You have a few options for which CMS to use when running your own web agency: you can create your own, choose a commercial product or choose from one of the many open source options available. WordPress currently has a whopping 54% market share out of every CMS available. Choosing one and becoming an expert in it is probably the best option, personally I have always worked with WordPress and it is the one I would recommend. In this post I will look at my 6 reasons to build your web development business around it …
1. Open Source
This is a big one, Open Source means free! So no licenses and on-going fees to worry about – you can download WordPress immediately and begin using it. WordPress really is an amazing piece of software for free – comparable and better even than commercial scripts that I’ve paid hundreds of dollars for. Open Source also brings more benefits than just being free – larger numbers of collaborators working on it mean faster development updates, security fixes and so on. Basically more minds working on it mean it evolves quicker than if it was tied to one company having to maintain it.
The nature of Open Source and the GPL license also means you are free to do what ever you want with it – you could fork WordPress and develop it into something else entirely (WordPress started life being forked from another script). No being tied to restrictive licesenses limiting to you one domain, forcing you to display a footer link etc – do what you like with the proviso that anything you create must also be available under a GPL license.
2. Easy to Learn
If you know HTML and CSS then you shouldn’t have any problem learning WordPress – its one of the easiest CMSs to learn how to create themes for ( and I have tried many, many CMSs over the years!). There are so many free themes and frameworks you can use to get started creating your own – or simply looking at the default theme Twenty Eleven will give you a good idea how everything fits together. If you want to delve further than theme development and start creating your own functionality via the use of plugins, the Codex and support forums are there to give you a helping hand.
There is a huge community built around WordPress and (for the most part) everyone gets along and is happy to help each other out. There are loads of blogs about WordPress where you can learn a lot of information, mentioned before is the Codex and support forums and numerous other places to get info.
If you are stuck on a problem, because WordPress is so popular, chances are that someone else will have asked about this before and a quick Google will throw up a load of info and sample code. I have always managed to find an answer this way - I dont think I’ve ever had to actually ask for specific help.
4. Themes & Plugins
Another benefit of how popular WordPress is, is the sheer amount of plugins and themes available for it. You can build most types of site using a combination of free themes and plugins – running a web development business you will run into the same sort of required functionality over and over again, plugins are perfect for this. Common requirements are contact form plugins, newsletter plugins, then of course there is the powerfull custom post types feature which will allow you to tailor WordPress exactly to your requirements. On top of all the free plugins and themes there is a growing number of commercial options which will be backed by guaranteed support which could be more important to you for client sites.
5. Security & Updates
Because of the sheer number of sites running WordPress along with its open source nature, from time to time security issues are revealed which allow malicious people to hack WordPress sites or place backdoors on them. Luckily as soon as a vulnerability is found, an update goes out which patches it. There is also a lot of security measures you can take to prevent this, number one being keeping WordPress up to date.
6. Easy to Use Admin Section
The admin section is really easy for your clients to use – adding posts and pages is a piece of cake and because of user levels you don’t have to give them access to everything – you can remain the admin with power over the whole installation (adding plugins, changing themes etc) so you don’t have to worry about them “breaking” the site but they can have full editorial control over their content.
WordPress also gives you the option to customise and brand the admin panel through various methods and plugins so you can further tailor it for your client’s specific needs.
These are my main reasons for using WordPress as the basis for any web development agency, of course there will be the odd time that a completely custom solution is needed for a customer but I have found the vast majority of times you can use WordPress as a basis for any site. Cutting down on development time by using WordPress puts more money in your pocket and makes your clients happier so why not make the switch to Open Source with WordPress?