For about three years now, I’ve been singing the praises of WordPress as a small business content management platform. But many small business owners still have questions…
- Why WordPress? I talked to a web guy that likes _______ (insert Joomla, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, DotNetNuke, custom-built CMS systems, etc.).
- Isn’t WordPress just a glorified blogging platform?
- Can WordPress handle eCommerce?
- What can WordPress really DO?
- How do I know if WordPress is a fit for my site?
Here are four cases for WordPress that will answer many of the questions the team here at Zero-G hears on a daily basis.
Case 1: WordPress is well adopted and user-friendly
Of the top 1,000,000 websites (as ranked by Alexa) only about 26% use a well-adopted content management (CMS) platform if any at all. However, according to W3 Techs, WordPress represents 54% of those sites and more than 14% of the top million, making it by far the most popular CMS on the web. Prior to the release of WordPress 3.0 about a year ago, WordPress represented less than 8% of the top million and about 27% of the CMS market but was STILL by far the most popular CMS platform.
So why the popularity and why the growth? Because in addition to being open source (i.e., FREE) and easy to design and develop for, WordPress is also EXTREMELY user-friendly. And trust me, I know — the Zero-G team has built HUNDREDS of WordPress sites and trained hundreds of new users. We’ve trained septuagenarians, teenagers, web novices and even a few luddites with an extraordinarily high success rate. A content management system is only as good as the business owner’s ability to take advantage of it once the site is live. And WordPress accomplishes that goal far beyond the dozens of CMS platforms my team and I have tested.
Case 2: WordPress has an incredible support community
WordPress owns more than half of the CMS market share, the most recent version been downloaded more than 14 million times and if you search for “WordPress Web Developer” on Google you will get more than 77 million results.
Why is this important? Because sometimes things don’t go according to plan with web projects and sometimes you hire the wrong designer/developer/firm. The better the market share for your web platform, the more likely you are to find a variety of competent resources to work with you. Not that you should plan to have to fire your web firm, but many small businesses do… And what then? On WordPress you are virtually guaranteed to find a suitable replacement for your web vendor if and when that time comes.
Case 3: WordPress is flexible
A lot of business owners ask me, “Can WordPress do ___________?” The question implies that WordPress is a tool, like a drill or a socket wrench. The drill is a better tool than a socket wrench if you’re trying to hang a door and neither of them would be exactly right if you were trying to hang a picture. A better analogy for WordPress would be to call it a toolbox. While it performs a select few functions extraordinarily well on its own its real usefulness is determined by the quality of the tools you add to it.
So can WordPress do ___________? Unless ___________ is creating, editing and managing static content to be stored in pages or posts on a blog or website, the answer is usually going to be “no.” But WordPress can be easily made to do a great many things, including:
- handling lead generation via forms
- Serving as a photo gallery or portfolio
- Serving as a video library
- Managing customer or product information
- Customer support
- Real estate listings
- More stuff than I can list here
The beauty of WordPress is in its ability to do all of this without compromising ease of use. That’s the big reason it leaves Joomla, Drupal and the other big name publishing platforms in the dust — despite the fact that they all had a BIG head start. That doesn’t mean that WordPress is a solution for everyone but my rule of thumb is usually to say that a small business should use WordPress unless there’s a business reason not to. In three years of developing on WordPress, I could count the number of clients we met with that were not good fits on one hand. Even if I were missing a finger or two.
Case 4: WordPress isn’t just for blogging anymore
YES, WordPress started in blogging and blogging is still very much in its DNA. But WordPress, especially since version 3.0 (and I would argue since version 2.3) has evolved well beyond its basic blog roots. Skeptics often ask if their WordPress websites have to look like blogs and the answer is a great big without-a-doubt NO. Developing on WordPress has not changed our design process one bit — anything that can be done in good old fashioned HTML and CSS can be seamlessly integrated with WordPress. The uniquely open theme structures in WordPress allow for that.
People who believe otherwise usually gleaned that belief by looking through one or more of the many WordPress theme directories available on the web. The vast majority of stock themes made for WordPress (either for free or for sale) are really designed as blogging — not business — themes. But WordPress really can look like anything you want it to.
But even if you’re firm in your belief and WordPress sites really are just for people looking for excuses to blog something, I could argue very effectively that the more your website makes you feel like blogging something, the closer you are to making money from it.
Still have questions?
Call me or email me. Seriously.