A lot of businesses and startups don’t know how great WordPress is, or why they should use WordPress for their business, so in this article I’m going to tell you why you should use WordPress for your business or startup website.
Aside from the fact that WordPress is free, WordPress is awesome. It’s easy to use, super powerful and you can do just about anything with it.
Not only that, but there’s a huge WordPress developer community, countless tutorials, guides, videos, ebooks and even entire businesses dedicated to helping you grow and maintain your WordPress website. If that wasn’t enough, according to w3techs.com:
“WordPress is used by 60.3% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 30.2% of all websites.”
If having 30% of all websites on the web powered by WordPress wasn’t testimonial enough and you are still asking yourself why use WordPress, let me tell you that it also powers the websites of some of the worlds biggest brands, including TechCrunch, MTV,Sweden.se, Microsoft, Facebook News and Vogue.
If that still wasn’t enough, check out this list of successful startups using WordPress to power their business:
- Kokoon — According to their website, Kokoon offer the world’s first ‘sleep sensing headphones’. Having already raised 2 million and sold 10,000 on Kickstarter, we can probably expect to see a lot more of Kokoon in the future.
- Primal Pantry — clean eating startup launched in 2014, a finalist for Export Business of the Year award: “Today, the range has expanded to five flavours and three high protein bars, selling through Ocado, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett, Planet Organic, and Wholefoods in the UK and through international distributors to 28 countries worldwide.”
- Litmos Heroes — Litmos Heroes are saving the world from ‘boring e learning videos’. Dubbed the ‘Netflix of learning’, Litmos Heroes has over 300 customers across the UK, US and Australia. Litmos Heroes were estimated to make 2mil profit in 2017!
- Candy Kittens — this super cool, celebrity led, gourmet confectionery brand is trying to ‘reinvigorate the confectionary market’ with gluten free ‘tongue tingling sweets’. Candy Kittens, a WooCommerce based WordPress business, was started by Made In Chelsea star Jaime Laing alongside friend and business partner Edward Williams. According to Startups.co.uk: “Candy Kittens achieved a sweet £1.3m revenue for 2016 and a cool £400,000 in profit and is already on track to more than double turnover in 2017.”
What is WordPress?
For those of you unfamiliar with WordPress, WordPress is a CMS, or content management system. A content management system allows you to edit and alter the appearance of your website, without having to use code.
Think of something like Microsoft Word for websites, with an absolute ton of extra features and the ability to drag and drop blocks of functionality for your website, and you might be along the right lines.
Maybe WPBeginner’s description does WordPress more justice. They define a CMS, and WordPress specifically as:
“A content management system or CMS is a software that facilitates creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content. WordPress is a Content Management System, that allows you to create and publish your content on the web. Although it is mostly used for web publishing, it can be used to manage content on an intranet, or in a single computer.”
Why use WordPress?
So begins the never ending list of cool reasons you should use WordPress for your business website, strap in, and try not to get too excited.
WordPress is a free to use CMS system that can be installed on any website. WPBeginner sum it up well:
“WordPress is an open source software. It is free in the sense of freedom not in the sense of free beer. You may ask what is the difference between these two? Open Source software comes with freedom for you to use, modify, build upon, and redistribute the software in any way you like.”
It has themes and page builders
WordPress runs on themes and page builders.
What’s a theme or page builder? I hear you ask, in barely contained excitement.
Well, there are lots of quite technical definitions of what a WordPress theme is. I found this gem from WordPress.org for example:
“A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.”
I had a go at defining it and I came up with this:
“A WordPress theme is a collection of code, functionality and styles that you can install onto your website in the form of a theme. Installing this Theme on your WordPress website allows you to access and use the functionality and styles of the Theme using the WordPress CMS interface, page builders and any plugins provided by your theme, without having to touch any of the code.”
Whichever way you look at it, WordPress is the foundation your website is built on. The WordPress theme or framework you choose is the toolkit you decide to build your website with.
If you’re interested in having a look at what these toolkits can do, check out Divi featured below, which is one of the most popular
Understanding WordPress themes & page builders
WordPress themes and page builders are the best thing to ever happen for small businesses as far as web development goes.
The best of them on the market provide you with tens of thousands of pounds of development work for between $50–250.
The value included within these themes is incalculable. Market leaders like Divi Page Builder contains thousands and thousands of hours of work from skilled designers, developers.
Out of the box, these tools can be used to build just about anything.
They come with built in easy to use page builders, are fully responsive, bundled with amazing plugins, contain infinite styling and customization options and tons of easy to install demos.
Some themes and frameworks I’d recommend are:
- Divi Page Builder— the best option if you are not technical and to want build a beautiful website, visually. Easy to use visual drag and drop, tons of free templates, elements and demo content, great customer support and heaps of free online tutorials.
2. Elementor— another great option for building a WordPress website. Elementor comes with a ton of advanced options for building a dynamic website as well an easy to page builder that can be used to build all parts of your website.
3. Total Theme — Total is another great all purpose WordPress theme using the popular WPBakery Page Builder. Total comes with tons of build in customizer options, which limit your reliance on Custom CSS or finding a coder to do things not included in the theme.
If you decide to build your website on Wordpress pick a theme that is appropriate for your level of technical experience and also the goals of your website.
Anyway, enough about Themes, for now.
It’s easy to use
WordPress is intuitive and easy to use. It might seem a little daunting at first, because it’s not pretty looking like Shopify, and doesn’t spend millions of dollars on marketing and pretty pictures of business owners working 4 hours a week on a beach while their drop shipped doggie t-shirt store makes them millions, but, once you get beyond the initially sparsely designed interface, you’ll realise that WordPress is incredibly easy to use.
You can access and edit basically everything you would need to from the WordPress CMS, and if you find something you can’t, there’s generally a plugin you can install that will help you.
Like this handy plugin for installing Google Analytics on your website, for example.
This plugin removes the need for a ‘code solution’ and you can just input your Google Analytics ID to connect your Google Analytics account and your WordPress business website.
Unlike closed CMS systems like Shopify or Wix, where you are limited in what you can edit and access, WordPress is an open CMS system where you can edit and access everything!
You don’t need to touch any code
WordPress is designed so that you don’t need to touch any code, if you don’t want to. WordPress Themes are designed to work with the WordPress CMS interface, so that they plugin and make available their functionality via the WordPress backend and built in page builder of your theme.
You can purchase any number of out the box themes from marketplaces like Themeforest, who have specific themes for certain industries, and also many popular all purpose themes that come with built in page builders that are easily scalable.
Once you have purchased a theme, all you need to do is upload and install the zipped WordPress theme file on your website. This will give you the ability to activate and use the built in modules and page builder of your theme so you can start building your website without any code.
WordPress is scalable. You don’t need to pay an extra $100 per month once you reach a certain level of traffic, or if you want to add on or unlock new functionality like it’s some video game purchase.
WordPress is typically installed directly onto your domain and all you need to pay for is your domain and hosting. You can get inexpensive WordPress hosting packages starting from a few dollars per month, and as you scale you can get high quality professional hosting plans for not much more.
For WordPress hosting I would recommend Siteground, who offer technically superior hosting packages and support and are a great place to start.
Scaling WordPress vs Shopify
Let’s say you wanted to build an online store. Let’s compare scaling an online store on WordPress an open CMS to scaling an online store on a closed platform like Shopify for example.
And before you ask, you sure can build incredibly professional online stores through WordPress using Woocommerce.
They even offer a free, beautiful, functionality rich ecommerce theme that you can plug right in to your WordPress website and get going straight away selling online.
But anyway, back to Shopify.
What does Shopify cost
The regular Shopify monthly plan costs you $79 per month, with taxes that’s probably $95 per month. This is just to actually exist on the Shopify platform. So the annual cost of Shopify is approx $1140.
If you want to use the advanced plan meant for, in Shopify’s own words, scaling your business, the cost is $300 per month, so $360 per month with taxes, and $4320 annually.
I’d hope that you do end up scaling your business, because that is one serious dent for a small business starting out, just for access to some functionality that is available for free through platforms like Woocommerce.
This is without including the cost of the apps you need to run a successful Shopify store. In WordPress plugins are a generally free and open source method of adding on functionality to your store. On Shopify, you have to pay for most things. Below I’ve outlined the typical monthly app costs for a successful Shopify store.
$15 Restocked Alerts
$15 Bulk Product Edit (because bulk editing of products in Shopify is awful!)
$15 Checkout Hero (display discounts or vouchers in the shopping cart)
$7 Cross Sell (app to control what recommended products customers see)
$45 Store Pickup & Delivery (app to offer in store picks or local delivery to customers)
$20 Crush Pics (image compression to speed your website up and make sure high quality images don’t show it down)
$10 Sufio (automatic invoicing)
$24 Privy (email popups)
Another $150 bucks a month just for the basics that mostly come with Woocommerce for free. None of this exactly screams scalable for a small growing business!
Total cost of standard Shopify plan + basic apps = $245 monthly or $2940 annually.
What does WordPress cost in comparison
With WordPress the only things we need to pay for are our domain, hosting and theme. Your domain and hosting are annual fixed costs, your theme is a one off cost.
For hosting, if we use Siteground, who are our recommended hosting partner, then the cost will be about $7 per month for hosting if you sign up now as a new customer using their GrowBig plan. A domain name costs you around $10–30 per year.
I’ve been a Siteground customer for a long time, after using most of the major hosting companies. They are by far the best option on the market for shared hosting.
They have world class customer support (from actual developers), are cost effective, have fast servers, the latest PHP version available and run on CPANEL.
After sorting domain and hosting, we just now need to purchase a theme or page builder. I recommended a few above. Divi for example costs $80 and can be used to build any kind of website, without code. So let’s work out our total cost.
Total cost of WooCommerce online store through WordPress = $80 + hosting per year.
Scaling WordPress vs Wix
The Wix plans are actually pretty cheap in comparison, comparable to paying for hosting.
The problem scaling a Wix website is that the functionality is limited, Wix is bad for scalable SEO, though not as bad as it once was and the designs aren’t great.
Not only that, but you are forbidden from moving your website from Wix. As per Wix’s own Ts & C’s:
2.3. You agree and undertake not to:
- copy, modify, create derivative works of, download, adapt, reverse engineer, emulate, migrate to another service, translate, compile, decompile or disassemble the Wix Website
So that kind of eliminates any method of scaling a Wix website from the get go.
If you can’t move your website from the Wix platform or duplicate something similar elsewhere, what’s the point?
Scaling WordPress vs Drupal
3.7% of websites on the web use Drupal, according to w3techs.
Does it cost you more to purchase a Ferrari, or ride the bus? I’d hope you’re not paying $200,000 for your bus tickets. The reason a Ferrari costs so much is because it’s a luxury item and it is scarce as opposed to abundant. There aren’t a lot of them around, relatively speaking.
WordPress is cheaper
The same argument applies with CMS systems. WordPress developers are abundant, Drupal developers are scarce, relatively speaking.
This is also why the more skilled a developer is, the more in demand they are and the more they get paid, because as development skill increases, abundance decreases.
Take a look at Freelancer.com, a popular marketplace for hiring freelancers, for example. They have a whole homepage category dedicated to WordPress, and a landing page setup specifically for people looking for WordPress help. Drupal and Joomla are nowhere to be seen.
WordPress is more innovative
Not only does abundance dictate price, but it drives innovation. To survive in a very competitive market, you have to innovate or do something different, or better than the other guys, to keep growing.
WordPress as a platform has better integrations, plugins and tools for growth, more on this shortly.
WordPress is easier to use
Drupal is harder to use for a non technical person. Drupal is referred to as a Content Management Framework rather than a Content Management System. If you’re not a developer, you will almost certainly need the help of one to build and maintain your website.
Don’t take my word for it, this is what a Drupal community expert had to say on Quora:
“Well, you can build a simple to low-complexity site on Drupal if you do not have prior programming knowledge with the help of Drupal’s plethora of modules.
Hope that answers your question.”
Scaling WordPress vs Joomla
When weighing up WordPress vs Joomla, the reasons for using WordPress are the same as they are with Drupal.
WordPress is the most user friendly CMS, and as most people building their website with WordPress are not developers, the whole point of the CMS should be to make it as easy as possible to build a clean, good looking website that can scale with your business.
“Drupal, Joomla and WordPress are all fantastic content management systems. … However, WordPress beats them with its ease of use, huge global community, plugins and themes. We feel that most non-developer users would find it much easier to build with WordPress than Joomla or Drupal.”
WordPress wins on it’s huge community, plugins and the amazing power provided in it’s premium themes which are incredibly cheap given the sheer amount of functionality they provide.
Install a well built theme and you have a blank canvas for building whatever you want.
It’s quick to build with
As someone who works with WordPress every day, I can tell you it’s quick to wireframe new websites with, using tools like Elementor Pro.
As a startup or new business, moving quickly and improving based on data is key.
It seems to me to, that instead of spending thousands trying to get the perfect website, it is more cost effective and efficient to build something quickly with WordPress, and improve based on data.
For startups especially, chances are everything you thought about your customers and product will change in the next 6–12 months, leaving you with a hole in your pocket and a website that doesn’t fit your new direction.
We built our own website on WordPress and it went through several completely different iterations before we landed on a style and layout we liked. It is still regularly updated and sometimes even completely changed every few months!
It’s 2018 so by now your website should definitely be mobile and tablet friendly. If it isn’t, come on!
There’s no excuse for not having a responsive website in 2018, yet somehow back in 2015, which isn’t that long ago relatively speaking, only 11.5% of businesses had a responsive website, according to Search Engine Land.
By default, any correctly coded WordPress theme should be fully mobile responsive. Make sure you read the specifications of your Theme before you purchase.
I have yet to see a good premium theme that isn’t responsive, so if you do your homework and buy a well reviewed, well recommended theme, your website will be built using a responsive web design framework.
There are tons of free tutorials and guides
As WordPress has the largest CMS market share, it also has the largest library of tutorials, guides and how to content, which makes WordPress maintenance a lot easier too.
Some great resources for free WordPress tutorials and guides are:
Or, you can just watch our free video course — How To Build A WordPress Website — which contains 3 hours of video tutorials that I have created aimed at small business owners, freelancers and marketers.
We’ve done the hard work for you here and condensed all of the WordPress knowledge you need into an easy to follow video course.
If you prefer written resources to video content, I also wrote a very lengthy tutorial How To Build A Website — The Ultimate Guide which contains a lot of useful tips for building a WordPress business website.
It’s built for delegation
The whole team can use WordPress. WordPress comes with a built in users section that makes it easy to delegate access to new users based on the level of access it’s appropriate to assign.
For example, if you want to give your developer access, they may require admin access to access the source code of the website.
This is not the same level of access a contributor to your blog will require, and you may wish to assign a lower permission level as a result.
If you want to see user permissions in action, check out this simple video I recorded showing you how to create a new user on your WordPress website.
What can you build with WordPress?
With WordPress you have the power to build something as simple as a blog, or as complicated as a multi vendor marketplace with Woocommerce .
Here are a list of some things you can build with WordPress:
- Build a one page website or landing page.
- Build a professional business website.
- Build a blog.
- Build a landing page.
- Build a sales page.
- Build a portfolio.
- Build a resume.
- Build a directory website.
- Build an online store with Woocommerce.
- Build a multi vendor marketplace with Woocommerce Product Vendors.
- Build a course based online learning platform with Woocommerce Sensei.
- Build a membership subscription website with Woocommerce Memberships.
- Build a booking website with Woocommerce Bookings.
The list is endless. Anything you can think of, chances are there’s a plugin, extension or some open source code to get you on your way.
It integrates with everything
As WordPress is the most commonly used CMS in the world, it integrates with everything (near enough). If there’s a service you’d like to integrate with your website, chances are there will be a WordPress plugin, or at the least an easy to use API.
For example, here are some of the most popular services that integrate with your WordPress website:
If you can’t integrate it, you can inte-plug it.
O.k that awful sub heading aside, PLUGINS.
For everything else you could want to add on to your WordPress website, there’s a plugin.
Plugins are a big part of really what makes WordPress so great.
“Plugins extend and expand the functionality of WordPress.”
Pretty short and sweet right? Plugins are little magical boxes of functionalitythat you can install on your website to add on ready to go functionality.
For example, let’s say your website needs a contact form but you don’t currently have that functionality. You could download Contact Form 7 from the plugin marketplace and activate it.
I actually recorded a fairly lengthy video on How To Create A WordPress Contact Form with Contact Form 7 last week, and I never miss an opportunity to push my own content so, check it out.
What sort of plugins are there?
I’m glad you asked, because I actually prepared a list of some of the most popular and useful plugins for WordPress below.
If you aren’t familiar, Google Analytics is a free to use platform for measuring the performance of your website. There are a number of free plugins for installing Google Analytics on every page of your website, like this one.
If you aren’t sure if you have Google Analytics on your website, check out this helpful guide on How To Check If Google Analytics Is Installed On Your Website.
Yoast is an amazing plugin for managing your SEO. Yoast describe themselves as:
“Yoast SEO is an all in one WordPress SEO plugin. This plugin handles the complete technical optimization of your site for search engines. It also helps you write content visitors like to read, by giving readability advice.”
Sounds awesome right? You can download the Yoast plugin here.
Mailchimp is the market leader in email marketing, so of course, they have a WordPress plugin, which you can download here.
The plugin allows you to easily embed Mailchimp signup forms anywhere on your website, so your website email signups integrate seamlessly with your email marketing platform.
Hubspot is an all in one marketing automation platform that has pretty much conquered the space. Hubspot integrates well with WordPress and has an easy to setup WordPress plugin which in their own words allows you to:
“The HubSpot for WordPress plugin allows HubSpot customers and WordPress users to integrate their blogs and websites with HubSpot’s inbound marketing and sales software.”
You can download the Hubspot plugin here.
Popups. Love em, hate em, they seem to be popular and must work. Ninja Popups is a plugin that allows you to build and deploy pop ups across your website (without having to code them of course).
You can download Ninja Popups here.
Header and Footer
Header and Footer is one of my favourite plugins. It provides my clients with an easy way of inserting scripts into the header or footer of their website, without using PHP.
This is especially useful for adding tracking codes and scripts necessary to integrate services with your website.
You can download Header and Footer here.
My favourite. Woocommerce can be installed for free on your WordPress website using the Woocommerce plugin. Woocommerce is in their own words:
“A fully customizable, open source eCommerce platform built for WordPress.”
You can download the Woocommerce plugin here.
Woocommerce Multilingual (Currency)
A neat little extension for Woocommerce is the multilingual plugin which allows you to serve your store in multiple languages and currencies.
You can download the WPML plugin here.
10 years ago the ability to serve your website in multiple languages probably wouldn’t have been available to the average small business. Today you can use tools like Polylang which allows you to assign multiple languages for pages, posts and media on your WordPress website.
You can download the Polylang plugin here.
Memberpress is an easy to use membership plugin for WordPress. You can use membership to build membership subscription websites. According to Memberpress:
“MemberPress will help you build astounding WordPress membership sites, accept credit cards securely, control who sees your content and sell digital downloads
… all without the difficult setup.”
W3 Total Cache
Caches improve the performance of your website by reducing the download times of content and files on your website. W3 Total Cache is a popular caching plugin that you can install on your WordPress website to increase its performance.
You can download W3 Total Cache here.
Easy Social Share Buttons
Every website blog needs social media share functionality, how else will you get the word out if you don’t make it easy for people to share the content you work so hard at?
I’ve tried quite a few social media plugins and my favourite to date is Easy Social Share Buttons for WordPress. It costs $19, but is well worth it, as you don’t want a slow, bloated social sharing plugin to slow down your website.
You can download Easy Social Share Buttons here.
Akismet is a free anti spam solution for WordPress. Akismet helps block out comment and form submission spam, which is quite annoying. While offered for free, they do accept donations, so if you find the plugin useful and use it on multiple sites donate them an appropriate amount.
You can download Akismet here.
SumoMe is a popular all in one marketing solution for growing your WordPress website. SumoMe provides a range of tools for your website including a Welcome Mat, List Builder, Social Share Buttons and Smart Bar.
You can download SumoMe here.
A really useful plugin for ecommerce. Proven is:
“Proven is an easy to use WordPress Plugin that leverages social proof to increase your conversions.”
Proven helps you make more sales by leveraging the power of social proof.Everybody wants what everybody wants, but nobody wants what nobody wants.
You can download Proven here.
What happens when you need something beyond a simple menu for your website? Enter Max Mega Menu, the solution to all your complicated menu worries. Max Mega Menu provides an easy to use drag and drop menu builder that builds on top of the build in WordPress menu system.
They even have a simple video explaining how it works -
You can download Max Mega Menu here.
For some reason the word smush always reminds me of that Jersey Shore show. Simpler times. Anyway, WP Smush is a super awesome plugin for compressing media on your website.
Large images and videos slow your website down, which is bad for usability.
WP Smush plugs in nicely to your website and allows you to bulk compressanything that may need compressing.
Again we are lucky enough to have a cool video to explain the service for us.
You can download WP Smush here.
It’s one thing to have a nicely designed WordPress website, but another to not protect it from all the junk on the internet. Wordfence provides a firewall and malware security for your website, which helps block malicious traffic and infection.
Sadly no cool video, but lots of useful screenshots showing it in action.
You can download Wordfence here.
There are a few affiliate management solutions for WordPress on the market, I liked the look of Tapfiliate’s solution however. Managing affiliates is something that used to be quite difficult and the fact that it’s now within the grasp of small business owners through WordPress is amazing.
You can check out Tapfiliate here.
More cool WordPress plugins
If those weren’t enough for you, here are a collection of some WordPress plugin lists you can look through to see if there’s anything else that may be useful for your business.
Choose an easy to use CMS, choose flexibility, scalability, affordability, extensibility, abundance, integrations, plugins, happy developers, happy marketers, happy business owners, choose WordPress.
I only recently saw Trainspotting 2 so excuse the reference (it was good). I don’t have a montage of WordPress stuff though to go with it though, sorry.
But in essence, the reference rings true. I would recommend you build on WordPress for all of the above reasons and if I’ve managed to help you learn even a little more about WordPress in this article and consider using it as a CMS then it’s been a success as far as I’m concerned.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about WordPress please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out!