WordPress Website Tips for Small Business

Millions of small businesses CU member, (and even credit unions), rely on WordPress websites to get the word out, pull customers in and do business. But there are some things to consider when optimizing the online experience you present to users. The WordPress experts at MyUnlimitedWP are offering some tips.

Keep in mind that MyUnlimitedWP is a website design and development firm, so some of their advice against popular “DIY” options like using themes must be taken in context. However, their advice is sound nonetheless:

“Stop using WordPress themes. More and more experts have been moving away from themes and have instead opted to learn more lightweight or modular alternatives. Themes are far too top-heavy; while they can quickly spruce up the look of your website, they can also work double-time to load dozens of background scripts.

Even with optimizations, these scripts can delay the loading of a website by several seconds. Just a few seconds of lost time can make the difference between a customer converting and leaving to another competitor’s website.

There is also the problem that many themes are free, meaning there are lots of identical, cookie-cutter websites out there.

Themes are built to stand out to most audiences, not your audience. They’re also limited in features and offer little in functionality which larger, more sophisticated operations require to stand out (and in e-commerce, standing out is a necessity).

In e-commerce, milliseconds matter. Tech giants like Amazon and Google have been observing how latency impacts the user experience for the last 10 years and have both conducted their own internal studies to better understand the impacts of latency on their bottom line. 

A 2017 Akami study found that every 100-millisecond delay in load time can adversely impact conversion rates by up to 7 percent.

Advanced page builders like Elementor and Oxygen easily replace themes with far more flexible customization options and optimization. Popular builders prioritize clean code and optimization, which means faster loading times for consumers, and an SEO-optimized website.

Builders allow for complete customization and design; the ability to create a completely unique user experience leaves a lasting impression in users’ minds. As more businesses adopt this approach moving forward in 2021, themes and older websites that fail to adapt will begin to rapidly show their age.

Businesses must get away from shared or slow hosting environments. Simply put, shared hosting is a single server hosting multiple websites. The majority of business, nonprofit websites are in shared environments.

In some cases, the amount of websites on a shared server can number in the hundreds — even thousands — meaning critical factors like performance and security can be directly impacted by other websites in that shared environment.

Shared hosting environments can look attractive to new and small businesses at first glance because of the cheap, feature-rich plans providers put forward.

What businesses get in cost savings, they pay back in lost uptime (outages). Shared servers experience higher failure rates, longer load times, and often unfair allocation of resources. While shared WordPress hosting offers more affordable rates, the risks of shared environments are downtime, lag, and delays.

Because multiple websites are occupying a single server, they are constantly vying for the limited resources being shared. If you plan on upgrading website functionality down the road, and said features require increased resources — things like bandwidth, memory, and processing power — those features may either not function as intended or bog down the rest of the site completely.

A website on a shared hosting provider will never perform to its true potential in terms of server load and bandwidth as the provider must allocate resources accordingly for every client hosted on that server.

Being on a shared server also means hoping that you have good neighbors. Probably the biggest reason for opting to go with a dedicated server is that if any website on a shared server gets hacked, every other website also is under potential threat.

Providers will do their best to alleviate consumer stress by providing a base level of isolation and security, but it will never match the peace of mind that only a dedicated server can provide.

Dedicated servers are becoming more of the norm in today’s e-commerce driven world and are something that every business owner or organization leader should consider migrating towards. When considering cost versus benefit, the potential for lost traffic and benefits to speed and security are too significant to ignore.

Keep your WordPress website up to date and secure. Data breaches and other security lapses happen all the time, and even bigger companies with millions to spend on cybersecurity aren’t immune from the malicious cyberattacks that happen every day. Especially in an e-commerce environment, a compromised WordPress site can have a significant impact on business revenue and your business’s reputation during the aftermath.

It’s a business owner’s responsibility to ensure that customer data is secure; getting complacent with website security could lead to bad actors distributing malware to users, or the theft of sensitive information and passwords.

The ideal solution involves partnering with a support company that can manually perform updates and security checkups several times a year (three to four times minimum).

Sometimes features break unexpectedly, or other outdated modules can cease to function as expected as other parts get updates; manual updates and security checkups ensure that nothing falls in between the cracks.

There is also the option of going with a reputable hosting provider, as cutting costs can lead to major problems in the future.

There are also a number of security plugins and tools that help maintain site security from malware and other malicious cyberattacks, but often don’t provide adequate protection for a serious business to function.

Utilize the tools and products that were made to be integrated with WordPress sites if you’re transitioning into an e-commerce model with WordPress. Some e-commerce plugins work seamlessly with point-of-sale systems (POS), allowing for a smooth start to any fledgling online store.

The e-commerce space is incredibly competitive. It was competitive prior to COVID-19, and after, it’s impossibly full.

Among the biggest challenges involved when starting a business is trying to find new clients. When endeavoring to create your own e-commerce website, it’s essential to also list products on other popular marketplaces, such as Amazon, Etsy, or Google Shopping and take advantage of the hundreds of millions of people that browse their website.

Despite resistance from certain facets of the business community, Amazon’s reach is undeniable. Amazon itself boasts an active user base of over 300 million shoppers. According to a TechCrunch article, nearly half of all e-commerce sales are happening on Amazon.

This means there are hundreds of millions of consumers who browse Amazon every minute, and these are more than likely the same customers that most e-commerce businesses should be targeting. You have to be where your customers are. Amazon is constantly pouring money into brand recognition and getting new buyers to join their platform. Work smarter and not harder, by taking advantage of their work.

The challenge of building your own realized e-commerce website means involving Amazon at some point. A product store on Amazon can help expedite the transition into an independent website, as customers can be funneled to both the Amazon storefront and the organization’s own storefront.

Having an e-commerce store and business is incredibly challenging and requires a lot of work. Without the expertise or experience, you need a partner to help ensure that the business continues to function properly. In this case, leveraging the popularity of mainstream shopping websites can help draw more traffic and help grow your own website.

Know what to look for when it comes to a reputable website management partner. E-commerce is the pathway for organizations to conduct businesses with its consumers; during the pandemic, e-commerce has become even more of a vital part of a business’s survival.

It’s key that businesses utilize the expertise and services that knowledgeable website partners can provide to ensure that the website and digital storefront are consumer-friendly, secure, and working properly. The partner should have the expertise to be able to migrate the organization quickly and securely to a dedicated server.

The complexity of managing websites has only become more acute as technology becomes more advanced; it’s nearly impossible for small teams to ensure things run smoothly without any background training or expertise while managing other mission-critical parts of the business.

A good partner should be able to handle the complex technical requirements to keep a good website running. 

Many businesses are moving away from traditional website management services towards unlimited models. Personal attention is becoming increasingly important for businesses, as having the dedicated support of a team to avoid any guesswork or potential outages can help business owners easily manage the regular updates and maintenance of their WordPress websites.”

Optimizing and maintaining your website really is a lot of work, and firms like MyUnlimitedWP (find them at myunlimitedwp.com/) can actually save you money in the end, despite the fees they charge. However, if you are going it alone at least keep these tips in mind.

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