As a web designer I’m asked this question regularly by those looking to create a new website.
They’ll ask my prices, my previous experience and my recent projects but one thing I am rarely asked is how will I build their new website. I take great pride in informing them that I am a WordPress specialist but often this is met with some form of pleasant and courteous ‘oh that’s nice’ or a ‘I just want it to look like my current website but better.’ I’m making zero judgement about client’s requirements when it comes to getting quotes for their projects nor do I pass judgement about their lack of knowledge. It’s sometimes a good idea to step back from your work and realise that not everyone is fully immersed in your webby world. This helps to gain perspective and allows you to see things from your client’s point of view. They need a website sorting out but it is not the be all and end all of their business life. WordPress is yet another techie geeky word that they may or may not have heard of. However I do have businesses get in touch specifically because I am a WordPress specialist which is fabulous and I’m happy to share why I use it for all my website builds.
Before we dive in, I want to be clear that there are many other ways to create a website. Whilst it’s true that 40% of the top 10 million websites on the web are in fact built using WordPress, it means that 60% are built using other systems. You may have heard of Wix, Squarespace, Magento and Shopify to name a few. They offer their own positives for different skillsets and requirements and we’ll more than likely cover them in future blog posts. However we stand firm that WordPress offers the best solution – here are our top three reasons for that opinion.
Software is free
Our first reason to love WordPress is that the software is free and open source. Anyone can use, study, change and redistribute it which allows developers and designers to create plugins and themes using the code. This sounds too good to be true and of course it isn’t as simple as it sounds. In fact the term ‘WordPress’ is split into wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The former is a stripped back version of WordPress that helps people get their blogs online and hosted in a simpler way. To muddy the waters further it is owned by Automattic, a company set up by one of the co-founding developers of WordPress open source software. When you build a site using wordPress.com, you have to agree to their terms and conditions. You still have control over your site but you have a limited choice of features you can use and if deemed to violate any of the terms you agreed to, they can shut you down.
WordPress.org is the software itself and means that any website you create using this software is 100% owned by you. The content you upload to these sites is also 100% owned by you. Of course for many people looking to set up their own website, the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org is probably not too important. However this does crop up in WordPress groups and communities on social media and understandably the differentiation between the two is difficult for people to comprehend. This is particularly true when they’ve started building their site on wordpress.com, need some help fixing a problem and find out that they need to contact wordpress.com rather than being able to get a freelancer to support them.
Ultimately owning your website code is a wonderful thing – it isn’t owned by any single corporation – and something I am very proud to facilitate here at Two Cows Web. Please note that you may own the code and content but you are still governed by outside agencies such as hosting providers. Owning a website is not 100% free – although who actually owns the Internet? Perhaps I’ll explore this in a future blog post.
Adaptable is the name of the game
The second reasons we build using WordPress is its flexibility. Originally WordPress was synonymous with blogging. And quite rightly so as that is the exact reason it was initially developed. However over the years as more and more developers have got involved, the software has expanded and can now be used for an endless list of different types of websites including the following:
- business information websites
- business directories
- charity websites collecting donations
- personal portfolio websites
- membership sites
Clearly the list goes on. I’ve created a variety of different websites for different uses – have a look at my portfolio to see what I mean. WordPress can be transformed from a simple business website into an online chat facility for their employees and well as an online shop selling subscriptions to their eLearning courses with the simple addition of a couple of plugins. This is one of my absolute favourite things about WordPress. I love problem solving and with WordPress, the seemingly unusual and unrealistic request of a client can be kicked into touch with just a teeny bit of research and knowledge that WordPress will be able to meet the client’s vision. Please note I am well aware that sometimes things don’t always go to plan and that a client’s vision may simply not be possible. However as a general rule of thumb, WordPress does deliver and as with anything life there is always a way if you are determined enough to work it out!
Community and collaboration is key
Perhaps the best reason for choosing WordPress for your website is the amazing community. I have never been welcomed with such open arms by any group before as I have the WordPress community. The very nature of open source software should have been an indicator that people genuinely want to help or share their knowledge but it still surprises me each and every day as a web designer. Of course it is probably not as innocent as it appears on the surface – people can sell their WordPress plugins and themes and do so regardless of any altruistic tendencies. However ultimately if you are having a problem with a feature of a plugin, a CSS issue or simply can’t figure something out, there will be someone out there who will happily offer their assistance. This is incredibly reassuring. Earlier I wrote about how WordPress had started life as a blogging platform but now more developers are involved, the software has evolved. This change is continually happening. You may have noticed that updates on plugins pop up or that a new version of the core WordPress files is available. This is because developers are doing what they do best which is develop and improve the very plugins and themes, designers use to create beautiful websites for their clients. Therefore it is impossible for a designer to keep up to date with all the changes for every plugin they use and why that change has been made. Enter the wonderful WordPress community. Our clients can be safe in the knowledge that if something breaks on their site or if something isn’t working the way they want it to, their designer will be able to access the most current and up to date information and resolve the problem. Therefore community and collaboration is key.
WordPress is where it’s at
So to sum up my answer to the question – why use WordPress for your website? It’s free, flexible and well-supported. There are many other benefits and of course it does have its issues but like a tasty three course meal, there will always be something you didn’t quite like about it. However for me as a web designer, I’ll do what WordPress does best and find a way around any potential negatives and make it work for my clients. Because after all that is why we are creating websites? Isn’t it?
I would love to hear your views on this topic. Tell me in the comments below.
Do you agree with my love for all things WordPress? Are there other benefits I haven’t mentioned? Please note though that one thing I do ask is that you are kind. Your opinions count but your spite and malice does not and will be deleted.
Thanks so much for reading!