5 Reasons why a WordPress blog may be just what your small business needs

More and more individuals, businesses and nonprofits are turning to WordPress for off-the-rack small website solutions, and it’s so easy to see why. This long established blogging engine has added loads of features and functionality that make it a perfect marriage between website and blog: what’s not to like?

WordPress.com in particular offers a great low-cost way for a small business or nonprofit looking to establish a flexible and easy to update web presence. If you don’t require heavy design customization (though this is possible too, for more upfront investment), a WordPress site is a dream come true.

Five reasons why you might consider building your website using WordPress:

1. Control over your own content – this has got to be the single biggest selling factor for anyone who has ever been trapped in an expensive maintenance relationship for a custom website. Sure, if you have the budget and are happy to outsource your updating, using a web developer to maintain your site may be a good fit (we still have many clients who like to go this route), but for many small business owners, that kind of arrangement can be too cumbersome and too expensive. A WordPress site with a seriously simple interface that makes it easy to add, remove and edit pages; upload images (for single use or the creation of galleries), PDFs or sound files; share your latest news through the creation of new blog posts; as well as to change design elements and other site features, is just what the doctor ordered.

2. Widgets and cool functionality – A lot of clients don’t know what I’m talking about when I mention “widgets”. These are just site features that give you great control and flexibility with the content that you serve up and where you place it. A menu of site pages, lists of categories, links to or even direct feeds from other blogs or sites, graphics, and much more is included in the list of “widgets” that can enhance your site for a paltry fraction of the cost that it would cost to implement on a custom website.

3. Searchability – Blogs by their very nature are incredibly searchable, by which I mean that they are indexed and served up in search engine results very quickly. This means you can try out terms and phrases and quickly get a sense of the kind of traffic they might generate, and generally get your word out there on the internet. If “being found” on the internet is important to you, a blogging engine is a great starting point. WordPress also includes some simple but nice features to help you track visits to your site, including referring sites and the terms that people used to find you. Oh, and they make it incredibly easy to enable visitors to share your site and its resources with their networks through the most popular current social media and sharing engines such as Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc.

4. Tech trends – Being part of a large community like WordPress.com means that you’ll always be in touch and, to a degree, on top of current trends in technology. An example of this is the WordPress feature that allows you to easily generate an iPad version of your site. And let’s not forget those social media sharing options I just mentioned above. If something good on the technology front emerges that WordPress feels is essential to its platform, you’ll suddenly find that you just have it – that’s incredible compared to having to pay for similar upgrades to a custom site.

5. Cost – For a new or small business, or many nonprofits with limited budgets, WordPress.com (the free WordPress option) can seem heaven-sent. If you’re not averse to advertisements potentially appearing on your site (this becomes more likely the more popular your site becomes), you can have a WordPress site entirely for free. For a small fee, you have the option to nix any ads.

In our experience, many small business owners who are up to their ears in their own activities are really drawn to our start-up package: for a day of our time, we can register their site, establish a template and create the site, set up all permanent pages and populate them with content, and generally get the site ready for handover to the client. We also include a brief orientation session and support to make sure the client is comfortable with using the WordPress dashboard to maintain the site on their own, and can deal with the pointing of custom domain names. After that, it’s really clear sailing with a site that has no real running costs apart from the time involved for the client to make updates.

Recent WordPress sites for small business clients of Foil Media
Two recent examples of small businesses for whom we’ve offered this service:

JB Arts is a new arts studio in Almonte offering art classes, summer camps, birthday parties and much more.
Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream is lovingly made by Pascale Berthiaume of Ottawa. It has quickly become a success story on the local food scene.

Check out these sites to see some of the ways you can make a WordPress site work for you. We’d love to help you find out more.

Website design: why pay more?

Or how much does Ottawa website design cost anyway?

I like this question, because it can be interpreted in a number of different ways.

Take 1 – Website design: why pay more?

Quality is the short answer, but you probably knew that. Foil Media has been delivering high quality, custom websites to clients mainly in Ottawa and the greater National Capital Region, as well other parts of Canada and overseas for more than six years and has team experience in managing and building websites totalling much more than that.

For a business or nonprofit looking for a polished and professional look and feel, as well as a wide range of functionality that may encompass database-driven or dynamic elements, forms, members’ areas, content management systems and more, a customized website offers a great deal of control. The mainstream tools that we use (primarily Adobe Dreamweaver and CSS, Cold Fusion and MS SQL) also ensure longevity and technical support.

Take 2 – Website design: why pay more?

Experience and expertise are things that far too many people wanting to have a website designed and built overlook, often unintentionally. The field of “web designers” is very crowded, and grew even more so in Ottawa and the region recently when other parts of the IT sector had to downsize. In truth, only a relatively small group of these offer the level of experience and expertise needed to deliver exceptional websites.

We know from long experience that our “take” on website design is quite unique and that we offer knowledge, skills and experience that is in short supply. We have a keen interest in business analysis and understanding deeply what our clients do so that we can make the best suggestions and recommendations for their website developments. We come equipped with big ears for listening and lots of ideas that our clients appreciate.

We like to ask “what if?” questions and really help clients to imagine their needs now and into the future. We like to take the time to figure out how they will want to manage updating of their site so that we build the site in the most appropriate (and cost effective) way. Anyone who understands the value of getting things right appreciates this approach.

Take 3 – Website design: why pay more?

Inexpensive CMS and blogging platforms have made it possible to build fresh, streamlined websites for much less than a custom built website. This is good and a great alternative for small businesses, nonprofits and others with big ideas but modest budgets. We’re in the midst of building a fresh and fun new website in WordPress for a small but very successful food-based Ottawa business that we’ll be launching shortly.

If talk of paying more for custom design scares you, fear not – there are ways to build and maintain websites that will yield a nice degree of quality and control without the high cost. It all depends on what you need, where you are going and how you want to get there.

We can help; give us a shout to discuss your website project.