There are a lot of options for building your first (or next) website. If your needs are basic, meaning you don’t have a lot of dynamic content or functionality needs, then a static HTML website might suffice. If you need an online store and want to simplify the process of collecting funds, then Shopify might be your best bet. For a more dynamic website with the ability to manage content you might consider Sqarespace or WordPress. This article isn’t to compare feature sets of these solutions, or the total cost of ownership, but rather to provide a little background to help you ask the right questions when ultimately making your decision.
Let’s assume you’ve been told (or arrived on your own) that you need a WordPress website. WordPress accounts for almost 60% of the content management systems (CMS) market-share and a lot of people have or know someone who has a WordPress website. Approximately 500 WordPress websites come online every day and with the next nearest CMS coming in with just 7.1% of the market-share, it’s easy to see why so many non-technical people have heard of it.
What is WordPress and who uses it?
WordPress is an open source content management system written in PHP, a popular general purpose scripting language focused on website development. WordPress started in 2003 as a blogging platform, this is much different from today’s WordPress, which powers approximately 26% of the web. Some of the world’s the largest brands use WordPress, such as The New York Times, Forbes, National Geographic, NFL, eBay, CNN, Sony Music and many others.
The Good: There are a lot of themes to choose from to align with your brand and plugins (over 44,000 of them!) that address almost any want you can conceive. There are a lot of people in the world who can help you with a WordPress website and out-of-the-box it does a decent job preparing your site for the search engines.
The Bad: Hackers target WordPress because they get more ‘bang for their buck’ when concocting the next malware nightmare. Why write malicious code for Squarespace with only ~1.2% market-share, when you can potentially ruin the day of so many more using WordPress?! The fact is, many WordPress plugins are poorly written, either inviting attacks or conflicting with other software running on the system. It’s important to know how to select safe themes and plugins and how to protect your site from attack by way of best practices, as well as qualified website hosting.
What to look for when hiring someone to build your WordPress website
If your website needs are simple by WordPress standards, an implementer might be more affordable than a developer. If you place a premium on functionality, need to tie-into other systems, or want to build a website from scratch (a custom theme) then you’ll need a developer.
Once your site is built you want to keep the site safe. Find a company that specializes in WordPress hosting and employs security measures such as dual authentication, firewalls, plugin security and login limiters. They should offer back-ups (ideally to multiple locations) that are quickly recoverable (typically snapshots of your site) and offer 24/7/365 support.
WordPress can be a powerful and effective option, or it might be either overkill or not ideally suited to your needs. Find out if it’s the best tool for your business and whether or not you need an implementer or a developer to help build it. If you do choose to have a WordPress website, consider a qualified hosting partner to keep your site safe, backed-up and up-to-date.
About the author
Lawrence Zevon is a web developer living in North Kingstown, Rhode Island and is the owner of Zevon Media, LLC and co-founder of The Hive. Zevon Media specializes in building ecommerce websites, as well as integration-specific, feature-rich and responsive websites for small to medium sized businesses. He has been developing websites since 1992 as a contractor to the US Navy. Zevon Media can be reached by phone at (401) 315-4637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.