I’ve used WordPress on four different websites that I’ve built this year, including this one. And the more I talk to people about WordPress, the more versed I am in why they should be using it on their website.
Evaluating Whether to Design with WordPress
When a client tells me that they are a small-to-medium business or organization, that they don’t have a lot of technical knowledge or resources to update the website on a regular basis, and that they want there to be some sort of way for them to post regular news updates – that’s usually all I have to hear before I start thinking: WordPress, WordPress, WordPress!
Am I saying that it’s an ideal solution for all clients, and that this is all I’m limiting myself to working with? Definitely not. But, for a lot of the potential clients who approach me about website work for them, it just so happens that it might meet their needs perfectly.
The Selling Points
So what are the reasons that I tell people for why I want to build their website in WordPress?
- It’s free. There are no additional costs that the client has to pay. What could be better than that?
- There is plenty of support availabile. From my point of view as their designer, whenever I’ve had a question about how to do something in WordPress as I’m designing a new website in it, all I’ve had to do is Google my question. In almost every case, I’ve been able to find an answer pretty much right away. And not only that, but with the sheer amount of blogs and other resources out there about WordPress, there are plenty of people writing on blogs, forums, etc., where they share their solutions and tricks.
- Availability of plugins. Want to incorporate a contact form? Photo gallery? Various internal search features? Google analytics? There are tons and tons of WordPress plugins out there that do pretty much everything that a client can imagine – all I (or they) have to do is search, download, install, and configure on their system.
- It’s easy to install. When setting up WordPress on clients’ servers, I’ve done it both automatically and manually, and in both cases, it couldn’t be easier to do. If you do have to do it manually, there are plenty of resources out there to help you – just type “installing WordPress manually” into Google and you’ll find all the help you need. I did it for the first time yesterday, and while I was intimidated by the process at first, by the end I was amazed with how simple it turned out to be.
- It maintains itself. When new versions of WordPress are available, you’ll be notified automatically, and it can upgrade itself automatically. The same thing applies to plug-ins you have installed; WordPress will automatically notify you when a newer version is available, and install it automatically for you.
- It has an easy-to-use web interface. Since a lot of organizations I do work for don’t have a dedicated full-time employee working on their website, they want something that makes it easy for them to update their content when needed. In fact, as soon as I hear them say that their current system makes it difficult for them to update regularly, that’s usually a good indicator that they need some sort of content management system such as WordPress.
- Anyone can learn to use it. The back-end portion of a website built in WordPress is really simple to use. Even for people who are very intimidated by computers, updating content is really as simple as 1+2=3. The main content window has a basic Word-processing interface, so there’s really no need for the person updating the content to know HTML – although it certainly doesn’t hurt if they do.
- It allows multiple users to update content. If you have more than one person who is going to contribute content for your website, why not give them separate access? In WordPress you can create different users with different levels of access (subscribers, writers, administrators, etc.), each of which has a different amount of access to what they can and can’t change on the site. So does the director of your organization want to post something occasionally, but isn’t the person who is regularly maintaining the website? Just give them their own user ID; not only will it empower them, but they’ll feel more of a connection to the website as well.
- You can write in it from anywhere. All you need is an Internet browser and the URL for your site’s WordPress administration, and you can access it from wherever you are – be it your office, or a coffee shop, or the beach, etc. You don’t have to wait until you’re at a particular computer to access it, and what’s more, you can even write to it by e-mail if you wanted to. Which, for those people who are toting their Blackberry’s around, might come in handy.
- You can better integrate content across your website. Do you want news from your organization to update automatically on your homepage? Once I set that up for you, you don’t ever have to do any hard-coding for your updates to appear. And, you can set up stuff like that on any page or section on your website that you want to. This makes it much easier for people to find the content that you’ve worked so hard on.
- There are minimal files to work with. Since the majority of your content is maintained as database content through the site administration section, there are a minimal number of actual files that you would need to touch in order to edit your website. This greatly simplifies things on the maintenance end of things.
- It puts an emphasis on usability. By being able to cross-integrate and automatically generate content throughout your website, WordPress makes it easier for your visitors to find what they’re looking for – the core principle of website usability.
- It’s as advanced as you want it to be. Want to manage various categories to cross-reference information? Or make your whole website searchable? Or install and configure numerous plug-ins? Or manage comments? The possibilities are endless, and you can use WordPress in as basic or as advanced a way as you want to.
So there you have it – those are some of the things I tell my clients when describing why they should use WordPress for their new website.
If you’re a designer and build WordPress sites often, what are some of reasons that you give your clients for why they should use?
About Hirsch Fishman
Hirsch has been working professionally with websites since 2001, working exclusively in, and focusing on, the Jewish community. Hirsch offers a wide range of website knowledge to his synagogue web design clients from his years of experience working in the Jewish community. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.