Today, an online presence is a must for small businesses, so we review the best website development platform for small business owners.
Defining the key criteria for small businesses
Let’s first define the criteria that we applied to identify our platform of choice:
- Ease of Use: The platform’s ease of use, even for a neophyte.
- Affordability: The cost of the software and the website’s ongoing hosting.
- Reliability: The stability of the platform and the ease of maintaining your website over time.
- Flexibility: The choices that the environment affords, including the ability to change themes, hosting companies, or development providers.
- Security: The safety of the information on the website.
WordPress was the clear answer for us based on these criteria, and we will review it in more detail below.
Evaluating alternative choices
But first, there were many other choices out there, which we won’t focus on here. So, if you evaluate alternative options, we encourage you to consider the following:
- Some turn-key platforms provide ready shopping sites, complete with templates, to get started faster. You then pay a monthly subscription to the providers. The subscriptions typically vary depending on the activity volume on your site. While these turn-key solutions represent a convenient approach to getting started quickly, your site will generally not be portable to a different environment if those technologies are proprietary. If there is a need to change providers at some point later, you might need to redevelop your website.
- Some platforms are similar to WordPress or even use a modified version of it. Without the popularity of the native WordPress CMS, modifications would affect one or more of the evaluation criteria stated above.
- Finally, some programming language environments provide full customization capabilities but require expensive developers to customize, troubleshoot, and maintain the site.
WordPress is an open-source Content Management System (CMS) that allows small businesses and enterprises to develop and maintain websites easily.
WordPress CMS is the world’s most popular website development environment. The platform allows you to manage the creation and modification of your content online. Its code is available for all to see, including for adaptation and distribution, and it is free to use.
It powers millions of websites worldwide for small businesses and enterprises alike. It even powers the US White House’s website, including its blog, news area, and e-commerce store, and millions visit that site each month.
For clarity, the WordPress CMS platform referenced here is available and free to download at https://wordpress.org/. It should not be confused with the offering from the hosting company https://wordpress.com/ which provides subscription-based hosting services using a proprietary version of wordpress.org.
The WordPress Difference for Small Businesses
WordPress is easy to use.
A back-end dashboard allows you to add content and functionalities to your website without outside support. That dashboard is menu-driven. The functionalities come in the form of plugins. Where you need education or help, you are sure to find it online at very reasonable prices.
WordPress is free.
There is no premium version and no upgrade path. WordPress is free. It comes with all the functions that you need to develop a website. Additional fee-based functions are available via plugins, which are applications developed by third-party organizations to work on WordPress. Many offer free, fully functional versions of their plugins.
WordPress is stable and reliable.
Once you have set up your site with your hosting company, you typically don’t have to worry about it much. The WordPress platform is updated regularly, but hosting plans typically offer automated updates. You can also set up your Plugins to auto-update. Your hosting company will generally email you when those updates are applied so you can check for possible issues. If problems develop, your hosting company might assist you or roll back your site to the prior version without the problem. If you stay with popular plugins, this should be extremely rare.
WordPress is flexible.
You can change the theme (look and feel) of your site without recreating your site. Depending on the themes, you might have to adjust, but the content and functionality are independent of the look and feel. You can add functionalities to your website via plugins, those applications developed by third-party organizations for WordPress. If unsatisfied with your hosting service, you can easily change hosting companies, and many will transfer your site for you. Finally, if you need customized work on your site, you will find more WordPress developers than on any other platform.
WordPress is secure.
WordPress CMS is very secure by default. It is built on the world’s most popular software stack, the LAMP stack. You can also leverage free plugins to prevent unauthorized login attempts, control spam, and more.
Your platform of choice for small businesses
WordPress is an extremely powerful yet simple platform to build and grow your online presence.
Whether for a blog, a small business website, or a full-featured e-commerce store, you will find WordPress to be easy to use, affordable, reliable, flexible, and secure.
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