Is WordPress Only for Blogs?

Is WordPress Only for Blogs?

WordPress powers over a quarter of the world’s websites, including many, ranked in the web’s top 100. Although this free, open source site builder was originally designed for blogging, WordPress is now the platform of choice, not only for personal and business blogs but also for many other kinds of sites.

With the help of thousands of WordPress themes, plugins, and extensions, users of all skill levels can build in all the functions they need to create online stores, portfolios, membership sites, professional pages, and more. Versatile, flexible, and endlessly customizable, WordPress isn’t just for blogging anymore.

WordPress Makes Publishing Possible

WordPress was developed back in 2003 as a tool intended for bloggers – a way to make online publishing accessible to everyone, according to its founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. That’s why WordPress remains free, an open source software platform that can be modified and shared by anyone in the worldwide WordPress community.

In the years that followed, WordPress was welcomed not only by bloggers looking for flexibility and control in a full-featured content management system, but also by entrepreneurs, creatives, and professionals in fields of all kinds who found that the basic WordPress platform could be adapted to meet the needs of many different types of sites. That’s because the three core WordPress elements – source code, themes, and plugins – can be modified, mixed, and matched to create unique, highly customized websites, even by users with no experience in website development.

WordPress Has Tools for Blogging – and Beyond

Many site owners do use WordPress for blog posts, and the origins of WordPress as a blogging tool is clear in its content editor, which is oriented toward creating text. With a clean, minimal text box that comes in both visual and HTML formats to meet the needs of both new users and experienced developers, the content editor is the key to fleshing out the basic WordPress structure with a full complement of pages, blog posts, and other elements. The basic WordPress content editor reflects its origins as a blogging tool with its array of text formatting tools, but it also offers options for adding images and embedding the video.

The content editor can be extended with plugins that add a variety of other content management tools for further customization options like visual elements through slideshows and galleries. And as WordPress has evolved toward a wider functionality, tools, such as the plugin Elementor and the new block-based editor Gutenberg, allows users to take a more visual approach to create content overall.

The WordPress Code Provides the Structure

The basic WordPress “package” is always free, and it can be downloaded from and installed on any web host. It consists of a set of HTML files that define the core functions of a WordPress site, and that includes the content editor – the essential tool for creating a site’s posts and pages.

In all its forms, though, WordPress remains an open source software, which means that individual WordPress users are free to modify it as needed for their own sites or to share those modifications with others. Experienced web developers can work directly with the source code to add features or alter the appearance of the site through different customization options, and new users can use preset customization features available with WordPress themes and plugins to get the look and feel they want.

WordPress Themes Customize the Look

The WordPress source code establishes the structure and essential functionality of your site, but its appearance is defined by its chosen theme – and there are thousands of WordPress free and premium themes to choose from. Many are available from the official WordPress theme directory, but more can be purchased – or downloaded for free – from WordPress developers around the globe.

WordPress themes allow users to expand the functionality of a site in many different directions, with themes designed for blogging, e-commerce, creative portfolios, and more. New users can customize a theme’s presets through settings on the site’s admin dashboard, while more experienced developers can make changes directly to its style sheets and scripts.

Plugins and Extensions Add More Functions

Plugins are the third essential element of the WordPress blogging platform, and they can be installed in any WordPress site to add niche-specific functions that turn a basic WordPress install into an online store, photo gallery, landing page, or any other kind of business or professional site.

Plugins allow WordPress users to add contact forms, collect money, create social networks, display their social media, and build online magazines. For example, e-commerce plugins like WooCommerce can add a complete online shop to your WordPress site. Gallery plugins allow photographers, artists, and other creatives to showcase their work. Additionally, a variety of business-oriented plugins add functions such as statistics, database management, and other functions for small and large companies.

Plugins can be installed directly into your WordPress theme from the official Plugin Directory, or they can be purchased separately from developers and asset marketplaces, and then uploaded to your WordPress install. Plugins can be customized through their setting options, and premium plugins typically offer user support, tutorials, and other features.

Many plugins also come with the option of extensions: add-ons that provide even more functions on top of the basic ones. Plugins combined with extensions allow users to customize sites even more, so that it is possible to create virtually any kind of site, for any purpose, from a basic WordPress install. As the digital world evolves, new plugins are constantly being developed to add even more options for customizing WordPress sites.
WordPress may have started as a blogging platform to make the tools of online publishing available to anyone, not just experienced website developers, but thanks to its flexibility it has become much more than that. Today’s WordPress users range from newcomers to denizens of the blogosphere, to multinational corporations with complex websites that don’t even include a blog. All of these unique sites are based on the WordPress source code. With the core code files combined with themes and plugins that add the specialized functions you need, your WordPress website can be anything you want it to be – even a blog.

Top Tools for Small Businesses

Top Tools for Small Businesses

Building a robust online presence is a must for small businesses of all kinds, as it offers new opportunities to boost brand awareness, build relationships, and compete in a rapidly growing global marketplace. Many free and premium tools are available to help both online-only entrepreneurs and owners of “brick and mortar” businesses to expand their brand in the digital world, and the list continues to grow. But, which ones make the most sense for your business?

Here’s a look at some of the top online business tools for essential functions to help small businesses grow an effective – and lucrative – online presence.

Build Your Toolkit With Goals in Mind

Hundreds of apps and free WordPress plugins are available to perform just about every kind of business-related task, from scheduling meetings to bookkeeping. Every business has unique needs related to its niche, company culture and mission, and building a “go-to,” kit of online tools to keep the company running smoothly needs to keep those things in mind. In general, though, just about every business needs management tools for organizing finances and handling payments, communication, marketing, and social sharing, and handling documents. These popular online tools for handling those and related tasks are all available in a cloud-based form, so users don’t have to install software on local computers in order to use them.

Financial and Accounting Tools

Businesses of all sizes and types need reliable and accurate ways to track finances and manage taxes, and a variety of online apps exist to fill the bill. The most versatile and user-friendly of these, according to business accounting specialists, is the well-known Intuit QuickBooks. QuickBooks is a one-stop solution for handling billing, preparing taxes and managing day-to-day accounting tasks. It’s available both for purchase in the traditional desktop software bundle or by subscription in the cloud, with monthly plans for users ranging from independent contractors to small business owners and providers of both services and products.

Payment Gateway Tools

For businesses that take online payments for services or products, a secure payment gateway is essential for keeping transactions and customer data safe from theft or compromise. Major e-commerce platforms provide their own payment frameworks, but a variety of free and premium gateway applications with features including SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology and encryption to keep transactions secure, but users can download and install a variety of cloud-based payment portals for taking payments directly from a company website. The best known of these is, of course, PayPal, which offers both personal and premium business versions, along with a variety of other business services such as invoicing. Related products offering secure payment options for credit and debit card transactions include Stripe and Square, with a variety of tiered plans with additional services available.

Communication Apps for Far-Flung Teams

A variety of communication and scheduling apps are available to help company staff stay connected and in sync on projects that involve coordinating the efforts of individuals working in locations around the country – or around the world. Topping the list is Slack, a cloud-based messaging and connectivity app that helps teams brainstorm as well as share documents, images, and video. Slack allows users to create multiple workspaces with direct and team messaging, with a variety of extensions for additional functionality in its tiered plans for business and enterprise users.

For video conferencing and in-person calling, apps such as Skype and create virtual chat rooms for live discussion and meetings, while GoToMeeting allows users to schedule webinars, online workshops, and conferences with users around the world.

Digital Marketing and Social Sharing Apps

For businesses in niches of all kinds, online marketing through social networks can build awareness and attract new customers. Content creation, social media sharing, and search engine optimization plugins can help boost a company’s online presence and save time and resources. With robust features for promoting and sharing content on social media accounts and publishing sites like Medium, social media management plugins and apps such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow users to schedule content for posting to a variety of social media accounts, along with social media management tools to track engagement and activity. Both platforms offer a free basic version or free trial, with additional tiered plans for more features and business-related services.

Analytics tools can also boost the success of digital marketing, and Google’s suite of analytics and keyword planners provide tools for optimizing your website content and metadata for search rankings, and for tracking user engagement and the performance of different types of shared content. Both are available for free from Google.

Yoast is one of the most famous SEO tools that can help ensure web content such as blog posts or pages are optimized for search engine results. The basic version can be added to WordPress websites as a free plugin, and premium versions with additional features are available from the developer.

Document Sharing and Collaboration Tools

Whether a group is working on a publication or two people want to discuss a memo, sharing documents quickly and easily with all relevant parties is essential for smooth collaboration and communication. With online apps that can be accessed from any device, it’s possible to collaborate and keep projects on track in real time, with no need for downloading, printing, or emailing.

Google Drive/Google Docs is accessible from anywhere, offering options for storing documents in the cloud and allowing for editing and sharing right on the page. Google Docs can also be used as an online writing tool for creating new documents, and cloud storage make it easy to keep and share them. Another efficient and popular cloud-based document sharing tool, Dropbox is available in both free and paid formats, depending on the amount of storage needed, and links to the documents stored there can be shared with anyone.

With cloud-based functionality and free versions and trials, online tools for small business owners can save time, resources, and money. The top online marketing tools for small businesses are scalable, versatile, and easy to use – and no matter what the task might be, there’s always an app to help

How to Prepare Your Business for Growth

How to Prepare Your Business for Growth

Businesses grow over time and should have a website that can scale with them. There will be more clients, products, sales, and more potential opportunities to expand business reach. But how can you prepare your business to grow with you online?

To start, you can prepare your business for times of growth by developing a website equipped to grow with you by preparing for traffic spikes and creating a scaleable brand.

Plan for brand growth

Preparing your business for growth begins with at the brand level. A brand is your customer’s perception of your business based on your message, design, and content. By understanding what it means to your current customers, you can create a meaningful and lasting connection.

Preparing growth includes knowing where you’re headed, being fluid with what changes can or cannot make, and what consistent elements need to be incorporated no matter where your business grows.

By knowing where your company is heading, you can take advantage of your niche. Understand where your competitive advantage and skills lie. By knowing you want to be the best at printing, versus the best at copywriting, you can position your skills and grow in a different direction.

Brand fluidity means letting your messaging grow with your customers to remain relevant. Your core messaging and promise may remain the same, but how you deliver on that message, new capabilities, and additional products or services will change.

Make sure you have maintained your consistency among all of the places customers come into contact with your brand, from packaging to your site and more.

Plan for website changes

Rather than building a web without consideration, think to where you might grow your business. Consider if you’re going to grow into e-commerce, become national, or even expand internationally. If you want to have a blog or another type of capability in your site, you’ll want to build it this way from the beginning.

Think about what type of relationship do you want to have with your site:

  • Do you want to manage it?
  • Do you want someone else to manage it?
  • Do you need a custom site?
  • By considering the types of growth you may experience in your business, it will help you plan to make an investment in the right website platform, rather than beginning on one and then having to transfer to another.

Your website will need to reflect your brand. When creating or changing it, make sure it reflects your personality and message. By choosing a platform you can grow with, you ensure consistency as you scale.

By choosing a website platform plan, you are at an advantage to purchasing for the year. You can get a price break of up to 25% by paying yearly instead of monthly. Be sure of which platform you choose, you want to make sure you can stick with it for at least a year.

Plan for traffic to your site

While there can sometimes be unexpected traffic to your site, plan ahead for the type of traffic you receive. The last thing you want is for your product or service to be covered on a TV station, or have some type of hype driven, only for customers to crash your site when they visit.

Some ways to prevent a site from crashing because of too much traffic include:

  • Switching to a Virtual Private Server (VPS)
  • If you need more space, consider cloud hosting
  • Higher or unlimited bandwidth with your hosting account
  • While traffic is to be expected, make sure to plan your site and hosting for spikes in traffic so that visitors don’t cause your site to crash.

Implement tracking and data collection methods

Understand what data you want and need about your sales, customers, and online experience. When it comes to sales and processing orders, it’s much easier to implement tracking from the beginning. If you add it later, you lose the benefit of early research, tweaking of collection methods, and ease of implementation.

Tracking and measurement is an important part of your businesses processes that help you understand what growth you are experiencing, when, and where it’s coming from. Utilizing online tracking with Google Analytics, site tracking with HotJar, or traffic tracking through email campaigns in conjunction with services like Google Analytics give you a more insightful picture into what is going on with your business.

5 Tips To Start Preparing Your Business Website For The New Year

5 Tips To Start Preparing Your Business Website For The New Year

We’re saying goodbye to 2022 and looking ahead to a year that is going to bring more business, web traffic, and growth for your website. The new year provides an opportunity to build your brand and acquire new customers to keep your business flourishing all year long.

Are you ready to be one step ahead of the competition in 2019? Here are 5 tips to consider when preparing your business website for the new year.

1.) Review Your Site’s User Experience (UX)

Having a user-friendly site with optimal UX is essential for creating a positive online experience for your visitors. When a user is on your site, anything that conveys a message like an image, video, or product description can influence how they interact with your site. Are your visuals appealing? Is your site mobile responsive? UX has become increasingly vital to a site’s success because a visitors opinion of your business can be directly impacted by what they are experiencing on your site. These are a few factors that can change a negative UX to a positive one.

  • Increase your site speed
  • Update your website design
  • Make sure you have a readable font
  • Ensure your site is accessible for physically disabled and visually impaired

Reviewing user comments or common issues people can experience on your site will help determine your site’s functionality. Usability testing is also a method of evaluation that can help you identify more finite issues a user could be experiencing with your site. Tweaking site components for your visitors to have a favorable UX has the potential to grow your traffic in 2023.

2.) Protect Your Customers With Security SiteLock (SSL)

As a business website selling goods or products, keeping your customer’s information protected is of top importance. Installing an SSL certificate on your site lets customers or visitors know that any personal information they submit through your site is protected. An SSL certificate also helps enhance customer trust on your site, improve conversion rates, and increase your Google rankings.

If you plan to process any credit card or personal information through your site, you will need an SSL certificate in order to be Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI) compliant. Being PCI compliant is essential to help protect your site and the customers who are sharing their credit card information. Whether you are a small or large business, your goal should be to build and maintain a secure network for visitors.

There are several types of SSL certificates you can add to your site and Bluehost offers a great variety for our customers. An SSL certificate can appear as an image at the bottom of a webpage indicating the certificate, a padlock, or the words “SSL,” or “Security.”

3.) Increase Your Site Visibility With Relevant SEO keywords

Making your website search friendly in 2023 is an actionable goal that you can conquer with a little help from search engine optimization (SEO). SEO has become increasingly important to how a site ranks on a search engine because it can increase site awareness and drive traffic to your site. Keeping track of SEO on your site is an excellent way to generate traffic that is organic and free without depleting your wallet.

Creating quality content with natural keywords or phrases helps people to find your site via search engines. Developing a list of relevant keywords specific to the product or services you offer is the best way to ensure potential visitors land on your page versus a competitor. There are several SEO search tools that can you use to find the best and most relevant keywords to assist with traffic and conversions on your site. Relevant keywords are always changing so setting up a weekly or monthly schedule to review your words for SEO visibility is imperative to keep your site ranking high.

4.) Use A Staging Site To Test New Plugins Or Themes

The new year is the perfect time to update your theme or install new plugins on your site. A website refresh is a great way to introduce new products and services, but you want to ensure your existing site content is compatible with any new installs. Bluehost customers have the opportunity to test out their site before making any final changes that can affect their public site.

The AllinwebIT staging environment allows customers to test and see if any new themes and plugins will work on your site. A staging site allows you to make and save changes without your public site being affected. Once you’ve perfected your site in the staging environment you can publish it to your live site. You can use this opportunity to be creative and experiment with an updated design or install a plugin you’ve been itching to try without any worry it will cause your site to crash or malfunction.

5.) Identify The Best Social Media Platforms For Your Site

Social media has become an essential component of how brands market themselves to billions of users across each channel. Having a social media platform is vital for marketing and promoting your company, but not every social platform is best for your business. If you spent this past year scrambling to post on multiple platforms, now is the time to focus on what social media can best support your business.

Here are a few suggestions to find the best social media channels for your brand.

  • Write out your social media goals
  • Establish a publishing cadence and how you’ll identify whether you are successful or not.
  • Understand your industry
  • Doing your market research can help develop brand awareness and identify your target audience.
  • Know the purpose of each platform
    Each platform has different benefits that can strengthen your social media presence.
  • Go where your audience is
    Only use your time on social platforms where your customers frequent.

Once you are able to identify which social media accounts are helping to enhance your business goals you’ll be able to work on strengthening your online presence. You can invest your efforts into growing those accounts by creating a social media strategy that will engage conversation and make the best use of your ad dollars for marketing.

As we transition into the new year, preparing your business website for the new year can set you up for long-term success. Using the holiday to identify the strengths of your site can help you take the first step to make small tweaks or updates you need in 2023