platform, the assumption that “cheap” is synonymous is often a painful lesson to learn.
WordPress offers a fantastic platform for proof of concept for ideas, businesses or concepts that need an online presence. Often times, we recommend starting with WordPress to build up a client base, test out a new product or service or to simply launch a lower-cost option for your business online. All too often, the transition never occurs and this is the part of the cycle that can build technological debt. It is basically like never taking the training wheels off of your bike, they will keep things simple for you – but ultimately hold you back from the real potential.
If you are looking to build a new website, launch a product or service, build an eCommerce or membership website; then WordPress is a fantastic starting point. One that can help you build something quickly, lean into existing themes and plugins and find opportunities with a massive support and professional community.
It is easy to install, setup, configure and use – but don’t expect the final result to mimic the theme that you found on themeforest.com, that takes considerable time, energy and content to fill in the spaces that create the proper flow.
WordPress is the ultimate plug-n-play model that will allow you to keep things very simple or “bling” it out to your hearts content with themes, plugins and features that will support nearly any business or website needs. Just like anything, too much WordPress can quickly go awry and harm your entire website concept, bogging it down with repeated requests, bloated code and worse – more and more exposure potential to hackers and malware.
In the end, WordPress is an easy-to-use back-end that helps support ongoing website updates and businesses can quickly handle changes to reflect timely website updates. Its low-cost point of entry, blistering volumes of themes and plugins provide a stable community to lean into WordPress as a genuinely solid platform for website design consideration. You can even download WordPress free of charge from WordPress.org.
The Challenges of WordPress
I was initially going to close with a section about HACKS. Hacks are people who have built a couple of WordPress websites and now offer their time up as professionals. They are not professionals. Just because they can build a WordPress website and only charge a small fee, does not define their actual ability. Our company has dealt with more HACK companies in the past few years that have butchered their way through a website and left clients with technological debt, garbage that ultimately needed to be burned down and rebuilt or worse, in a few cases – they lost everything because they simply don’t know the big picture.
Themes: There are entire companies built around WordPress themes now, and they are actually very good in the right hands. One theme that we recommend is Enfold; which can be found on Themeforest for around $60. However, the theme cost is literally just the beginning. Having the right theme can be the difference in the success of your website project, eCommerce store or online presence. The theme will impact SEO, content and nearly every factor you can imagine when it comes to building out your WordPress website.
Plugins: Oh plugins, plugins galore. WordPress.org shows 49,139 plugins at the time of writing this post. Nearly 50,000 plugins that do everything from image manipulation, advance menus, content segmentation all the way to remove double spaces on a website. While these seem like handy little utilities or tools, you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed with tools and plugins that load down and bog your website down with database requests, queries, bad or vulnerable code and more. The right plugin mix will absolutely help your WordPress website succeed. Check out our recommended plugin list below – these are just a few that we recommend be a part of every install (depending on your hosting provider).
Content: Your content matters, your images and text and the flow of information can turn a website visitor away or turn them into a lead or buyer. The content component is so much more than writing and choosing some images. There is an entire strategy around where things should go, how much space (real estate) they deserve on the page and more. Good content is worth its weight in gold and having a message that website visitors can connect with will help ensure your message and brand have the proper exposure. We recommend hiring a content writer, even if they are acting as an editor to help ensure that your copy is SEO and web friendly. For high quality images, don’t go cheap – istockphoto.com is a great source for high-quality stock photos and their membership options really offer a great deal.
Hosting: This is often one of the task that is relegated to a cheap or low cost provider (GoDaddy) and often has the potential to make the greatest impact on your website, IP, brand and company. Cheap hosts are just that, cheap. They likely offer no frills, no real solutions and are simply giving you what you are paying for – little to nothing. We highly recommend hosting with a WordPress specific hosting company that can ensure your hosting environment is designed and maintained to support what you need. This typically cost from $25 to $50 per month (we charge $40), but will often have specific WordPress elements tied into the server itself. Things like caching, malware and vulnerability checks, automated updates, automated backups, SSL integration, CDN options, object caching and more. This is one area that will help support your company and investment for the long-term.
For us, it starts with your business goals, vision and the plan to ensure ROI that will build your online presence. Yoast is a tool that mostly focuses on SEO standards, but that would be a very limited view of what the plugin actually does. The real value is often in the unseen components or the small visual queues that will help ensure that you are optimizing content, images and each page to maximize the potential it has to be found by Google, Bing and Yahoo!. They offer a free version, but we recommend the paid version of the base plugin and some of the extensions that it offers such as local, video and news. You can find Yoast online at: https://yoast.com/
Depending on your host, having a caching plugin or system in place will help speed up your website considerably and help compress various elements on your WordPress website to again increase the speed and improve your website visitors experience. W3 Total Cache is a very popular tool that is used by many WordPress websites seeking to generate more speed through caching, compression and for the paid version (CDN or content delivery networks). Our company does not use caching plugins, because our server hosting environment manages all of these elements for us. We only recommend this plugin for those that are looking for speed but not yet investing in a proper hosting environment. You can download W3 Total Cache here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/
The WP Performance Score booster is a simple plugin that we use in tandem with the proper hosting environment to remove query strings, enable GZIP compression and modify a few other factors to improve on the speed of the website and ultimately our websites score. If you are looking to speed up page load time and improve your website score, then WP Performance Score Booster is a great start. You can download directly here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-performance-score-booster/ A paid version is available and offers expanded features that we have found very valuable.
No website can go without a contact form and we love Gravity Forms. WordPress forms are often dropped in and focus on simple and basic contact forms and while this is good for most – Gravity Forms can do so much more. Gravity Forms is a full featured plugin that can support general contact forms, accept credit cards, do calculations and so much more – ALL while integrating with stripe, mailchimp, zapier, CRM systems and more. Gravity forms is considered a premium plugin, but it is worth the cost. You can buy and download here: http://www.gravityforms.com/
Hiring a Professional
Hire a Professional, a real professional. If you are looking to spend a few hundred dollars – you will not be hiring a professional, you will really just be hiring someone who has built a website or two. If you are spending less than $4k, you are likely hiring someone that is a very good sales person and has also built a few WordPress websites, maybe even an eCommerce website. When you are hiring a professional, you are paying for the experience they have in all facets of Web, Design, WordPress, Development, Hosting, Plugins, Themes, etc. It isn’t someone with knowledge on a few factors – they understand EVERY factor.
Our team has been working with WordPress since 2008; mostly because it was a baseline CMS that was based on PHP and MySQL, our in-house web developers strengths. As the WordPress platform grew and expanded so did the ability to do more. This post was not created to push you in any one direction, I am sure there is a low-cost developer out there that can help you and fill your needs. However, it is critical to think about how not hiring someone that has the experience on all facets can impact or hinder your growth or success.
Your WordPress website is an investment in the future of your business, do not choose the cheap or low-cost route it could literally vanish before your eyes down the road.