Tag Archives: WordPress

Will the Real WordPress please stand up? WordPress explained

There are two different sides to WordPress, so it is understandable when people are confused. Before sorting this out, allow me to explain what WordPress is.

There are many different content management systems (CMS) available for websites, one of which is WordPress. It is the most popular type of website in the world, and at the time of this writing the ones hosted on wordpress.com alone number 62,602,685, written in over 120 languages.

WordPress can be as complicated and powerful as you need it to be, from a blog to an e-commerce site and beyond. One of the things that makes WordPress different is that it is what is referred to as “open source.” This means that thousands of people all over the world are constantly contributing to making it better— adding features. fixing bugs, creating new plugins (plugins are mini-applications embedded within websites) and themes, and participating in an online help forum. Basic WordPress is free—only premium plugins and themes cost money.

Ok, so this brings us back to the original question. WordPress.com is completely free, both the website and the hosting. To a degree, this is a case of you get what you pay for. It is a terrific value in that they are providing the hosting and the security, and you don’t need to worry about backups. The down side is that, unless you pay extra, your URL will look like yourdomain.wordpress.com. There are also limitations to what you can do with it. No e-commerce or advertising like Adwords is allowed. You can’t add any plugins to supplement the generous collection provided. The themes available are limited, but they can be customized, and there are also a collection of premium plugins available. To put this in perspective, the New York Times, TED, CNN, and the National Football League are all wordpress.com sites, so they are nothing to sneeze at.

WordPress.org is the WordPress where your own domain name is a given, and anything goes—e-commerce, a LOT more customization, plugins for just about anything you can imagine and premium themes (which may or may not be superior to free themes. Generally speaking, it is better to have a wordpress.org site for a business.

To your business success!

Why go mobile? and what does mobile mean?

You hear a lot of buzz words when people talk about mobile. Responsive, mobile apps… there is a lot of confusion, and it is unfortunate that this leads to a lot of businesses ending up with something that won’t meet their needs.

One thing that all of these options have in common is that when someone goes looking for their website using a phone or tablet (aka “mobile device”) some version of their site should come up that is appropriate for the size of their screen. This means no more of the “postage stamp” look needing to be zoomed in on or, worse, the exploded view of a tiny corner of the site.

There are really three different types of mobile to consider for websites, each appropriate for different needs and circumstances.

One buzz word is “responsive.” This is a type of website designed to scale in size depending upon the size of the viewer’s screen. A well written one can look good on everything from an oversized wall monitor to a smart phone. This is great, but not for everyone. Someone browsing with their phone is going to be unhappy when a site that is heavy on large images bogs down their browser and sucks up their media allowance. The context and intent of the viewer needs to be taken into account. Someone looking for an address or hours could care less about a massive shopping cart.

The second option is a mobile website plugin that reconfigures the content of the despot site. This is effectively the same as a responsive site, but can be an easy solution for some WordPress sites.

The third is a standalone site that presents only the content that is appropriate for someone browsing on the go. This can be a great solution when the site is big and complicated, or the searchers are local and looking for a storefront business. It also offers the twist of hooking an editable WordPress mobile site to a static desktop site that the business owner needs help with updating.

Next week’s Tip will address the differences between a mobile website and a mobile app.

To your business success!

Don’t Be Held Hostage by Your Website!

Who will be responsible for keeping the site updated? If you would like to maintain your own site and be able to make your own changes, are the time and technological resources available to support this?

One of the reasons WordPress sites have become popular is that the Administrative “back-end” to the website is a user-friendly dashboard. This means no more waiting for months until your designer/developer has the time—or you have the money—to make a few tweaks to that time sensitive announcement.

Also, if you have decided to include a blog have you allotted time for writing posts and maintaining it? For a blog to be effective it really needs to be updated at least monthly, better still every one to two weeks. This is what is referred to as “fresh content” and the search engines like Google are never happier than when they find fresh content to reward with improved search rankings. But if you hate to write, this might also be a good time to consider whether you’d like someone else to write it for you, be it an intern, paid staff or an outsider.

If you consider yourself to be a closet luddite, would paying someone to maintain your website be a better investment? Seriously, do-it-yourself-er or not, if you don’t understand techie things and would prefer to be out conducting business, these are all questions to be realistic about when providing the answers. Half of my clients are small business owners who have tried the “do it yourself” route and said “enough.” They came to me saying that they were spending so much time struggling to learn that they were neglecting the business it was intended to support. Your website should be the star of your web marketing team—not a time suck that you learn to dread!

To your business success!

Have you maintained your WordPress site?

This week a client presented me with an object lesson in why it is important to keep your WordPress website updated.

Her site was built over three years ago. Up until last week it had a single post in her blog page announcing the new website, never a good sign. Since being built it has only been updated 2-3 times, and the last time well over six months ago. She has been resistant to monthly service but can never remember how to even log in for herself.

After she referred a new client to me I offered to give her a complimentary half hour to update the site and hide the neglected blog page. I was greeted by a website that was on the verge of self-destructing.

Research revealed that her theme is no longer being maintained by the designers and, between that and a few other potentially obsolete plugins, the whole website is on the way to being incompatible with the current version of WordPress. This created a perfect storm where I was unable to even access the Admin panel. I was able to save it by doing some surgery on it at the server level, but this will be a temporary fix. She is looking at some major work that could have been avoided or, at the very least, have been scheduled at a more convenient time. WordPress is constantly changing, requiring themes and plugins to keep in step. Regular maintenance by you or someone else is your best insurance!