Small Business

Wordpress: The Pros and Cons

Last week on the blog, my friend Madison tackled all things Squarespace. As, you already know, I’m a fan! But, I also realize that Squarespace doesn’t fit the needs of every nonprofit or social enterprise. So, to present you with another popular option, my friend Alison is here today to give you the pros and cons of WordPress.

Alison Chandler is another immensely talented graphic designer and website builder, and WordPress is her fav. In fact, it’s the only platform she designs in. And, I have to admit, she makes quite the case! So, if you need to review WordPress basics, or are on the hunt for the perfect space to show off your cause, take a gander.

Wordpress: The Pros and Cons

I’m a very meticulous person who makes careful, calculated decisions (even when it comes to what to make for dinner). So, for a big decision like choosing the best website platform, I took my time. After much consideration—and some good and bad dinner choices—I chose WordPress.

In fact, I love WordPress so much that I changed my whole career to work with WordPress websites. But is it ideal for everyone? Maybe not. Today I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of using WordPress so you can figure out if it’s right for your needs. As for dinner, one of my easy-to-make favorites is Garlicky Grilled Tilapia with Couscous.

A few fun facts about Wordpress:

  • WordPress started in 2003 as a simple blogging platform, and has evolved into a website-building platform, which essentially means you can use it to create any kind of site.

  • It is an open source, 100% free project created by hundreds of dedicated volunteers that continually improve the code.

  • WordPress powers almost 30% of the entire web, from free styling hobby blogs to some of the biggest corporations.

  • From bigger names like TED, AMC, and Lollapalooza to local brands like Atlanta’s very own Refugee Coffee Company and the Atlanta Tech Village, there are about 75 million WordPress websites.

  • Because it’s open source, WordPress has one of the most awesome and supportive communities anywhere.

 

PROS

Ready to illuminate your cause? WordPress is brilliant because:

  • Updating content is easy. Whether you want to add new blog posts, incorporate a new donor button, update testimonials, or add new products and services, WordPress has a very user-friendly content management system which enables you to log in, update, and publish.

  • The opportunities are endless. You can create any kind of website with WordPress. Whether you’re creating your first site, an online store, or a landing page for a new social impact organization, it’s super-flexible and integrates with so many add-ons.

  • There are themes galore. WordPress.org has more than 3,000 themes available. Additionally, there are thousands more available independently. So, the theme that suits your needs may very well be available . . . it’s just important to choose carefully.

  • It can grow with you. WordPress is extremely customizable and can grow with you as your organization grows, especially if you’ve created a custom website.

CONS

WordPress may not be the best platform for you because:

  • Themes galore can be limiting and overwhelming. While I’ve included the wide selection of themes as a pro, it can also be a con. The right theme might exist, but it might be difficult and time-consuming to find. And if you’re someone who gets overwhelmed by too many choices (Does the cereal aisle make you want to run and hide?), the array of WordPress themes may be a major con. Fortunately, with WordPress, you have the freedom to create a completely custom website, which can eliminate this issue.

  • Maintenance and updates can require some tech-savviness. To keep your site updated, backed up, and protected from viruses, you’ll need to ensure you stay current and updated to the latest version of WordPress. Honestly, this isn’t unique to WordPress because there is ongoing maintenance associated with any website platform.

 

Tips to Maximize the Pros and Minimize the Cons

If the cons I mentioned don’t scare you, here are a few tips to really leverage the pros of WordPress: 

  • Put strategy first. The most important way to maximize all of the benefits of WordPress is to start with a plan—know what you need before you dive in. Begin by establishing the goals for your website and prioritizing the content. Think about what your users are looking for and what kind of user experience they will expect on your site. Determine what features you need. The most beautiful, easiest-to-update site will do you no good if it isn’t serving the needs of your audience and your organization’s bottom line.

  • If you use a theme, choose wisely. While there are a plethora of themes to choose from, an out-of-the-box theme may limit you, so do your homework. See how often your prospective theme is updated. These updates are important for continued security and functionality. Investigate how customizable the theme is. If you’re not careful, your site will end up looking exactly like the other thousand sites using the same theme. Once you have chosen a theme, I recommend sticking closely to it—things can get tricky when you start customizing an existing theme—especially when it hasn’t been created using best practices.

  • For the most flexibility, opt to build your site from the ground up. Want a website that is totally customized to fit your needs, developed using best practices, and flexible enough to grow with your evolving small business? Hire an expert to build exactly what you need—and you’ll have total freedom and flexibility.

  • If you’re not tech-savvy, hire someone to maintain your site. You can absolutely update the content of your website yourself, but when it comes to the back-end (the stuff you can’t see), it may be best to hire someone. Many web designers, myself included, have packages so you don’t have to worry about web maintenance.  

  • Get involved in the community! The number one thing I love about WordPress is the fun, gracious, and inviting community. When I started using WordPress, I learned through attending meetups, WordCamps, and from people I met along the way. I love to give back by speaking about design at the Atlanta WordCamp. If you start a WordPress website and run into a problem, there are always loads of people willing and able to help. Want to see an example of this awesome community in action? Check out 48 in 48. This amazing initiative mobilizes marketing professionals to build 48 websites for 48 nonprofits in 48 hours. Here’s the site of one local nonprofit that benefitted from this initiative: Fourth Ward Alliance.


Remember, the pros of WordPress can be maximized by having strategy, carefully choosing your theme (or going custom!), keeping the site well-maintained, and getting involved with the community. Your organization may very well be able to handle all of this and build a website on your own.

If not, and you choose to engage outside help, here’s a tip: ensure your chosen designer’s website is well-designed. Like Kristi said in this blog post, Want to Grow Your Business? You Need Help, “before reaching out to an expert, spend time on their website and consider how it resonates with you. If it makes a great first impression, is engaging, and leads you to a clear call to action, you know they can do that for you. “

Choose someone who puts strategy FIRST.


Alison Chandler

Alison Chandler is dedicated to helping mission-driven entrepreneurs attract higher-level clients, make more money, and increase their impact with better brands and websites.

Alison has over 15 years of experience designing for businesses ranging from Fortune 500 corporations, to social entrepreneurs, and everyone in between. She uses that experience, and her MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, to help business owners create memorable brands and effective websites to help them succeed. 

Facebook I Twitter I Instagram



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

WordPress powers almost 30% of the  entire  web, from free styling hobby blogs to some of the biggest corporations. But is it right for you?

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate cause marketing and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Squarespace: The Pros and Cons

Today’s post comes from my friend, Madison Beaulieu, who is a graphic designer and half of the dynamic duo, Mad + Dusty. She and her hubby created not only my logo and branding, but my website as well.

Madison and Dusty only design in Squarespace, and because I wanted to work with them, I went with SS as well. It’s been a great decision, and if re-branding or launching a new website is on your list for 2019, I’d urge you to take a look at this platform as well.

And to get you started on your research, I’ve asked Madison to review the pros and cons of Squarespace. No website platform is perfect, but there are a lot of features she and I both love about SS, and maybe you will, too. Let us know if you have any questions!

Squarespace: The Pros and Cons

I first discovered Squarespace while working at a marketing agency. We were investigating more, low cost ways to design websites for nonprofits and causes. Before Squarespace, we’d been using a Wordpress template, but found out that we loved the flexibility and freedom Squarespace allows you to have in the design while still creating quickly.

I then started my own site at home to experiment with it, and fell in love further. It was pretty intuitive to learn, and there are tons of tutorials and helpful articles available online as well.

The first site I designed for a client was for Paint Love, and they have been updating it as needed ever since. It’s been great to see the site evolve and change to fit their needs. Another good, nonprofit example would be Miles4Major because it’s such a beautiful, simple site. And if I remember correctly, that one came together in less than a month!

Squarespace Pros

Effective, Beautiful Sites Fast

If you need a great-looking website fast, Squarespace is the right place to start. It’s is the best “drag and drop” website builder around, and they can be created relatively quickly, especially when working with a designer. And all templates are mobile-ready, meaning they can be viewed just as well on small screens like smartphones and tablets. No pinch and zoom necessary! These features also generally make them less expensive than your typical Wordpress site, which is often made by a designer/developer duo.

Customer Support

One of the reasons I initially fell in love with Squarespace, and stayed for good, is their customer service. I’ve solved many technical issues with their team on chat. Wait times are not too bad, and they are always helpful and kind. I feel so much better designing sites for clients knowing there is an added level of help available after I’ve finished.

Easy Edits and Extensive Resource Library

Another reason I stuck with Squarespace is that it’s fairly easy to edit when the initial frame is built out. Most of my clients are startups, and they rest a bit easier knowing that they have the keys to their web city. They can often make any changes needed on their own without my help. And, when needed, there’s also an extensive resource library with a how-to on just about everything.

Integrations

Squarespace has so many integrations, such as Mailchimp, Acuity Scheduling, SoundCloud, and OpenTable, to name a few. You can even set up your Gmail through Squarespace. Because these are true, approved integrations, everything looks seamless and beautiful. Having all of your tools talk to each other is a #blessing.

Pricing

Squarespace pricing is about what you can expect for a website these days. But here’s a quick rundown on pricing so that we’re on the same page: When you pay for a site, you’re typically paying for hosting and a domain. Squarespace’s pricing is for hosting—basically renting space in servers around the world so that your site will be able to arrive in web browsers everywhere. Domains are like a forwarding address, directing any requests to the right rented space.

Yes, there are “free” hosting options, but honestly the “free” options are doing you more harm than good. At this point, we’ve probably all been to a Wix site and seen the banner announcing, “This site was designed on Wix!” front and center. Or a Wordpress site with clickbait links and ads hiding out. No! Please resist! Get out of there, friend. I promise it’s worth the investment.

If you want to be taken seriously, and especially if you’re trying to sell something or collect donations, you need a professional-looking website—and, yes, that costs a few bucks.

Squarespace Cons

Not Enough Options

In Squarespace, you are limited by templates, yet have an overwhelming amount of options. You do have to design within the template, and this means that initial template choice is a MAJOR part of the web design process. I spend a lot of time working with clients on what functions they need from a site before even talking about what it will look like. Form has to follow function with Squarespace.

Too Many Options

Hopping into Squarespace for the first time can feel like diving into an Olympic-sized pool. Or maybe the ocean. There are a lot of choices to be made once you get in there. If you go in without a plan, you can get lost in options, a whirlpool of minutia. Again, form has to follow function.

Photo-Based Design

Photo-based design should be totally great, right?! Well, if you have the photography to back it up, then yes, it’s a huge perk. But many brands struggle with photography. It’s a little tougher, but not impossible to create a pleasant text-based site. Fortunately, though, Squarespace has recently added a few, text-focused templates as well as an Unsplash integration to make finding free stock photography easier.

Requires (A Little) Training and Web Proficiency

You really do need to watch some videos or do some reading to get the most out of the platform. Every one of my website projects ends with a training session for that very reason.

Once you understand the building blocks of the site, it is pretty easy to navigate, but I’ll admit there can be a learning curve. The best place to go to learn is their Getting Started Guide. Then look into page types, followed by design. And one of my favorite resources is the template comparison chart from Using My Head. I’ve used chart that countless times to nail down the right template for my clients.

Glitches

Squarespace has only improved over the years, but it’s still a web-based editor and has some web-based hiccups. I’ve designed a few pages only to click save and realize that not going to happen. So, save often. And in case you didn’t catch that—save often.

I’ve also noticed that when uploading multiple photos or doing a lot of work in galleries, the upload time can be quite long. Squarespace processes each photo you upload to save space and help with site load time, but that can take a bit more time on the editing side.

To wrap up, if you don’t have a massive amount of content, and are looking for a lower-cost and beautiful way to get your cause on the web, Squarespace all the way! But if you’ll need to have archives of information on your site or will need special functionality, then WordPress might be a better option for you. The best way to know for sure would be to talk with a designer!

Most of us design folk take free introductory meetings. We also want to find out if we’d be a good fit, and you’d get to learn some new stuff—and maybe even get some free advice! Why not take advantage of that? You’ll walk away having learned something, and possibly also gain a great partner moving forward.


KP note: And if you’d like another Squarespace review, check out this podcast episode from Femtrepreneur. They also have a free Squarespace course, or you can catch one the Squarespace webinars as well.

Next week we’ll learn the pros and cons of Wordpress, so stay tuned!


Madison and Dusty Beaulieu

Mad & Dusty is a creative team for nonprofits and purpose-driven brands. Starting in 2015, Madison and Dusty Beaulieu have worked with over 40 purpose driven organizations to tell important stories through art and design.

Find them online at www.madanddusty.com.



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

No platform is perfect, but here’s one website designer’s review of the pros and cons of Squarespace.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Help Shape Signify's 2019 Content

Can I ask you a question?

What would YOU like to see me dishing out advice about in 2019? At any given time, I have at least 150 ideas for blog posts and other content. And that’s not some big number I just made up. It’s an actual list I keep in Evernote. (<— list nerd)

So, while there may be some topics I’m personally more interested or invested in than others, I’d rather talk about what you want to hear. Signify is here to support you and your nonprofit or social enterprise on your marketing and communications journey, so I’d love to know what’s on your mind.

What marketing and communications issues are you struggling with? What do you find puzzling? What are your goals for this year? What’s new that you need to promote? What are you working on that you could use some help with? What can I teach you?

Think of this as my online suggestion box.

Help Shape Signify’s 2019 Content

Blog Topics On My Mind for 2019

Here are just a few of the topics I’m planning to tackle this year. Let me know which one(s) resonate with you so I can move them up or down the list.

  • Your marketing person and development person aren’t one in the same

  • Cause marketing: More case stories on nonprofits teaming up with small businesses. Do you have a story to share? If so, I'd love to hear about it! (Here's an example.)

  • Fundraising campaign tips

  • Mistakes made that you can learn from

  • Advice and tips for creating your keynote talk as a speaker

  • Building a nonprofit or social enterprise while working a full-time job

  • Creative ways to save money for your organization

  • Ethical sourcing for physical products

  • Event planning tips

  • Time management

  • Overcoming compassion fatigue

  • Crowdfunding

  • Donor retention strategies

  • Utilizing holidays in your marketing and communications

  • Getting started with video

  • Finding your organization’s voice and brand story

  • How for-profits should talk about their charity work

  • And, of course, lots more about launches and websites because those are my favs!

Did I miss something that’s important or interesting to you? Let me know in the comments or email me at kristi@signify.solutions!

Just like the past two years, you’ll also see guest posts from time-to-time. The vast majority of my guest posts are from people I know, but occasionally, I let others into the mix as well. If you feel like your voice would be a great one to add to this blog, reach out and we’ll talk.

Oh, and I’ll be expanding my online store this year as well! You’re also welcome to suggest a product or resource that will help you succeed.

My goal is to provide small, cause-focused organizations with the marketing and communications tools they need to grow their tribe, increase their sales or donations, and do more good. So, help me make that happen by letting me know what you need!



Help Shape Signify’s 2019 Content! Suggest blog topics or become a guest writer!

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


My Gift to You: Freebies

I think 2018 has already cost you enough.

Between your business expenses and your personal ones, you’ve probably reached the end of the year fed up with whipping out your debit or credit card. You’re ready to give your swiping muscle the slip.

So, while I can’t do a lot about your personal expenses, I’d like to help supply your nonprofit or social enterprises with a few freebies that will help you get noticed and grow. Consider them my gift to you.

My Gift to You: Freebies For Your Nonprofit or Social Enterprise

As much as I’d love to believe you read every word of my website with wrapped attention, I know that’s not the case. Some things are more important to you than others, and some information is more urgent. So, even though you can find these links on other parts of my site, I’ll make it easy to find by listing below for your convenience. Simply choose what matters most to you right now.

I hope this helps you succeed in 2019!

E-COURSE

5 Things To Stop Doing This Week To Jumpstart Your Marketing and Communications

LISTS

Make Your Next Launch Your Best Yet Marketing Checklist

21 Simple Yet Powerful Marketing Ideas That Are Free or Cheap

100 Content Ideas for Your Emails, Blogs, and Social Media Posts

My Favorite Resources List (books, podcasts, events, links, etc.)

TOOLS

Marketing Plan Template

Know Your Audience Guide

10 Tools to Make Your Small Business Look More Professional

Social Media Scheduler Tool Comparison (13 popular softwares!)

Independent Contractor Hiring Checklist

What You Need to Convince Potential Sponsors and Partners Presentation Cheat Sheet

FACEBOOK GROUP

Join the Signifiers Facebook Group!

FOR MORE TRADITIONAL SMALL BUSINESSES

35 Creative Ways to Give Back With Your Business

PSST: Don't forget that you only have a couple more days to enter the Communications Strategy Session holiday giveaway, valued at $500! Details here. Resolve to improve your marketing in 2019!



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Free gifts for nonprofits and social enterprises

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


The Four Missing Pieces of Your Partner/Sponsor Presentation

Partnering with a small business—is it on your organization’s bucket list? It is for many small nonprofits and social enterprises. But it also seems a little elusive, doesn’t it?

First, you have to find the right potential partner. Then, you have to do a little wooing and a little schmoozing. After that, you might just secure your invitation to present your cause to the decision-makers.

It’s no small accomplishment making it this far! But finally, you’re in the room. So, what do you say?

Whether you’re seeking funding, in-kind-services, volunteers, or something else, there could be a lot riding on this meeting, both in the short and long-term. So, you certainly want it to go well.

If you’ve presented to a small business before, I’d urge you to dust off your presentation to look for the errors below. If this is your first time, consider it a head’s up.

Avoid these mistakes to have your potential partners and sponsors jumping at the chance to say, “YES!”

The 4 Missing Pieces of Your Partner-Sponsor Presentation

Missing Piece #1: Your Potential Partner

Is it possible that you’ve gone and made the whole presentation about you? That’s a common mistake.

Maybe you’re nervous, and all you can think of is you. Maybe you think you have something to prove. Maybe you want to adequately make your case. Maybe you’re just so darn excited about your organization that you can’t wait to share it.

All of those are perfectly normal, but while you’re fine-tuning your pitch, be sure to bring your potential partner or sponsor into the mix as well.

Don’t just let them see your mission. Let them see themselves in it.

Missing Piece #2: The Customization

Building on #1, I’d encourage you not to simply cut and paste your last presentation. Sure, many of the same elements will be included. But, where possible, tailor it to the people in the room. And I don’t just mean replacing the last guy’s logo with another one.

I always think it’s good to include both a mix of stats and stories. So, is there new research to support this potential partner or sponsor being involved? Is there a story that fits with the mission of the company? Is there something you’ve seen this business say or do that should be included?

Where can you edit a presentation to make it look like it was created for their eyes only? This kind of customization shows that you value them and their time. And it demonstrates that they are the perfect partner or sponsor for the need at hand.

Missing Piece #3: Your Confidence

Are you desperate for this help? Don’t show it! I know this can be very hard. I’ve been there myself—plenty of times.

But people don’t often give to desperation, unless it’s due to something like a natural disaster or tragedy. Otherwise, it can be a little scary for those at the opposite end of the table to realize all your hopes and dreams rest on them. Unless they have a savior complex, they may run in the other direction if you let them know that they are your Plan A, B, and Z.

If their decision is the make it or break it kind, it’s a lot of pressure to put on them. And, like individuals, companies want to give where they feel their money/services will be safe and best utilized.

So, what’s the alternative? Ask out of confidence. You undoubtedly have a lot to bring to the table, so put your best foot forward. Even if you really are desperate, make a list of the ways you benefit this company, what you do well, and the people you serve. I have no doubt it’s a great list, so let it inspire you as you make your “ask.”

Cause marketing (where for-profits team up with non-profits) is only growing, and that works in your favor. It’s possible this company has been waiting for someone like you!

Missing Piece #4: The Relationship

Listen closely, because this is the most important part. Unless you are just looking for a one-off favor or check, this is the part you can’t skip: the relationship.

The key piece of your presentation is the conversation that happens before and after the projector turns on and off. No amount of beautifully-designed slides will ever replace the dialogue between you and your potential partner or sponsor.

Don’t have designer on staff? This should be great news!

Take the time to cultivate this relationship for long-term success. Get to know the company and the people behind it. How can your mission enrich their efforts? They want to make an impact, too. It just might look different.

After the check’s in the mail, how can you continue to nurture the relationship for the future?

Not only is it easier to retain previous partners/sponsors rather than finding new ones, but building an engaged and dedicated partner could have significant, long-term effects for both of you.

I’m definitely an advocate of a good-looking presentation, but more than that, I’m an advocate of building relationships.

So, don’t leave these four pieces out of your next partnership or sponsorship presentation. They could just mean the difference between a yes and a no.


 

Need a ready-to-edit presentation perfect for your next partner or sponsor meeting?

Bundle includes presentation template, talking points and content guide, customization tips, and a getting started video!

 


PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Partnering with a small business—is it on your organization’s bucket list? It is for many small nonprofits and social enterprises. But it also seems a little elusive, doesn’t it?  Avoid these mistakes to have your potential partners and sponsors jumping at the chance to say, “YES!”

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.