In almost 18 years of designing websites, I’ve found that the single biggest constant for small business sites is change. Goals, interests, markets and methods of doing business shift and evolve.
For example, a sculptor finds it more profitable to attend new fairs and festivals than to sell from a retail store. So his site morphs from a retail site into gallery featuring selected works and announcements of upcoming exhibits.
Or, a consultant publishes a book, markets it heavily for a year or two, then retires that book to the back burner when she publishes her next one. Her site must first showcase first one book, then the other—along with all of her associated marketing materials, like her blog. If her site isn’t flexible enough to accommodate successive changes, she can end up spending a huge amount of money and time—or simply end up frustrated and ultimately less successful than she could have been.
Sites for small businesses, artists, authors, and consultants need to be fluid and flexible, able to expand, shift emphasis, accommodate new interests and projects, and grow as the business grows—without prohibitive hassle or expense.
In the “old” (pre-2006 or so) days, this was not possible unless you were a coding geek, had a staff to help, or had plenty of money to spend on your designer. Everyone’s site was almost continuously out of date, all the time.
WordPress began as a simple blogging platform which in the past several years has come of age as a full-fledged website management system solid enough to be used by the New York Times, Martha Stewart, the Royal Navy, the Wall Street Journal, and innumerable world-class universities, celebrities, and businesses.
- It’s flexible—enough so that you can reorganize, move and delete pages, overhaul the navigation, change the entire appearance of the site—even do it yourself, if you want to.
- It’s versatile. Set your site up as a gallery site, a blog, a plain-vanilla website without blog, a site-plus-blog, a membership site, a retail site… WordPress works for them all.
- WordPress is very user friendly. Editing your pages is as easy as changing text in Word.
- WordPress is ubiquitous. It’s easy to install and universally supported by web hosts (many web hosts offer one-click installation).
- WordPress is well supported. The WordPress.org website offers detailed instructions and online support. Numerous forums exist to support WordPress users. Every social network has a WordPress group. And a ton of experts offer free advice on topics both general and arcane. You’ll never be without help for long.
- WordPress has longevity. WordPress is being used on 22% of all websites. It has a huge developer community. Its trademark is protected by the WordPress Foundation, a nonprofit group. It’s here for the long haul. (If you’re interested in learning more about the future of the WordPress platform, check out this great talk by Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, at 2011′s San Francisco WordCamp.)
- WordPress is SEO and social media friendly. The ability to connect instantly with search engines and social networks is increasingly critical to the small business, writer or artist seeking to promote themselves or their work. WordPress makes these integrations easy, and often, automatic.
Of the many web templates and blogging platforms I’ve tried, I find WordPress to be the most cost-effective, user-friendly and intelligent platform for the small business owner. It’s technically solid, easy to manage, a huge time-and-money-saver, flexible enough to handle shifts in the direction and volume of your business, and widely used—you’ll never be stuck with an orphan technology or bound to any particular host.
In fact, in 2008 I stopped developing ”old-fashioned” html sites altogether and switched to WordPress—it simply didn’t make sense not to offer clients a site that can change and grow with their business, and that they can manage themselves if they wish.
After converting one client from another platform to WordPress, he said “Susan, I hope you can forgive me for not taking your advice and switching to WordPress years ago—I understand now why you wanted me to switch, and I’m really, really happy with the new site.”
Empowering people to succeed in their chosen endeavors is what the web is all about. For the small business owner, consultant, artist, author or entrepreneur, WordPress does this better than any other platform. As another client recently wrote to me, “I am deeply, deeply grateful for the website that you created that gives me the ability to easily change and refine its content… as I grow and evolve.”
Was it WordPress? You bet!