If you’re reading this, you are considering using WordPress to build a website. I built and maintained about a dozen websites for companies I worked for and a few small businesses over the last 20 years.
Tools I used included Microsoft Frontpage, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Business Catalyst, Adobe Flash, Joomla, Droopal and WordPress. I probably forgot a few but WordPress is by far my favorite tool for website creation.
While some of those tools are dead and buried, others are still around. I’ve settled on WordPress some years ago after running a site on Joomla CMS (Content Management System) for a few years.
Larger community meant better support while more plugins meant more ways to extend the capabilities of my websites.
If you have a small business website that is a few years old and has not been updated in a long while, you should seriously consider building a new website.
Web design that fits your needs
First thing to do is figure out what kind of site you need. What features should it have and what should its goal be. Don’t over-complicate your website and try to keep it as clean and simple as you can. Figure out your marketing approach so you can integrate it into your website.
Do you need multiple landing pages? What about an online store? You don’t have to plan out every last detail but a general idea of what you’re hoping to build will be extremely helpful.
WordPress over website builders
WordPress powers over 35% of the internet. Web developers are choosing this free, open source CMS to power the sites they build for a reason. WordPress.com is a hosted service that uses the same WordPress software to provide their service.
The main reason I prefer WordPress over website builder like Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.com, is the freedom to customize my site the way I see fit.
I can add features that my clients need without being charged more for them or not being allowed to implement them at all. If your business needs change, you should be able to address those needs. If you are not worried about future changes and have pretty simple website needs, one of the website builder options might make sense for you.
The rest of us should use WordPress.
Reliable hosting provider
You can get hosting for pretty cheap these days, $5/month or even less. I used to host my personal website on the cheapest hosting option I could find. Since then, I learned that a business website should be hosted with a reliable provider that offers business site features (security, backup, staging, caching, etc.) and great support.
After doing a good amount of research I chose SiteGround. I now pay more but I get so much more for it. SiteGround is the service I recommend for WordPress hosting, especially for small businesses.
Their first year prices are discounted so come year 2, you will be charged full price; $240 (GrowBig plan, mid tier) for the year. This is still a great deal especially considering their excellent customer support. You can have their support install WordPress for you and set up everything else you need on the back-end. They make it ready for you to dive in and start building your website.
Solid web design framework
Once you finally lay your hands on a clean WordPress installation, you will need to start building your pages. Even if you’ve never done this before, you can figure it out pretty quickly. I used videos and blog posts to get through my first test site. You can buy or use a free template that fits your needs.
My problem was that I could not make things look exactly like I wanted them to. I could change colors and spacing, but that would result in other unwanted changes. I was totally unfamiliar with HTML, CSS, PHP, etc. Since then I learned a bit but I’m still not great at it. Here is the thing:
What I really wanted was a website builder, something akin to what Wix and Squarespace used. That would make my life way easier. No more digging around code for hours to tweak a few little things. After researching and testing some free options, I found the answer to my problems.
Enter Divi, by Elegant Themes!
Elegant Themes is another one of these great companies that give you an amazing product and support for a great price. I paid $250 for their Divi theme but what you really get is an amazing website builder than anyone can use to create and update their own WordPress website(s). Totally worth it.
Only once I already purchased it did I realize that they also give you all their other plugins (and another theme). They continue to update Divi with new features and offer hundreds of layouts for you to use.
They sell you a great product and then continue to give you amazing new features and layouts; FOREVER!
For me, making websites on WordPress using Divi is FUN. If you don’t have a deadline just spin up a staging (test) site on SiteGround (or have their support people do it) and try different layouts and options. To build a good site with WordPress and Divi, it just takes time and dedication. You will be surprised how easy it can be to get great results.