For average business owners, names like WordPress, Joomla, Shopify, Magento, Wix, and Weebly might sound like alien names. The process of building a website brings these names into your life, since they’re all platforms used to build websites. Each has its own benefits, while many are used more often for niche websites with specific purposes. For instance, Shopify only makes sense if you’re running an online store. It’s not a platform you would start a blog with then turn into an eCommerce shop. Magento is in the same boat. Other website builders and platforms have more flexibility, and those are typically the ones that are most popular.
Everything from Squarespace to Wix has wonderful tools but we’re going to explain why we use WordPress over all of them.
Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are completely free to use. WordPress.org is a self-hosted version where you control more of your site and take advantage of advanced plugins. WordPress.com works great for complete beginners, but it’s not exactly the best for a business that plans on making money so moving away from WordPress.com makes sense.
WordPress is an open-source project that’s been around since 2003. This means that WordPress is developed by a collection of contributors. Open-source projects are typically free, with large communities. The users often take part in this community as beta testers or simple brand advocates, but there’s really no requirement for any participation if that’s not your style.
One of the common misconceptions about WordPress is that it’s mainly for building blogs. At one point in time that was, in fact, the case. WordPress was developed as a blogging platform, but that has changed drastically with the various new releases over the years.
In fact, WordPress is at an advantage due to its blogging roots. It’s by far one of the cleanest, fastest ways to write and publish blog posts, and that’s all included right from the start. Some website building tools think about design and apps first, then the blogging interface comes in as an afterthought.
The list is endless, but here’s a taste of the types of websites you can make with WordPress:
- Business websites
- ECommerce sites
- Ratings websites
- Membership sites
- eLearning modules
- Personal websites for self-promotion
- Job boards
- Business directories
- Q&A websites like Quora
- Non-profit websites for collecting donations
- Wikis and knowledgebases
- Media-centric sites like YouTube
- Auction and coupon sites
Clearly, the list goes on and on. The good news with WordPress is that the functionality for things like forums and ecommerce websites is achieved with simple plugins and themes.
WooCommerce is one of the primary ways you turn your regular WordPress website into a functioning online store, with payment processing, a shopping cart, and product galleries.
There are also plenty of other eCommerce plugins like Easy Digital Downloads (typically used for selling digital products) and WP Ecommerce.
The following primary categories are all accepted:
In my own experience, I’ve never had WordPress tell me that a file is not supported. You can expect to upload common files like .jpg, .png, .gif .pdf, .doc, .pptx, .mp3, .m4a, .mp4, .mov, .wmv, and .avi. Along with that, you won’t have any problems with more obscure file types like .odt, .key, .ogg, and .3gp.
And while the are some file formats, such as SVGs, that aren’t allowed, there are good solutions to get around this. Check out this tutorial on how to safely upload SVGs in WordPress. In short, if you’d like to put a photo, gif, video or document on your website, it’s usually fair game with WordPress. It’s even common to host documents and presentations on a website without publishing them on a specific page.
We’ve already discussed how the WordPress themes and plugins make it easy for you to construct a website, but these elements are also essential for scaling up. For a standard blog, you’ll install a theme, adjust the design, then start blogging. The same goes for a business website or portfolio.
Yes, plugins typically run the show when it comes to adding functionality to your site. Most of the time you only need one theme at site launch.
It’s also common for growing websites to get new themes for the following reasons:
- A fresh look is needed.
- It’s required to switch from a free theme to a more powerful premium one.
- The website owner wants better customer support from the theme developer.
- There has been a shift in what the business offers online.
- The site owner needs different tools that plugins can’t deliver.
WordPress isn’t all that difficult to manage if you learn the ropes and go through the proper training. Website management typically involves a few things:
- Keeping checks on security.
- Updating plugins, themes, and the WordPress software.
- Managing spam.
One of the only manual maintenance tasks is updating plugins, themes, and WordPress itself. The good news is that WordPress notifies you when updates are released. Therefore, you make the updates whenever you see the warnings. It usually takes less than a minute for any updates, then you can get back to work.
Everything else (like SEO, backups, speed, security, broken links, and spam) can be managed using plugins.
WordPress is known for having SEO built into the platform. In fact, WordPress automatically generates title tags and meta descriptions for all of your pages and posts. This lets search engines know about your content, and it will get you indexed and potentially moved up in the rankings.
The Yoast SEO plugin is also a must-have for any WordPress site. The default SEO tools in WordPress are great, but Yoast takes it to the next level.
Below is one section of Yoast that asks you for a focus keyword. This could be for either a page or blog post. Upon targeting that focus keyword, Yoast analyses the current post or page and shares how effective you are at targeting the keyword. You’ll see the keyword density, thoughts on the keyword locations, SEO title mentions, page title suggestions, and more. It’s basically a giant checklist for you to make your SEO the best it can be on every page.
A Google search for “website builders” or “website platforms” will reveal all sorts of results. WordPress will most likely be on all website building lists, along with competition like WIX, Squarespace, Joomla, Magento, Shopify, Weebly, and Jimdo. All of these are perfectly fine for making websites, but the non-open source ones, like Squarespace, Shopify, and WIX, limit your control to whatever features are offered in the premium packages.
That leaves you with some limitations like the following:
- The ecommerce functionality is usually built-in, so there’s not much you can do about expanding with plugins.
- You’re typically stuck with whatever hosting is provided. You don’t have the freedom to test hosts and go with the best value or highest performing.
- Adjusting code is limited to what the companies share with you. Even worse, you get stuck with a completely unique coding language, like with Shopify (It uses a language called Liquid). In short, it almost guarantees that you have to hire a specialized developer for changes you can’t handle yourself through the editor.
- You don’t technically have full ownership of your site and content. You’re renting the website from these companies. So when you stop paying, all of those files and pages are either lost or held by the company. With WordPress, you own the files, and no one can prevent you from moving them to other hosts.
WordPress was born as a blogging platform. It’s had its competitors, but nothing currently compares to the power, elegance, and advanced tools you find in the WordPress blogging engine. Options like Tumblr, Medium, Ghost, and Blogger are all perfectly fine for hobbyists, but the pros go for WordPress. An incredible set of tools is located inside the WordPress blog editor.
You can run a simple, one-author blog by taking advantage of the formatting and media tools. There’s also the option to build a full online magazine by scheduling posts far in advanced and setting multiple user types for contributors and editors. Along with options for previewing, editing everything in the post, and keeping code completely out of the equation, you really can’t beat WordPress.
One advantage of the WordPress blogging platform is the permissions or user roles. Let’s say you run the site as an administrator. This means you have access to the files, all plugins, SEO, and security tools. You hire an editor and three writers to create content for the blog. The only problem is that you don’t want them messing with anything besides the blog posts.
Therefore, you can set the one person as an Editor role and the others as Contributors. The Editor can now edit and publish posts, while the Contributors can create posts but not publish them.
So jump off the bridge with them! Okay, just because every else is doing something isn’t always the greatest reason to follow along. But WordPress has proven itself time and again, so the word has gotten out about its performance, expandability, and ease-of-use. There’s a reason why over 29.3% of all websites on the internet use WordPress.
Want to know how a WordPress website could help grow your business? get in touch with Rua Digital!
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Rua Digital Web Design Owner