How Does WordPress Actually Work?
I have come to realize that many small business owners find the entire process around owning, building, and maintaining their website to be unclear, frustrating, challenging, and confusing. If you’re on this same boat, don’t worry you’re not alone. If I had to place a number on it, I would say over 75% of our clients came to us with this same mindset, and fortunately, we were lucky enough to change their viewpoint.
What is a website anyway?
Let’s talk about what is a website? Technically speaking, it’s a bunch of files (in the form of text, images, and code) that are stored on an internet-connected memory device, called a “server”. So how does a website show up, and function, when you type in a specific web address?
Good question. Essentially, your web address is associated with an “IP” address, or an “Internet Protocol” identification number, which matches with the internet location of that memory device we talked about earlier, aka the “server”. So when someone visits your web address, all the files and code stored on your server are retrieved.
Ok… so how does that lead to a website? You’re probably thinking, “I have a bunch of files on my computer, but they don’t display as a website.” RIGHT! The internet browser you use, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, are programmed to understand the files of code stored on your server. Within seconds of loading a web page, this code instructs the browser on EXACTLY how to arrange your site files (i.e. where to place each image and how to organize and style your text and buttons, for example).
Pretty crazy right? Or is that my inner geek begging to come out again.
Why is it all so confusing?
For people who don’t design or develop websites professionally, I admit, websites can be very overwhelming and totally confusing. On a positive note, however, site development, in terms of feasibility and accessibility, has come a long way. I would say one of the biggest developments in the past decade or so has been the creation of WordPress. For those who aren’t familiar with wordpress, it is an open source platform free for all to use and build their website technology on.
How did wordpress change the website landscape? In short, it introduced us to the world of Dynamic Content… that is content that is always changing. With the explosion of blogging, internet users started to gobble up new and exciting content, and data creation grew tremendously as a result. Trying to maintain that kind of dynamic content using old-school static websites (think HTML sites) would require having to manually update every little change on your site. You could imagine how quickly this could get out of hand: having to manually enter blog comments or update blog pages with latest articles, etc. With the advent of “Content Management Systems”, or CMS (such as WordPress), websites turned away from static sites and never looked back. If your site is not powered by a CMS, and you’re still running static data, you definitely have missed the boat. And Google is penalizing you heavily for that, in terms of searchability of your site.
We implement wordpress on about 90% of the websites we create. Why? Many reasons actually.. but here are the top 5:
- Versatility: Most of our clients are either a small business or small corporation. 9 times out of 10, wordpress provides our clients more than enough flexibility, versatility, and functionality.
- WordPress is easy to use, and intuitive to manage: Therefore, we can successfully train our clients (or their dedicated IT staff) on how to manage, update, and maintain their website.
- e-Commerce Integration: One of the biggest advances in WordPress came with the creation of WooCommerce: the top e-commerce integration for wordpress. Businesses who want to sell online, but are not dedicated e-commerce businesses can easily do so with WooCommerce. This allows our clients to host their stores inherently on their own sites, and at the same time, have full control over managing their online store inventory and easily processing orders.
- Support & Knowledge Base: Because wordpress is so popular and widely-used, the support available is IMMENSE. Why is this important? Because as a business owner, you are not bound to one web master who is the sole knowledge owner of your site. You are not tied down. Your website is not being held hostage from you.
- Modular & Expandable: I always tell my clients: we create your website not for today, but for the next few years. I wish I could tell them it’s for the next decade, but we all should know by now how quickly technology (especially on the web) is changing. Therefore, realistically, your website should fit your needs and business goals for the next 3-4 years. WordPress, because of it’s open-source nature and wide usage, is changing and growing every day. New integrations and functionalities are continually being added to the arsenal of tools we can pull from, so that we can always ADD new features to our clients sites – when needed.
Does Design Even Matter?
Ok so we know that functionality has come a long way, but what about how your website looks? I can’t stress HOW IMPORTANT it is not only to have a visually pleasing site design, but moreover, a GORGEOUS site design. Think about it: you click an Ad to go to a website to buy a product you’re searching for. The website looks old, outdated, and is difficult to navigate. Chances are you don’t buy that item from that online store… why? Because you immediately lost confidence and trust in that brand and that company.
Your website is a digital representation of you and your business in the online world. Many times I see clients who have beautiful brick and mortal physical shops, but their website is a train wreck. This is no bueno.
Google announced at the beginning of this year that in addition to regular search engine optimization (seo) rules, it would be ranking websites in its search index based on their design as well: think items such as user interface, mobile device responsiveness, and overall layout of objects. As we all know, if google demands it, we follow it. So the takeaway here is: don’t let your website look like a slob. It’s your first impression toward your potential clients.
So after all of this, what was I seeking to accomplish? Well one goal was to educate you on the basic structure of websites, wordpress, and the online landscape, so that it becomes a little less intimidating and stressful to think about. Hopefully you are filled with less confusion on all of that.
Secondly, I want to convey how we at ONE Strategy make this process not only easy, but ENJOYABLE for our clients. Our client reviews and testimonials all have a single theme in common: that we TRULY care about our clients and their businesses, because we understand your livelihood depends on the success of your company. With this mindset, we become your partner, and the entire process blossoms into a collaborative, fun, and productive experience.