When software programmers Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg launched their WordPress blog platform in 2003, neither realized the impact their creation would have on the global Web community. Their goal was to create an elegant, well-designed, stable, reliable, and low-cost (or free) personal publishing system for the masses. The end result is so much more.
WordPress has flourished to become (by far) the Web’s predominant content management system. Of the websites that utilize a CMS platform, more than a quarter (26.4%) relies on WordPress, representing more than 76 million blogs and websites worldwide. The framework owns a 59.5% market share, well ahead of the second- and third-most-popular CMS platforms: Joomla (6%) and Drupal (4.9). More than 500 new website sites are created on WordPress.com every day, and, in 2015, publishers posted some 660 million pieces of content on WordPress.com-hosted sites.
WordPress is not just for the mom-and-pop blogging community, either. Dozens of high-powered media brands utilize the platform for their blogs or websites. Among them are The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog, National Geographic, People Magazine, Forbes, TED, Variety, LinkedIn, Mashable, The New Yorker, and Tech Crunch.
Businesses large and small are turning to the platform because it offers a host of benefits. It’s easy to use and intuitive (no HTML coding required!). It’s 100% customizable, with thousands of off-the-shelf plug-in tools and modules available. It’s SEO-optimized; search engines recognize WordPress content, as long as it is unique and high quality. It plays well with social media, looks and functions great on mobile devices, and has a superior blog module built in.
WordPress is the ideal platform for real estate professionals. It levels the playing field for small- and medium-sized businesses by offering the bells and whistles of a major website at a fraction of the cost and time. Want a robust property search tool? No problem! Looking for a vibrant, graphics-rich design scheme? That can be done! Want the ability to survey your readers and chat with your clients? WordPress offers dozens of plug-ins for that.
If you are looking to grow your business by having a stronger online presence, then a world-class website is a must-have. Here are five simple steps to creating a topflight website using WordPress:
1. Find a trusted partner to guide you through the process
While WordPress primarily is free and relatively easy to use, the logistics of building a website from scratch can be overwhelming the first time. Just take a glance at WordPress’ instructions for creating a website; you’ll see what I’m talking about—installation, setup, customization, hosting, domain names, etc.
There are a number of WordPress consulting firms—including companies that specialize in websites and services for the real estate market, like WinningAgent—that will hold your hand through the process.
2. Develop your content strategy
Too many WordPress users skip this step and jump right into the design possibilities. I get it; it’s easy to get caught up in the graphical presentation. But content must drive the design, not the opposite. Set goals for your new site and then formulate a simple content strategy (and editorial calendar) that will ensure you meet those objectives. The Content Marketing Institute offers helpful advice for developing a content strategy plan.
3. Select a theme that matches your market and content strategy
There are well more than 30,000 WordPress themes on the market, some free, some with premium upgrades. You can spend days sifting through WordPress.org, ThemeForest, StudioPress, and TemplateMonster. My advice: stick with theme developers that specialize in the real estate market. They’ve already worked out the kinks and can show you how to customize the theme to fit your needs.
4. Customize your new site with nifty plug-ins and the theme customizer
What if offering enhanced property listings would set you apart from the competition? Then you’ll want custom search box IDX integration to localize and maximize MLS listings. If collecting data on your clients and potential clients is important, then look into plug-ins like Ninja Forms and Gravity Forms. There are plug-ins and custom options for almost anything you can think of, from color schemes to SPAM blockers to data dashboards to breadcrumb navigation (used to track a visitor’s path through your site). Check out the WordPress Plugin Directory.
5. Select a domain name and host for your new website
There are dozens of free Web hosting services on the market. But, as we wrote about last month, if you are going to invest the time and resources to create content, make sure you own it. For around $5 month, you can create a custom domain name for your site (ours is WinningAgent.com) and host it using a service of your choice. It’s worth the money. You’ll appear more professional than having your site hosted on a free, third-party domain. Plus, you’ll benefit from faster page load times and less downtime, as Web developer Robert Mening explains in his website development guide.
Next week, we’ll offer tips and techniques for mastering virtual tours and videos for your clients’ properties. Until then, see what your friends at WinningAgent can do for you!