Updated January 2019.
Of course, there are other buzzworthy CMSs too: Drupal, Joomla, SharePoint…the list goes on. And everyone has their own preferences; it’s like Coke or Pepsi.
Why WordPress, indeed
After beginning to “code” HTML in 1996, upgrading over time to include CSS, the learning curve of something new takes me away from actual work. But, I found in WordPress a system that’s not only flexible, but gave me room to grow with it. Now, a dynamic site doesn’t require a lot of custom coding, allowing more time for content.
There are some amazing ways to expand WordPress with a little work:
- Membership directory
- Online directory of businesses
- Review site
- Private community sites [i.e., Ning, Facebook types of sites]
- E-commerce [smaller scale in my experience]
- 5k race site
Of course, things weren’t always this way! My relationship with WordPress began back in 2008, with an association website redesign that needed a flexible membership database. Back in those days, nothing out of the box existed. So, I had a programmer create a custom database. There’s far more to it than that, but suffice it to say, it wasn’t an easy process. And the end result wasn’t easy to customize or grow beyond the original parameters. However, WordPress itself proved to be a boon, especially to a growing association with an ever-changing board learning the ropes.
This wasn’t without peril: The administrative password was given to everyone, and those who “knew better” would bring the site down with a few clicks. Some found it easier to work with than others. These are issues any website can have. WordPress allowed easy updating and expansion for the layperson: No designer or developer necessarily needed.
And, I found out later than most that the community and WordCamps are key to expanding my knowledge, and my sites.
Get that ugly website monkey off your back
One of the major benefits of WordPress is getting clients off of those awful “overnight websites” or website sweatshops that promise a quick site — and deliver, albeit with a site that’s poor by 1997 standards, uses the exact same content as your competitors [save your name and business name], and costs you every time you want to revise it. Oh, and they repeat the same keywords: “If you’d like graphic design in Chicago, look no further than this Chicago graphic designer, found right here in Chicago!” in an awful attempt at SEO.
Far be it from me to call out the offenders, but you’ve no doubt seen these sites, promising low monthly costs and delivering chiropractic, massage, CPA, even plastic surgery websites that inspire no one to buy.
I’ve taken more than a few clients off these sites, and the cost difference — not to mention ease of use and expandability — is obvious from day one. And, the SEO tends to work far better.
Of course, as I keep building client sites, there is a bit of teaching of WordPress’ dashboard & quirks — hence my frequent training sessions and workshops to introduce newbies. My role has expanded, but I’m not adding pages or updating content: I’m focusing on designing new sites and upgrading existing ones, which is much more where I, and my clients, would rather be.