Before platforms like WordPress were created, companies typically had to hire a web design agency to create a website for them from scratch. This was incredibly limiting to a company or individual needing a website and meant that every time a photo had to be updated or a comma was missing a developer was paid to make these simple changes. This not only created fairly static websites but also became frustrating for website owners. At Mountain Mojo Group we want our clients to be empowered to edit their own websites after we create them so that as their business grows and changes, their website evolves with it.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source content management system. Now, this is a lot of jargon so let’s break it down.
Open source refers to the fact that the core files are free and available to the public. The content management system refers to the main function of this platform being a base for developers to create user-friendly websites for both the website visitors and the website editors. If a WordPress website is set up properly by a developer, there should be no need for a website editor to require coding knowledge to make basic changes.
The core files still need some help to make a functional and beautiful website. There are WordPress themes to add visual aspects and WordPress plugins to add functionality. A great example of a popular plugin to add eCommerce functionality is Woocommerce. These additions are often associated with a small one-time or annual fee of some sort so the developers are compensated for their time to keep the plugin or themes up to date as security on the web changes, as well as the core WordPress files get updated. This means that even though the base of the website is free, the development and additions usually will cost you some money.
The main benefit to using a WordPress website is that there are plenty of WordPress website builders & plugins to make updating content almost as easy as updating a Word Document. This means that once the website is built and live, any time an editor needs to update an image or change employee information they can do it themselves, they no longer need a developer to do it for them. This is great news for your budget and for your marketing. You can add your latest and greatest content so your users never miss out on your sales, events, or newest products.
Community Troubleshooting Support
With the WordPress core files being open source, this means that a lot of users have integrated these websites into their marketing mix & the support online for troubleshooting is almost endless. At Mountain Mojo Group we always make sure to give our clients thorough training so they know how to use and edit their WordPress website. However, not all web design agencies work the same & in the case you don’t know what you are doing, WordPress has been around long enough and used by enough people for there to be many articles and resources for basic edits.
Even though there are still costs involved with WordPress pricing this is actually a good thing in the long run. It means that there will be continued support for the WordPress core files to keep them up-to-date and maintained. This keeps your website safe. You can use the same plugins & themes as technology changes and rest easy knowing they will be updated for you. You also have the flexibility to continuously add features to your site as your business grows.
Lots of Options
A huge advantage of a WordPress website is that the options for what your website can look like and how it functions are virtually endless. There are hundreds of themes and plugins available at varying price points so you can always find something that fits. The platform is also developer-friendly so that if you happen to not be able to find the functionality or look you were hoping for, you can always have a web developer create a theme or plugin for you! For examples of WordPress websites check out our case studies.
A disadvantage to a WordPress cms is that it is hard to DIY. The setup usually takes a web developer & one that is well versed in WordPress or PHP specifically. This means that a WordPress site can often have higher upfront costs than another out-of-the-box cms system.
If WordPress website development is done improperly there can often be a large number of plugins and themes. This can add bulk to the website and make it run slower. Also, some plugins are not compatible with each other so it is important to thoroughly test before adding a new one to the mix.
There can also be a security risk with free plugins since there is no guarantee they are being updated regularly by a development team. At Mountain Mojo Group we make sure to add only the bare minimum plugins and themes needed to keep our client’s WordPress websites running lean. We also make sure that the plugins we add are well-vetted so your website is safe and secure.
4 Content Management System Alternatives
WordPress is a great tool but not always the right fit for every business. For this reason, we have included some alternative website platform’s pros & cons below.
Shopify is an eCommerce platform that was created to make selling your products online a breeze. Since it is not open source, it has lots of support from their team and you can scale your store very easily. This is one of the higher-priced out-of-the-box options with their base package being $29/ month. The downside is that Shopify charges a payment processing fee as well as a transaction fee so you get hit twice there on top of the monthly fee. Also, for any site looking to rank for SEO, it is harder to get your non-eCommerce pages to look exactly how you would like.
Wix is a website builder created by an Israeli software company that is great for small businesses. This platform is easy to use and has some great base templates which help with the initial design process. The cons are that Wix templates are hard to modify beyond the basics and load times are often higher, especially on mobile. Also, search engine optimization capabilities are limited. Their pricing packages start at $14/ month.
Squarespace is an American-owned all-in-one website building tool that is great for blogging and best suitable for smaller businesses. One of the reasons is that there is only allowed one sub-menu and so for larger sites, this is limiting. Another reason is that their load times are a bit slower as well. They offer a free trial but not a free version, so their pricing options start at $12/ month.
Weebly is one of the easiest website builders to use and is great for someone who needs a very simple website. It provides a lot of responsive templates but they are pretty restrictive, even more so than Wix. Their marketing is focused on a free version but with that, your website will have Weebly ads as well as does not come with a proper domain so most likely you will opt for one of the paid versions.
For more website builder comparison videos and tools check out Website Tool Tester. Even though there are many website platforms out there, WordPress is a great option to have your website built on because it will be easy for you to use as well as can be exactly what you want it to be. The flexibility does not end at the design and functionality, WordPress also has tools to improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO), website load times & has fun animation so that your site stands out from the crowd. For more WordPress tips for website design check out our blog! We pride ourselves on being one of Flagstaff & Northern Arizona’s top web design agencies and would love to connect if you are looking for a WordPress website.