Want to know the 1 thing that’ll likely be the death knell of your business? Read on!
Go to www.20thcenturywebsite.com. What you would find there, if in fact there really were such a domain, would be a homepage, an About Us Page, a Contact Page, and a product page. Maybe a few more–probably no less. It’s called a “static” website, & it is *so* last century!
To put it simply, because the internet has changed. It has, in essence, become more conversational–more social. People leave comments on blogs, subscribe to their favorite websites, and tell their friends about sites, people, and content they like.
The problem is that the static website is difficult to update unless you know HTML (hypertext markup language, which is the language all web browsers understand). Either that, or you need a good editor that’ll write the code for you. Although there are some free ones out there, the better ones cost considerable $$$. The result is that the site doesn’t get updated, and tends to collect more dust than visitors.
Since Google tends to rank sites higher that have regularly updated content, these static websites tend to fall behind and therefore attract fewer and fewer visitors, until they finally end up attracting only dust.
The solution to this dilemma is called a CMS, or “content management system.” A CMS allows those who have no knowledge of HTML to build a website, as well as to update it easily. There are several well-known CMS’s out there, the major ones being Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. Each has different strengths and weaknesses, and each does things better than the others. Having said that, I personally like WordPress for small to medium-size businesses, simply because of what I perceive to be a shallower learning curve–& I have learned all 3 to a greater or lesser degree.
So, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of WordPress? Let’s start with the advantages first.
- It’s free.
- With most web hosting packages, it’s also very easy to install.
- It comes with many free and paid themes that you can use to design your website, so you don’t have to do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
- If you can use a word processor or do email, you can add and update content to your site using WordPress.
- It’s open-source, which means that, if you know PHP, which is the language WordPress is written in, you can modify the code to your heart’s content. It also means, of course, that you can screw it up to your heart’s content as well.
- There are many people who write small programs, called “widgets” or “plugins” for WordPress, that expand its functionality.
- Wordpress is quite useable by and accessible to those with disabilities. Drupal also has a wonderful accessibility initiative underway as well.
What are the disadvantages?
- Wordpress was first designed as a blogging platform. By default, most websites that use WordPress look initially like a blog. If that’s not what you want, you will have to learn how to change some default settings.
- Unless you get someone to build you a customized theme, your website might well look like 100 or 1000 other peoples’ websites. That may not be helpful to your brand. For that reason, I personally like to use themes, such as Weaver, that are highly customizeable, thereby decreasing the odds that my site will look like 10,000 others on the web.
- While many of the widgets and plugins that are written for WordPress are excellent, there can be some considerable variation in quality, and it’s therefore best to obtain code only from the wordpress.org or other reputable sites. Note reviews and comments on the various widgets and plugins prior to installing.
For the reasons mentioned above, I highly recommend WordPress for small business sites. This site is designed to teach you everything you’ll need to know to get a WordPress website up and running, as well as some tips and tricks to keep it that way, and to keep the bad guys out.
There are plenty of books on the market about WordPress. None of them, however, are designed with blind users in mind. In this particular version of WordPress for Newbies, I’ve specifically discussed how to use WordPress with a screenreader. Along with written text materials, which present copies of the relevant portions of the screen, there are also audio files to make it easy to follow along.
If you’re interested in learning WordPress, check out the announcements page.