There are many different platforms out there to build websites on, familiar ones such as Shopify, Wix, Squarespace and less known ones to the general public like Magento or Joomla. These all have their place and own niche in the industry, for example Shopify would only be used for creating an E-Commerce site and wouldn’t be used for a brochure style or blog site, this applies also to Magento. Tools such as Wix and Squarespace appeal to people who want to try and build their own website without any knowledge of web development, perhaps with smaller budgets and they have achieved this very well, with some great tools available but these types of builders are notoriously bad for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and make it difficult to get your site found in Google. The main reason for that is because in their effort to cater for a variety of templates and drag and drop tools, the code is extremely bloated and the website heavy, bulky and slow as a consequence. For those who are serious about growing their business online these do it yourself builders are probably not the right choice.
So, why do I as a developer predominantly use WordPress to develop my client’s sites? Let me explain the reasons for this.
1. It is open source and versatile
WordPress is an open source platform making it free to access and meaning the support in the community is huge. It has been around since 2003 and has come a long way in that time. It is incredibly versatile and it is no longer just a blogging platform, however, those blog foundations have served it well as it means that business websites and E-Commerce sites all have a beautifully and seamlessly implemented blogging interface as part of their make up, which is great for businesses who want to produce content on their website to help their rankings.
WordPress allows me to develop any kind of site, with granular detail and full control of the design and code, to give an idea, WordPress can be used for all of these types of websites and more:
Brochure Business Sites
The versatility of WordPress is incredibly important, particularly from a developers view as it allows us to create a variety of sites with as much or as little code as needed, we can create bespoke functionality and custom made websites, unlike the other do it yourself builders.
2. Scale your website easily
WordPress is the best platform out there when it comes to being able to easily scale your website up. It’s use of themes and plugins allows straight forward, often one click functionality such as E-Commerce or membership solutions to be added to your site. This goes hand in hand with point one in that because it is so widely supported and established there are thousands upon thousands of plugins and themes available to make use of. This means developers like me can build our own plugins, add our own code to implement a functionality or make use of existing plugins. It is important not to use too many plugins in order to maintain a light and fast site but everyone uses some plugins and would be silly not to, utilising a plugin also allows more affordable ways to offer clients more bespoke functionality.
Reputable plugin and theme developers keep their plugins up to date, which means your site is kept as secure as possible whilst making use of them. Scalability is very important for most businesses and is a key reason why I use WordPress, my last project was to add an E-Commerce section to a current site which needed another revenue stream. I was able to do this quickly using WordPress and Woocommerce plugin.
It is common to use a prebuilt theme to base your WordPress site on. Themes are an easy way to refresh your site when needed or can be changed when the website needs more functionality than the current theme can deliver. I use a mix of themes and custom developed themes, again having this option in WordPress allows clients more affordable options.
3. Provides full control
One of the main reasons I love WordPress is because it allows me as a developer to control everything about the development of the site and it allows you as the client and website owner to own your site completely. This may sound like a given but many of the other options do not offer this, for example, website builders such as Wix, SquareSpace and Shopify are not open source, this means you have to sign up and pay for premium features and you are in effect renting the site from them and usually have to pay monthly or yearly, this means that all the website files and pages are owned by them, not you. With WordPress, this is not the case, you own all the files and pages entirely and you control what you do with them. This is extremely important to clients and to myself on their behalf. There is also no charge for WordPress (excluding some plugins and themes) so you are not paying for it’s use each month.
Other restrictions apply also to the non open source website builders such as functionality, there are not many ways to expand on the existing functionality of those sites because it is all prebuilt in and you are paying for those features – such as E-Commerce functionality. The only things you can really change are aesthetics, this stops you being able to scale your website. Typically, you are also stuck with whatever hosting provider they use, with WordPress you can migrate sites to a new host easily to make sure you have the best for your site.
From a development point of view, it is very difficult to even access the code you need on those website builders, they only make what they choose available, which means much of the site’s code is out of reach. Some even have their own bespoke code which is not mainstream to developers. With WordPress, there are user friendly interfaces to make astheatic changes and fully accessible code, allowing me to make big or small changes such as changing order confirmation emails to adding tracking code and more.
4. Clients can populate their own website
Another reason I choose WordPress is because of it’s ease of use, it means my clients can update their own website if they want to do so. It is user friendly and after a few lessons, you will be able to add new content to your website yourself. Now, there are different levels to this as many clients want me to include SEO which means looking at different tools and elements within WordPress but in terms of actually adding content to your site, it is easy to do. Giving clients the option to do this themselves knowing they will be able to easily do so is important for both them and I.
There are other aspects to maintaining a website once it is live and often clients like me to take care of this but again, these are things that can be done relatively easily with WordPress, these tasks are:
Security Checks – ensuring the site is secure
Updating WordPress software
Keeping plugins and themes up to date
Running regular site and database backups
Continuously trying to improve site speed
These are all part of my maintenance package but I also show some clients how to take care of all this, utilising plugins for some of these tasks makes WordPress website maintenance something a business owner can manage.
5. SEO Friendly
Finally, as already mentioned, most of the other website platforms and builders make SEO extremely difficult and they certainly haven’t tried to incorporate it into their workings. Unlike WordPress, who has made sure to include SEO a part of their platform, they actually have it built in to it, giving a distinct advantage from the start over other platforms. As standard, WordPress automatically generates meta titles, meta descriptions and title tags for your pages and posts. It also allows you to control things such as permalinks (how your URLs are shown) and includes Alt description boxes for images – all of which are important to Google and help with rankings.
Combine the inbuilt SEO functionality of WordPress with that of some really useful plugins and you have an extremely well optimised website. Yoast is a must have SEO WordPress plugin. Yoast allows you to focus your pages on keywords and phrases, it adds a box where you can input what your keywords are and then it can analyse your page copy to measure how effectively you are targeting that keyword. It offers feedback on keyword density, title suggestions and uses a red, yellow, green traffic light system on key metrics. It also allows you to edit your meta description and title on page.
Other plugins for page speed, image compression, schema and link checkers are invaluable for SEO – all of which are available at the click of a button in WordPress.