Are you considering using WordPress as the platform for your business website? Perhaps you are unhappy with the cost or performance of your current website? Maybe you have heard great things about the popularity of WordPress among businesses of all sizes.
Whatever your reason for visiting this page, you will find everything you need to know about WordPress as it applies to businesses. We look at the huge role WordPress is playing in today’s enterprise landscape and the reasons why businesses use the platform.
Next, we bust some stubborn but inaccurate myths about WordPress (including the bizarre idea that big brands don’t use it).
Following that, we look at the part played by WordPress themes (professional WordPress templates) in shaping the appearance and function of WordPress sites, taking a deep dive into one industry in particular: real estate.
Before we get started on the meat of this article it is worth taking a moment to understand the dominance WordPress has in the content management system (CMS) marketplace. As of July 2019, the figures from W3Techs show that WordPress is used by over 34% of all websites, a market share of over 60%. To put that into perspective, second-placed Joomla is used by under 3% of websites on the internet. This works out as a CMS market share of 5%.
Let’s get started by looking at some more statistics. Then we can investigate some of the reasons behind WordPress’s incredible success in becoming the world’s most popular platform for building high-quality websites.
The Stats That Prove WordPress Is Crucial For Business Success
The numbers don’t lie!
If the huge market share above hasn’t convinced you about the importance of WordPress to today’s online businesses, here are some further impressive statistics.
The CMS of choice for millions
According to Built With, WordPress is the content management system (CMS) of choice for:
- Nearly 25 million of all websites with a CMS (53%)
- Over 325,000 of the top million websites (33%)
- Nearly 36,000 of the top 100,000 websites (36%)
- Over 3,750 of the top 10,000 websites (38%)
According to ManageWP, an impressive 22% of all freshly bought US domains choose to use WordPress so the growth potential is huge.
Millions of people are searching for WordPress
Another way to assess the popularity of a CMS is to see how much interest it is attracting via internet searches and compare this with competitors. It turns out that WordPress is an extremely popular search term, attracting 2,740,000 searches per month on its own (ignoring common variations such as WP). This search volume compares favorably with Joomla (2,240,000) and Drupal (just 165,000). This also gives an indication of how much support is out there since there are numerous blog posts, forums and courses dedicated solely to WordPress.
WordPress can be translated into hundreds of languages
In an increasingly global world, WordPress is also working hard to translate its platform into as many languages as possible. Over 100 languages are now catered for, with 47 completely up to date with the latest version of WordPress. If you are running a multi-national business or are situated in an obscure part of the world, you and your teams should be able to work with WordPress in whatever language is most comfortable.
If your language is not one of the 100+ in active translation, you could even get someone from your team to join the WordPress translation project.
Plenty of development support – but how much does it cost?
Are you planning on hiring a WordPress developer to work on your website full time? Or will you rely on your in-house team, perhaps outsourcing certain projects?
Looking at the latest research from Kinsta, you can get insight into how much you will need to budget for this.
To save you the work, the average US salary for a WordPress developer comes out at $63,348. For freelance work, the picture is less clear due to a large number of freelancing platforms and the wide range of price points. The only thing to say for certain is that you should find what you need somewhere within the $15 to $60 per hour range.
There will be a plugin for that!
Businesses have always valued WordPress for its extensive library of plugins. These enable business owners to extend the functionality of their website by adding features such as social media feeds, event calendars, sliders, enhanced security, layout organizers and more. There are now over 54,000 plugins available from the WordPress directory and many more third-party plugins.
The top three most downloaded plugins of all time (as of 2018) are Yoast SEO (183.5 million downloads), Akismet anti-spam (141 million) and the multi-purpose plugin Jetpack (134 million).
Quarterly major updates (and all that jazz)
The team behind WordPress are constantly sending out minor updates. Besides that, major versions are released roughly every four months. A quirk of WordPress is that all major updates are named after jazz musicians. For example, version 5.2, released in May 2019, was named after Jaco Pastorius.
There is even a detailed tracking page so business owners can keep up to date with progress towards the next version.
8 Reasons to use WordPress for YOUR business websites
So far we’ve given you a broad insight into the popularity of WordPress and a few reasons behind it. In this section we look deeper into those reasons:
It’s free to use and modify
First, please don’t make the mistake of confusing the free use of the WordPress code and CMS with hosting a website via Wordpress.com. Yes, you could pay to have WordPress.com host your website but we don’t recommend it for business purposes.
We are talking about the fact that it is 100% free to download and install the WordPress source code and CMS on your own hosting package. This immediately lifts WordPress above Wix, Weebly, Duda and – yes – WordPress.com WordPress is also free in another sense. You can do what you like with the codebase in order to customize it to your needs. The code is open source which means the creators have given the community freedom to use the code via a special license. The license includes ‘four freedoms’:
You can find out more about the WordPress philosophy here: https://wordpress.org/about/philosophy/
It’s easy to customize using themes and plugins
While themes enable you to customize the look and basic features of your website, plugins allow you to add extra features and fine tune existing ones. Together, these features of WordPress will help most webmasters create the precise website they need. All this without touching a line of code.
While WordPress includes plenty of free themes and plugins within its directory (accessed via the main dashboard), there is no need to stop there. There are plenty of third party theme libraries and freelancers offering both free and premium WordPress themes and plugins. Just be sure you use a trusted source to avoid any security issues.
The best WordPress themes and plugins can turn your WordPress site into anything you want: blog, corporate website, membership site, artist’s portfolio… You can even transform WordPress into an eCommerce store using WordPress eCommerce themes running the popular Woocommerce plugin or similar.
Some of the hundreds of features you can add via plugins are social media share buttons; security enhancements; contact forms; event calendars; image galleries; sliders; maps; custom layouts; SEO assistance, analytics and many, many, more. Whatever industry you are in (sports, real estate, law, healthcare, etc.) you are bound to find themes and plugins tailor-made for your sector.
It’s simple to manage
At this stage, you might be wondering how complicated this is all going to be to manage. The answer is: not complicated at all for someone with a reasonable amount of computer literacy.
WordPress magic happens via the back-end dashboard. Once you’ve installed your WordPress site you will receive an email with your login credentials. These details, an internet connection and a web browser are all you need to access the dashboard and make any additions or changes to your site; there are even mobile apps and multisite managers if you need them, to help make your life easier.
WordPress recognizes that most business websites will be accessed by various different people. WordPress includes various user access roles giving business owners tight control over what employees can and can’t do on the site. There are plugins (of course) to add or customize user roles.
The user-friendly WordPress dashboard will become familiar in no time and looks basically the same no matter what theme you use.
Its search engine friendly
WordPress is known for its clean, compliant code and its search-engine friendly structure. Matt Cutts, former search expert at Google, once went as far as to endorse WordPress for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
You may have noticed from the section above that the most popular WordPress plugin of all is Yoast SEO. Yoast’s plugin is very intuitive and uses a traffic light system and plenty of customizable fields to help analyze and improve your site’s SEO.
The Yoast plugin on the WordPress platform is frankly dynamite when it comes to search engine optimization!
It’s safe and secure – just keep on top of updates!
With a platform as popular as WordPress, it is natural that cybercriminals will want to exploit it for financial gain or to cause disruption. Therefore, it is no more surprising that WordPress is the most hacked CMS as it is that Microsoft Windows is the most hacked operating system.
What the critics don’t mention is that WordPress is also the most competently defended CMS with a huge community of mostly decent people monitoring the code for vulnerabilities and supporting the WordPress team in shoring up the defenses via patches. What this does mean is that following good practice by promptly applying updates is critical with WordPress.
Minor updates, which often contain security patches, are automatically applied but you will normally need to click a dashboard link to apply major updates. This makes sense because while most major updates cause no issues, there is the potential of conflict with themes, plugins and configurations. By backing up your current site (yes, there’s a plugin for that!) you can go ahead and click the upgrade without fear. If there are issues you then simply revert to the previous version and continue with that until you find a workaround (new theme or plugin, some reconfiguration, additional code, etc.)
So to sum up, WordPress is safe, secure and defended but you must always respond to update prompts as a matter of urgency. It is a good idea to set a schedule of checking for updates you may have missed on a weekly basis. This is especially useful if you run multiple WordPress sites.
It can handle all types of media
The core WordPress installation includes a media manager through which you can upload photographs, illustrations, videos, audio recordings, documents (including PDFs), spreadsheets, presentations and more.
These can then be added to posts, pages and widgets as needed or you can use the auto-generated URL to link to the media. You are even able to crop and resize images directly from the WordPress media manager prior to posting them.
It has excellent social media support and is mobile friendly
Integrating your website with your social media platforms is simple with WordPress. Some themes will come with their own social media integration options but there are also plenty of plugins which will enable you to add share buttons, feeds and other features.
If your website has a blog, you can also use plugins or third-party platforms to help you schedule posts. Hootsuite is a popular platform for this purpose while Jetpack includes automatic social media posting with the free version of its plugin (Jetpack is included with all new WordPress installations).
WordPress itself and the vast majority of themes are responsive, meaning the display and some of the functions will adapt to suit the device the user is using (mobile, desktop, laptop, iPad, etc.) Since most internet users connect via a mobile device, this is crucial.
You are not alone – ever!
While most business owners will be able to handle the bulk of website management and maintenance tasks themselves, there is likely to be the odd occasion where you don’t know how to proceed.
Since WordPress is both popular and open source, there are literally thousands of people out there with the knowledge and access to help those who are struggling. In addition to the official and non-official forums, there are also specialist WordPress blogs such as WP Beginner, WPMU Dev and WPHUB.
Extremely Famous Brands Using WordPress
We are now going to be looking at busting some common myths about WordPress in the next section but first we want to focus on one of the most inaccurate myths of all: the idea that big businesses don’t use WordPress.
Nothing could be further from the truth as you will soon find out. Dozens of the biggest brands on the planet use WordPress as a content management system (CMS).
Here is a selection of just a few, broken down into different categories:
News and information brands using WordPress
- BBC America
- Bloomberg Pro
- Chicago Sun Times
- Facebook Newsroom
- Harvard Gazette
- Microsoft News
- MTV News
- National Geographic
- National Post
- New York Observer
- New York Post
- New York Times
- New Yorker
- People Magazine
- Thought Catalog
- Time Inc.
- USA Today
- Wall Street Journal Law Blog
Entertainment brands using WordPress
- Angry Birds
- Sony Music
- Star Wars
- Vogue India
- Walking Dead
Corporate brands using WordPress
- CBS Local
- IBM Jobs Blog
- Marks & Spencer
- Mercedes-Benz International
- Target (Pulse)
Government/Nonprofits using WordPress
- The Obama Foundation
- Rotary Club
Celebrity brands using WordPress
- Justin Bieber
- Katy Perry
- Usain Bolt
- Rolling Stones
- Snoop Dogg
- Wil Wheaton
While some of the brands listed above do use managed versions of WordPress such as WordPress VIP, others use the same self-hosted version popular with countless SMEs across the world.
How to tell whether a website uses WordPress?
The websites listed above were using WordPress at the time this article was written but of course this can change. If you want to find out what CMS any website is using, visit www.whatcms.org and enter the website URL in the field provided. www.builtwith.com offers a more in-depth view of the different technologies a site uses but you only have five free look-ups a day. Now we have hopefully laid to rest that one stubborn piece of fake news, it’s time to move on to some more enduring myths.
Most Common WordPress Myths
WordPress is only a blogging tool
This is an understandable myth since WordPress started off as a blogging platform which could be integrated with a website.
However, those days are long gone and WordPress now combines the functions of a content management system (CMS) and a website builder. Consequently, you can now build any website you want using WordPress software: a corporate website, ecommerce site (see the next myth!), online magazine, artists’ portfolio, etc.
WordPress hasn’t forgotten its roots though. Its structure is built around webpages and blog-style posts so if you want to use it for blogging or to add a blog to your website you can do this easily.
WordPress doesn’t support e-commerce
There is one simple statistic that should blow this myth right out of the water. As of July 2019, Woocommerce was used by 9% of websites with a CMS. This beats Shopify (2.9%), Magento (1.6%) and Bigcommerce (0.4%), all seen as ecommerce specialists.
For those who don’t know, Woocommerce is actually a free WordPress plugin. Sites that use Woocommerce include the leading affiliate marketplace Clickbank. Woocommerce was also, at the time of writing, the second fastest growing CMS of all, which brings us nicely to the third myth.
WordPress may not be around for long
Those people who say that WordPress has no future may not have seen the latest figures from W3Techs. As of June 2019, WordPress was adding an average of around 480 new websites to its portfolio followed by Woocommerce, the WordPress ecommerce plugin with 210 new websites daily. In third place was Shopify with around 115 daily sites added.
One of the reasons why WordPress has a strong future is that it is developed by a community of thousands which support its in-house team. It is also the technology behind millions of websites, including a huge number of business sites. There is simply no reason to think such a thriving project is likely to die anytime soon.
WordPress is insecure
We’ve covered this earlier in the article so only need to summarize here. WordPress is unsurprisingly a target for hackers and due to its huge market share, breaches quickly make the news. However, most vulnerabilities are caused by webmasters failing to keep WordPress and its plugins and themes updated.
There is an army of WordPress community members monitoring the codebase and working with WordPress to secure any holes. The part of the webmaster is to apply the major updates promptly. Other advice includes:
- Obtaining an SSL certificate and installing an SSL plugin (e.g. Really Simple SSL). This will encrypt communications to and from your web server.
- Deleting inactive plugins.
- Replacing plugins and themes that are no longer being updated.
- Using strong passwords.
- Adding extra security measures via plugins (firewalls, limited login attempts, etc.)
If you follow this good practice, you will have little to worry about from cybercriminals.
WordPress is free so must be of poor quality
This is another myth that arises when people think that WordPress is run by a single team who are not being paid well for their time. In fact, the open-source, developer-friendly codebase is what draws thousands of talented developers to the WordPress project.
Millions of websites are built using WordPress and a glance through the famous brands list presented earlier in the article should convince all but the stubborn few that WordPress is a high quality option for any website.
WordPress won’t be suitable for high-traffic sites
As with all websites, the ability to handle large volumes of web traffic mainly falls to the servers on which the website files are hosted. For example, if you are hosting your WordPress site in the cloud, your website can scale to an unlimited degree.
The limiting factor when it comes to traffic is not WordPress but your hosting package. For example, if your website becomes extremely popular, you may need to upgrade to a dedicated server.
This is nothing to do with WordPress which, as the famous brands list should show you, can process huge amounts of traffic.
Too many plugins will slow down your WordPress website
This is a common myth and has a basis in fact. If all of the plugins you choose for your website perform a lot of complex functions, there can be performance issues.
However, it is far more common for a poorly coded plugin to be the source of a noticeable slowdown in page load time. It is perfectly normal to have a lot of plugins active on a WordPress website and 20 or 30 well-built ones will have far less of an impact than one badly coded one. In short, quality overrides quantity in the importance of plugin choice!
Introducing WordPress Themes:
A WordPress theme is a set of files which determines how your webpages will be structured and how they will appear to your visitors. There are thousands upon thousands of themes to choose from. Some are written by the WordPress team themselves and others by Automattic, the team behind WordPress.com and plugins such as Woocommerce, Gravatar and Akismet. Then there are those third party developers who have made their themes available via the WordPress theme directory. Finally, we have those talented theme developers who sell or give away their creations on commercial theme marketplaces.
Some facts about popular WordPress themes
Here are some fascinating facts about WordPress themes:
- 93% of WordPress themes are responsive.
- With over 11,000 themes available, ThemeForest is the biggest of the theme marketplaces. Here is a review of what it’s like as an author working with ThemeForest.
- WordPress is responsible for 80% of ThemeForest’s business; another reason why developers are committed to the WordPress project.
- The most popular theme sold through ThemeForest is Avada. This is a Premium theme currently costing $60. It has been bought over 520,000 times.
- According to recent research from Built With, the three most used themes are Genesis Framework (StudioPress), Divi (Elegant Themes) and Avada (ThemeFusion). These themes are installed in over 35,000 of the top million WordPress sites (although, arguably, Genesis doesn’t count as a theme as it is a framework with its own set of themes).
- Twenty Seventeen is the most popular of the free WordPress themes, installed in over 3,500 of the top million websites.
How to choose the best WordPress theme for your next project
It’s important not to just rush into choosing the theme for your business website. Although it is usually straightforward to change themes it is better to spend time finding one you will stick with. The more you customize your theme with plugins and, perhaps, changes to the code, the more tricky it can become to change themes later.
Here are some things to consider when selecting your WordPress theme:
- Write down a list of features. Divide your list into two columns: essential and desired features. Your chosen theme should contain all of the essentials and as many of the desirables as practical.
- Less is usually more. There are two main reasons why you should aim for simplicity: page load time and user experience. It may seem fun to embed some arcade games or add cool music to your website but these heavy bandwidth features can cause traffic issues and slow your website down. If there are too many options to choose and paths to follow your target audience are also likely to get confused and frustrated.
- Balance design and function. While it is important to choose a theme that is eye-catching and attractive, your visitor also needs to find the information they need and complete the tasks they arrived to do. Make sure your theme allows you to structure your website in a logical way while still looking fresh and dynamic. Your theme should also be responsive so that it works across devices.
- Choose colors and fonts wisely. Some themes restrict color choice which can be a problem when it comes to tying your theme into your logo and brand color scheme. Ideally, you should be able to enter the precise six-number hexadecimal code for any color fields. This will ensure colors are ‘web safe’ and don’t slow your website down. It is also good to have a wide selection of fonts to choose from. Make sure that you think about readability and cater for people with poor vision if you can.
- Check compatibility with popular plugins. Most top rated WordPress themes will be compatible with a wide range of plugins. If you find that there are problems using some of the most popular and established plugins (e.g. Akismet, Yoast SEO, Contact Forms 7, etc.), this is a red flag as it suggests there are issues with the theme’s code.
- Consider upgrading to a premium theme. Many free WordPress themes have a premium upgrade option. This is usually worth considering because free themes may only be supported for a limited time, raising security concerns.
- Test, test, test. Your customers won’t be happy if they encounter bugs while trying to use your website. Make sure you look at every post and page during testing. Try out every menu option and utilize every plugin to make sure everything is functional before launch. Don’t stop with your home web browser and PC! Check your website using different browsers (Safari, Edge, Chrome, etc.) and various devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop, PC, etc.)
Browsers usually include a developers’ tools option so you can test different browsers and devices from the convenience of your own PC. Google also offers a free tool which will assess how well your website performs on mobile devices and provide a rendered image.
Multi-purpose WordPress Themes are in Demand: Here’s why!
At this point, we can sometimes read many web developers’ minds. Do I really have to go through this entire process every time I have a new client?
Rather than slow down their workflow in this way, many designers now choose to have a small number of trusted multi-purpose WordPress themes in their toolbox. Multi-purpose themes, as the name suggests, are designed to be flexible enough to cater for many different business types while still containing enough customization to ensure no two websites look remotely the same.
Multi-purpose WordPress sites are often broken down into a few sub-categories. After all, the digital marketing requirements for a stage magician will be very different to those of an insurance company or a shoe shop.
Let’s look at some real world examples of how this works.
Illustrating the power of multi-purpose themes with Nexa Themes
Nexa Themes are a selection of multi-purpose themes broken down into various sub-categories aimed at different occupation and industry types. Three of these categories include Inspire, Build and Lead.
Nexa Inspire: The Inspire sub-category from Nexa Themes is aimed mainly at individual entertainers such as actors, interior designers, magicians, singers, coaches, martial arts teachers and professional speakers.
Features included in Nexa Inspire include easy social media integration, high-resolution image capability and multi-lingual translation. Many individuals promote themselves via social media which is why it is important to connect their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram profiles to their professional website (which acts as a hub for agents to use for securing serious gigs).
Individuals, especially artists, designers and models, have to come across well visually so it is imperative that their website is capable of rendering professionally created images without performance or rendering issues.
Many speakers, models and actors work across the globe. This is why Nexa Inspire has included the PolyLang plugin for seamless translation capability including to RTL language formats.
Nexa Build: Nexa Build is aimed at companies, both bricks and mortar businesses such as restaurants and real estate firms and online companies and entrepreneurs.
The handy four-column layout is useful for presenting a full range of options to customers. Taking the Nexa Build – Restaurant theme as an example, you can showcase your unique dishes and industry awards while pointing customers the way towards booking a table or accessing your special offers.
Mailchimp integration helps to connect the restaurant to their customers via embedded subscription forms and automated newsletter campaigns.
Nexa Lead: Nexa Lead is ideal for professional service providers such as consultants, architects and lawyers, helping them to connect with and convert the leads which are the lifeline of their success.
These themes are available via the Fortune Creations theme marketplace and were retailing at $19 at the time of writing. By visiting the Nexa Themes page you can click on each theme and instantly try out a demo on your browser.
If you have a little more money to spend and want to explore further afield, alternatives to Nexus Themes include Uncode from Undsgn and Jevelin from Shufflehound.
Real Estate WP Themes
We will finish this WordPress business guide by going into a little more depth on a specific vertical: retail. This will give developers and retail agents alike an insight into how multipurpose WordPress themes can be used to create a bespoke website while saving time and effort.
First, is it necessary for a realtor to have a website at all?
Why would a realtor, agent or property manager need a website?
According to the National Association of Realtors, 47% of Gen X homebuyers looked online first for their home. This figure is only going to go in one direction with the more tech savvy Millennial and Gen Z demographics. In fact, over 80% of older Millennials used a mobile real estate web app to track down their dream home.
Those realtors without an attractive, functional, mobile responsive website will simply lose out to the competition. Better still, they should have a website built that is specific to their needs.
What does a decent real estate website look like?
eBizMBA have revealed the top three real estate websites of 2019. They are:
With the exception of Yahoo!, which draws upon Zillow to attract homebuyers, these are characterized by eye-catching design and powerful search functionality.
The good news is that any real estate business, no matter how small, can create an equally professional real estate website with the power of WordPress.
How to create a real estate website with WordPress
For realtors, agents or property managers looking to build a real estate website from scratch they can do so without paying thousands of dollars to developers.
They will need five things: somewhere to host their website files (a hosting package); an online name (domain name); a website builder platform (WordPress); a real estate theme and relevant real estate plugins.
Hosting. All websites, no matter what platform they are built on, require hosting. There are many hosting providers that will provide a good service without breaking the bank. Some web-hosts specialize in WordPress hosting. For example, Bluehost currently have a deal whereby they are offering a free SSL certificate and domain name plus big discounts on hosting.
Domain name. A domain name (e.g. https://fortune-creations.com/ ) is the means by which browsers are directed to the server on which your files are held. Clearly, all real estate websites require a domain name.
Website builder. While WordPress is not the only website builder it is, as explained in this article, the most popular. It has the advantages of being free, open source and supported by a huge community of developers.
Real estate theme. To appeal to people looking to buy or rent a home, your website will need to be customized to reflect their priorities. It should have a simple design, be mobile responsive and enable a fast, accurate property search function. As the best real estate WordPress themes are image-heavy you will need to replace the stock images with real ones of your own.
Real estate plugins. As explained above, plugins extend the function of your website. Some real estate themes will include real estate specific plugins along with the installation. Others will rely on you to locate and install the plugins but should be able to integrate with them.
Most real estate websites will be compatible with IDX based plugins such as dsIDXpress. IDX is a technology which allows listings from different multi-listing services (MLS) to be displayed on a website.
Real estate WordPress themes by Fortune Creations
If you are looking for a specific real estate theme for your website, here are three which you can purchase via the Fortune Creations marketplace.
HomeFinder. This real estate theme is for realtors, agents and property managers who need to list multiple properties. It includes the popular WPBakery page builder; custom maps; opt-in form integration and video tutorials. Home-seekers can filter their results by purpose (rent or buy), number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, location and more. There is even a price slider so searchers can limit results according to their budget.
VillaEstate. This is a single property real estate theme. It incorporates the WP Quick Booking plugin (normally $25) and Revolution Slider (normally $19) for displaying images effectively. VillaEstate is dsIDXpress ready.
PrimeVilla. This is another single property real estate theme. All three of these Fortune Creations themes include a huge range of features and assets to help you create the site you or your clients demand.
Are you ready to create?
Real estate is just one vertical that WordPress can help you or your clients to dominate without spending thousands of dollars on web development. Most importantly, you can apply the same steps to your industry using the power of multipurpose WordPress themes.
Good luck in your future business!