I may be a relative newcomer to WordPress but I am an old timer when it comes to business. With 25 years experience in government, large enterprises and small businesses I have seen many different organizations and styles of organizational management. Much of my experience has been in operations, making sure that the day to day running of the business happens, preventing problems from occurring and fixing them when they do happen. I was around when businesses started using PC’s and when the internet became a tool for business. More recently I’ve participated in the growth of the adoption of open source software in businesses both large and small. So it’s with this background that I came to work with WordPress.
The web has made marketing and selling products and services much easier for small businesses. They can reach a wider target market and engage their consumer easier because of the internet and web sites. There are thousands of products and services that can help a small business build and run a website and engage in e-commerce. Some will provide simple HTML sites with little or no features, some require a basic knowledge of programming, some are licensed and sold as proprietary products. Whatever your budget and level of skill there is something out there that meets your needs. So where does WordPress fit in and why should you use it?
WordPress is an open source solution meaning that the underlying code is open to all to view and change if they so desire. With proprietary software you have no access to the underlying code and if the vendor goes out of business or withdraws the product then that product dies. If your company relies on that software then it can affect your business and require you to make a change to another product or vendor. With open source software like WordPress it doesn’t matter if the creators of the product go away or stop maintaining the product because the code is publicly available and someone can easily take over the project. This has happened before with open source projects and will happen again. The other reason why open source code is great for you is that others can add to the original code. In the case of WordPress it really is developed by a global community. Look at the WordPress.org plugin and theme repositories and see how many people have contributed to the project from all over the world. This happens with the core WordPress code as well and this is why the software continues to get better and grow to meet the needs of many people. It also means that there are tens of thousands of great developers out there that can be hired to develop new functionality for your WordPress site or to provide support when you need it, including of course Semper Fi Web Design.
So WordPress meets two needs for a small business – 1). supportability – if you have a problem or need a new feature then there is a community out there that can help you; and 2). stability – it is unlikely that a project the size of WordPress is going away and it’s not controlled by a private company seeking profit so it seems WordPress could outlast many of its proprietary competition.
But there are other benefits for a small business to use WordPress over an alternate solution. Cost is always a huge factor for a small business when doing anything and WordPress is free. Not just is WordPress free but also thousands of plugins and themes are free too. So when faced with the choice of buying proprietary software or a SaaS solution and choosing WordPress then the initial cost and the ongoing operational cost of licensing, support and training become a major factor in the decision process. This is again where the community makes a big difference. Thanks to the community there are some great training resources out there for a newcomer trying to learn WordPress. There are forums where scores of experts are willing to share their knowledge for free. It just becomes a matter of finding these resources and Google is your best friend for that.
I came to WordPress late on. I used proprietary software and outsourced to consultants to get my business websites up and running. And yet I used open source software in many other areas of business operations. So here are my top ten reasons why I would recommend WordPress to any small business owner looking to build their business website:
- Cost: WordPress is free, many plugins and themes are free. The only cost is a web hosting account and those can be found from $5 per month.
- Support: Take a few minutes to search the WordPress.org forums or WordPress Jobs or any freelance site like Elance and see easy it is to find support. And if you need something more professional then talk to a company like Semper Fi Web Design that provides WordPress support services.
- Extensibility: Currently there are over 11,000 plugins and 1,200 themes in the WordPress.org repository. There are many more on third-party sites. Whatever design or features you want there is probably a theme or plugin that will deliver and chances are they are free.
- Security: There is an ongoing argument that open source code is less/more secure than proprietary software. In the case of WordPress I can confidently say that it is secure. There are individuals who devote their considerable expertise to making sure it is secure and finding potential vulnerabilities.
- Reliability: Every time a new version of WordPress is released it is tested extensively by thousands of people who use it in many different ways. Here at Semper Fi Web Design we test every version of WordPress thoroughly with each of our plugins and update those plugins to make sure they work with new versions. Of course with 11,000 plugins and 1,200 themes the permutations for a WordPress site are enormous and every one cannot be tested but that’s why good support is so important and WordPress has that.
- Ease of Use: I started using WordPress at the beginning of this year. I am by no means a developer or programmer but I have been around software from the days of MS-DOS and WordPerfect so I am fairly comfortable with learning new applications. But I am constantly amazed by how easy WordPress is to use and how intuitive the interface is. And if I have a problem or a gap in my knowledge then there are books, tutorials, videos, guides, and lots of other resources out there that can help me with my continuing education.
- Content Management: WordPress started out as a blog publishing platform but has gradually morphed into a general internet publishing platform that includes a powerful content management system. Why is this important? Because websites aren’t flat pages any more, they platforms for dynamic content of various formats. Your business isn’t static, it grows and changes and so should your website if it is to reflect your business. A content management system enables you to control what you publish and how it’s published. This makes ongoing management easier for any size of business.
- Total Cost of Ownership: Many businesses underestimate the operational costs of business IT. Maintaining licenses and managing support can be a drain on a small business and when that business grows so do the costs. With open source software like WordPress there are no licenses, you can install in a hundred times over and nobody will come looking for you to pay them licensing fees. Upgrades are free so there is unexpected invoice when the next release comes out.
- Continuity: WordPress has over 25 million users world-wide. The last major version, 3.0, was downloaded over 11 million times in less than two months. Some of the world’s largest and well-known companies use WordPress. It’s been around since 2003 and it’s only getting bigger and stronger. WordPress is not going to go away any time soon and with any luck your company will out grow WordPress before it does.
- Community: I’ve saved the best for last. With a global community of over 25 million, many who are addicted to WordPress, there is likely someone you know who already uses it. I’ve been to seven WordCamps and met hundreds of WordPress users, developers, and fans. Everyone is committed to the same goal of supporting the community and growing the project. Why wouldn’t you want to become a part of that?