“Why would you use WordPress for web design – isn’t it just for blogging?” This is a common question being asked by folks who are trying to decide how they want to build their website. Even some web designers are in the dark about the features and benefits of using a content management system (CMS) over a static website built in HTML.
On the plus side, a static HTML site doesn’t require ongoing maintenance, the requirements for your web hosting environment are less demanding, and the security risks are somewhat less.
Once your HTML site goes live you may not have to think about it again until you’re ready for an update or complete overhaul. However, if you aren’t familiar with the coding languages used you’ll be calling your webmaster anytime something needs to be changed. Even if it’s just a minor spelling error. Very few web designers provide their services free of charge, even if a task will only take them a few minutes to complete. Your costs increase every time you want changes made. Something to think about, the latest search engine algorithms are looking for websites that are frequently updated with new content that adds depth and authority to the site.
You also won’t have to put as much thought into selecting a web hosting service because your site is less likely to require PHP and MySQL to present your content to site visitors. While most hosting services provide fairly up to date versions, some can be a little bit slow in updating when a new version is released. Your static website won’t be affected if you find yourself hosted by one of those.
There are fewer ways for an HTML website to be infiltrated by someone with bad intentions than there are with WordPress sites. This reduces the risk that your domain will be used for sending spam or viruses. Due to the popularity of WordPress (it powers roughly 26% of all websites) the evildoers of the Internet keep themselves busy trying to break through the defenses.
WordPress is no longer merely a blogging platform. Over the years the platform has expanded to serve as a full content management system that is ideal for building and maintaining websites.
There are a few drawbacks to using WordPress, namely the learning curve involved when you first get started and the frequent need to update the core files, themes and plugins. Neither of these is enough to outweigh the advantages.
Features and Benefits
The primary benefit of using WordPress is that you’ll be able to make your own updates to the content. The value of this can’t be overstated.
Themes – Themes are ready-made web designs. Once installed, all you have to do is add your content to have a complete website, however, you’ll probably want to customize your site so it doesn’t look exactly the same as every other site built with that theme. The built-in WordPress Customizer makes that easy.
Plugins – Plugins add functionality that isn’t built into your theme. There are literally tens of thousands of plugins to choose from providing a multitude of functions to make your site better on the frontend (what your visitors see or interact with) or to make improvements to the admin area so it’s easier to use or a more productive space to help you manage your online presence.
E-commerce – Numerous plugins offer a very basic e-commerce solution if you want to offer a few products for sale. WooCommerce provides a plugin that can power a complete department store if you’re so inclined.
Galleries – Everyone enjoys looking at pictures and with WordPress you can add as many as you want and display them in good looking, stylish galleries.
Mailing Lists – It’s important for every business to collect contact information from as many site visitors as possible. Mailing list plugins provide both the form that appears on the frontend and the list management functions on the backend. Most will allow you to connect to a mailing list account with one or more of the major email marketing platforms.
Widgets – These allow you to put tidbits of information in a variety of places on your web pages. Many of the widget plugins even allow you to control when and where that information will appear.
Blog – For your website to be found by potential visitors the search engines need to find fresh content on a regular basis. As they say, content is king and you’ll want to add to it regularly. Your first search engine optimization strategy should be to develop depth and authority within your content. You can’t beat WordPress for blogging.
Free Help and Support – The WordPress community is very large and often generous with their time and knowledge. You’ll be able to get answers to your questions and guidance for solving problems free of charge through the support forums at WordPress.org and numerous other sites. A simple Google search is often all it takes to find 4-5 resources offering the advice you need. YouTube videos abound to demonstrate every facet of building and maintaining your WordPress site.
The WordPress Web Designer
The WordPress web design specialist can take a ready-made theme and transform the styling to better reflect your business. Not all themes offer the customization options that would allow you to completely change the color scheme or typography; or maybe the selection of page templates doesn’t include one that provides the exact look you want. A WordPress specialist can make those changes – or even create a custom theme for you.
Your professional WordPress designer may have subscribed to various sources of premium plugins that can be used in building your site, saving you the expense of purchasing the license required to get the features that aren’t included in the free version.
Custom plugins are also an option when you’re working with a WordPress specialist. Although there is a wide variety of functions already available as plugins, you may want your site to do something that’s unique to your business.
Additionally, your WordPress designer may offer a site management service to handle the frequent updates required, including the theme and plugins. It’s important to stay on top of these updates for the sake of site security so you’re less vulnerable to hackers. A good site management plan should also include regular backups of the site files and database.
Both methods of building a website will produce a site that effectively represents your business. The final analysis is up to you. Do you want to be able to keep your website fresh and alive for your visitors, or do you want to launch your website and forget about it for six months to a year? Your answer will determine which route will provide the best solution to meet your business’s online needs.
A Quick Outline
- WordPress currently powers 26% of websites on the Internet
- WordPress is a content management system designed to be scalable to meet the needs of any size website and then grow with the site
- little or no web design experience needed to get started with WordPress
- quick setup
- minimal hosting requirements
- minimal maintenance requirements
- fewer security risks
- requires knowledge of HTML and CSS to create or update
- requires knowledge of FTP or cPanel to setup on the server
- site owners who don’t know these things will need to hire someone to do the work for them
- every change or update, no matter how minor it might be, adds to the overall expense of the site
- web designers aren’t always prompt about doing jobs that will result in minimal income so small jobs may be put on their back burner no matter how important it is to the site owner
- search engines look for new content on websites and favor those sites that consistently add new content such as blog posts — site owners would need to keep a web designer on retainer or pay for each update individually, or let the site remain unchanged and accept a lower ranking on the search engines
- there is a learning curve to managing and maintaining the site
- frequent core file updates are required by the themes, plugins, and WordPress itself
- requires web hosting with up to date PHP and MySQL included
- basic web designs provided by ready-made themes
- additional functionality can be added by plugins
- over 29.000 plugins offer a wide range of functions including e-commerce, mailing lists, image & video galleries, contact forms, appointment booking, event planning, fundraising, and much more
- themes and plugins can be installed and activated by anyone regardless of their skill level
- blogging is built in, making it easy to add fresh content on a regular basis
- help and support is readily available free of charge through WordPress.org and other forums dedicated to WordPress users; a wide variety of tutorial videos can be found on YouTube; numerous websites offer tips and tricks for WordPress users and can be found with a simple Google search
- no need to pay a web designer for every update or correction
WordPress Web Designer
- customizes the theme and plugin files to match a business’s branding
- can build custom themes to provide a more unique look
- may be able to provide premium themes and plugins included in their design fee
- can provide custom plugin development when needed
- may offer site maintenance plans to keep site files updated and routinely backed up