As I launch my new, updated WordPress website, I offer a big shoutout to my website guru Tara Claeys, of Design TLC. Thank you Tara!
In addition to updating my site to this cool new platform, Tara offers the following sage advice about all things Word Press:
WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for building websites – ranking at over 22% of the top 10 million websites in 2013. There are more than 60 million WordPress websites on the web, including The New York Times, Sony, Mashable, GM and eBay.
WordPress is “open source,” which means that its codes are open to everybody to use and modify. Any programmers/coders can use WordPress to create their own themes or plugins for others to download (either free or for a fee). Other open source website platforms you may have heard of include Joomla and Drupal. These builders are all free to download and install on your own web hosting server, for which you pay a monthly or annual fee, or you can have a totally free website if you use WordPress.com to host your site, in which case your domain name would be yourtitle.wordpress.com (instead of a proprietary domain name you would purchase separately).
Other “DIY” website builders include Wix, Weebly and Square Space. These are not open source, meaning that the codes are not available for people to modify. This means that only their private development team can produce website building tools, which can limit the flexibility of the website, but also makes them a bit simpler for non-techie people to use. These services are not free, but include website hosting in their monthly/annual fee.
I have worked primarily with WordPress for the past three years, and have found its flexibility and seemingly endless functionality to be the best option for my clients.
The benefits of WordPress websites include:
• Free Content Management System (CMS) (no licensing/usage fees)
• Relatively easy to edit content, manage and update features
• Complex enough for development of custom features
• Theme system makes it easy to change website design, with thousands of options
• Thousands of “plugins” to extend functionality (over 34,000 currently)
• Search Engine Optimized, with enhanced SEO capability through free plugins
• Worldwide, extensive support/forum communities
No matter what website builder you use, setting up, designing and maintaining a website takes time! If you are tech savvy, you may enjoy designing your own website, and the hours it takes to build and perfect your Internet identity can be fun and gratifying! However, if you are not tech savvy, the idea of sitting in front of your computer for hours, wading your way through tutorials and getting frustrated when things don’t work the way you want them to may be overwhelming. In either case, even “simple” website builders require an investment of time – you can have a web page with your name present on the web in less than 15 minutes in most cases, but adding content, and making it look and behave the way you want it to, takes some time, and learning.
WordPress Website Maintenance
WordPress is always updating its platform to improve security and to fix bugs. When this happens (a few times a year), you will also need to update your WordPress website. This is also true of plugins that are installed on your WordPress site. This is the same idea as the system and App updates you get on your smart phone, or update requests that pop up on your computer and ask you to install. Before installing these updates on your website, you should make sure your website is backed up, in case something goes wrong with the update that could alter the functionality of your site or take it down altogether. There are plugins for everything in WordPress, including website backups!
Website owners should also be aware of the need for security and malware checks to keep their website safe. WordPress websites can be vulnerable to hackers if updates are not maintained with periodic scans conducted. Yes, there are plugins for that, too!
WordPress is also favored for its backend structure that makes it friendly for Search Engines to find your website. Beyond the basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) steps that can be taken within WordPress, there are companies that specialize in SEO and can manage content and links for your site on an on-going basis. You can maximize the SEO potential of your website by making sure you use descriptive titles, keyword descriptions and tag your images with “alt tags.”
If you have an existing WordPress website and are not maintaining it with updates, backups, scans and SEO set up, you should look into plugins to help you keep your website “healthy.” If you don’t want to maintain these tasks on your own, there are companies that will perform these services for a minimal fee, offering peace of mind that your website stays optimized and secure a regular basis.
Design TLC customizes WordPress themes and helps maintain websites. Clients include KB Concepts P.R., Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), Dogfish Head Alehouse, DC Metro Celiac Organization, Body By Ginny, Full On Sandwiches and Simplify You