First of all, what is WordPress? WordPress is a dynamic content management system that is used to create awesome websites and blogs. Some of my favorite sites on the Internet are powered by WordPress, and most likely, some of yours too, without you even knowing about it.
WordPress is rapidly growing in popularity: over 73 million people (bloggers, nonprofits, small businesses, and corporations) are using WordPress for their personal or professional websites.
After using a number of different web development tools, I have chosen WordPress as the only platform on which I create websites for myself and my clients.
Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why My Clients Choose WordPress for Their First Website or Web Redesign
(And Why You Should Consider It Too):
1. WordPress is easy to use.
This is the number one reason that I create WordPress sites for my clients, and it’s based on the number one complaint I hear from potential clients which is their current website system is too complicated for them to use themselves. Most of them have been relying on an outside web designer to make simple edits for them and this can be costly at a designer’s hourly wage. Others have been wanting to remove outdated content on their sites for months, even years, but can’t because either their designer is too busy (or has vanished from the face of the Earth), and since they don’t know how to do the edits themselves, they are just stuck.
I find WordPress to be fluid, dynamic, and intuitive. Although I am still a novice at being my own webmaster, I feel confident that I can care for my site, communicate with my readers, and keep everything updated and relevant.”
Melora Purell, Coordinator
Kohala Watershed Partnership
One of the non-profits I work with had a similar problem. One of their web-savvy staff members could make simple changes on their site, but it was a “clunky” system which was difficult to teach to others. After we redesigned their site in WordPress, I taught two staff members how to use it, as well as one of their 80 year old volunteers, who ended up being their primary site editor. He had never used WordPress before, but was able to learn the system well enough to add photos, pdfs, and to make simple edits and additions to the site in less than one hour!
If you could only see the look of amazement (and sense of relief) on my clients’ faces when they realize how easy it will be to edit their sites themselves. This is the kind of thing that makes me tear up in my business, and makes me love working with WordPress even more.
2. WordPress is extremely SEO friendly.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Being “SEO-friendly” means that search engines like Google will have an easier time finding your site and understanding what it’s about, which means that it will be more likely to recommend your site when someone (a future client, fan, or volunteer) searches for a topic that is available on your site. WordPress is very SEO-friendly on its own, but if search engine rank is very important to you, there are a few tools I recommend that can be added to a WordPress website to make it even more search engine friendly.
3. WordPress allows you to integrate a blog on your site.
WordPress was originally built to be a blogging platform, but in more recent years has added the ability to have regular pages like any other website. This means that WordPress is perfectly made to add a fantastic blog to your site.
Some people may not think they want a blog on their site, or understand exactly what it is for, but one example I have used a number of times with nonprofit organizations is to turn the blog into a place to announce “News and Events.” This section might share information about upcoming fundraisers, photos or videos of volunteers, their newsletter, or links to related news articles.
4. WordPress has a built-in network of support.
Because WordPress is “Open Source” (which means it is free to use, modify, or distribute without needing a license) there are literally millions of people out there who are creating new updates, themes, plugins, and tutorials to make WordPress even better. This ensures that it won’t disappear anytime soon. And since it has a fantastic community who love and support WordPress, you will always be able to find someone to help you with your site.
5. WordPress is easily customizable.
There are thousands of different themes available to apply to a WordPress site, many of which are free, that allow you to make your site look any way you’d like. And any skilled WordPress designer can fully customize your site beyond the theme to achieve the look you are visualizing. Starting with a theme when working with a designer saves them time because there are so many great features already built-in that your web designer wouldn’t have to custom code themselves. This saves you money.
My favorite WordPress theme is Genesis by Studiopress not only because it has so many different variations, but also because it one of the most stable, secure, and SEO-friendly themes available. They have “child themes” that specialize in displaying real estate listings, showing off photography portfolios, and many others that work very well for individuals, nonprofits, and small businesses. Click here for more information about WordPress themes.
6. WordPress allows you to be interactive.
Having a web presence that allows your business or organization to be interactive with your clients, fans, or volunteers is becoming more and more important. When you have a way to reach out to your audience, and a way for them to engage with you, you develop a more connected relationship with your customers and thus a more long-term relationship.
Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter allow for a lot of this relationship building to happen, but WordPress is a great tool for this as well. The blog feature is one of the best ways to build a relationship with people on your website because there is always a new reason for people to return to your site again and again and share their thoughts through a comment. Plus there are many other WordPress plugins that allow for interaction like surveys, testimonials, share buttons, and newsletter sign-ups.
WordPress would even allow you to create a private site that would give you a way to interact with a closer circle of staff, clients, or volunteers.
7. WordPress allows you to make changes quickly.
I’ve already touched on this in #1, but it is so important that it’s worth a second mention. You will never have to wait again for your web designer’s schedule to lighten up to make a simple edit to your site.
Your edits are as easy to make as typing an e-mail in a program like Gmail or Yahoo. Let’s say you see a spelling mistake on your site. After logging into the site, you would click on the page where the mistake is, correct the word in the WordPress Editor, click the blue “Publish” button, and your changes have already been made live on the site. It’s that quick!
One of my nonprofit clients used to wait months for their pro-bono webmaster to make changes because the executive director didn’t want to pressure them. Now the ED manages her WordPress site herself and does an amazing job providing new content for her readers.
8. WordPress allows you to sell products or receive donations.
When I had my very first website designed (before I even knew how to develop sites myself), I thought I needed a fancy shopping cart with lots of bells and whistles. This meant a $99/month fee for the shopping cart, a $30/month fee for the merchant account, and another $15/month for what’s called a payment gateway. Yuck! As a small business with very few initial sales, this ate up any profits I was making, eventually causing me to cancel all of these services.
There are other alternatives, especially for small businesses who are just getting off the ground. For any of my clients who want to sell items on their websites, I help them set up a free Paypal business account which allows for their customers (even the ones without a Paypal account) to use a credit card on their site. Paypal also allows you to take donations by credit card if you are a nonprofit.
WordPress easily integrates with Paypal, making it simple to take payments or donations on your website without any up-front fees. For one of my clients, who had a small company that made herbal salves, being able to sell her products on her WordPress site has opened her up to business in Canada, Australia, and England, as well as across the US.
9. WordPress has thousands of available add-on features.
If you are looking for a particular feature on your website, it’s highly likely that someone else has already created it as a WordPress plugin. And that means that you can use it, usually for free (although there are some paid plugins that give you advanced features).
Let’s say you want to have some photos rotate like a slideshow on your home page— a plugin called Dynamic Content Gallery will let you do that. How about integrating a calendar on your site?— there are a number of great plugins that can help you do that, even ones that will automatically display your upcoming events on your sidebar. Another plugin I like lets you display testimonials from your customers on your site, alternating them on different pages to make your site more dynamic.
One of my personal favorites as a WordPress designer is a paid plugin called Backup Buddy, which as you can guess makes backing up your site a cinch. This means that neither you nor I will ever lose sleep over a server crash or user error that results in your site data being lost. That’s one priceless plugin that I pass on to my clients for only $25/year (although it would cost you $75 to buy yourself).
10. WordPress can be hosted by many providers.
When I had my first website developed, I began hosting my site with my web designer. He charged me $50 month for hosting one site, which if you’ve ever looked around at your options is obscenely high. Because I felt burned by this experience, I like to be completely transparent with my clients and tell them up front how inexpensive hosting options can be, especially when you don’t need that many features.
I also prefer to set up clients with their own hosting accounts because this allows you the greatest amount of freedom in the future. I have heard too many clients admit that they don’t know where their domain names were purchased, who their hosting company is, or how to even contact their old web designer. Sometimes you find that you might be a better match for a different designer in the future when it’s time for a revamp of your site, and having control over your hosting makes this transition so much easier and less awkward for you and your previous designer.
As WordPress is growing in popularity, most hosting companies can host a WordPress site, and many of them have a 1-click install of the WordPress framework which will make your work even simpler.
The Most Important Reason
Overall all of these reasons point to one underlying motivation and major benefit of using WordPress, which is that it gives you a great relationship with your website. I love being a part of that.
If you are interested in having your first site developed in WordPress or are considering redesigning your existing website in WordPress, please see our First Steps to Getting Started page.