by Adrian :: 30.11.10

WordPress: the B-word and the deadly sin of website development

In the old days

I used to run a Digital Agency a few years ago and we built digital solutions for the WPP communications agencies. It was circa 2004 when I relied heavily on my team of developers in Sofia, Bulgaria as I wasn’t (and am still not) a developer or designer. It was at this time that we all became intrigued by the Blog and I remember taking Land Rover to task in a rather empowering chapter of Citizen Journalism. (After Land Rover sorted out their quality problems 4 years later, I decided to take the blog down)

A move from static to dynamic content

The good old blog was a fundamental milestone because, amongst several things,  it taught us about dynamic content: taught us the importance of self-publishing content at a touch of a button. No longer were we dependent on the web developers to refresh static content but we became empowered to create fresh, dynamic content as often as we needed to engage with our audience. The sites attracting the eye balls were those that offered a fresh stream of engaging content.

I have a theory – at least in the UK – I think the word blog has negative connotations? so I’m going to try not use it further in this post. Because I want you to continue reading this. Just bear with me.

You are in need of a website

So you have a business: either established or a startup. Why do you want a website? Naturally you want to engage with your target market. Engagement is about communication. You want to convince them to do business with you. Communication is no longer a one way street: it’s no longer about broadcasting a message, it’s about creating a two-way conversation. You need to be in control of your content – it has to be dynamic otherwise you don’t need a website: just post a PDF brochure online.

Creating content isn’t that onerous

You don’t always have to do all the hard work creating content – in this age of collaboration and information people share information – and there’s a good chance what you’re about to say has already been said by someone else – don’t copy it or rewrite it – rather add value to it by referencing it. You will create far more value for your existing and prospective customers by directing them to the content you think is relevant to them: by all means comment and interpret it but don’t feel pressured to always create your own content. The only etiquette you should always adhere to is link back and accredit the original author. Other writers will do the same for you and this strategy helps build incoming and outgoing links between your website and others and this is an important aspect of getting a better Google Ranking (this science is called SEO – search engine optimisation)

WordPress is a Content Management system for websites

Let’s talk about Wordpress and why its become the most popular platform on which to publish and create a website. I haven’t used the b-word here because its no longer a b-word platform. The good news about WordPress is it is free. It comes in two versions a version which is more designed for the b-word community and another version which you have to host. This is the one I’m going to talk about because it is one of the greatest enablers that the open-source community has given you: the entrepreneur.

The cardinal sin of website development

We recently pitched to a prospective client who already has a most beautiful website – only a year old. It evidently cost her a lot of money but the brand design work impressed me- it was beautiful. All I suggested on the website from was that she needed to keep her content up to date and fresh. She then told me something quite staggering: she had to go back to the agency who wanted to a material budget for the content refresh. When I asked her why she didn’t have a content management system she said she couldn’t afford to have one built and now the agency wanted to charge her thousands of pounds to turn the existing site into a dynamic.

There is no reason in the world why in 2010 you should not be in complete control of your website content.

There is no incremental cost involved in building a dynamic site over a static site. I’ll go further by saying you were ripped off if you purchased a static website in the last 3 years. It is a cardinal sin to build a static website in 2010.

Why am I confident enough to claim the above? Because you or your developer/designer could have built it on WordPress. WordPress may well have been built as a blogging platform  but those origins are incidental- WordPress was built to allow for communication on the web and has incorporated everything to allow you to do this in a dynamic, flexible and efficient way (this includes SEO too) You do not need to be a techie to manage it either.

Get away from misconception that a blog looks like a, well, bloggy- journal. This AoB site runs on WordPress. Have a look at a few other sites that run on WordPress: Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival is another or try the talented guys at Condiment who enjoy pushing WordPress to its limits. And remember I told you I wasn’t a developer or designer – I built my sister’s website on WordPress (admittedly a steepish learning curve).

From the above, hopefully you’ve learnt the following:

  • WordPress is a content management system that allows your website to be a dynamic communication tool that puts you in control
  • It is a cardinal sin to build or own a static website in this day and age.
  • You are being ripped off by anyone agency that charges you for the space that WordPress has now commoditised.

PS: Just so that you understand: AoB doesn’t build websites. We help you spend your money wisely. We’ll help you frame your brief and put you in the direction of the right agency. Equipped with the right team and brief: you’ll get it right first time!  If you haven’t got any money: then we’ll show you how to do it yourself. (future posts, keep your eye’s peeled)

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