After having experience working with all major Content Management Systems (CMS), including WordPress, Wix, Joomla, Drupal, Squarespace and Shopify, I’ll discuss the reasons why I recommend WordPress for small and medium business owners.
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering approximately 35% of websites. There’s a good reason for its ever-increasing popularity and many of these reasons make WordPress an ideal candidate for business websites.
As WordPress is “open source”, it means there is a development community that is engaged and willing to customise existing, as well as writing new code. With WordPress, you can choose from over 55,000 plugins for your website, meaning most likely the functionality required for your website has already been written by someone else.
What are plugins?
Plugins are essentially the pieces of software that can add features or additional functionality to your website. Think of these as similar to apps you can download for your smartphone from the AppStore.
Plugins have the ability to add functionality to your website, without the difficulty and cost of having to write custom code to perform the functions you require. Some examples of popular plugin functionality:
Contact forms– gathering data such as subscribers to your blog
Integrations– gathering data from the contact form and adding it to Mailchimp
SEO– optimise your website for search engines (covered in more detail later)
Anti SPAM– “weed out” SPAM from contact forms and blog comments
Security– protect your website from hackers
eCommerce– ability to sell/take payments for online purchases
Analytics– see website visitors & demographics of these
It’s often difficult for business owners to anticipate their requirements for the future. Maybe we’ll implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, can it be integrated with the CMS? Does my website need to integrate with invoicing software? Questions such as these are often hard to answer up-front, so picking a CMS such as WordPress gives you the flexibility for business growth and rapidly changing requirements in the future.
As any SEO professional will tell you, WordPress is the CMS of choice for SEO. There are several reasons for this:
Simple and easy to use
WordPress is a simple CMS that is easy to navigate and make changes. Editing content, generating links, sitemaps and even redirects are a breeze.
A plethora of SEO tools
SEO’s rarely like to get their hands dirty! In terms of editing themes, HTML and scripting code is better left to developers. WordPress on the other hand allows you to make changes to your website via plugins in line with SEO trends in order to assist websites to rank.
WordPress has an overwhelming array of plugins to make your SEO efforts easier, saving you considerable time and money. As a result of the flexibility of the platform and tools, the average WordPress site outperforms its competitors in organic search.
Why does the CMS matter at all?
Because the “closed” CMS’ don’t have all of the functionality (yet) required to fully optimise a website. It’s either too time-consuming, too technical or not even possible to make all the necessary site changes for excellent SEO on a closed platform.
WordPress lets you have full control over the naming of URLs, as well as their hierarchy in the site. Creating a logical, well-organised and easy to crawl website, assists Google to “crawl” and index your site easily.
A lot of the closed CMS’ don’t give you much flexibility over the hierarchy and menu structure, making it very difficult to group similar semantically relevant pages. As a result, you can end up with a structure like below, which has many pages that are difficult for the search engine to crawl.
Website costs come in many different forms:
Hosting for a WordPress site is amongst the cheapest hosting options. A simple hosting plan for a few dollars a month is generally sufficient, with many options such as choice over resources, hosting location and shared or dedicated hosting to name a few. With the closed CMS options, you are locked into their hosting, as the entire website is a “managed service”. As a result, hosting can often be in the several hundreds of dollars a year.
Due to the flexibility and popularity of WordPress, and the abundance of ready-made themes and plugins, WordPress development is generally affordable, especially so if you choose an already developed theme and just customise it for your needs.
Support cost is one area that WordPress is likely to be more expensive than other platforms. There are many updates to the WordPress core as well as plugins (at least monthly) and these resources need to be updated frequently to patch identified security flaws and to ensure functionality remains- a bit like updating the operating system and apps on your smartphone.
What are the cons of WordPress?
The need for support, as identified above is one consideration. Unless you are tech-savvy, it’s better to outsource the updates/support and testing of your website to a professional.
Also, for those that want to fully develop the website themselves, WordPress probably isn’t the best option. Although there are many themes that are simple and easy to use, I’d recommend hiring a web developer to build your WordPress site. If you have no budget for a developer, in most cases you’re better off choosing a closed platform such as Squarespace or Wix that make development easier.
WordPress is the ideal platform to chose when building a new website for your business. It’s very flexible, good for SEO and cheap to run. There are some caveats, however; for eCommerce sites, or very small businesses without a development budget, I’d recommend picking a closed Content Management System (CMS).