A WordPress Profile AKA Should I have chosen WordPress?

Is there a ‘best’ CMS?

Is WordPress the ‘best’ CMS? If I had a penny for every time someone asked me which CMS was best; I’d have a very large collection of coins that aren’t legal tender in Aus. What I have instead is a lot of people asking a very broad question that can’t really be answered that simply .

To tell you which content management system is best I’d have to know what you think the best one would have and do. The ‘best’ CMS is the one that ticks as many boxes as possible but more specifically, it has to tick your boxes.

Does Anyone Use WordPress?

Absolutely! Almost 30% of all websites have websites powered by WordPress. The Walt Disney Company, Usain Bolt and the Official Star Wars Blog all use WordPress. Want to know what CMS a website is using? There are plenty of ways to discover which CMS is in use but an easy way is to head over to a website like to WhatCMS.org and plug in the URL.

What works?

I’m sure you’ve heard that WordPress is extremely user friendly and widely supported, but what does that actually mean? In practical terms it means that you can create content and customise your website without ever having to touch a line of code.

WordPress is extremely well documented. As a starting point WordPress host a four-step plan designed to help beginners. In addition to that there are the thousands of people on the internet who’ve jointly experienced almost every problem possible.

Need a contact form? There’s a plugin! Need a gallery? There’s a plugin! The point here is that there are plugins for everything and as a result your experience is simplified greatly. Someone has already done the complicated bit and saved you time and effort.

Not your speed? You can dive deep and write your own themes and plugins using javascript, php, CSS/SASS, etc.

What doesn’t work?

Like many CMS, WordPress has fairly limited functionality out of the box. That’s fair considering how many different uses there are for it but it’s also worth knowing about.

There is also no across-the-board regulation of old, unsupported or simply low quality themes and plugins. There are so many new themes and plugins everyday that maintenance of the free theme/plugin you’ve chosen is unlikely. Is that a WordPress problem? No, but it’s definitely worth knowing about.

Security can be an issue. You need to stay up to date or you’ll have more security issues than you know what to do with. Being this popular makes you more susceptible to attack and an easier target in some ways.

WordPress.org lists almost 54,000 plugins – talk about needle in a haystack! Finding the right theme/plugin combination can be a real trial-and-error experience. Finding specific answers relating to your combination of themes and plugins can be more difficult than generic answers – a lot of time can be wasted here.

Essentially, WordPress is really easy to use but also not. Setting up a simple site and straight forward but getting it to do exactly what you want is much less so. Keeping it working long-term is also more complicated and often requires changes to your chosen theme or a complete re-theme.

Summary.

WordPress is perfect for many things and great for many others. Want to get up and running fast and don’t want anything overly complicated? Great! Install it and pick a theme. Otherwise, unless someone has done your exact, possibly very niche, project before there will likely be more modification then you bargained for. Is this a WordPress problem? No, but definitely worth knowing about.

What is a CMS? AKA Why so many acronyms?

CM-WHO?

Once you know that the acronym (in this context) stands for content management system it starts to make more sense. Essentially a CMS is a software application that helps people put digital content online. It helps people create and modify content in user friendly ways – often without having to know any client or server-side code.

In a basic sense CMS has two parts – the part that creates the content and the part that delivers it. The most user friendly CMS have a user interface that encourages easy content creation – buttons in place of code.

There are plenty of different CMS out there and they all focus on different elements of content creation or delivery. WordPress is a particularly popular CMS that currently backs 30% of the web. Why? Because it’s user friendly and extremely widely supported.

It’s all about support.

A CMS like Drupal is very focused on custom development and while there are free starter themes it is a much longer journey from beginner to sweet looking website. Drupal, Joomla and WordPress all have significant followings but it has to be said that the lion share of the easy to use and follow themes, plugins and how-to’s are very WordPress-centric.

It really comes down to what your goals are. If you plan to oversee your website yourself there are a few different systems you could consider. Planning to DIY the whole way narrows your options considerably unless you plan to invest heaps of time into it or have the knack or existing skills.

Which CMS to Use?

Shortly we’ll publish a comparison of the most popular content management options. Hopefully it’ll provide you some clarity regarding the differences and how they may or may not work for you.

Another approach is to check out websites you’d like to emulate. After all, imitation = flattery. Many websites will say in the footer what content management system, if any, they are using. If you see one that you like that lacks any clear indication of platform a service like WhatCMS can tell you exactly what CMS is in use. Simply click on that link and paste in the URL.

Do I need one?

No.

Ok. So the complete answer is a little longer than that. It’s hard to think of a situation that can only be done with an existing content management system. In truth you don’t need one. On the flip-side it’s not hard to think of many that are easier, more flexible, more stable, more future-proof and the list could go on.

The best place to start is what you’d like to achieve with your website. Is it a blog? Then chances are you want something like WordPress. Is it a single page online business card? It could be custom HTML/CSS, WordPress, Joomla, Facebook…

Take number85 for example: this is a WordPress site. hosting.number85.io, however, is not. They look very similar, right? They’re even interlinked, but they perform different functions and therefore are designed in different ways.

Find out where you want to end up and make choices from that perspective. You may have to make some changes or concessions along the way but that approach will get you closest to where you want to go.

Hop on over to our contact form and drop us a line if you need help finding out where your site is headed.

Top 5 Things to Think About When Choosing a Domain Name

So you’re choosing a domain…

There’s a lot to think about when you’re choosing a domain name. If you Google it, you’ll see lots of do’s and don’ts and five point lists. Here’s another one! If you need more help choosing a domain or you’d like to know what to do next. Drop us a line!

1. Make it easy to say.

Your customers and visitors should be able to type and verbalise your domain name without difficulties. If it takes the whole elevator pitch to communicate the idea behind your domain, then it’s too complicated.

It should also be easy to spell and easy to type. Swapping words out for numbers, unusual spelling of words or even both makes your domain increasingly difficult to communicate. If your business name is Cats For Life and the domain you want is taken you should thorough consider any unexpected mods to your domain spelling.

  • cats4life.com – numbers substituting words sounds like “cats for life except the for is a four”
  • catsfrlyfe.com – unusual spelling of words “cats for life except the for has no ‘o’ and the life is ‘L. Y. F. E.'”
  • cats4lyfe.com – both “cats for life except the for is a four and the life is ‘L. Y. F. E.'”

You will say it to new and existing customers and we hope that those customers will say it to others. Don’t make it too hard for them or yourself!

2. Be Concise.

Similar to this title you want your domain to say what it needs to say but not anything more. Extremely long domains are hard to read, type and remember – something we don’t want to inflict on ourselves or our customers! Even though your website may sell amazingly creative hand made handbags your domain name doesn’t need to say all that.

3. Stick with .com, except when you don’t…

Almost 47% of all websites use a .com domain – it’s the one that is most well known, it SEOs well, it’s easy to say and spell. It’s the obvious choice but it’s not the only choice. The original domain extensions come with an element of trust and are often expected by people who aren’t as tech savvy. If ‘.com’ isn’t available and you really want that specific name you could consider choosing something known as a ccTLD – which is basically the extension of your country (eg. .com.au) – or a .net.

You may also have heard of some exciting new top level domain names. Everything from photography to Sydney has it’s own domain extension now – but are they right for you? Be prepared to do a little educating or even purchasing the standard .com and .photography versions of your domain if available. Over time these new domain identities will become more commonplace and people will start to view them in the same way that they do .com, until then though it will be a talking point.

Depending on your business it could be a good or a bad point of difference. There are no lists on the internet that can advise you whether this is a good choice for you and your website – that one is entirely up to you. If you’d like to discuss this further feel free to contact us directly and we can expand upon these ideas with your specific situation in mind.

4. Think about the future.

Eventually, we all hope that our businesses will expand and it’s important to keep this in mind when choosing your domain. Not only do you want your business name to encompass all the elements of your business you should also be sure that your use of it doesn’t impinge on someone else’s rights!

Make sure to check for registered trademarks, availability on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media channel that you may wish to use in the long run. Don’t forget to go back and register them once you’ve selected a domain name!

5. Don’t stress too much if your ‘perfect’ domain is taken.

Choosing the right domain name is clearly important but it isn’t as important as getting the idea behind your business or website right. The right idea combined with focus, determination, and time can overcome the ‘wrong’ domain name.

That’s fine, but what do you do then? You can walk one of three paths but those paths come with their own concerns.

1. Make a minor adjustment (eg. Different TLD – .cafe, .info, .rocks).

Awesome! You’ve found an idea that you’re passionate about and want to stick with. Things to consider here:

  • Who is using the other domains?
  • Are these other websites targeting that same markets that you are?
  • How well known is there website?
  • Would it damage your brand if there was confusion over which website was yours?
  • Have they already registered your name on any social media platforms you intend to use?

2. Buy it!

Great! It’s important to be invested in your ideas and to back yourself. You know when what you’re doing is working so believe it. Things to consider are:

  • This can be costly! $$$
  • The internet never forgets. So what used to live at that address? Services like the Wayback Machine record the changing states of websites over time.
  • If the name is already taken it may also be a registered trademark or brand – be wary of potential legal issues.
  • As above, if it’s taken you may find the previous owner had an active social media presence – this can cause customer confusing.

3. Move on.

It’s possible to feel defeated if your first (second, third, twentieth) idea doesn’t work. It’s important to remember that each time you go through the process of defining your ideas and your concept you’re a step closer to having exactly the right one. It might take hours, days or months but in the end you’ll get there. Only one thing to consider; don’t give up.

What Makes a Good Domain Name?

An amazing idea needs the right home!

Maybe it’s a business, a blog, a dream, a combination of all those things or none. Websites can be everything from a simple online business card to a fully functional online store. These days a website can be almost anything that you can think of and every website needs the right domain name.

Often when we start talking about websites people jump straight to what it should look like. There’s no denying that the visual layout and function of a website is critical to it’s success but let’s think about things in order. Sure, your website might be slick and on-point but how do people get there? The right domain name helps your website be found and be memorable.

I’m sure we’ve all seen web addresses that are so long that they become an almost meaningless string of letters. It might be the most amazing website in the world but www.themostamazingwebsiteintheworld.com definitely isn’t the most amazing domain!

So what does a great domain look like?

Three things generally hold true when selecting a domain name – it should be easy to remember, easy to spell and it should be easy to tell someone about it. Sounds easy, right? Given that over 1.8 billion websites exist on the internet it’s never quite that simple to find the right home for your website but with persistence you’ll find exactly the right thing.

A good domain name will also represent your business or idea. It may contain key words about your websites purpose or it may simply be your business name. It’s probably a .com and it should be easy to communicate to your customers.

 

When is the wrong thing right?

A lot of tech people will tell you that there are hard and fast rules for domain names. No nonsense words. No numbers. 10-15 characters long. In many situations this is true but it is worth remembering that your website is part of your overall brand.

Take Google.com as an example. A perfectly nonsensical word that has now morphed into a commonly used verb with almost global understanding. Pretty good for a theoretically bad domain name, right?

We recently posted a list of stage one suggestions for choosing your domain and you won’t find anything fancy there – just a couple of the more important things to think about. It is essentially a five point list telling you not to make life hard for yourself, or your clients, customers and fans.

To those of you who had the perfect domain chosen and then read fifteen different lists that give you twenty different ways in which your domain was wrong – don’t give up.

Will it communicate what you want to those you are targeting?

Can it be understood by those on the outskirts of your target market?

Is it so long that you need a second line for it in any word editing program?

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to the first two and ‘No’ to the last then chances are you’re on the right path. If you think it’s right then you’re definitely on the right path. You are the one who will make this work so you might as well start where you want to be!

I think I’ve made a choice – what now??

The first question is: Is it available? Try our domain checker to see if your chosen domain is available and with what extensions.

And then?? Research!

A good place to start is whether that name or something similar is already in use across any platform including social media, advertising, or websites with other top level domains (eg. ‘.com’,’.org’,’.net’). Research your online competitors; not just in terms of similar product or target market but also anyone who might be competing for similar search terms.

Brainstorm all the keywords that you think should bring people to your door and also your competitors door. Also start thinking about what you need your website to do – not what it looks like. Your website is there to perform a function but first you need to know exactly what that function is.

Online tools such as Answer The Public and Google Trends provide interesting insight into what is being searched for and read about online currently. Google’s Keyword Planner also provides some very useful information about search terms and their popularity – you do need a Google Adwords account to access this as its original purpose was to help with paid campaigns. A Google Adwords account is free to register but, as you’d expect, any ad campaigns come with a cost.

Check out our ongoing series on getting started with your online dream.