We recently looked at the difference between open-source and closed-source software for websites and why we recommend using open-source software to design your business website. (If you use your web company’s proprietary software, you may end up being locked-in to high prices with no chance of walking away and keeping your own website.)
In particular, open-source content management systems have made using and changing your business website easier and more intuitive. A content management system means that instead of being greeted with lines of code when you log in to the admin section of your website, you see a user-friendly interface that makes adding features, changing text or uploading new pictures really easy.
The reason that FutureLab advocates for open-source content management systems (or CMS for short), especially for our SME clients, is that clients have the freedom to self-manage their own websites – freeing them from hefty fees or the need to hire a web professional to make every small change.
Worldwide, the most popular CMS used is WordPress, with a huge 60 million websites estimated to be using the free software. That’s over 20% of all websites in the world.
For small and medium businesses, WordPress is a cost-effective solution to designing and developing a business website. Unless you’re running a large eCommerce store, or using complex databases, WordPress will most likely have everything you need to customise your website and tailor it to your requirements.
WordPress is free to use and endlessly customisable
You don’t need to worry that your website will end up looking like all the others. There are thousands of WordPress templates you can purchase for a small fee, developed and supported by programmers all over the globe. The templates create the look and feel of your website, which your WordPress developers can then customise further by editing the code.
Besides the style templates, there is also a huge range of features that you can download (some free, some paid) and ‘plug-in’ to your website. These are referred to as plug-ins, and whether you need to have a booking form on your website, an animated slider or a pop-up message, there will be a plug-in available.
What gives WordPress this incredible flexibility and ability to customise with thousands of features is the fact it is freely available, ‘open-source’ software. Anyone can develop a WordPress template or new feature and put it up for download online. The sheer size of the WordPress developer community creates healthy competition and the review system ensure the quality remains high.
The style template will determine the basic structure of your website – for example, a blogger, a business advertising services, and one selling products will all need very different templates to start with. However, it’s the WordPress developers who can then customise your website to make it stand out from the competition. Even complex features can be custom-programmed and added to the website by your web developers. That means that from a low-cost starting point, you can still have a highly individual and customised website that will be ‘tailor-made’ for your company. Additionally, the low cost of using an open-source CMS like WordPress means you can free up more of your budget for high-end design and customisation.
Once you have the look and feel of your new company website, the next step is filling it up with relevant and keyword-driven content. You can read up our tips for web copywriting or request a free web consultation to find out how you could develop your new website in 2015.