7 Important Benefits of WordPress Websites For Photographers
The Yellow Pages has now vanished from our homes, and even the most traditional old-school photographers realise that a website is a necessity. But for those that have made the effort, many photographers get stuck with essentially brochure sites that aren’t overly professional. The website was treated as a one-off exercise and now it looks a bit tired.
There is a perception that there is a large chasm between a simple brochure site and the next stage up – a professional, creative, multi-functional, bespoke site. The WordPress platform provides an excellent solution to that middle ground – for those photographers who feel confident and motivated about being in control of the look, maintenance and development of their online presence. (Spoiler alert – it requires a degree of learning and experimentation, but you don’t have to learn coding!).
WordPress started life as an open-source blogging platform; but is now better thought of as Content Management System (CMS). (A CMS is essentially the hidden (or “back-end”) admin webpages used to change the “front-end” customer-facing webpages.) Such is the appeal of WordPress as a CMS, it is now used by about a third of all websites globally – ranging from Sony at one extreme to local bakeries at the other. And no prizes for guessing that this website also uses WordPress. So why has it become so popular?
It is user-friendly for beginners and the smallest of photography businesses
There is a decent learning curve, but it is generally easy and intuitive to use WordPress. Depending on confidence, many photographers build the website themselves on this platform by adapting ready-made templates. Other photographers start by updating the website’s copy themselves and realise over time that they can start changing the overall look by adding images, new colours, images, pages and even functionality (see Plugins below).
Flexible and adaptable
WordPress can be used for pretty much any form of website activity including blogs, image portfolios, podcasts, e-commerce, forums and social networks. And it can easily adapt to your company’s evolving needs.
Plugins can easily extend functionality
This concept sounds a bit alien at first, but it is possible to add self-contained bits of code called plugins to your site to perform specific tasks. This could be adding a new image gallery slideshow, a method for increasing your website’s speed, or shopping cart mechanism. If you can think of task that a photography website can reasonably expect to perform, there is likely to be a plugin for it that is easy to install and works on most WordPress sites. And they remain a discrete part of your website’s “engine” – and can be deactivated and removed at any time. Furthermore, they are made by competing third-party coders – often for free – and backed by users’ reviews!
There are thousands of themes available
WordPress themes are a similar concept to plugins. You can add a theme to a WordPress site to give it a particular design, look and feel – which you can still continue to easily modify further. And like Plugins, themes are discovered in directories and easily added and removed to your core website.
Premium themes are relatively inexpensive yet, offer high-end design without the need for a specialist website designer/coder. And there are lots of specialist photography themes available. Even for smaller photography businesses, this can make websites really stand out from the competition (and if desired, make the company look bigger and more professional than it actually is). Themes often stay on trend in terms of design and functionality. For example, most good, modern themes are mobile responsive.
Good for search engine ranking
WordPress itself has evolved with SEO (search engine optimisation) in mind, but there are also many tools (including plugins) that specialise in optimising your website and its content for ranking well with Google.
Older bespoke websites without any specialist maintenance carry the danger of being attached or hacked. In contrast, the WordPress community is constantly providing technical security updates to stop any new vulnerabilities being hacked. (The same is true for plugins and themes).
Vast online support and advice
Since WordPress is so ubiquitous, if you run into problems with a theme, plugin or WordPress itself, it is likely that there is free advice on it out there online. Or by posing the problem on a forum, other experienced users are often happy to work through the problem with you. Worse case, there are many specialist freelance WordPress developers who can be sourced and hired easily.