What I love and why I love it
Everyday, more than 547,200 new websites are created globally, with some 210,672 powered by WordPress. Looking at it in terms of percentage, that means WordPress tops the charts for overall content management system (CMS) usage at 38.5% worldwide, confirming that it offers something to the masses, and excels in what it does.
WordPress, for people unfamiliar with the brand, is a free, open source CMS created initially for blogging. Licensed under GPLv2, anyone who uses the product can download the software for free and modify the core code, as well as access the massive ecosystem of plugins and themes that allow users to build bespoke sites tailored to their needs.
Since it’s conception in 2003, over 75 million websites have been developed on WordPress. Just under 15% of the world’s top 100 websites are built with it, with over 500 new sites created daily and 17 blog posts per second being published. Developers like myself understand the need to build websites that anyone can manage. Gone are the days of having a ‘webmaster’ who looks after your digital offerings. Today, people want to be more hands on, want to know how their website works and have the ability to update it themselves; and this is one of the reasons why when a new client comes to us at C21, we will always offer up WordPress as a foundation for their site. It not only meets my needs as a developer, but also the needs of a not-so-tech-savvy client who wants to get their hands dirty and be in control of their online presence.
Serving the Community
One of the main reasons why I choose WordPress for every new build, is due to how vast the community is. No matter what you want to achieve, someone somewhere has usually developed the logic to help you complete your task. Seventeen years of constant progress and growth allows for a whole lexicon of knowledge to be available online and at your fingertips; even if someone hasn’t had the same problem or query you have, due to the system being built on PHP, you can extend beyond the WordPress help hub and go back to basics to problem solve. You’re never alone when developing in WordPress.
Scalability, Expansion & the Art of Future Proofing
At C21 we don’t use prebuilt, store bought themes. Instead we build our websites from the ground up, relying on years’ worth of cultivated, hand-coded functions that have been tried, tested and put through their paces to ensure total future proof integration into the CMS. The problem with using store bought or prebuilt is that you’re limited to what the theme can do and will drown in the excessive bolt-on libraries that marketplace packages come bundled with. These just cause bloat and slow loading. Less, definitely, is more when building a site with WordPress, but if you choose wisely what plugins and functions you need to run your build, a site can grow from a simple five-page brochure to an SEO driven, SERP visible extension of your business with minimal initial effort.
With the ability to expand into a multisite; where multiple individual sites are housed under one WordPress installation, or utilising some of the top free plugins available to turn your site into a full-scale ecommerce solution, there is nothing that a Wordpress build cannot evolve into.
Accessibility, Usability, and Inclusion
When clients come to us who have never used a CMS before most, if not all, have heard about WordPress at some point in their lives. The name instils a sense of familiarity and, with that, a confidence in the client that they will be able to handle the site once it’s handed over. The way WordPress is structured in the admin area is incredibly intuitive, so much so that it’s not overwhelming, and new users accessing the dashboard are greeted with a page that feels manageable. With the ability to customise the admin colours you can align the CMS with a client’s brand so they still feel connected to their identity whilst working on and publishing content.
The layout of the sidebar and the ability for developers to house content in categorised groups means clients can have an admin side geared towards their specific needs, and with user role tweaking you can hide many of the settings that may not be of interest to a client, thus creating a clearer more focused environment for them to develop their content.
Blogging: The Bread and Butter
No matter what site you eventually end up building with WordPress, blogging – and with that, SEO will always be at the heart of the infrastructure. It’s what WordPress was designed to be good at; and it is. Post types, taxonomies, categories and tagging are just part of the basic WordPress build, and they’re so powerful that search engines love WordPress generated content. The code behind WordPress is extremely clean, which means it allows for search engines to index a site’s content with ease – and with each post and page having its own metadata and SEO friendly URLs, it allows it to be optimised for specific keywords, perfect for very precise search engine optimisation.
Building our Intranet
During Lockdown, C21 had the chance to look at how we interact as a company and put processes in place to make our work life as easy as possible. An intranet was an obvious choice to keep everything housed in one place that allowed everyone to participate. Unlike Slack, WhatsApp, emails, TEAMS, Zoom, etc. which all require you to be present and respond and fostering that sense of urgency, an intranet is an online space to feel connected whilst not having the pressure to be available. By building an intranet from the ground up, we could begin to understand what we need as individuals and what would help us as a team going forward, and with this – the C21 intranet was built.
WordPress was essential in this undertaking as it was a platform that everyone had used, and everyone was comfortable interacting with. There are so many plugins out there that could turn a WordPress site into an intranet, but we wanted to make this ours and with our own stamp on it, with little reliance from third party libraries. We utilised every aspect of WordPress, coupled with our vast development knowledge to create a bespoke area our team could log into and update their status, get access to links we use daily, publish bulletins (giving a nod to old school MySpace), and have a profile that we can use to help new team members during their induction. We brought our daily work schedule online as well as a team holiday calendar, so everyone is aware when people are off. The intranet started off as an organic project that, once released into the wild, has grown and evolved into something extremely beneficial to us as a company, and has allowed everyone at C21 to express their ideas and together create a site we have all built and can be proud of.
Whilst there are some limitations to WordPress, like any CMS – you choose what’s right for the build in question. I myself have worked with WordPress alongside several other CMS’s over the years, both open source and paid, yet I will always revert back to WordPress, as I have confidence that it will do exactly what I need it to do, and both colleagues in the studio and clients find it is easy to go in and update content without having to call on a developer. Building with WordPress teaches people that websites and managing content isn’t as scary as you may have once thought, and anyone is capable of using it to power up their brand’s virtual identity.