WordPress is far from perfect but it’s an incredible platform. After all, there are over 1 billion websites online and this number is continually growing. Of those billion-plus websites which utilize a Content Management System (CMS,) about 60% are built using WordPress. Hands down, WordPress is an amazing piece of software and for good reason.
After designing/building websites for almost 20 years (and WordPress sites for over 10 years,) I’ve learned a few “ugly truths” about WordPress in that time. Here they are.
ONE: If you have never built a WordPress website from scratch, you will need some help.
I realize this statement is totally opposite to what many people might tell you, but you will need some type of help when creating your site. There is definitely a learning curve when first building a WordPress site from scratch.
The type of help really depends on the complexity of your site AND (most importantly) how much of the site you want to DIY.
When I say “help,” I mean help ranging from: Hiring a web designer to build your website, all the way to spending hours online researching solutions to your hurdles (if you are in full-DIY mode.)
TWO: Building a WordPress site tailored to your brand will (most-likely) take more than one weekend
The key words here are “tailored to your brand.” OK, technically you can get a WordPress site set up in one weekend (or one day) by purchasing hosting and an out-of-the-box WordPress theme. But to really build a site that is unique to your audience you should expect to spend at least 1-2 weeks on the website (ideally 4 weeks is great if you are starting from scratch.)
To tailor your website to your brand, you should put some thought on your navigation structure, messaging, imagery and the value you are offering your customer.
Some of the things you will want to consider before building your WordPress website from scratch might be: (OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE POSTS OR LEAD GEN TOOLS)
- Do you have a logo?
- Do you have a domain name?
- Do you have a web host?
- Have you chosen a WordPress Theme or hired a designer to build one for you?
- Do you know the structure of your website (or created a “Site Map”?)
- Do you know your main message?
- Do you have your content in place?
THREE: WordPress hosting is VERY important
Don’t take choosing a web host lightly. There are a massive number of options to host your WordPress site and many of these options are incredibly inexpensive. You can get web hosting for as little as $3.95/month, but (as with anything) cheaper is not always better. I have found that paying a little more for performance, security, features and support is well worth it. After all, peace-of-mind is priceless.
We highly recommend choosing a hosting provider which provides “Wordpress Specific” hosting. Our favorite WordPress-specific host is WPEngine (http://wpengine.com) and we recommend them to every client.
Whether or not you go with WPEngine (there are plenty of others out there,) there are some things you should look for in a WordPress-specific host. Here is our list:
- Automatic daily backups of your website and database
- Ability to easily restore a previous version of your website from the backups mentioned in #1 (WPEngine has a “one-click” restore feature which has saved us a number of times!)
- Advanced caching for optimum speed
- Ability to easily attach an SSL certificate to your website – a free SSL is always great too
- Ability to utilize a CDN for your content – this will speed up your site too
- 24/7 customer support (chat or phone) – I have found that WPEngine’s chat feature for support is extremely efficient and fast.
Many web hosts, while they are very inexpensive, may not offer these types of features and sometimes host too many sites on one server (which can potentially put your website at risk.) We completely recommend paying a little more for your web hosting because peace-of-mind is priceless.
FOUR: WordPress sites experience their fair share of hacking attacks
First off, don’t panic, more on that below…
While security breaches happen with most larger content management platforms, because WordPress is one of the largest and most widely used, it happens more to WordPress sites. This concept is similar to Windows attacks – Windows is the most widely used operating system in the world so it’s a prime target for hackers.
Now for the “don’t panic” part… That being said, WordPress has a huge international community of users and developers that work tirelessly to find and fix any security issues in the WordPress core software and its enormous library of plugins. Because of the sheer size & power of this community – which no other platform has – when a security threat is identified, it is patched extremely quickly.
While it’s easy to build a standard/out-of-the-box WordPress website these days, to build a quality WordPress site from scratch takes some thought and time.
You can still absolutely do it yourself with some level of support, but give yourself enough time to build something unique which speaks to your brand.
I love WordPress and understand why it is the #1 CMS used today. I also love to be challenged, so please leave a comment below and let me know if there any WordPress truths you have discovered.