For many business owners, getting a company website up and running can be a task more daunting than buying a car. From the breadth of options, floods of qualified (and unqualified) developers, and price points ranging from a few bucks a month to thousands up front; many business owners are often scared to make the leap into cyberspace because it literally is a whole different realm than the physical world. Although in the past brushing off this trend used to be acceptable, today having a website is a must for any business who wants to survive in today’s increasingly connected culture.
While the reasons for getting a website are too numerous to discuss in depth, overall they all revolve around the fact that a website allows you to present your website to literally anyone in the world. Rather than limiting your clientele to just nearby towns, you can go national or even global if desired. One of my former brick & mortar clients actually has a storefront located in a small village; however their online sales on average gross well over triple the amount of in store revenue. Just a quick disclaimer – my client uses very extensive SEO marketing to the point they are paying thousands per month – so while a website is far from a quick fix for declining sales, if used properly it can greatly help customers better interact with your company.
When it comes to websites, there are literally hundreds of solutions out there, however as a web developer for many of my clients who are just starting out, I always use WordPress because it packs stability, security, a support community of literally thousands of developers all in a simple to use package which is so efficient that it can be priced as a relatively low cost solution which can be modified to fit literally anything you need.
From eCommerce, social networking capabilities, blogging, multimedia websites, and much more – WordPress can handle virtually any task thrown at it. While pricing depends heavily on your project when going with a professional developer, you can give WordPress a try for free at WordPress.com
Although WordPress is one of the top options, not everyone wants to pay the price for a fully tailored solution. To fill the void, there are numerous “Instant Website” offerings on the market, however such offerings are often littered with crippled offerings that provide users with cookie cutter websites which are essentially skeletons of code filled with copy. Additionally, since the offerings typically use butchered code, if you decide to switch vendors down the road, quite often you are forced to start from scratch.
Fortunately, there is an alternative that provides a bridge between the power and flexibility of WordPress and the pricing of a budget website builder. The solution is Light CMS and it is a website system which allows you to have a website ready for content in literally a few clicks. Prices range from free to $99/month with the main difference between plans being the maximum number of pages.
In a nutshell, Light CMS stands out from the other instant website makers because it uses standardized code (i.e. no vendor lock in), a wide array of tools which fit right into their suite (e.g. eCommerce, Blogs, Statistics, etc.), and all the capabilities enabled on the free plan.
When using Light CMS, you simply pick a template and use the control panel to change the design – a process similar to WordPress – however as Light CMS is self-contained, you don’t have to worry about technical configurations and server setups.
While Light CMS might seem like a WordPress killer, one of the biggest tradeoffs is that with WordPress you can have as many pages on your website as you want, whereas on Light CMS, for unlimited pages, you have to pay for the $69/month plan – a price much higher than many other hosting companies. Additionally the simplicity of Light CMS is a double edged sword because while you are able to add features instantly, you are limited to the toolbox provided by Light CMS whereas with WordPress you literally have an ecosystem of thousands of plugins which can complete your site.
In conclusion, I believe both WordPress and Light CMS are excellent website tools which fill different voids. For a business just starting out and with light needs, I highly suggest Light CMS for at least a starter website which can be upgraded down the road. On the other hand, for companies that want total control and who need power or advanced features, WordPress is the best route.