Today’s digital world has changed the way in which we shop. A large proportion of consumers now research for products and services, and go on to purchase goods online. Even for firms operating solely on a local level, a well-designed website is an essential. There are endless options to create an online presence: website builders, content management systems, Web designers etc. But what is the easiest choice for SMBs?
In many cases it could be the content management system WordPress. Here’s why:
1. Free Open Source Software
One of the biggest contributors to the popularity of WordPress is obviously that it is completely free to use. The only thing needed for operating a website using this application is a reliable hosting platform. There are plenty of Web hosting options that fulfill the minimum requirements, but it is recommended to use a solution optimised for WordPress.
2. Easy-To-Install & Update
In comparison to other content management systems, it is simple to install and set up a WordPress project. There are only a few steps necessary before a website can be published online. WordPress optimised hosting nowadays installs the application in just a few clicks and will guide users through the initial steps of customizing their project within the WordPress dashboard. In order to ensure optimal security and performance, there are a number of easy to use tools for automatically updating WordPress installations, themes, and plugins.
3. Massive Plugin Market
The standard WordPress installation is great, but is easy to enhance the basic features and make it even more powerful by adding plugins. There are thousands of plugins available, mostly for free. Adding plugins to a WordPress project is simple, and the settings are smoothly implemented in the backend. Plugins can attract attention and add the functionality necessary to transform visitors into customers. Social plugins, for example, make it easy for each visitor to share content directly from a website to their networks on Facebook or Twitter. Building brand advocates and a strong community are just a few clicks away.
4. Different Themes For Almost Every Industry
WordPress offers a more diverse library of design templates than any other content management system, website builder, or blogging platform. With thousands of free and premium choices, businesses are likely to find the perfect theme to reflect their image and goals. It is also possible to create unique design templates, a process which is relatively simple for those experienced in coding.
5. Publish Content Without Coding
Maintaining some types of website can become expensive when the owner has limited experience with coding. WordPress enables users to update every page and post content as quickly and simply as if they were using Microsoft Word. For small businesses, this is a huge advantage simply because it saves time and reduces the costs associated with regular website updates and publishing new content. By easily integrating a blog into their corporate Web presence, small businesses can build a stronger brand and connect with their audience.
6. Perfect For SEO
Appealing to search engines and their ever-evolving algorithms can be a daunting and expensive task for many small firms. WordPress users can minimize that stress because the application’s simple layout and usage of permalinks are naturally attractive for search engines. SEO is already implemented in the platform’s core and by adding specific plugins it is possible to further improve the visibility for Web crawlers.
Q&A with Amy George
Business owner Amy George shares how a WordPress site has helped her succeed and sell online.
Tell me a bit about your business
Amy George is a luxury accessories label that sells bespoke leather handbags, clutch bags and small leather goods, all sourced and made in and around the heart of the UK, London. Established in 2011, the concept originated when I was studying at University. Amy George offers high quality accessories at affordable prices. Each bag is that little bit different – you can personalise them exactly as you want!
Why did you need a business website?
I wanted more people to be able to personalise the product and purchase the bags for themselves. To begin with I didn’t ever have an online shop, just an enquiry form and images. But as the business grew I added the eCommerce functionality – making the order process a lot quicker, simpler and giving the business a more professional look.
Why did you choose the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) to create your website?
I knew nothing about designing a website! Thankfully, I had a good friend who is a Web Designer that explained it all, telling me exactly what I needed. He recommended WordPress based on my requirements. I wanted a professionally looking website that was simple and easy to manage yet cost effective. I needed a solution that allowed me to sell online, upload images quickly and easily, and that could handle stock levels. I didn’t (and couldn’t) spend thousands on a website.
I knew what I wanted I just wasn’t sure how to achieve it – WordPress was the answer! My friend explained how everything I would ever need for my website was all there in this one solution. He is the one who set up the shop, talking me through it all, explaining how clever it all is.
He also recommended 1&1 WordPress as he was already using them, quoting, “it’s the company I use, great prices and good customer service – I have never left.”
What has been your experience of using a WordPress website for your business?
I guess having an online shop reassures your customers. It’s a professional way of showcasing your product, giving customers the opportunity to purchase them there and then, directly online. My website has greatly impacted the business – there have been many times when my website visitors have just wanted to send a quick message with a question they may have. It’s important to have your contact details displayed clearly and for them to be able to get in touch with you quickly and easily. For those that like the look of bags, the eShop has made it easy for them to buy without having to waste time going back and forth with emails – it’s a real benefit that the interface is user friendly and easy for customers to place an order.
At a time when people are searching more online, it’s important to ensure your business has good online visibility. My website has definitely helped with the success of business. Designed in mind with mobile and tablet users, I considered how my customers would be searching for the product, paying careful consideration to layouts on handheld devices. It’s about ease of shopping and accessibility. As a small label, that isn’t known worldwide (just yet), you need to instil trust and professionalism into those that do come across your business. The functionality and layout of WordPress themes, makes this achievable. You too could have a professional, slick and clean website – just like mine!
I use a number of other platforms to sell my products and I can honestly say my website is one of the easiest to use. It’s simple, easy to manage and understand which I was concerned about but I take care of website management with no troubles.
The backend of the CMS is cleverly designed with navigation laid out, down the left hand side of the page. Whilst you may not be sure as to how to access a certain feature is, it’s not long before you are able to find it and use it. It’s a simple case of clicking on each option down the list and finding it.
The biggest challenge has been resizing images and displaying them proportionately in the webpage. Especially for Amy George, accurate product images are imperative for the sales of my products. So getting the right image size and quality is of utmost importance – and a task I have often found difficult. With WordPress it’s easy to make changes and view images as they would appear in the front end.
What would be your key advice to other small business owners?
The first thing would be making sure you have a good support network around. It can often be quite isolating, working on your own, and very stressful, especially when you’re juggling several balls and unsure as to how to get it all done. Whether it’s a partner at home to listen or a parent that can help with invoices or packing, look to those around you when in need.
The second thing would be patience. It took me a long time to have patience with myself. I was always looking at competitors, comparing the progress of my business with them. Whilst it’s good to know who your competitors are and to keep an eye on them, remember each business is different and no story is ever the same.
I may have started out as a designer but now I am a CEO of a company. With that comes a number of new job roles and responsibilities, which is difficult for one person to do all of the time. Manage your expectations and have patience with where you need to get.
Finally, the priority is keeping your customers happy!
Plans for the future?
To carry on growing and selling! I’m currently working on a new collection for the Summer/Autumn.