- ABOUT ANALYTICS DESIGN
- LEGAL INFORMATION
Owning a small business often presents many financial and organizational challenges. One of the most difficult challenges is making sure you have the correct tools in place for making strategic decisions which propel the business forward rather than holding it back or making it stagnant.
Your website is one of these tools. Today, your website should be far more than an online brochure; it should be an engaging, dynamic online representation of your business. In the modern business climate, people most often use the Internet as their primary means for collecting information. They will not only use it to learn about who you are and what you do, but also to better understand your company and review its reputation. Your website is often the most critical component of making a first impression about you and your company and it should clearly demonstrate that you are the best company to engage.
If you are operating a business, and you are missing the most critical tool (a website) for conveying your message and propelling your business forward, you are well let’s just say you are competing in a shooting competition blindfolded and with one arm tied behind your back. If you DO have a website, then you have leveled the playing field a bit, however there are still many important decisions to be made regarding HOW your website can be developed and managed so it is successfully achieving your business goals.
The first thing to consider when building or improving your website is the platform or foundation that will be used to build the site to ensure both long term usability as well as overall functionality and portability. We believe WordPress is the platform which is BEST suited to provide long-term usability, functionality and portability. We will review this for you in greater detail and hope our review will help with your decision making process.
WordPress started out as a blogging platform, but over time, it has become a very powerful, flexible, feature-rich open source content management system (CMS). One of the most powerful aspects of using WordPress is the massive community of developers and users who are constantly working to improve and expand its usefulness. WordPress is an “Open Source” software platform meaning anyone can access its core source code and documentation, and work to support and contribute to making it better. In fact, according to W3Techs, WordPress currently powers more than 30% of ALL websites on the Internet worldwide.
There are many reasons for this, however here are just a few for you to consider when deciding if WordPress is right for you:
This may sound strange, however, why wouldn’t you own your own website? It’s your site, right? Your images, and your domain name. That’s true, however it’s the platform or foundation upon which your website is built that truly determines website ownership and control. Although you may own your content and your branding, the underlying company which provides the foundation (Wix, Squarespace, etc), especially those which provide proprietary technology to deliver the platform, are the real owners of the “ground” upon which your site is built. This is because they use proprietary technologies to make the development of your site (the addition of graphics, branding, content and other elements) as simple and user friendly as possible, and at the same time they are essentially locking you into their platform. If you choose to move your site to another hosting provider, you are required to leave their “platform” behind and as a result you are required to build an entirely new foundation for your site.
With WordPress however, this is not the case. Because the WordPress platform is “open-source”, it can be freely moved from hosting provider to provider as the needs of your business demand without having to recreate the site each time you move or expand the site. The WordPress platform can be professionally hosted by any number of providers and is supported by a massive community of developers. There are no limitations on how or where this must happen. In fact, if you are looking to build a serious business online, one could argue that it is imperative that the site be built on a non-proprietary platform and professionally hosted by a company that specializes in the support and optimization of that platform.
When you choose to use a quick and easy DIY website builder such as Wix or Squarespace, you end up with an asset that is 100% dependent on their platform, their hosting services and most importantly on their support services. This means your digital files, images, and copy assets are tied to their platform. This in turn means if you want to move your site to another platform or service provider, it will require a significant amount of labor and rebuilding to get this done. The dirty little secret is that you can’t simply migrate your current website to a new platform or web services provider. You’ll have to spend the money to manually move everything over, page-by-page, image-by-image, etc.
With WordPress installed in a Standard Hosting or Managed Hosting account, it doesn’t matter whether you switch web designers, web hosting providers, or any other aspects of the site. You are not bound to them in the same way and therefore you don’t have to worry about losing anything you have previously invested in making your website stand out (design wise, functionality wise, search engine wise or otherwise).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is instrumental in making your website relevant and visible in the eyes of the search engines. Unfortunately, most people have an “if we build it they will come” mentality as it relates to search engine visibility. The fact is, just because your website is well designed, with thoughtful content and custom photography, doesn’t automagically mean your site will suddenly appear at the top of the search engines.
Keep in mind, it’s not just about someone landing on your site by accident, it’s about your site being RELEVANT to that which the person is searching. This relevance is also the driving factor behind having the same visitor “convert” from being a visitor into a paying customer or client.
Your site will be more “search engine friendly” when the content of your site is directly relevant to what they are searching and ultimately offers them the product, service or information they are seeking. AND,
When a person types a search term (keyword or query) into a search engine, they are most often seeking to find something specific. The search engine compares the search term against all the relevant content and data in its databases to determine and return a “list or pool” of the most relevant results (web pages) based on this comparison and the search engines algorithms. Your site will become part of this “pool“ of results when the search engine considers the language, content and elements of your website to be more relevant than all the other sites with similar messages on the Internet.
Fortunately there are many ways to make this “relevance” happen and with WordPress, much of the hard work is done at installation. What remains is simply the inclusion of details specifically related to your site. Here are a couple things to consider when trying to make your site more relevant to the search engines:
WordPress naturally structures your content by organizing it into pages, blog posts, blog categories and tags. When you create a piece of content, all you have to do is specify what type of content you’re writing (page or blog post), then if it’s post, assign it the proper categories and tags. The categories are tags are topics you write about in your blog.
Similar to clearly written content and a well-organized site structure, your permalinks (URLs) can also help or hurt your search engine relevance. WordPress makes this easy, allowing you to set your own unique permalink structure (for your blog posts) and use Parent Pages (for pages) to organize your permalinks.
Using highly recommended plugins (site add-ons), will help you easily configure site wide search engine relevance and optimization, as well as optimize individual pages of content for specific keywords, phrases or localities. Meta titles and meta descriptions for your pages and posts are one of the most important places search engines look to better understand how your content is most helpful and relevant to their users. Remember, search engines are a business as well, so their goal is to provide the most relevant results. You can make your website more relevant by properly optimizing and preparing the content the WordPress (aka easy) way.
As a busy business owner, you may not be the only person who needs to make edits to your website. Fortunately, WordPress allows multiple users and groups (who can all be assigned specific levels of access) to enter and maintain the website. Once in the admin area, these users can easily update content, add promotions, create blog posts and do it all very quickly and efficiently saving precious time.
The WordPress media area is very powerful. You can manage most file types from the gallery directly. If, for some reason, you run into a situation where you need an unsupported file type, WordPress also allows for custom media types.
If you have a large number of files and file types, the media library can be extended using WordPress premium plugins. Some of the additional features include file tagging, sorting by topic, category or by file extension, or searching for duplicates.
You can currently upload the following file types by default in a standard WordPress installation:
When you log into your new WordPress website, you can easily edit your pages, create a new blog post, add images and promote your site from the dashboard. Although there is a small learning curve, there is a lot of WordPress resources and documentation to help you navigate at the beginning. Before long, you will find it easy to navigate the different areas.
Since WordPress is one of the most often used platforms, it’s also highly targeted by hackers. That can be scary for website owners since a hacked website can cause brand instability and financial loss. All websites, not just websites on WordPress, require consistent maintenance and care. Keeping the core files, plugins and themes routinely updated is critical to the overall security of your site and will protect the site from unauthorized entry and/or being compromised. In a survey from Wordfence of hacked websites, over 60% of the website owners who learned how the site was compromised attributed it to an outdated plugin or theme vulnerability. Routine maintenance of a website is simple to do, however, if you don’t have the time or desire to properly maintain your website directly, you shouldn’t leave it unmanaged. There are services, such as our WordPress Managed Hosting, that will keep your website routinely updated, secure and optimized with no effort on your part. If you’re not already using it, switching to WordPress Managed hosting is an ideal way to delegate the burden of this ongoing site maintenance.
Did you know you can build almost any type of website using the WordPress platform? In fact, WordPress powers nearly 40% of all websites worldwide because it is open source, easy to setup and easy to maintain. While many people see WordPress as a small business platform, there are also hundreds of big-name brands such as Disney, TechCrunch, BBC America, Sony, and Bloomberg that use WordPress too! WordPress provides a very robust platform to build your site, but more importantly, WordPress can scale and evolve into many different shapes and sizes depending on the ultimate purpose of the website. Here are just some of the most common ways WordPress is used for business:
Note: The WordPress trademark and the WordPress.org domain is owned by the WordPress foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, whose sole purpose is to ensure that WordPress is freely available, maintained, and developed.
We have seen websites of all shapes and sizes, from brilliant to completely dysfunctional. Your site may live solidly in the middle of the bell curve in this regard, however that doesn’t mean your site couldn’t stand to benefit from some amount of modernization. Just like all other technology, the technology of websites is constantly evolving and changing. Often times, elements of a site which were highly effective when a site was built lose their effectiveness over time; and depending on the nature of your business, you may not even realize how significantly even a small issue can affect your business.
While it may be difficult to fully comprehend and validate the decision to move forward and modernize, it is important to keep in mind that time flies as it relates to technology and user expectations fly right along with it. Your website is a 24-hour, 7-day a week representation of your organization online. It needs to properly showcase your brand, your message and your mission. It should drive results, rather than hinder your efforts.