You went about things the right way, you asked knowledgeable people what the best platform for your website would be, for your business, for your budget, and the unanimous answer was WordPress. So why are you now sitting in front of your computer trying to figure it out like it’s rocket science? Everybody said WordPress was easy to use…

One thing I have learned over the years as a WordPress website service provider is how important it is to manage expectations when it comes to this particular platform.

Why WordPress?

The reasons professionals will recommend WordPress are grounded and justified: it is a stable platform with a content management system (this is the part that is supposed to make it easy for you but I’ll come back to this in a moment) with regular updates available to make sure your website is always up to the latest technology standards. It works with templates, which makes it instantly accessible to startups with relatively low budgets yet you can achieve a professional look with it that is second to none.

Compared to platforms like Wix and Squarespace, which do have a very easy back-end to manage and still look nice to the general public, WordPress performs much better across browsers and is a favourite for SEO (search engine optimising) service providers.

Wix and Squarespace are ok but as a business you will quickly outgrow them and find that you simply need to get to the next level with your website if you want to start making it work for you (selling, ranking in Google, collecting data etc).

So what is this dissonance when it comes to WordPress’s supposed ease-of-use? Why do the professionals push it as an “easy to use” platform when so many end up struggling with it?

Like LEGO

I like to describe WordPress as Lego blocks. With the same basic pieces of lego, you can create a little house or you can build the Eiffel Tower. WordPress is based on the same principle: you have a set of basic pieces you can use to put together a very simple website, but if you aim to build a website with extra Pzazz or functionality, be prepared to learn how to build and/or maintain the Eiffel tower.

This also means you should be prepared to accept a relevant budget to hire someone to setup and maintain your WordPress website for you. If you have an Eiffel Tower, you will either have to spend a bit of time learning how to administer and maintain this superior piece of work or you will have to hire someone to perform a number of tasks in the long run. Depending on how much you are able to manage yourself, you will need a professional. Tasks can range from editing more complex content to simply updating the platform and its various components regularly and performing backups as a security measure.

The blocks used to build the base of your website can also determine how easy it will be for you to manage your own content in the future. Whether it is custom-designed using WordPress or based on a purchased template, every WordPress site can be built in a different way, some tend to keep the user in mind more than others – using components that will break down the website into easily chewable pieces of content. Always remember to specify and talk about options with your web developer in regards to how easy you want the back-end of the website to be.

If you find yourself struggling despite this option having been mentioned, you can ask your developer to send you some information on how to use WordPress or get some training from any WordPress professional.

'Plugins' (LEGO pieces)

Plugins is a term used to describe smaller pieces of Lego that are used to add style elements and/or functionalities to your website. There are millions of them out there for different purposes: enabling transactions, creating complex forms, creating complex navigation, enabling Google fonts, plugins for SEO and many, many more.

Plugins are developed and sold by different developers and like any market, competitors strive to out-do each other resulting in different levels of quality for different plugins that may aim to perform the same task for the end user. Consumers can review these plugins, which is essentially what helps in figuring out which ones are better than others. That being said it sometimes also comes to personal preference. The beauty of WordPress is that you can add and remove plugins at the click of a button so if you don’t like one you can get rid of it and try another.

The better and most popular plugins come at a small cost though and if you’d rather be sure of the investment, have a professional help you in choosing the right plugin as it will require an assessment of:

  • Plugin compatibility (with your template, your version of WordPress)
  • Technology and languages used to develop plugin (Html5, Javascript, jQuery, Bootstrap etc)
  • Options included in the plugin
  • Plugin support
  • Reviews by professionals

Ongoing Maintenance

Ongoing maintenance of any website at the very minimum involves domain & hosting renewal as well as regular backups. Ongoing maintenance of WordPress websites at the very minimum involves regular updates of WordPress as well as any plugins activated on your website.

Depending on how involved you want to with your own WordPress website, these are the things you may have to do on an ongoing basis (depending on your business):

  • Update Homepage slides and/or promotions
  • Administer online bookings
  • Administer online sales
  • Keep online products/stock up to date
  • Keep prices up to date

For the above tasks, it is up to you to decide whether you would rather spend some time learning initially (and save in the long run) or would rather hire someone to take care of this for you.

If you hire someone be prepared to invest in the long term – a website that is out of date is dead website. If you decide to invest some time and possibly an initial dollar amount into training yourself, be prepared for a little frustration along the way (like any learning process).

All in all, it is important to understand that whilst graphic and web design have been made more and more accessible to the general public, it is still a highly skilled industry and you will need to either learn or hire professionals to get a professional result. You can go to Bunnings and get the basic kit you need to build a cubby house but you wouldn’t build your own house without getting some skills and/or some professionals along the way – the same applies to your WordPress website.