I’ve been making websites on WordPress for about 10 years now. In that time many website platforms, like SquareSpace and Wix, have entered the market. If you’re running a non-profit on limited resources, or are starting out as an artist or business-owner, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to make your website affordably and easily. Here are ten reasons why WordPress is your best choice.
1. WordPress is Open Source
The reason why I’ve stayed with WordPress for a decade and actively recommend it is because it’s open source. This means:
- it’s not proprietary
- it’s not profit-driven
- the code it’s built on is freely available to use, change, improve, and build upon
- it has a thriving community who maintains and expands it
- it’s built on a mentality of openness, transparency and working together
- it will always be free
2. WordPress is Free
The easiest way to get online, especially for the first time, is if it costs nothing. As a content management system (CMS), WordPress is free. Of course, you can put a lot of money into your website by getting custom designs and development, and you still need to pay for a custom URL and hosting if you want to host it yourself. But the platform itself is free.
Sites like SquareSpace, Wix, and Weebly all charge monthly for their platform.
3. WordPress is Easy to Use
If you’ve posted anything online anywhere (social media, forums, etc) you’ll be right at home. Publishing a blog post or a new page is almost as simple as sending an email.
It does get more complicated the more you want to do. Just like any platform, you have to learn where everything is and how to change it. How do you change the navigation menu? What about your logo? How do you create a new user and change their permissions? Which plugins should you have? There’s a learning curve for sure.
4. Massive Community Support
The good news is that there’s a huge community supporting WordPress. Every question I’ve ever had about WordPress has been answered just by Googling it. There are endless how-to articles and beginner posts and videos out there for when you’re just starting out. There’s also a dedicated support forum where you can post your specific question and someone will usually answer it. And as you get deeper into the guts of WordPress you can still google the code you’re working on and find many solutions online. It’s pretty easy to evolve as a user, in fact that’s how I got into coding.
Want to connect with WordPress peeps IRL? There are MeetUps in most cities and there are annual WordCamps around the globe. I’ve learned a lot at the WordCamps I’ve gone to in Vancouver and Seattle – there are usually workshops for all levels of users and there’s a growing movement of increasing diversity, accessibility and ethics in tech.
5. WordPress is Very Customizable
WordPress is much more customizable than any other easy website solution out there. I’ve tried both Squarespace and Wix for clients and ultimately neither had the options we were looking for.
WordPress has tons of themes and plugins available to customize and expand your website. Which does get overwhelming. The base theme is a great place to start.
There are also a bunch of drag-and-drop themes that allow you a lot of design options without coding. My favourite is Make. It’s easy to use, well designed, and the support is great. I’ve built many sites on it including Drawing Change, Engage Architecture, and Van East Housing Co-op.
6. Accessibility is Built In
WordPress is built with accessibility in mind. Much depends on how you set up your site, but the framework is already a good starting place. There’s a team dedicated to working on accessibility and most WordCamps I’ve been to have sessions to help you make your site more accessible.
7. Great for SEO
Like accessibility, much of the work for good search engine optimization (SEO) depends on your content and how you set up your site. But WordPress is set up for good SEO right out of the gate. Add the free Yoast SEO plugin and follow their directions and you’ve got a solid foundation for great SEO.
8. WordPress is Available in Over 65 Languages
9. You Own All Your Content Forever
Have you ever tried to export your content from a online platform? Many of them don’t offer you an export option. You may own your content, but if you don’t own the platform, it’s hard to get your content off of it. If you ever decide to leave WordPress there are a variety of bulk export options to help you retrieve your content.
10. WordPress powers 29% of the Internet
WordPress.org or WordPress.com?
Now that you’re convinced to make your site on WordPress which version should you use? I cover that in another post. But in short, WordPress.org is self-hosted – so you download the files and install them on your own server (or you hire someone to do it for you). WordPress.com is run by Automattic and it’s a place you can make a simple WordPress site for free without worrying about setting up hosting as they host it for you.
As an aside, if you’re a campaign-based organization, NationBuilder might be a better fit for you. Lots of folks in non-profits speak highly of the database integration and detailed information of your base it gives you. It’s just too bad they were behind Trump’s site right? I hope there’s alternative soon, especially a Canadian-based one.