Getting a website is often a daunting experience for many non-technical business people. Sometimes you feel like it’s beyond you that it’s akin to the “Twilight Zone” and mere mortals such as you couldn’t possibly understand what’s going on.
Well you’re WRONG. You can and should manage your own website and we’re going to tell you how: WITH WORDPRESS.
WordPress began life in 2003 as a blogging platform but now powers more than 74 million websites! Wow, that really is a lot right?
It helps small businesses like yours right up to the world’s biggest brands. It’s real benefit is in its usability, in that it allows non-technical minds to create beautiful websites. Don’t believe me? Here’s what the guys at NASA said:
“I enable non-technical personnel to contribute to our team’s blog, & they can actually figure it out in WordPress.”
Well if it’s good enough for NASA…
Read on for five reasons why WordPress is the platform for you.
1. IT’S FREE
Whether you’ve been in business for years or just getting started WordPress will work for your business. It’s free to use so ensures you’re not losing money on unnecessary web development before you get started. There are no sneaky hidden charges that are triggered if your site gets above a certain level or traffic. It grows easily with your business.
A customer of ours Donnchadh McCobb from Citykayaking uses WordPress to power his business. At first he was a bit wary but quickly picked up the basics and now he can confidently make content updates to his website, add booking buttons to redirect to his booking application and add images to showcase his kayaking trips:
“The more you get to know it the more you can try out with it. I find it great how we’ve a professional looking website that we didn’t have to pay big money for. And, I’m able to keep it updated very easily which I think is very important. “
2. SEARCH ENGINES LOVE WORDPRESS
Visibility in search engines is what we’re all looking for and fortunately WordPress is constantly being updated to ensure your site is given the best opportunity of being seen. In fact, search engines love websites powered by WordPress. Google’s own Matt Cutt’s endorsed WordPress as better than Google Blogger in 2009. In fact he uses WordPress for his own blog.
“WordPress takes care of 80-90% of (the mechanics of) Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).”
3. IT GOES MOBILE AND RESPONSIVE
We’ve been tweeting recently about the latest update from Google which prioritises sites that are mobile friendly. This can be a royal pain in the ass if you are on a custom built site as it might require an expensive website upgrade. Power blogger Neil Patel outlined in this post how to be prepared for the update. However, If you’re powered by WordPress this is automatically taken care of, so you’ve nothing to worry about. This is one of the big reasons we are migrating our own website to WordPress as it gives us more speed and our non-technical staff more flexibility.
4. IT INTEGRATES & WORKS BRILLIANTLY WITH OTHER SERVICES
WordPress works great with your favourite services such as Mailchimp, Aweber, Tripadvisor or Yelp. This means you can add a subscribe form that links directly to your Mailchimp account or integrate your TripAdvisor or Yelp reviews onto your website with ease. We are in the process of developing our WordPress plugin, so our customers can easily integrate their booking system with their WordPress website. Watch this space.
Further reading: 7 WordPress Plugins Your Site Needs To Succed
5. IT’S SAFE AND SECURE
WordPress takes security really seriously. When you’re running 74 million websites you kind of have to! It’s huge community helps keep it on a high alert for hackers. Big brands like BBC, CNN and TechCrunch use it for a reason.
So now you know about WordPress! You’re keen to get started right? Read on to learn how to get started from scratch.
GETTING STARTED WITH WORDPRESS…
For a Newb getting started can sometimes appear daunting. All this talk about web hosting and site administration is enough to make your head spin. Right?
Well it’s actually not that difficult and when broken up into bite sized chunks is really manageable.
1. BASIC REQUIREMENTS
- A domain (look for one on Godaddy)
- A credit card
- About an hour (less if you already manage a website)
2. SET UP A HOSTING ACCOUNT
This is where your website will live. It’s in the cloud. The “cloud” can often sound like something out of Star Trek but really it’s just a large computer storing your files, which are accessible over the internet. This is the same thing as using a google account or dropbox to store your photos.
There are tons of places to host your website. The two biggies are Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. There are plenty of step by step guides to getting set up with these services on their websites and online or on Youtube.
There are also many “how to” guides on how to install WordPress with your hosting provider. Now I must admit, this is one area that frustrated me when I started out, so if you’re really confused doing this get someone you know to help you out or find a contractor on Odesk or Fivvr to help you out. Don’t pay more than $50.
3. LOG INTO WORDPRESS
From your hosting account click on the “Admin Url” link. This will take you to the WordPress login page. Now enter your user name and password. Remember you wrote this down in Step 2. Click on the “Remember Me” checkbox and then click on the “Log In” button.
You are now in the WordPress dashboard. This is sometimes referred to the “back-end” with the “front-end” what your users see.
4. NAVIGATE THE DASHBOARD
The dashboard is where you manage your website and is a super easy place to upload and manage content. A great way to get the hang of using this is to do some practical examples. I would recommend setting up an account with Udemy (the online learning platform) and taking one of the free courses that talk you through step by step how to get started with WordPress.
We recommend this course by Seth Leonard to our customers. It’s really easy to follow, only takes an hour and is a great resource to return to as you get used to working with WordPress. Best of all it’s free!
If you want to go a little a deeper then Brian Duffy at WP Applied provides an amazing free master-class on everything from SEO to Google Analytics all through your WordPress site. Brian is also a bit of a power blogger in the area, so definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Choosing a theme determines the look and feel of your website. There are tonnes of free themes available but if you want something a bit more personalised or tailored to your business, resources such as themeforest provide some great premium WordPress themes. Integrating a WordPress theme is covered here, but depending on your comfort level, this might be a place where you consider using a professional on Odesk.
5. ENGAGE WITH PLUGINS
There are some fantastic plugins available on WordPress that mean you can take advantage of some of the latest technology without requiring any technical knowledge. We use plugins to power our social sharing, blog signups and author snippets. Just go to plugins in the dashboard, click add new and search for whatever you would like on your website and chances are someone will have created a plugin for it. There’s over 27,000 of them.