With website builders like Wix and Squarespace becoming more sophisticated and adding features, founders have more options for building their websites.
There are other free and inexpensive traditional CMSs, which are worth looking at. Drupal and Joomla are the usual alternative ones. In most cases, these require development skills, which is why many founders prefer WordPress.
Compared to website builders, WordPress remains the best choice for the more strategically minded founders. Those whose visions extend beyond brochureware, are planning business-critical tools and want to set a solid digital foundation for their company.
Price is always a factor though. Website builders have argued that WordPress isn’t free. You have to factor in hosting and the bundle of Pro plugins you will inevitably need. What that small cost buys you, though, is scalability.
You want to add functions and features – both off-the-shelf and custom developments – as business and operational functions grow (along with customer expectations).
Scaling WordPress is not just about the technicalities
If you are investing in content marketing and SEO, for example, few other platforms are flexible enough to support these efforts at scale.
Writing and publishing blog posts 3 times a week is not enough. On-page technical SEO is very granular and you’ll need a strategy that covers navigation and contextual links while making it easy for both users and search engine bots to find what they are looking for.
This is where Wix, Squarespace, and the like fall flat on their faces. They can handle small sites. As soon as pages add up, you need a platform that can scale SEO efforts.
A similar argument can be made about the human resources a founder needs to drive growth.
A lot of founders start by hiring a full-time VA and a dev on a project basis. Once the site has been built a growth hacker can build a funnel to capture and convert leads. By the end of the first 12 months, they will have formed a team.
How does this relate to WordPress? The same scenario unfolds regardless of the tech you’ve put in place, right? Absolutely.
The difference is, the WordPress ecosystem is so big that you can quickly find and hire the right professionals for the job.
If you search for “drupal developer uk” you get 513 results. The same query for WordPress returns 15,100.
Founders can also tap into many WordPress communities where they can ask for advice and meet other like-minded people.
You need to be ready for when you hit the limelight
You decided to invest in WordPress. Good choice. Now it’s time to get ready.
As a proactive founder, you will have run numbers and projected growth over time to figure out how to sustain growth financially and operationally, factoring in risk, and best-case scenarios.
You also need to factor in unplanned events such as a story going viral on TechCrunch or ProductHunt resulting in the Shark Tank Effect. When a website receives 100 times the normal amount of traffic, can it accommodate the spike of enquiries and orders?
The good news is that WordPress is more than capable of handling shark tank effects.
Plan for scalable, high performance WordPress website
Here are a few tips to get going.
- Start with a solid foundation: Choose a reputable WordPress host that you can have a conversation with about your long-term requirements before you sign on the dotted line. Ask what scaling looks like, and how much it will cost. Don’t lock yourself in a long-term contract either.
- Keep your website simple and bloat-free. Do you really need that slider on the homepage? Or a video background? If you’re buying a ready-made site, try to find ones that don’t add 5 times the features you need.
- Optimise your website for speed. You’ve done well by building a lean one. You can make your website even lighter and faster by using plugins like Swift Performance or WP Rocket. Hire a pro for a more comprehensive optimisation and use a tool like GTMetrix to check your website’s speed.
- Use the ‘edge’ to supercharge your performance. ‘Edge’ is a bit of a buzzword these days but the idea here is to use third-party services to help performance (and security) even before a visitor lands on your website. For example, cache your site on CloudFlare so your audience is requesting a static file off their platform rather than your own server, which needs to process the call, pull content from a database, and render it to the end-user. Ask your hosting provider if this is something they offer.
- Monitor and plan ahead. Check regularly how your server is handling your growing audience. If you have a campaign coming up, make sure your server can handle the increased loads. Again, this is something your web hosting provider can help you with.
The secret to scaling WordPress successfully
You need good tech in place. What you need most is a partner who understands your business, the audience you are serving, and the growth trajectory you’re taking (and what that means to plan for additional capacity along the way).
This could be a developer or hosting provider, or both. Someone you can trust will take excellent care of your website as you focus on growing your businesses.
This is unlikely to be one of the big web hosting brands with hundreds of thousands of customers where relationships are purely transactional. Find a specialist in WordPress hosting provider and talk to the smaller players, even ones local to you.
Sofian Saoudi of Solusign found a great WordPress dev on Upwork on his fourth attempt. Through him, he found Convesio.
Solusign is an eSignature implementation specialist launching when many businesses are rushing to move their contracts online.
“I know little about web design and even less about hosting. But I know that I need to offer a great user experience and underpin that with tech that will not fall over as I ramp up my marketing. I don’t want to be kept awake at night thinking that my website will crash.”
Practicing what we preach
We can relate to Sofian’s journey because we were in a similar spot just three years ago.
Since then we’ve gone from strength to strength to a point where over 800 investors trusted our vision, raising over $1M on Wefunder.
Feel free to reach out about this as it’s a bit of a process and there are a few tips we can share if you’re considering this funding route.