It’s calculated that almost a quarter of all websites across the globe use WordPress in some form or another. Last year alone, around 18 million WordPress sites came into existence, and an estimated 50,000 new ones are added daily. We’re not just talking about hobbyists and casual bloggers here. WordPress may have a reputation for simplicity and accessibility, but once you factor in features that match the wish list of many-a business owner across the globe, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
If you’re vaguely aware of WordPress as a kind of DIY website building kit, then you’re sort of on the right track. However, there is a whole lot more to it than that.
Why is WordPress small-business friendly?
One of the big reasons why the internet has become a natural hunting ground for entrepreneurs is the promise of a level(ish) playing field. There is the possibility of reaching new markets and competing against established businesses is an attractive prospect. But, to have a chance of online success, at the very least you need is a website that does what you need it to do. One that customers can find and trust easily. Few of us have the tech skills to build such a site from scratch, and paying for a custom-built site could see your limited start-up funds disappear in one fell swoop.
WordPress offers a viable alternative. It’s a free, open-source tool that lets people install, customise, and manage their websites. So, whether you intend to sell products online, encourage enquiries from potential clients, or use your site as a publicity tool for your services, WordPress could be the way to go. With that in mind, here’s what WordPress can mean, in practice:
The possibility of a self-built website
This applies even to the least technologically-gifted of us. It’s a simple process with the option of doing much of the legwork yourself, and calling on help and advice from a WordPress development expert further down the line if required: for instance, if you wanted a designer’s opinion on the look and feel of your site.
You can change and add to your site easily
This includes adding whole new pages, themes, and a wide variety of excellent plugins. WordPress plugins are additional pieces of software that you can install to enable you to tailor your basic site to your specific needs. Some are free, and others you have to pay for. Popular plugins for small businesses include WooCommerce, which gives you complete control over online sales, and Google Analyticator, which enables you to track your site’s visitors and analyse what they’re specifically looking at.
You’re not alone
If you’re still nervous about starting your site, or just need some friendly advice and tips, there’s no shortage of online tutorials to help you find your feet, along with an online support community.
Getting started: the essentials…
Assuming you’ve chosen a name for your site already, here are the first things you might want to think about:
WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a commercial site that runs on the open source WordPress platform. It has a reputation for being easier to use than the ‘.org’ equivalent, but comes with the potential downside of more restrictions when it comes to customisation and external advertising on your site. There’s no right or wrong answer as to what to go for, and the decision is likely to be swayed by the nature of your online business. Check out this guide to help you decide.
Choosing a suitable host for your site
A hosting service is what provides storage space for your website, and makes it accessible via the web. According to WordPress, the vast majority of hosts meet the platform’s minimum requirements – although its hosting guidelines page provides details of specifically recommended services. Hosting guidelines can be subject to change, so it’s worth checking for the latest recommendations shortly before you make your decision.
Thanks to the WordPress 1-click 5-minute installation process, this should be a hassle-free process.
Choosing a theme
The ‘theme’ is the template used to give the front-end (the user-interface) of your site a certain look and feel. A good starting point to consider is browsing the WordPress library of free themes. However, be wary of opting for a theme that doesn’t reflect your brand, and what it is you’re trying to achieve from your website: just because the theme happens to be free doesn’t mean you have to use it. To set yourself out from the crowd, consider investing in a premium theme direct from WordPress, or even consulting a designer who specialises in creating designs for the WordPress platform if you want something truly unique.
Make sure the theme is responsive: for example, one that is flexible enough to adapt to visitors’ displays, whatever type of device they are using.
Set the website up for direct sales
If you’re selling directly via your website, you’ll need the right plugin to help you manage your shop. WooCommerce, as an example, has everything you need to do just that.
By going to the ‘Pages’ menu in the WordPress dashboard navigation section and clicking ‘Add new’, you can get to work with building the content for your site.
Growing your business
How do I make my content as awesome as it possibly can be? Is there a way to make my site more visible? How do I track my progress? These are the questions you might be asking yourself after you’ve initially set up your website. However, with your core WordPress site now off the ground, you have the platform to grow your online business. For hints and tips on the next steps, head to our help centre.