People often ask if WordPress is an easy solution that they could use to build their own website AND maintain it all by themselves. Honestly, that is a loaded question. One of the reasons that we love WordPress is that it makes it possible for developers to deliver a website to our clients that is user friendly from a content management perspective. For the first time in history non-techie business owners can access the back end of their website and update things like text content, blog posts, featured image areas and contact information — they don’t have to pay a website administrator to do it for them unless time is a factor and they have money in their budget for it. This can turn into a huge cost saving.
There is a Technical Side to Consider
Having said that, when it comes to actually building a site there IS a technical side – like understanding CSS, HTML, and potentially PHP that can be factors during development. At some point you will want to brand a colour or element on the site that will require this technical expertise. Also, there is cross browser functionality and mobile devices to consider. Even if you find a template that appears to make things a “no-brainer” you still need to make sure it is fully supported, in English, and that support will be available for the life of your site.
How many times have we received calls from people who used a free template only to discover that it stopped working after a WordPress or plugin update?! One such call involved a WordPress update that prevented the user from posting anything! As it turned out, the theme developer was Ukrainian and all the online support materials were in Ukrainian. He had also moved on to other projects and was no longer providing current support. Uh oh. Now what?!
Of course, there are “do-it-yourself” platforms out there (most of them proprietary in nature). BUT be careful what you’re getting yourself into. You may want to refer to our previous article entitled “The Pitfalls of Building Your Own Website?” for those pros and cons.
What You Can Expect From a WordPress Maintenance Perspective
Once your WordPress website is up and running, the wonderful folks at WordPress will send occasional Emails notifying you of updates, usually in response to changes made by major browsers, new security features, or because they’ve added new functionality.
It’s important to make the update. BUT, once you do, you need to check to make sure that your website is still running smoothly afterwards. Changes in the WordPress version can sometimes affect plugins and theme code. Always make sure you perform a backup of your site before carrying out updates of any kind. Also, it probably goes without saying that YOU need to know how to recover your website from the backup if anything goes awry. Largely popular platforms like WordPress can be targets for spammers so you’ll need to do your research on how to prepare against website comment and forms spam. These are all areas where it can come in handy to opt for professional website development and maintenance.
What to Expect from Plugin Updates
We mentioned that updates to WordPress can affect plugins and theme code. With a WordPress website, plugins are a vital part of how your website functions and how certain areas interact with others. Occasionally, you will see that an update is available for specific plugins you are using. Once you ascertain what the plugin update is all about you may choose to go ahead with it. Check afterwards that it has not adversely affected your website. If it has, you may want to either revert back to the previous version of the plugin or deactivate it alltogether until you can troubleshoot the issue. Finding an alternative plugin may become necessary. If you used a theme template, hopefully it is supported and they can offer you suggestions. Again, a really great reason to hire a professional for development and maintenance.
So your question again — is WordPress an easy solution that will allow you to build your own website AND maintain it all by yourself?
From a content management perspective; ABSOLUTELY! You can still save money by managing content yourself on a daily basis. Just be smart about your cost saving measures when it comes to designing and building the site. What is a successful online presence worth to your business?! Only you know how tech savvy your online capabilities are. AFTER you run into trouble may be too late to avoid learning costly mistakes!
This is the second article in a series about Websites for Small Business Owners.
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Original Ginger is a Digital Agency located in the heart of historic Fort Langley, a hip and artistic suburb of Vancouver BC.