I just had a look over the traffic for the lifetime of this website and the picture it paints is dramatic. The chart is a powerful illustration of the answer to the question, “Why convert a website to WordPress?”
The rest of this post explains the reasons which underly this, and should help you decide whether to consider converting your website to WordPress. In my experience, for most small businesses the answer is a clear yes. I do a lot of such work, and it need not be expensive compared to starting from scratch. If you’re interested after reading, let’s talk.
In this article I’m going to explain why you might want to consider WordPress, even if you have just spent a lot of money getting a beautiful website built using something else. If you are satisfied with the amount of business your website is generating, that’s fantastic. But if not, read on.
No amount of expensive and beautiful designed and branded will attract visitors. And even a beautiful website can be terrible at converting visitors into customers. Worse still, a website created in static HTML, Adobe Flash or even another CMS such as Joomla or Drupal all have major shortcomings that can leave your website an eerie empty store-front. I’ll now explain how converting a website to WordPress can help transform it into a shop busy with potential customers.
The image shows numbers of visitors to theWebalyst.com since launch in January 2009, a shift to steady growth after conversion to WordPress, and a very dramatic rise once I started blogging.
The growth during the WordPress only phase looks small, but it was significant and would be adequate for some businesses. It only looks so small because of the far more rapid growth once I started blogging. To understand why, count how many times I use the word “easy” in the next paragraph.
After I’d converted to WordPress all sorts of things were easy. The rapid growth happened because starting a blog was easy, and a blog made it so easy for me to add pages that people found interesting. The logic is simple: it was easy, so I did it.
The ease that WordPress delivers is the key reason for converting your website to it, as I’ll explain below.
There are many other ways to create a website that looks and works as it should, but all are inferior to WordPress on this key point, and also several other important respects! WordPress reduces the friction involved in every area. That is why it works better. That is why most people need to consider switching from HTML to WordPress, or converting their Flash Websites to WordPress, and even moving from other CMS’s such as Joomla and Drupal to WordPress.
I’ll explain later some reasons why capable and powerful CMS’s such as Joomla and Drupal can still put your business at a disadvantage compared to WordPress.
Converting An HTML Website To WordPress
theWebalyst.com started out as a static website and for several months it got only a handful of visitors each day. After I converted to WordPress it was easy for me to develop it by adding pages about my products and services, and to organise the information clearly. During this period the growth in visitor numbers began, and continued at a steady and significant rate. It looks small on the graph, but it was significant and made the conversion worthwhile.
After a few months I decided to enable the blog feature of WordPress and began my initially amateurish blogging career. In spite of my inexperience, soon afterwards the website experienced a rapid increase in website visitors.
Converting A Flash Website To WordPress
I was recently asked to look at a small business website that is not doing well. It was professionally designed, looks great and has quite a few pages of relevant content, but it is not generating business.
I did a short review and found that it was implemented in Flash which, for me, I take as a warning sign. This is because the only good reason to use Flash these days, would be if some essential feature needed it, and this was clearly not the case. On the other hand, there are lots of reasons for not using Flash if you can possibly avoid it.
Looking at the website for only a few minutes confirmed my expectations—it was done by someone who had failed to match their implementation with the needs of a small business website, and they had overlooked the basic essentials for almost any small business website. There were glaring faults with presentation, usability, navigation, SEO and analytics.
The fact that it was created in Flash was bad for several reasons. One being that it makes it difficult and expensive to change or add features. The client was able to edit the website, but most changes necessitated going back to the designer and paying them more money. This is an unnecessary expense that works for the designer but not for the client. Using Flash also made it difficult to incorporate a blog, so it lacks something that I encourage everyone to have at the ready, even if they aren’t planning on using it.
Why Convert A Website To WordPress?
Converting to WordPress was a great move for me. You can see that from the graph of my website visitors. It worked because WordPress makes things easy, and either free or cheap: setting it up, contact form, maps, newsletter, SEO, updating, blogging. Everything was easy so I did it.
Make anything difficult, even inconvenient, often means that it doesn’t get done. This is called “friction” and it matters. Using WordPress for your website is like adding oil to the engine of your online business.
WordPress is the most popular website content management system (CMS) on the planet for a reason—64% of the top 1 million CMS websites are WordPress websites. The second most popular CMS has only 11% of the top 1 million websites. (Source: Builtwith).
In my experience WordPress is by far the best platform for most small businesses, so it will probably work for you. This is not because of one feature or another, whether you want a blog or not etc. It is the whole package that makes WordPress such a great choice for so many businesses. It is the philosophy, community, low cost of set-up, low cost of ownership, the range of features, the free support, and the fact that there are so many great WordPress developers and designers.
If you have a static HTML website, or Flash website, or a different CMS that doesn’t make things easy, it probably isn’t attracting visitors, or turning visitors into customers, and that is probably because it doesn’t make it easy enough for you to do what you need to do.
I’ll Never Need A Blog So I Don’t Need WordPress
This is sooo wrong! The logic should be the exact opposite: I don’t need a blog so I better use WordPress!
Why? Because if one day you change your mind, and many do when they realise how valuable and fun it can be to write a blog. You don’t have to write often, or particularly well. So if one day you change your mind, you decide you’d like to give it a try and you are running WordPress, no problem! You can have a blog in a few mouse clicks. But if you aren’t running WordPress you’re far less likely to give it a try. You could miss a potential business-saving feature, because it will be time consuming and costly to add it later. What a mistake that would be.
The blogging capability of WordPress is an invaluable cost saving feature, even if you have no plans to use it. Because one day you might want to try it, and the ease of turning on a blog when you feel like it—on an impulse—is one of those little enablers that can helps anyone turn an ordinary website into one that grows and grows its audience. This is one example of the low “friction” of WordPress when you want to update or enhance your website.
I Already Have A CMS—Should I Still Consider WordPress?
Even if your website is built using another capable, well supported and powerful CMS such as Joomla or Drupal, I still recommend that you consider converting to WordPress.
This is because compared to WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are over complicated. I was shocked recently when I went back to do some work on a Joomla website for a client. If you think the WordPress dashboard looks a bit complicated, take a look at Joomla!
There are of course some simpler CMS available. But these lack the user base, the community, and the staying power of WordPress. They also tend to cost money, whereas WordPress, WordPress updates and support are all available free of charge.
All these factors have a direct impact on cost, create risks and make it more difficult to keep your website up to date as things develop. I don’t know of a CMS that can match WordPress on either the essentials needed by a very small business, or the ease and cost effectiveness of scaling from small, to medium, and eventually a large high traffic website.
I don’t recommend WordPress in every case, but for most businesses I’m asked to advise I do conclude that moving to WordPress is the right thing to do. I don’t do this lightly though, because its a painful message to deliver to someone when they’ve already spent a lot with a designer and thought they were getting a great business website. I’m always willing to explain why, and certainly don’t advise it unless I’m convinced it is right for business in question.
Is WordPress Right For My Business?
The only way to answer this is to consult someone who knows the web and what it takes to make a small business website successful. This is what I’ve done for theWebalyst.com, and what I do every day for my clients, including freelancers, therapists, practitioners, charities, clubs and all kinds of other small businesses and organisations.
If this is making you wonder about WordPress, get in touch. I can look at your website and how it is performing in your market, and advise on whether WordPress or some other changes are your best option.
How To Choose A Website Designer
The reason why so many small business websites don’t generate business, is because they were built by the wrong person. It is a mistake to choose your designer solely on the basis of the quality and look of the designs in their portfolio, or indeed on price. But this is all that most people have to go on.
There are two ways to choose the right website designer. A good one is by recommendation, though this is not guarantee and you need to take care when using this method. The other is to do so on your own.
To help you I’ve written a separate guide which explains how to choose a website designer, by recommendation, or on your own. It explains what you need to consider and why.
A word of caution: beware choosing based on design quality alone. Its a trap because…
Great Designers Often Create Rubbish Business Websites
A great web designer knows about design, and can create a website that looks good on the surface, but if the website doesn’t generate business your time and money will have been wasted. To avoid the pitfalls read how to choose a web designer.
What Does It Cost To Convert To WordPress?
Converting an existing website to WordPress is a lot cheaper than starting from scratch because I can use the branding, design and graphics from your existing website. Usually I will also recommend other improvements at the same time, but these often reduce the cost rather than increase it, because complexity is not only expensive but often creates a bad user experience.
Designs based on static HTML and Flash are frequently created by designers who aren’t skilled in other areas such as user experience (UX), usability, conversion, analytics and so on. Because they tend to be older, or built by people who have not kept up with developments, static websites are often built using design and usability principles that are now out of date.
Today a business website needs the ability to evolve and keep up with the rapid pace of change on the web.
For example, by adding social media support when it becomes important to your marketing. Or staying effective on new devices such as mobile phones and tablet computers. In this case there’s a new approach called responsive design that ensures the same website will look great and work properly on a wide variety of screen sizes, without having to abandon what you have already or create many different versions of your website.
WordPress makes it easy and cheap to keep things updated, and to extend and improve your website with additional functionality as and when you need it. This keeps your website competitive and effective at a much reduced cost compared to a static HTML website, a Flash website, or an alternative CMS.
This is why WordPress worked for me, and why it works for so many of the clients I work with. For many I don’t just create a website, I also provide ongoing assistance with online marketing. Maybe I can help you too, with:
Making My Website Work Better
If you have an existing website that isn’t working, and would like me to help you make it successful get in touch.
New Small Business Websites
If you like the sound of me and want a new website, get in touch or take a look at my WordPress Website “Launch” Package