Why Do I Want a WordPress Website?
WORDPRESS is the next big thing for the web! Websites built on the WordPress platform are powered by a robust content management system to keep your job of creating content simple.Web sites developed using WordPress are search engine friendly and easily optimized.? You can have a highly customized and uniquely branded website without changing the core WordPress code. The software is free to use and new features are constantly being developed by a global network of software engineers. With over 65 million downloads, WordPress is here to stay.
WordPress makes your job of creating and managing content easy. There is no need to be a programmer. If you are knowledgeable enough to use word processing software like Microsoft Word then you already know enough to create web pages and post articles to your blog. If you know how to post a photo to Facebook, you already have the skills needed to add images to your website.? Many web hosting companies have one click installs for WordPress to make the installation quite painless. You can completely change the look of your website with one click using one of the free template designs. If you are a business owner and want a branded design, you will need someone to install the software, customize the look and feel, and configure plugins for additional functionality.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free, open source, software platform for web and blog development. WordPress began as blog software in 2003 and is now used on over 60 million blog sites. WordPress evolved into an extensive content management system (CMS) and now serves as the development platform for full feature websites. According to Web Technology Surveys (as of June 16, 2014), 22.4% of all websites are powered by WordPress. Additionally, WordPress is by far the most popular content management system on the Internet with a 60.2% market share. The closest WordPress competitor, Joomla, enjoys a meager 8.2% market share.
WordPress is available without cost. It is licensed under the terms of the Free Software Foundation’s General Public License (GPL). GPL allows anyone to use or modify the software and requires that any derivative works to also be licensed for free with the same terms. This means that the software is free, it always will be free, and it will continue to grow with free enhancements.
How Does WordPress Work?
In the early days of web design each web page was developed from a template.? New content was pasted into the template to create a new page. Whenever the look of the site changed every page had to be recreated from a new template. Simply adding a page to the menu system was tedious and time consuming. The template system in WordPress automates that process. Change something once and it is automatically populated across the entire website. You no longer have to worry that you will break your website by adding new content or that it will be cost prohibitive to change the look of your site.
WordPress is an open source template processing system which serves up web content using a template design. There are two components of this template system, the PHP programming language and a database called SQLserver. Unlike static websites, web pages are not stored as HTML. The HTML is dynamically assembled from a set of reusable components. The awesome beauty of this approach is that when a developer wants to create a consistent look and feel across a website, it is easy to do with reusable components. Design and program it once, use it everywhere. Since there are no static HTML pages, learning this structure can be a bit daunting for the new developer; but for users, this wonderful technology is all behind the scenes.
You will need to know PHP, if you want to write a custom function for your website. The good news is that there are a huge number of developers writing custom functions for WordPress and someone may already have developed exactly what you need. Custom functions are called “plugins”. Plugins can be downloaded and installed in a few seconds. Testing them and learning how they work will take a little longer. The nice thing about plugins is that they do not change the core WordPress code, they simply plug-in. When WordPress is upgraded, the plugin code is not affected. If there is a problem with a plugin, it is easy to unplug it until it can be fixed. Most WordPress websites can be uniquely branded and customized using plugins without ever needing to write PHP.
Can I Brand my WordPress Website?
One feature which fascinates WordPress newbies is the ability to select from thousands of free and premium themes which, with a few clicks, can change the look of the entire website. Being an open source project, there is a large community of developers who create and share their themes. Additionally, there is a growing community of designers, developers and consultants who offer custom websites on the WordPress platform. The template driven design of WordPress allows users with limited technical knowledge to select from a large pool of design options and install/maintain a blog website.
If you are running a personal blog site or on an extremely small budget, one of the free themes may be just what you need. If you want a “private label” design incorporating your logo and custom colors you should engage a WordPress consultant. Most consultants will offer designs that are easily incorporated into a WordPress template. The options are endless. You can choose from one, two, and three column designs. You can have a static home page or use blog entries to keep your home page full of dynamic content. You can insert images, sliders and dynamic content into headers, footers, and sidebars. You can integrate your site with your social media sites. You can create your own Internet store with an eCommerce plugin. There are numerous capabilities to develop a target audience with opt-in email campaigns run from your WordPress dashboard. A knowledgeable WordPress consultant can design and build a very engaging experience with a uniquely branded site.
The developer community publishes numerous themes which offer many different design options, however, it should be noted that not all these themes are written with a strong adherence to WordPress development standards. Many themes omit capabilities of the WordPress codex and may be very difficult to modify. Each year, WordPress releases a new, standardized theme embodying the better design principles from its developer community. These themes are named for the year of their release “Twenty-Ten” (2010), Twenty-Eleven” (2011), etc. These themes are delivered with WordPress to provide several out of the box design options. The standard themes are good starting points for the user who does not want to customize. They include good photography for header images and employ a standard blog design. An easy customization is to replace the provided images with custom images cropped to the same size – no coding needed to create a unique website! When selecting a theme, it is best to start with a list of desired functions for your website, then review desired plug-ins, and examine the capabilities of the theme before making a final selection. Modifications for one theme are unlikely to work with another theme but most plugins will work with any theme.
Theme vs Framework
Themes have a lot of built in styling which can be challenging to remove or change when they are not desired in the final design. Developers who specialize in the customization of WordPress installations will likely start the design using a “framework” rather than a theme. Frameworks are like themes except they are designed to be modified. Frameworks create a full feature but flexible structure that makes it easy to turn on/off various components of the WordPress codex and may very well add their own structures such as drop down menus and multiple page layouts. Most frameworks begin with a plain white page and standardized fonts. This makes it easier to apply a style to the entire website without extensive rewriting of the embedded theme styling. A good framework will allow extensive customization of the website appearance using cascading style sheets (CSS).
Getting Noticed by Google
Bloggers are constantly adding new content. Fresh content is food for search engines. When your website is integrated with your blog, search engines index both your blog entries and your web pages increasing the visibility of your entire web presence. The more often you blog the more often search engines will visit your site and refresh its content. WordPress seamlessly integrates your blog and identity website. Placing blog entries on your home page tells search engines that you have a dynamic site which needs to be visited regularly.
WordPress is designed for search engine optimization (SEO). WordPress has an entire architecture developed to organize and manage content. WordPress can put search terms in your page URL, images can be tagged with search terms, and you can add keywords to your content. There are plug-ins designed to insert SEO information into your web pages so search engines, like Google, will find them more interesting. These plugins also help you create search engine optimized content by analyzing your content as you write it; providing suggestions for better optimization. As search engine criteria evolves, these plugins are updated to help you keep writing the best SEO content.
Landing at the top of the list for search engines is every business owner’s dream. Everyone tries to do it but there are only a few top spots. Once you land there, the small preview of your content must be related to the search terms and attract the reader’s attention. Search engines compete for users by providing excellent search results. Trying to fool the search engines will get you punished. You must write content for man and machine alike.
Another feature of WordPress which has added to its popularity includes a robust administration module, “the Dashboard”.? The Dashboard is used to control user access, manage content workflow, install plug-ins, add widgets, and much more. The Dashboard is all behind the scenes. Visitors to your website never see the Dashboard but it is there for administration of the site. With the Dashboard, you can delegate some of the administrative duties by assigning roles to users. For example, you may have a blog writer who you allow to access the dashboard but only to draft articles. They would be set up as a “contributor”. You may have someone else who is responsible for proofing the content and then publishing it. They would be set up as an “editor”. Your webmaster would be set up as an “administrator” for full access to the dashboard. Each has different permissions. There are numerous capabilities available from the Dashboard. Access can be fine tuned with user permissions.
What are You Waiting for?
Now that you know what WordPress is and you know why you need a WordPress website; what are you waiting for? I’m offering Miami area businesses a starter package? to get your WORDPRESS powered website and blog up and running within one week (call for pricing).
- Purchase domain name and web hosting for 1 year
- Install WORDPRESS software
- Create users and administrator profiles (up to 10 users)
- Create 5 page website w/ navigation menu (Home, About, Contact, +2 more informational pages)
- Design and implement a custom color theme for your website
- Customize front page with sidebars and plugins (up to 7 plugins/widgets)
- Add company logo to header
- Install Anti-spam filter
- Install visitor and search engine keyword tracking capability
- Write three news articles with photos of local subjects (ghost writer/photographer)
- Provide user training
- Provide telephone support to key user for 2 weeks
OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL SERVICES:
- Research, test, recommend, and install additional plugins
- Install image slider in website header
- Integrate MailChimp signup form(s)
- Integrate RSS feeds
- Implement e-commerce plugin
- Design and implement a social media marketing program
- Add enhanced SEO capabilities with SEO training
- Develop Internet marketing program
- Develop marketing calendar and write articles
- Build-out additional website content/pages
- Product and catalog photography
- Executive portrait photography, studio photography, architectural photography
- Design/produce catalogs and brochures
- Executive/celebrity biography and interviews
- Develop customer success stories and testimonials