Although WordPress can have the reputation for being a blogging platform, it has evolved over the years to become complete web solution. I’ve been coming across an abundance of startups and small companies that utilize WordPress (modified) templates for their main website. The ease of use and simplicity to set up the basics of the webpage can be done by most people who are a little tech saavy. Having it look nice, bug tested, and web optimized is a different story. While it’s packed full of features and plug-ins to get any website up, there still are some caveats to keep in mind:
- Contains a lot of excess bloated code that is not utilized, making websites slow/slow-loading if it contains a lot of content, photos, and animations.
- Buggy, as not all templates have been fully tested in different vendor / device environments.
- Easy target for hackers if you use a popular template and/or have outdated plug-ins / plug-ins stop being supported.
- Difficult / tedious to customize templates.
- Easy to set up and easy to add/update content without a developer.
- Works off a database, so blogs, news feeds, data archives can be easily stored, accessed, and potentially migrate.
- Works off the bat with SEO baked in.
- Search functionality built-in.
Why should you be concerned? Well, I think for a start-up it’s fine to go this route if capital is limited. But after a period of time, to truly increase web traffic and viewership it is vital to hire a seasoned web professional to rebuild/redesign your website.
Why hire a professional? If you have a poorly chosen template/design, you might get lucky and get less than 5 visitors a day. Or if you have a quality designed website, you could get dozens more and in the hundreds, thousands, or more a day. As of today, the average attention span of any single individual is roughly 8 seconds until they get bored and move on. In 2000, it was about 12 seconds. But due to technology, smartphones, social media, internet, and easier access to content, services, and products – people have been overstimulated and have conditioned themselves to have a shorter attention span.
Why does attention span matter? Well as a business, it means you have a very tiny window to attract viewer attention and interest. If your website looks unprofessional, out-of-date, non-responsive, or poorly designed, has confusing/misplaced content, or excessive content – you’ll immediately turn off any potential interest/inquiries to your business.
Ultimately while there are some things you can skimp and go cheap on in real-life, you really have to decide what’s right for you. Do you want to get what you pay for (ROI) or just get by? Of course, the rest depends on you and how you drive traffic to your website.
But wait, I’ve seen examples of high-quality and well designed WordPress websites? True, but more likely than not it was either designed or had its template customized by a web developer. And like I said more often than not due to its code bloat, the user experience can be bogged down by speed bottlenecks. Think about how the average person would react to a slow loading / laggy website. Would they get frustrated? Would they avoid the website? Remember, not every in the U.S. or world has broadband like the rest of us. You need to consider fluctuations in carrier speeds as well on mobile devices.
You’ve talked about WordPress, but what about websites built by a seasoned professional? These websites are customized and created from the ground-up either utilizing frameworks and/or libraries, and as a result are often faster loading as there is minimum code required to get it running. They do not utilize plug-ins, so are less of a target for hackers. They are more optimized for mobile (particularly images) since many of the optimization techniques are done early on in development. Often fully tested in different vendor/mobile environments by the professional. And SEO can easily be built-in with ease. Let’s not forget the full customization of the layout and designs. So if you don’t really require a blog/news feed aspect to your site, the cost of building it can be well worth the investment. Or if you do need a blog aspect, it can be incorporated afterwards – keeping it separate from the main website, while getting the best web optimizations/design possible.
Overall, your website speaks volumes about your business and makes an immediate statement. This is one of the many areas of life where presentation matters. Either it helps your business thrive or hurts it in the long-run.