For many years, I had a website without a content management system (CMS). This meant that updates were difficult and best left to someone with a lot of technical expertise (me). Even as recently as 2008, it was expensive for most small businesses to afford a CMS so that they were able to update their own websites. Many platforms were proprietary, and consultants would have to lease software and pay to keep it up-to-date.
Right around 2008, consultants realized that not only could they blog using WordPress — they could also build an full-fledged website using WordPress. What’s really great is that WordPress itself is free, WordPress upgrades are free, and the software is “open source” which means any developer can create new “plugins” that allow WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine. And WordPress changed the landscape, forever.
Back in 2008, I made the mistake of building my own site with a less popular CMS. WordPress was just emerging and my developer loved another CMS called SilverStripe. Within the first few months, I regretted my choice. A year later I switched to WordPress and I’ve been happy ever since. Here is why I think that WordPress is the right choice for a consulting business:
WordPress shows no signs of slowing down. Right now, tens of thousands of new WordPress sites are created every day. This means that the technology will continue to improve and be supported for the foreseeable future. Big names like CNN, UPS, and TED have embraced the technology. Unlike SilverStripe and many other choices for CMSs, WordPress continues to be enormously popular. And having my own WordPress website on my own webhost allows me to own and control all of my content, forever — unlike Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: ostensibly they control their platforms and therefore your content (in other words, they could take it all down without asking your permission). There is definitely a place for all of these channels — since content on social channels can drive business to your website.
I can update my WordPress website without needing any special software. When I want to update pages or posts on my website, I simply login from my browser. As long as I have an Internet connection, I’m able to update my website anytime I want to. I can also update my website from my iPhone and iPad. Better yet, my non-technical administrative assistant is able to make updates that I assign to her, quickly and easily.
The basic WordPress features are user-friendly. The dashboard provides access to all of my site content, and it is gorgeous to look at. It’s easy for me to search and edit the content, and the big blue update button makes sure I save the changes only when I’m ready. Learning software can be hard — WordPress makes this challenge a little easier. WordPress has worked very hard to make their software intuitive and inviting. I can teach my clients to update content on their websites in about 30 minutes. It’s that easy. Once I am logged in, WordPress displays a list of all of my pages and posts. Clicking on a page in the list brings up an edit window very similar to that of a word processing program. Even easier, once I’m logged in to the dashboard, when I browse my website in an adjacent tab, an “edit” button appears at the top and allows me to edit the page I’m on directly.
WordPress plays well with others. When I wanted to link my MailChimp newsletter account with my WordPress website, I found and installed a plug in that made this easy. Similarly, it was easy to link my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest account with my website by installing a free plugin and entering in my username and password. Creating forms is a snap with Contact Form 7. No matter what your site needs to do, someone has probably written a plugin for it. There are over 30,000 plugins in the WordPress repository right now, many of which are free. And it’s simple to review, install and configure most of these plugins.
It’s simple to add pages and subpages. Creating a new page on my site is simple. In the dashboard I click on “create new page,” then add content, and then publish it. That’s it. If I’m not ready for the world to see the page yet, I can save it as a draft. Pages are great for enduring content, such as lists of services, biographies and credentials, case studies, and contact forms. By assigning any page a “parent” page, I can make it into a subpage. For instance, under an“about” page I could have a page with my mission and core values, and another subpage with my history and biography. All of these pages can be added easily to the menus, and dragged and dropped into the preferred order.
Overall, I find WordPress to be a great way to manage and update my consulting website. Posts allow me to share my expertise (like this post) and Google loves the way WordPress publishes posts, which helps me with my online rankings. I’ve made mistakes choosing web platforms before, and I’m glad that now my site takes advantage of the WordPress software platform.