WordPress is one of the most popular solutions for blogging. What people don’t know is that WordPress self hosted is the best solution for building a standalone SOHO / SME company website. We recently finished the migration of the mmCHANNEL company website from an in-house developed website (using PHP, etc) to single install, self hosted WordPress installaton.
There has been some times when I felt that maybe WordPress wasn’t right, but overall it’s going great and the results are visible!
Why change to WordPress?
Convincing the team we had to change was easier than trying to decide how to vote at a national general election. The key criteria for choosing WordPress over other solutions (Drupal, Joomla, Do Nothing, Build It Again In-house) came down to a few points:
- Low effort and zero cost – it was to be a quick win change and reduce the on-going effort
- Features – it had to offer lots of features for a social media marketing organisation
- Visual Style – it had to support themes and have something really great to show off
Reduced Effort and Zero Cost Deployment
WordPress can be installed easily and comes with many configurable plugins. Thus reducing the migration effort. Drupal and other options would have had a steeper learning curve than we could afford and would have meant involving more of our technical resources.
WordPress plugins now have a one click install, so we could use Google Analytics, apply SEO tools & techniques and integrate with our ZOHO CRM and Mailchimp setup. Look at my list of Top 9 WordPress plugins to get you started
Here any build it yourself website would not have been easy and Drupal and Joomla involve some ‘tinkering’ under the hood with FTP etc. Using WordPress meant we didn’t have to worry about IP management, firewalls and secure access as much. I can add a new plugin at any time so long as I can login to the Admin site.
Show-off WordPress Theme with a great Visual style
We wanted a visually rich theme (thanks Woothemes) and as we are a social media company it was important to show we can create our website with popular web2.0 tools and integrate with Twitter, Tweetmeme.
After looking at dozens of WordPress theme websites we knew we had to chose a cool magazine theme and we decided it had to have a featured post panel. The featured panel is to show off not the newest news but selected posts. There were a few options that featured the newest post. Newer themes also used a Feature Category which Woothemes don’t.
Woothemes creations are brilliant and the new Custom Navigation Menu option was another solution that sticks out … I’ve applied it on this site too. Using the Wootheme Custom Nav means I can hide pages I don’t want in the menu structure and show only relevant Categories.
Issues & Hiccups
There were a couple of hiccups that took time to resolve and a number of little things that worry me.
PHP related issues – we quickly ran out of memory allocated for PHP and WordPress. We still have a problem with upload filesize limitations
Apache related issues – we found that the server had a number of modules not enabled for URL rewrite (important for SEO) and image galleries
WWW, Performance and Permissions – we found it problematic to get the permissions set just right. The server is locked down to prevent external access and I’m based in the UK. Then a recent problem with our ISP needed a reconfiguration of the DNS which blocked access to Admin pages for a number of days
Forms and integration with MailChimp and Zoho CRM – I’m not a programmer, I have forms that submit user messages or details directly to our cloud based ZOHO CRM SaaS. However I can’t make my forms work correctly still and Zoho doesn’t like my field names.
Silly things – I want lots of plugins, but worry it will cause memory issues. There are lots of posts about having too many or just a minimal set of plugins! So here again is a shameless link to 9 WordPress Plugins you should consider.
Multi-Users, Social Networks and e-commerce – I think I should have installed WordPress MU (multi-user) so we can have better segmented or themed blogs. I also didn’t consider the need for clients to register and create a profile or logged in section for them. I can’t use BuddyPress as Woothemes don’t support that yet.
Different Templates and Themes for Different Pages – I want to create new templates with different looks so that landing pages can be just that little bit brighter. This will come in the next version of the website.
Finished Results and a Measure of Success
Prior to migration we didn’t have any statistics tracking our website usage – we now have Google Analytics and primarily use Analytics360 from Mailchimp as it shows us key events like blog posts, email campaigns, and integrates with Google Analytics as well inside WordPress.
Success – hmm we now are running an Adwords campaign, building landing pages and doing more for SEO. We are ranking better under our own company name and number one on certain keywords that we were targetting.
Success is … the feeling that inbound marketing strategy is now generating new leads, which means one less outbound cold call a day!