When it comes to websites, small business owners tend to fall into one of two camps:
* The first are those whose website is vital, and they integrate it into their overall business. They look for the latest and greatest trick, they understand SEO, they blog and post and all the rest.
* The other group are those folk who know they need to have a website, pay it lip service, and either have a site (albeit an unexceptional one) or, horrors, no site at all.
If I were to tell you that the majority of small businesses fall into the second camp, you wouldn’t be surprised, would you? We have all seen what too many small business websites look like: With the look and feel of something out of 2002 or so, they have few, if any, Web 2.0 tools and act essentially as an e-Yellow Page ad.
Given that, it is not surprising that many small business people find their website to be a pain in the rear, a necessary evil, a chore to be handled, rather than what it should be – their MAIN window to the world, a profit center, an e-billboard, a marketing brochure, and a sales tool all rolled into one. But for too many small business owners, it is not that. Instead, their site is not only boring, it is difficult to update, and although they may want a nicer or more robust site, the imagined costs and effort make it seemingly prohibitive.
But it need not be, redoing your site with WordPress can change all that.
As you may know, WordPress is a popular program that many people use to blog. It’s popular because it is easy. But what you may not know is that WordPress can also be a very powerful and affordable website creation tool.
(Confession: Two years ago, wanting to redo my own site, I received bids as high as $75,000. Sticker shock led me to rethink the project, and my assistant extraordinaire, Vivian, convinced me that we should use WordPress. It turned out to be a very smart business decision. I love WordPress.)
Creating a website with WordPress is surprisingly easy. There are literally hundreds of themes to choose from, and most are free. These themes can be completely customized and installed quickly. You can see some of the best themes here.
The advantages of using WordPress for your business website are many:
The look: As indicated, there are tons of WordPress themes out there, so finding one that fits your business is easy. That it will be Web 2.0 enabled, and have the look and feel of something very now makes it all the more attractive. Slideshows, flash movies, blogs, video, advertising spots – all are a part of various WordPress themes, or easily integrated.
No longer need you be stuck with a site that is bland, blah, or mediocre.
The cost: Most WordPress themes are free, and those that are not cost less than $100, generally. Customizing your theme, if desired, is easy.
CMS: A CMS, or Content Management System, is what most small business people need but don’t have; that is why they need to go to their webmaster whenever their site needs updating. Not so with WordPress. The WordPress CMS is simple and intuitive. It is designed to make adding or changing content to a site a breeze.
SEO: SEO is built into the WordPress dashboard. Below the spot where you post a new article is an “All in One SEO Pack.” It asks you to give your keywords, tags, excerpts, and so on. WordPress does the rest. The result is that you get URLs that are indexed right, full of keywords, and are friendly to search engine spiders.
Suddenly, SEO is a snap.
Participation: Adding visitor comments to your site is always great, and with WordPress, visitor participation is integrated through comments and trackbacks.
Support: Because WordPress is open source software, there is a very large community of people out there who can help you.
Ease: Installing a standard WordPress site is quick and easy. Even a custom one can be done in short order. 1 and 1, GoDaddy, and other web hosts know how to add WordPress sites easily.
Bottom line: If you have been thinking of redoing your site, give WordPress a good look. You will be glad you did.
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts.
The senior USATODAY.com small business columnist and author of 15 books, his latest is the best-selling Small Business Bible.
Steve is also a lawyer and public speaker and speaks around the world about entrepreneurship, including a recent visit to the United Nations. He has been on CNN, CNBC, The O’Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on MSNBC’s Your Business.