Frequently I come across small business owners who have issues with their website. They find a web designer and then it all goes wrong. The issues I have heard several times over are:
• I cannot update my own website.
• My web designer charges a large fee for updating a little bit of text on the website.
• My web person charges a lot for updating a photo on my website.
I just had a meeting with the owner of language school in Tenerife who is having issues with her website. Her previous website was with WordPress, but because the person who set up the website was French, they used a French WordPress system which the language school owner could not understand and therefore it was difficult for her to make changes to her website.
Now she is with another web person, and it’s another horror story.
What I couldn’t understand was why she couldn’t simply change her WordPress to be displayed in Spanish, and my fears were confirmed when she said her previous French person simply registered a website on www.wordpress.fr – the actual WordPress website.
How does WordPress work?
WordPress started out as a blogging platform on www.wordpress.com many years ago. If you wanted a cheap or – mostly – free website, you would register a sub domain on wordpress.com.
Without getting too technical here, you are “subletting” a bit of free space on the WordPress servers, and they give you a sub domain, i.e. your business name before the wordpress.com bit. It’s like living in an apartment with the number 15, but you live in Flat 2, so it’s 15/F2. The number 15 represents wordpress.com and F2 is your username when you first register on the WordPress website.
WordPress calls this the “user” and you could check if your username was still free. Similarly, if the Flat 2 is still free, you can use it. And as long as you don’t delete it, it’s yours for life, for free. For example, “mybusinessname.wordpress.com”.
For free – sounds appealing to many small businesses starting out, but this can be costly in the future. Also, the 15/F2 doesn’t look professional, on a website, so the small business would buy a domain name, such as www.mybusinessname.com and then point that domain name to mybusinessname.wordpress.com. So in effect, you’re buying a fancy name which disguises the actual address. This is like an address re-direct you can get from your post office if you have moved house. Your proper domain name (www.mybusinessname.com) is your actual address you want the people to use (it’s also easier to remember!), and your content is located on the WordPress Servers under mybusinessname.wordpress.com.
When using the WordPress site on www.wordpress.com, there are some limitations. Mainly, you have no control over which server is used, and if the server is down, your website is down. Things that are cheap or free are usually cheap and free for a reason.
Why are so many people using WordPress for their business website?
WordPress is an Open Source Software. This means it’s continuously developed and improved by many developers around the world. It is then provided as a downloadable zip file to web developers, similar to downloading an App on your phone. The App is downloaded and installed on your phone and you can use it. If you have a fast phone with lots of memory, the app will load quickly, if you have a cheap or old phone, the app might not work or only work very slowly.
If you have no understanding about servers – most people don’t, so don’t worry about it – you’d ask a web developer to provide you with a WordPress website which is hosted on a server that either the web person recommends, or you can choose it yourself. This is where the hosting comes in.
(Very!!) generally speaking, there are two types of hosting: Shared hosting and Business Web Hosting.
You can read about Shared Web Hosting vs Business Web Hosting on this blog post:
Where does WordPress come in?
Your web developer would download the WordPress Software from the WordPress website, and then they install WordPress on either your shared hosting or VPS hosting. It looks identical to the WordPress solution on wordpress.com, but it’s independent from wordpress.com. It’s run on your own server using your terms.
Once WordPress is installed, the language can be changed in a matter of seconds. If your WordPress was installed in English, a little switch can change it to German, or Spanish, or one of the many other languages it was translated to.
What’s the best way forward if you want to use WordPress?
If you want to use WordPress for your website, then speak to a web designer (like us) and take out hosting with a reputable hosting company (like us). We can install WordPress for you and you can then build a very sophisticated website.
Do not go to WordPress.com and register on the platform. It’s meant for bloggers, but not businesses.