Web Design Concepts for Small Business using WordPress

I recently attended WordCamp Raleigh and learned the fabulous concept of using the WordPress environment to host an entire website as opposed to just a blog. Now I’m sure that the rest of the world had embraced this idea eons ago and I just don’t get out enough, but the thought really intrigued me.  WordPress blogs are so easy to use that a child could do it. (If my 13 year old can do it, so can you.) So how easy would it be for a business owner, especially a small business owner on a limited budget, to design and have more control over their own website?

As a holistic online marketing consultant, I see the good, the bad, and the ugly of client’s websites. Although I am by no means a website designer, I do talk with clients about website usability quite a bit. Let’s face it, all the traffic in the world isn’t going to help a website that is fundamentally “broken.”

That’s where the WordPress websites come in.  I was curious to see if I could transform a client’s “challenged” website with minimal cost and effort, but at the same time retain all the natural search engine optimization that is critical. I wanted to be able to hand off to a client a website that would be easy for them to update and have one central admin panel to control their site, blog, and some online stats.

So, I looked for a guinea pig. Who better than family right? My mother has a little side business of hand making dog bandanas, Jing A Ling Dog Bandanas. She had a website, but it was rather ho hum (since..remember..her daughter is an online marketing consultant, not a website designer). She was the epitome of the one man (or woman as the case may be) show, so I thought her site would make a great case study.

These WordPress templates use Widgets that allow a person with little or no html experience to get a very professional look and feel to their finished website. Each template came with various page layouts that turn on and off with a checkbox. Of course the ability to have a blog as part of your website is built in. Custom pictures can be uploaded easily, just as you do for a blog.

There are several great plugins available for added functionality. All in One SEO Pack gave me all the search engine optimization features that I wanted. Widget Logic allowed me to do a couple of creative things with what appeared on different pages of the site. Page Protection let me create a section of the site for wholesale dealers that require a user name and password. Google XML Sitemaps generated a sitemap and distributed it for me.

In the end, I was really pleased with the results. The website looks a hundred times more professional than the original. A small business owner could do a complete redesign of their website with minimal expense, no ongoing monthly fees (other than a web host), and have the ability to make ongoing changes to their site without a web designer.

Now for the web designers out there cursing me for putting out this information, I will suggest that this might be a service that you want to offer customers. Not everyone wants to do this all by themself. In fact, I now have clients that want to pay me to convert their websites to WordPress and give them a quick how to on managing it. (As soon as I have time, I’ll be adding this service to my own website.)

Be on the lookout for another post on my next case study of a small service business and some creative ways we expanded the reach of their market from local to national using a WordPress template.

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