Know what? Not everybody’s a web genius. Not everyone has a family member who codes for a living. And many small business and individuals have no idea how to get up on the web, and unfortunately have come to believe that it’s incredibly difficult and expensive.
Which is not to say that a custom, professional site created by people who really know what’s important on the web (search-engine visibility, relevant content written for web readers, design that puts function over “pretty”) aren’t worth their weight in gold — they are.
But spare gold is hard to come by for many of us just now.
I work with a lot of small businesses and individuals just trying to get the word out about what they offer and start to develop relationships with potential customers. And the web needs to work for them, too.
My go-to recommendation is WordPress.
WordPress is a fast, easy, way to be up and running on the web. Often thought of as solely a blogging platform, WordPress is actually my favorite startup website platform — even for companies (or individuals) without a blog. It’s become my favorite content management system.
1) It’s easy to manage yourself.
There’s nothing more frustrating to a small business operator than having to get in touch (and pay) a contractor or consultant every time they want to change a few words, add a new page, or update a price on their website. Those things add up. With a little training, anyone can learn to make additions and changes to their own WordPress website.
WordPress also has tons and tons of great “plugins” that add functionality to your website so you don’t have to learn how to code yourself. You can link to your social media activity, add video, do your own search engine optimization, even add a shopping cart — all by yourself.
2) It’s pretty
There are literally thousands of great themes for WordPress, and many of them are free. They’re easy to choose and even easier to switch out if you want a different look. Use one of the templates “as is” (here’s my husband’s personal job-search site we made together in about 2 hours), or build on a template with the help of a talented designer (here’s a client site developed with a little help from some creative friends).
3) It’s inexpensive.
You can host your site on WordPress.org or WordPress.com, or use a full-service hosting service like Page.ly which charges a few bucks a month and offers domain name registration, training and support (read this post from Social Media DIY Workshops about which might be best for you). Either way you’ve got a very economical approach to getting up on the web.
4) It’s a great learning tool.
I didn’t even know what WordPress was when I was laid off in January 2009. I needed a way to get a site up for my new business quickly and inexpensively, and a friend suggested WordPress. Since I’ve never developed a website, it took a few rounds of working with people to do it for me before I started to get comfortable with managing it all by myself. And trust me, if I can do it, ANYONE CAN. I have friends I can tap when I need advice, and there’s lots of support on the web if you’re stuck or trying to figure out how to do something. I’m even starting to pick up a little HTML on the side (and keep in mind that my only computer class in college was FORTRAN — on punch cards).
So if you’re a small business, and need a website, check out WordPress. If you’re looking for a job and don’t have a personal site, get one — quick. If you need help with it, there’s lots out there. And even if you hire someone to help you build and maintain it, you’re going to find it’s a lot cheaper that trying to start from scratch with a customer site — and will be up and running much more quickly, too.