Virtually anywhere you visit online, chances are you’ll see a WordPress website. By some measures, more than 40 percent of websites built with WordPress, the popular content management software built originally as a blogging platform. At Site Mender, we make liberal use of the platform for many of our customers. As with any content management system, WordPress comes with its own set of special needs. Understanding those needs, even if you don’t personally know how to manage them (we can help with that!) will make it easier for you and your business.
The most basic component of a WordPress website is the theme. Think of WordPress like Microsoft Word and the theme like a Microsoft Word template, like letterhead. The theme contains all the basic styles and functions to make your website look and act how you want. There are literally hundreds of thousands of commercially available themes (pre-built) available online, some free, some paid. We here at Site Mender prefer to custom build themes for each project to control every aspect of the code and better manage any potential conflicts.
While we have nothing against the use of commercial themes, it has been our experience that they come with limitations and issues that can impact the performance of your WordPress website. As a result, choosing a theme should be done with caution.
While themes help shape the look and function of a WordPress website, plugins add extended abilities normally out of reach with other websites. Some more common uses include:
- Online Forms
- Appointment Setting and Event Calendars
- Password-Protected Portals for Customers and Employees
For years, these sophisticated operations were difficult if not impossible to achieve for small businesses because of the cost. Now, with thousands of companies developing increasingly complex and specialized third-party plugin technology for WordPress, what was once too expensive is now more than affordable, sometimes free.
Plugins are not typically managed by WordPress. Instead they are developed by other vendors and provided through the WordPress website plugin interface. If you want to do it, chances are pretty good someone has build a plugin for it.
One often overlooked component of a good WordPress website is hosting. Because WordPress utilizes specific types of server software and relies on databases and other technology to function, a good host can be the difference between a quality performing WordPress website and one that is slow and unreliable. Good hosts will typically offer some options for WordPress users based on how much the usage the website has. The more usage, the more resources it will require.
We do provide hosting for many of our clients through a hosting provider partner, but whatever host you choose, make sure they have experience working with WordPress, even specialize in it.
Even more ignored than quality WordPress hosting is WordPress maintenance. As great a platform as it is, there is no question WordPress requires maintenance. That includes:
- Security mitigation
- Speed testing
- Plugin updates
- Core software updates
Those are just some of the jobs done behind the scenes to keep your business’s WordPress website running smoothly. It is why Site Mender provides exceedingly high levels of customer support and works relentlessly to keep WordPress websites at optimal functionality.
One of the few drawbacks of WordPress is that it is a target of hackers thanks to its extreme popularity. Keeping everything updating and watching for security breaches is critical to protecting your data and your customers.