Why we love building websites with WordPress
I’m going to reveal how long I’ve been doing this by telling you a sad tale. It’s about a client who needed a change to their website. It’s really a sentence, that’s all the client needs changed. Here’s what I’d have to do, as a developer:
- Find and open the HTML page with the content on my local setup
- Find the <p> (paragraph) tag with the sentence
- Copy/paste what the client wants it to say
- Save said HTML file
- Upload this file after connecting to the client’s site via FTP
- Check that it happened live
- Tell client this change happened
- Bill ‘em at whatever the rate is for me as a developer to do things to their website for that time
This is what used to be the process for a lot of static websites that I interacted with in the early years of my job: simple content changes would require developer intervention. However, over the years, WordPress, which started as a small-scale blogging system, has grown into a platform we recommend as a CMS. It makes content edits simple and easy for devs and non-devs alike, which allows me, as a developer, to work on the code stuff I enjoy doing much more than copying-and-pasting in content. Now, full disclosure here, WordPress isn't the best for everything. It has its limitations and drawbacks just like any platform. But first, I'll tell you why I love it:
Editing your own content is so much faster
Going back to that client example of how I’d make an update on a static HTML website, let’s look at it again with a site today that uses WordPress to manage content:
- Client signs into WordPress with their user account
- Client goes to the page or post with the content they wish to edit
- Client makes simple change to sentence
- Client hits “Update” button
- Client goes and gets a delicious snack for a job well done, possibly of the donut variety
WordPress has a fantastic content editor that bears a resemblance to many word processors that most people are familiar with. As content is entered and saved, WordPress takes the heavy lifting of adding the proper HTML markup where needed so the site outputs content as it should. This also includes embeddable items like images, links, and videos.
Not only that, but WordPress provides the ability to preview a new post or page before you actually publish it (including when you update with a new sentence or two). You can see a revision history, schedule a blog post to publish at a later date, edit a permalink and more. If the content made you feel exceptionally irritated, you can even just put it in the Trash. (You can also retrieve said item when you find out from a co-worker that yes, it does need to be on the site. Oops).
Manage your site, it’s yours after all
Being able to make simple content edits is great, but what about when you need some site-wide feature added or edited? WordPress has your back with those too. When Bob from Accounting brings up that there really, really, really should be a link in the navigation to that page about the company’s Invoicing Policy, what do you do? You edit the site’s menu – because you can. WordPress provides an excellent menu editing interface complete with a list of pages and posts that can be drag-and-dropped into place (as a bonus, that list is searchable!) and the ability to add custom links or CSS classes if necessary.
Need to upload a lot of images or documents at once for that new page Bob asked about? WordPress’s Media Manager lets you drag-and-drop files from your desktop to your website to quickly upload multiple files to your site. You can sort them by file type, date of upload, and even search by file name. The Media Manager is also what WordPress uses when you upload a file to an individual post or page. So, any files that you’ve added to a page previously live here in case you need to find them.
Maybe Bob from Accounting has been asking for an awful lot lately and you’d rather he step up and do a lil’ more work past the spreadsheets. You can add Bob as a user in WordPress and assign him a role so that he can go in and edit or add various content where needed. With custom roles, you can even restrict Bob from accessing other parts of the site so he’s only editing what he needs to be. (And so he doesn’t go and change the entire site design like he tried to do that one time.)
Open Source is your friend
WordPress is an Open Source platform, which means instead of having one lone developer looking to improve and build it, you can have hundreds of thousands working, researching, and contributing to it every day around the world.
While WordPress has a core team from the development company Automattic that consistently works on it, they have a managed process for core code updates from contributing developers. This includes a process for disclosing security issues with WordPress Core, which are reviewed and patched in a timely manner. The WordPress Core team is also consistently working on improving the software and releases various smaller updates along with separate, larger releases with super-big new or improved features.
As a developer, it’s terribly frustrating to spend time looking for documentation for whatever code base you’re using. WordPress makes sure you stress less by providing the Codex and various online handbooks regarding developing Themes and Plugins responsibly. They’ll even give you a head’s up on what documentation could use some contributions and what functionality is deprecated and should be replaced.
WordPress works best when used for its strengths
Awesome, I’ve sold you on why we love WordPress. You want it for your business needs right now. Hold up, though – like most things in life, just because something has a lot of great features and ease of use doesn’t mean it’s what you actually should be using.
WordPress’s strengths and features are recommended if you need:
- A content management system built to be search engine (and user) friendly
- The ability to manage said website from anywhere, with multiple user accounts
- An easy-to-use interface on a platform familiar to a multitude of developers
WordPress might not be the answer if you need:
- A native app specifically for a smartphone or tablet device
- An e-commerce site with multiple layers of integration to accounting, inventory, or sales software
- Sensitive CRM based interfaces that will need to scale greatly over time
Whatever your situation, the best way to know if you’ll love WordPress is to figure out what purpose your website will serve within your business and the goals the website needs to help you achieve. If it keeps Bob from Accounting from pestering you as much, that’s just an added bonus.
Do you need a custom website? Find out if WordPress is the answer you're looking for. Give us a shout.
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