WordPress is an excellent CMS for most types of business.
There are many choices for building a website and what content management system or CMS you should use. It can be confusing because there are many options such as Joomla, Drupal, Webflow, and do-it-yourself sites like Squarespace. Each one of these tools is developed to make building a website easier and more accessible but you need to choose one that fits your needs.
First, you should know that WordPress was developed in 2003 and powers over 30% of websites globally. Here are some notable companies that use WordPress: Sony Music, Time Magazine, Wired Magazine, Disney, and the list goes on.
The WordPress stats for 2021 are impressive:
- 62% of the top 100 fastest growing companies in the US (Inc. 5000) use WordPress.
- Over 500 new sites are created daily using the free version of WordPress.org.
- Seventy million new blog posts pop up every month.
- There are currently over 455 million sites that use WordPress!
Fact, or fiction?
On the topic of which CMS you should use, there are a lot of competing articles and some information that bends the truth a little, depending on the author. Each author touts the CMS they use, as I’m doing here — spoiler alert, we are fans of WordPress. It’s always a good idea to see where the source is coming from to make an educated decision when choosing the right CMS. Some authors will tell you that the CMS they use is the “end all, be all” because they want you to use their CMS, or they are writing content for a company that wants you to use their CMS product.
You might read that PHP, which runs WordPress, is dying. It’s not dying now or any time in the foreseeable future. You may also read that coders love a particular CMS because they are better for SEO or because they load faster. That topic can get a bit subjective. Let’s dig into why.
How it’s built matters
The way a site is built will determine these factors regardless of the content management system you are using. Your most significant limitation is not knowing what you are doing to mitigate any issues that could make a site slower or have inadequate searchability. That’s why it’s essential to contact a web design agency or have an internal resource with experience. One that can optimize a site to load fast and to make sure it’s searchable based on the product or service you provide.
Design is King
Our creative agency uses WordPress because it allows us to do what we do best — design. Our builder of choice is Divi by Elegant Themes. Think of a Builder as a steering wheel and WordPress as the engine of the car. But please don’t confuse builders for templates. They are two approaches to achieving the same outcome — getting a website built.
We use what’s called a visual builder so that we can design websites from scratch. The visual builder is a sophisticated design tool that allows us to make uniquely branded websites.
If you are just starting out you can use a template to build your site. A template is more plug-and-play but does require some basic WordPress knowledge. Quite frankly, if you are using a WordPress template there’s no reason to get a Squarespace or Wix Site. There’s a learning curb for both, but WordPress will give you more options, especially if you want to make your site more sophisticated in the future.
Every CMS I’ve listed will get the job done and are built on stable platforms. However, It’s our opinion that WordPress gives us the most flexibility. The visual builder gives our senior designers everything we need to make a nuanced website that’s 100% unique to our client’s brand. WordPress also offers scalability with all the plugins that are available without having to write custom code. Imagination is the only roadblock, so the sky’s the limit when using WordPress.
Plugins are excellent for scalability
Plugins should be used judiciously. It is true that too many plugins can slow a site down. However, plugins can also open up a world of possibilities. They can accomplish what would take a coder hundreds of hours to do with just a click of a button.
Let’s say you started a business a year ago and built a basic WordPress website. Your business has grown and now you need to scale to provide membership subscriptions, membership management, registration/login, and more.
Well, there’s a professionally coded plugin that does that.
Of course, there is a learning curb to setting up any plugin because everyone has different needs but you won’t have to pay a coder for hundreds of hours to make something from scratch. Any website functionality you can think of has probably already been made. We’ve used plugins to power e-commerce, sophisticated schedulers, membership subscriptions, and more.
We only use plugins that are vetted and updated on a regular basis. Some plugins are free, but we find that the best plugins are usually paid for.
Responsive on all devices
Most content management systems have cross-platform capability due to the responsive architecture that they are built with — it’s pretty much a given these days. Designing for each device is a lot easier now because many of the themes that WordPress supports do a lot of the heavy lifting while you are developing. The platform carries over elements to each screen size while creating. However, you will need to tweak the design for each device because the landscape is different between desktops and phones. While they will not always be exactly the same, you will be able to create the same brand experience for each device. Consistency is key!
Hosting and optimization
Hosting can be one of the biggest issues when it comes to performance. The two biggest choices are shared hosting and cloud hosting. There are a lot of attractive offers out there for shared hosting plans that might sound too good to be true and probably are. Don’t sacrifice performance for the price. Bad hosting can be a huge contributor to poor performance. With shared hosting you’ll be taking a portion of a server that’s populated with many other websites, thus sharing resources of that server.
Cloud hosting is a network of connected virtual and physical cloud servers. The cloud ensures greater flexibility and scalability for your website. It also means that your site will not be bottlenecked as you might be with a cheap shared hosting plan. Cloud hosting will deliver a better performance which will make your site load faster. We use SiteGround’s Google Cloud Hosting service with built-in caching capabilities. Optimizing your website’s speed is crucial for good UX and conversion. Seconds matter, because a slow website will be less likely to convert.
You will need to update WordPress regularly to keep everything running smoothly. Many web hosting companies now offer the ability to make automatic updates as they become available through your C-Panel. Or you can choose to work with a WordPress developer that will handle all of your hosting and maintenance needs. Professional agencies make sure everything is optimized and will continually tweak settings to improve the performance and health of your website. Maintaining a WordPress website is easy if you just set some time to do it.
Keep it secure
First, I would start by choosing a reputable hosting company that offers some sort of two-step authentication. We host a number of sites for our clients and have never been hacked — knock on wood. For the most part, WordPress is secure on its own.
Plugins can create vulnerabilities if they are poorly coded or not updated on a regular basis. As we mentioned before, that’s why we generally only use paid plugins from known and reputable entities. There are a number of security solutions for WordPress. One that’s commonly used is WordFence. They have been in the industry a long time and have a proven track record. The other option is a CDN based security tool like Securi. You not only get security but you’ll also get a speed boost because it’s operated on a CDN network.
Search Engine Optimization
Implementing basic SEO on a new WordPress website couldn’t be easier with the right plugin. You will need to know some basics, like how to navigate the WordPress dashboard, but from there, most plugins will walk you through the process. We use Rank Math because it delivers everything we need for basic SEO implementation and how you want your website to appear in search with structured data with tools like: title description, keyword placement, tagging, meta data, and more.
Good SEO plugins come with internal linking suggestions, which helps Google contextualize what you do. SEO plugins will set the foundation for you but there’s a whole other level that can be done by an agency that specializes in Search Engine Optimization. SEO is a long game unless you are using paid advertising to put yourself at the top of the organic search page.
WordPress is an excellent CMS to build your website on. It allows for a level of creativity that’s only limited by one’s own imagination. You can scale your website as your business grows. You’ll never have an issue finding someone that can help you with your WordPress site because it power’s over 30% of the websites globally. There’s no shortage of third-party developers that are creating new technologies specifically for WordPress — it has its own ecosystem. We’ve been using WordPress in conjunction with the Divi Visual Builder for the last six years. We are impressed every year by the upgrades that enable us to do more sophisticated designs with an expanding list of capabilities.
If you’re in need of a professional web design agency to get your new website started, please feel free to reach out.