As a content writer, I would never claim to be an expert on how to build a website using WordPress. My first experience with WordPress was doing a blog, long before I started my business. Since then, I’ve done some populating of content in WordPress, and my first and successive websites for Big Ideas Writing have all been on the platform. But I defer to the technical experts when clients ask me whether WordPress is the best place for their site.
One thing I know is that WordPress is BIG. In fact, an estimated 40% of websites are built on WordPress today. And while I rarely work in the backend, I work with quite a few creative and talented developers who swear by the platform when it’s time to put together a site. They each have their own opinions and wisdom on the subject, so I thought I’d share what the experts have to say…
Easy to Build a Website with WordPress
“There are many advantages to building a website using WordPress, but the main one is that it is easy to use for both developers and site visitors, which makes it very popular,” says Tyler Morris, CEO of M2 Digital Media Group. “It also offers a very good website structure, so each page lays out efficiently for the user. This makes navigation a breeze so that the site ranks well with Google. WordPress sites are also mobile responsive, so your site will be easily viewed on a variety of devices. Best of all, you can customize your website without knowing HTML code.”
When you build a website using WordPress, you are offered convenient “themes,” which are design templates that provide a basic look and layout for your site. There are also “plugins,” which are pieces of software code that provide easy functionality. They automatically manage and/or integrate with SEO, Google Analytics, security features, social media, calendars, etc.
“No website platform is SEO friendly out-of-the-box, but WordPress comes close,” says Tyler. “With WordPress, it’s easy to customize the URLs of your pages, add keyword-focused title and meta tags, install Google Analytics, and more.”
Customization Breeds Best Results
John Burton, creative director of Echo Design Group also uses WordPress to build websites because of its ease of use and many advantages. And while the “plug n’ play” themes are great, he also educates clients on the advantages of customizing a site over simply populating a theme.
“For the typical website, WordPress themes are an efficient solution, and we use them all the time,” he says. “However, they can limit what can be added to a page, especially when it comes to dynamic content elements like news, leadership, testimonials, portfolios, and market and services, or linking content throughout the site. If the client wants a complex solution where the theme must be extensively customized, it’s often better for them to go with a custom design from the start.”
John also reminds clients that forgoing the template can also help a site run faster. That’s because many sites developed with WordPress are only using a small amount of the coding available within the theme.
“When you customize your theme, only the necessary code is included, which maximizes your load speed,” said John. “For impatient visitors, the two-second delay it takes to load your site might be just long enough for them to bounce to a competitor site.”
Design Within the Theme
Even though WordPress themes are a great start, the site must still be designed intentionally and with creativity, says Gary Cole, president of Gary Cole Design. “The appearance and functionality of a website go hand in hand in order for it to be successful,” he said.
Gary recommends the Avada WordPress theme when using WordPress to build websites. “It’s easily customizable for any company in any industry, but while WordPress themes are meant to be easy to use, some savvy graphic design expertise is typically necessary to produce a polished, finished project,” he said. “Knowing Photoshop and Illustrator will help you create right-size images, sharpen up resolution, and create customized, appealing graphics for each page.”
Themes come with suggested color palettes, but here again, customization is key. “When I design a site, I always start with the company’s logo and typically customize the colors within the theme so we stay on brand,” said Gary. WordPress themes also offer online support, including a community to answer any questions a developer may have.
Playing it Safe with WordPress
Developers should take website security seriously as they use WordPress to build websites. Elijah Litscher, founder of The Loop Marketing, says the key to security for WordPress comes down to three pillars—parts, updates, and passwords. “Choosing the right parts for the site is an important first step,” said Elijah. “Developers should use supported, updated themes and well-designed plugins without vulnerabilities when putting together client sites.”
When updates become available, they should be made manually if they are not updated automatically. Elijah also talks about the importance of making regular updates. “That way if you perform an update and something goes wrong, you can revert back to the previous version.”
Passwords should always be strong, lest your site be part of a “brute force” attack. These are attacks fueled by hackers with autobots that systematically try different password combinations to gain access to your site and steal data. Elijah suggests plugins like Securi and Wordfence to help protect your site. “They can give early warning if your site has been compromised and even stop malware attacks,” he said.
The consensus? WordPress is a great tool for any developer but as with all tools, it must be used correctly, with vigilance, and in the right way to serve each client well. I’m proud to have my content appear across a multitude of excellently designed, well-functioning, and secure websites. If you are looking to migrate your site to WordPress or launch a new one, let’s talk. I can help with strategy, content, and finding you the right developer for your WordPress site.