Revised in 2021 from an original blog post from 2013
Those who know us will know that at DMJ we are WordPress specialists. We know how to build other sorts of websites too, but we decided some years ago to put a lot of effort into learning one platform really well so that we could say we were experts at something rather than ‘quite good’ at doing a lot of different things, which led us to choose WordPress.
Let’s face it, plenty of people can build websites – seriously, PLENTY! This makes it difficult for a generalist website business to stand out from the crowd, and it also makes it harder for potential customers to find the right partner to build their website.
So we took the decision to specialise – to effectively become a bigger fish in a smaller pond. That was back in the day when WordPress itself was fairly new. Roll forward to 2021 and WordPress is now used by 40% of the top 10 million websites.
Before we start - what exactly is WordPress?
WordPress is an open source platform, which can be used to build a great-looking website in a much shorter time than conventional websites. WordPress has thousands of available themes and plugins that you can use to change the look of your website and add functionality. It’s easy to manage your own pages and blog content with WordPress – it’s what is commonly called a CMS (or content management system).
Open source is essentially lots of website code packaged together and made available free of charge for you to upload to your server. It can be modified and shared, but can still be subject to licence conditions.
Do I need a WordPress expert to build my site?
No – and that’s the point.
WordPress is a platform that any business owner can use to build their own website – WordPress is free, and themes (the templates that determine how your website looks) are generally free or low cost.
However, when you need something a little more special than you can get off-the-shelf, or if you need to add a complex piece of functionality, or indeed if you just want to focus on running your business and not on managing your website, you might need someone with a little experience.
This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to manage your site and your content going forward, although we do offer several website hosting and care plans, but it is a relatively cost-effective way of getting a great-looking website up and running quickly.
Why did we choose WordPress?
Throughout a company history going back to 1985, we had focused on building bespoke software solutions to meet client needs. This often involved a high cost to the client, and although they got precisely what they wanted, the project timescales were quite often lengthy and the solution needed quite a bit of extra expense whenever additional changes were required.
We felt this wasn’t a particularly good deal for our clients, and wanted to find something that was much better for them – because if they could see what a good deal it was for them the more likely they were to recommend us to their friends and associates, and the more likely they were to come back to us for small changes and additional projects.
We chose WordPress because it offered an ‘open source’ platform, with a large and active developer community who were busy building thousands of useful plugins [a plugin is a bit of add-on code that you can easily install in your WordPress website to provide a little extra functionality, such as collecting signup email addresses or adding a neat image slider to your pages]. It had been around for a few years [in fact, WordPress was officially launched around 2003] and had a rapidly growing user base. At the time we started building WordPress sites some 16% of all new websites were being built using the platform (so millions of website owners couldn’t really be wrong). This figure is now [in 2021] at least 40%, although we can’t really take the credit 🙂
So now, most of our effort (and client budget) goes into providing the look-and-feel and making sure that the right components are pulled together to deliver the functionality they require, rather than spending the budget re-inventing the wheel every time we build a new website.
There are other similar platforms (Joomla and Drupal amongst others), but none of these come close to the Worldwide usage of WordPress, and as we wanted to achieve a WordPress expert level we really had to focus mostly on that.
6 excellent reasons for website owners to choose WordPress
- The software is free, and there are no licence fees [some themes and plugins do carry a purchase or annual fee, but most don’t]
- Lots of web developers know about WordPress, so you’ll never be alone and short of help!
- Plugins really do reduce the costs of bespoke development – you’d be amazed at what plugins can do for your site, from membership and payment to eCommerce, to helping your SEO. Most plugins are free and available from the WordPress repository, but there are some great premium plugins that are worth paying for.
- The development cycle can be incredibly quick – we’ve had a project commissioned on the Monday and delivered it by the Friday, for example, and even faster timescales are possible.
- All modern themes are ‘responsive’, which means that your WordPress website will automatically scale to fit beautifully on mobile devices and tablets. So you won’t need to build a completely separate site to support the increasing amounts of mobile users.
- Although they can be a bit resource-heavy, there are lots of page builders that help to develop sites visually using drag-and-drop interfaces. Divi is one example of this, but there are lots. In addition, the block editor available in the core WordPress product is getting better and better. The block editor was originally called ‘Gutenberg’ and had quite a few issues when it was launched as part of WordPress 5.0 in 2018.
Practicing what we preach
As well as the website you are looking at now, we also operate Expats France. This is also a WordPress website, and is essentially a blogging site for Brittany and Pays de la Loire articles for English speakers in France.
We have built, manage, and host many WordPress websites, so we can get involved with as much or as little of your development as you like.
We think WordPress is a great platform and will continue to advocate its use. The team at Automattic (the makers of WordPress) is committed to constantly bringing out new versions of the software (which is easy to upgrade) to make it more powerful and safe from hackers.
If your website is in need of a refresh, or a complete overhaul, why not ask your developers about WordPress?