WordPress is one of the most popular website frameworks in the world. More than 20% of websites being developed now use WordPress.
American Express Open published an article from Tom Harnish on why small businesses need websites. Tom suggests several ways for small business owners to get a website for reasonable cost. While we agree with many of his suggestions, we offer these considerations as well.
Tom, good tips, but there are security issues with one-click installs for WordPress. It’s important not to allow the login page to be in the expected directory—that’s the first place that hackers look. Also key is the use of strong passwords, that are built of several words mixing case and numbers. The more complex the better. This will help prevent exploits.
Issues with purchased themes
And when you purchase a theme or use one of the ones from WordPress’s list of themes, you may select a theme that unbeknownst to you is not coded in accordance with the best working practices of WordPress. So as WordPress evolves over time you may be left with a major break in functionality. The other issue with many purchased themes is the lack of either support from the theme’s developer or poor quality of documentation instructing you how to use the site’s interface. We’ve seen some businesses choose themes that have so many options in them, that configuring the options is far more laborious than they ever expected. If you do choose to purchase a theme, make sure and check to see if the theme’s developer is actively supporting and responding to issues related to the theme.
Custom designed WordPress themes
In our opinion, it’s far better to find a web designer/developer who can develop a custom based theme for you using the WordPress framework. Many people incorrectly assume that they can only select a “pre-made” theme. In actuality, building child themes based on WordPress’s native theme (Twenty Eleven) is one of the best ways to get precisely what you want.
WordPress needs to be maintained
If you choose to use WordPress, know that it must be maintained monthly by applying software updates and weeding out the spam. While WordPress may seem easy to set up by the novice, there are many things a business owner needs to know and do to get a site that will best serve them.
When selecting a host for your WordPress website, be sure the host runs the latest versions of PHP, MySQL, and HTML5. WordPress websites are dynamic, building pages upon request from your browser. So you will need to be sure to apply some caching plugins to speed up page loads. And you will need to enable Akismet to prevent spam comments.
Of course you will want to track your website’s traffic so you will want to secure and install a Google Analytics user account number.
Search Engine Optimization
And ultimately you will want to optimize your site. WordPress is a wonderful framework that is a great partner for website optimization. Select one of the best plugins to help you do this. We prefer Yoast WordPress SEO.
So, while a business owner can use WordPress on their own host, they must follow a few “best practices” to make their site secure, up-datable, and representative of their brand and support their sales goals.
Photo credit: flickr user iMorpheus