By Dale Stillman
02/11/2020
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Why we build websites with WordPress

A lot of our websites are built using Wordpress. It’s not the only option, but the features on this platform provide not just a smooth build for us, but simple long-term maintenance by the clients when it’s time for them to take over managing their completed site.

WordPress is incredibly well supported. It’s used by over 40% of websites, is free (so no setup charge), and open source (developers all round the world can work on it, add improvements, and make new designs). This means it stays up to date, and sites last the test of time.

Out of the box, you get support for all typical website content. You can create posts and pages, and organise them using categories and tags. It’s also really easy to extend and adapt your site with custom post types and custom templates. 

Good Content management is key

All websites need to manage the content they contain, which can be a lot. Web pages, blog posts, images and other media all work together to form a site. They need to do so seamlessly and consistently in order to help viewers find and use the site to its full capacity.

To make this happen, developers use a CMS, or Content Management System. This is a web-based application or program can create and manage that digital content. Depending on the CMS, it can also index, format and revise the content. It keeps track of everything included in the website, and how it is displayed.

One of the reasons WordPress is a good CMS, is that it lets us add lots of customisation. This means websites can be built to meet the specific needs of our clients and their audiences.

Custom fields & validation

This is where the customisation starts to come in. Instead of just giving you set fields for your content, WordPress allows you to build in your own, so pages can be adapted to do what you need them to do. 

For example, this could be adding a field to collect numerical information such as prices, text data like dietary restrictions, or symbolic data like review stars. Once set up, these fields will be available every time you come to input new content, and will format that content consistently so your site stays smart and on-brand.

Custom Tagging and Taxonomies

Taxonomies classify the content you have, and organise it into groups. This lets visitors find the content most relevant to them, and lets you display those groups differently, and to their best advantage. WordPress gives us the option to do this with both Categories and Tags, and there are plug-ins that can add even more specific fields.

Themes & building a theme

Themes are pre-designed or pre-built layouts. After the content of your site has been created, the theme is what decides how it actually looks on the webpage. From what goes where, down to the font choice, themes dictate it all.

As well as the themes WordPress supplies, the fact that they’re open source means developers can build and add new ones of their own, giving a lot of flexibility. If it’s appropriate for your business goals and need, your website can have a completely bespoke front end (the part visible to browsing viewers). 

SEO and Yoast

Once the website has launched, it needs to compete with others to get noticed by using SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation. Yoast is a plugin (we’ll talk about those in a second) that includes tools to improve the SEO of your content. This includes everything from finding the best keywords to use, checking the readability of your written copy and offering suggestions, and ways to connect your copy by linking to external pages. All this comes in one plugin, helping you float to the top of the pile when search engines trawl your site. 

We even used it to help write this post, which is part of why you found it!

The Plugin Ecosystem

One of the advantages of WordPress being open source (which means its code is viewable by the general public, rather than being obscure and accessible only to a small number of professionals) is a really good plugin ecosystem.

Plugins are little add-ons that give sites extra bits of functionality when they need it. For example, not every website needs a sales function, or a scrolling news feed, so there’s no point having it in the basic web layout that everyone starts with. But if you did need those extra bits, you can add a plugin to your site to take care of it. Developers can build plugins that meet their specific needs, and share them with the online community.

Popular plugins include:

  1. Sendgrid, which helps you manage transactional and marketing emails to your ever-growing client base.
  2. Membership plugins. These put all or part of your site in a restricted area that only subscribed or paid members can access. Some even manage multiple levels for businesses that have different price points or rewards.
  3. Shipping plugins. Woocommerce is among the best known for their range of shipping plugins. These lighten the logistical load of pricing, arranging and tracking shipping, whether your audience is local or international.
  4. Affiliate plugins, which let you manage, track and pay the affiliates that are driving traffic to your site and increasing your sales.

What now?

With such a wide range of possibilities, hopefully you’re inspired! Knowing what direction to go in, or even where to start can be daunting, when there are so many options. So get in touch with us to talk about what will be the best fit for what your business needs.

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