WordPress is an excellent tool that many small businesses and individuals are using to reach their target audiences. So, what exactly is WordPress and what can you do with it? WordPress is a blogging platform which allows users to either create their own theme or use one of the many free themes available. Let's take a look.
1. Decide on the type of business website you are looking for. This may sound obvious, but there are WordPress themes available for a wide variety of businesses, from corporate websites, to directory sites, news & magazine sites, eCommerce businesses, daily deal sites, photography websites and much more. There are some WordPress themes available that are so good that they might even encourage you to start a type of business you hadn't even considered!
2. Decide on must-have features for your website. Most themes have standard features such as multiple color schemes, giving you the ability to easily customize things like fonts and colors, and some pre-designed page templates, but are features such as Advanced Search, integration with Google Maps, Image Sliders, or the ability to sell digital products important to your business? In other words, focus on key features that might be specific to your business, or maybe features that would be a great improvement over your current website.
3. Decide on what type of style best suites your brand. Do you want to portray your company as professional, fun, modern or high-tech? What about minimalist, artsy, bold or retro? Do you want your website to be clean and organized or have more of a grungy look?
4. Decide on a your preferred website layout. This one is a bit tricky, since many of the best WordPress themes might have one layout by default, but give you the option to easily chose from various layout options. If you don't love the default layout of a specific theme, but it has all the features you are looking for, you might want to check whether the theme includes multiple layout options. Also, it is often worth deciding whether you want a blog-type layout (generally with a widget-based sidebar on the right and comment fields below your posts) or more of a professional layout. Having a standard blog-style layout might work well for news sites (and it encourages discussion from your site visitors), but it might not be appropriate for corporate websites.
5. View theme demos. Browse theme demos as if you were a customer or a potential client. Is the website easy to understand and navigate, well organized and give you the search options you would want? Is it easy to browse photos on the gallery page? Does it give a professional image of the business?
6. Make sure the theme designer provides at least some form of technical support. Some theme companies provide phone service, while others use email or a ticketing system for support, and others use support forums to communicate with customers. Any of these options are usually fine, but make sure they offer some level of support and customer service. WordPress is easy to use and most themes (especially premium themes) work very well, but you can still have issues or encounter bugs once in a while. You want to purchase a theme from a company or individual who will be around to help you if you run into an issue 10 months after you purchase the theme. Technical Support is one of many features you'll get when purchasing a premium free, as opposed to using a free WordPress theme.
7. To save a lot of time, rather than digging through the websites of numerous theme companies, check out a few online marketplaces that aggregate the best WordPress business themes from multiple theme designers into one place.
When it comes to online marketing, It seems like the focus of every small business these days is on places like Facebook and Twitter. While social media is important, and a great way to communicate with your customers and potential clients, your website is the real face of your business.
I constantly see small businesses spending a lot of money on things like pay-per-click ads, Facebook ads, SEO and more; all of which direct traffic to their websites. When you click through the company's website, you're often greeted with a stale, confusing and out-of-date website that the company probably paid a good chunk of cash to have built for them in 1992.
You can create the best products, offer the best services, make the best food of any restaurant in your area, or write an amazing e-book, but if your website is not easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to purchase from, you are most likely losing a lot of business. People DO judge a book by it's cover, and your website is that 'cover' - it's often the first impression people have with your business.
I was reminded of this recently as I was searching for a carpenter/contractor to do some work on our house. I searched on Google, clicked on some AdWords ads, and was repeatedly brought to cringe-worthy websites that make me leave their sites literally within seconds. My attitude was that if these 'businesses' cared so little about themselves to pay attention to their websites, I didn't want to trust them renovating part of my house. They might have been amazing carpenters for all I know, but the first impression they gave me immediately turned me off to them.
It is simply so easy and affordable to have a great website these days, that there's no excuse for businesses not to, regardless of what industry they're in. WordPress and other website software options out there make it possible for virtually anyone, with any budget and any level of technical knowledge to have an amazing looking website.
Check showcases of premium Wordpress themes and site templates here