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Since 2003 WordPress has grown to be the largest self-hosted “blogging tool in the world”, with millions of sites being powered by this easy-to-use, extremely flexible, freely available content management system (CMS).
The common perception by the vast majority though is that it is limited to being a blogging tool. And a blogging tool to many businesses sounds like something they don’t need and are not interested in. All they want is an online brochure, a simple web presence, a 5-page static website with a contact form.
So they approach a web designer, a design agency or an employee’s brother-in-law who ‘knows how to design websites’.
The outcome of this route is usually an overpriced website designed on the agency’s custom built content management system, or developed on a CMS like Drupal, Joomla or Expression Engine (EE) with the client being told these CMS’s are hugely more powerful and scalable than WordPress. Or a too-good-to-be-true cheap website designed by the brother-in-law of your employee that he built in Microsoft Frontpage or iWeb.
What wasn’t told to them was that the agency’s custom built content management system cannot be supported by any other web designer so they’ve indirectly signed into a very long-term contract. And the Drupal, Joomla or EE solution, although efficient and cost-effective, is hugely over complicated for a simple 5-page static website with a contact form.
As for the brother-in-law who ‘knows how to design websites’ – his website design is riddled with ugly auto-generated code that many web browsers don’t like, and image-based text that cannot be updated, nor indexed by Google for search results.
The recommended route
Choose WordPress. It is freely available to install on your host package, and there is a huge amount of free themes available for it. Your start-up costs can really be next to nothing, depending on how dirty you want to get your hands yourself.
There is a wealth of resources available online from seasoned WordPress evangelists around the interwebs offering code snippets, plugins, and free themes.
Its usage can be hugely simplified, or modified drastically. Don’t think of it as a blog. Your website can still be a ‘5-page online brochure with a contact form’. But every one of those pages can be updated in the backend via a simple word editor, you can easily add images, videos or other media to those pages, and each of those pages will be loved by Google and well-indexed for search results you want to appear in.
You can completely disable the blog posts section of WordPress from displaying on your website, or archive your business’s latest news using blog posts on a sub page of the site.
Importantly though, 6 months down the line if you then realise your website can do much more for your business you only need to get your designer to create/edit template files to unleash more WordPress goodness onto your website, not start all over again.
If you want to save time and your hair follicles though, I suggest consulting an expert to get your site built more effortlessly.
Modify a commercial theme
A freely-available theme often looks like the stereotypical, very basic blog site people associate with WordPress.
Having a custom WordPress theme created from scratch by a WordPress designer can be costly as it takes time to develop. These days however, there are hundreds of commercial theme providers offering all sorts of themes with custom widgets, theme option panels, and alternate styles covering just about every niche.
Having a commercial theme as a base for your business’s website will save your web designer time, and in turn save you money, as well guarantee a good code-base, browser compatibility, and free updates when required for future versions of WordPress (depending on the commercial WordPress theme provider you choose of course ).
Those don’t look like WordPress websites!
Just to prove how flexible WordPress truly is, and breaking that stereotypical image you have of WordPress have a look at these examples.
- ‘Real Estate’ – a real estate theme by Templatic
- ‘City Guide’ – a directory theme by WooThemes (full disclosure: I am the owner and designer of WooThemes)
- ‘Video Elements’ – a video theme
- ‘Through the lens’ – a photography theme
- ‘App Theme’ – a theme showcasing your iPhone app
- ‘Thesis’ – a theme framework
As you can see WordPress is much more than just a ‘blogging tool’, so stop thinking of it that way, and dyno-tune that website of yours! Test that employee’s brother-in-law real skills and see if he really ‘knows how to design a website’.