Building your first website 1/5 - Choosing your CMS

One of the toughest decisions we ran into when building the MightyCall website was whether to build on a content-management-system like Wordpress or not. While we had originally planned to build just the blog on Wordpress, after much discussion we ended up building the entire website on the Wordpress platform.

We decided to build a custom theme on top of Wordpress primarily because of the ease of update after the build was complete. Wordpress’s easy-to-use backend enables team members with no coding experience to easily login, create pages and update existing content. This means that as the manager of the website, less time would be spent on fixing a typo or creating a page and more time could be spent on bigger picture website updates.

 All content on the site is mapped to custom fields allowing team members to easily make content updates.

All content on the site is mapped to custom fields allowing team members to easily make content updates.

But caution: unmanaged website updates by team members can quickly turn your website into a huge mess. Standard practices need to be established to cover issues like:

  • Who creates new pages – a single person should manage site structure and the linking of pages.

  • How blog posts should look – blog posts formatting should be consistent. ‘More’ tags should be placed in the same place on each article and hero image should be consistent in size.

  • Categories – blog posts should be placed in the correct category, and categories should contain more than one post. No post should go into the default, uncategorized pool.

  • Image sizing – all images should be reduced in size prior to update to ensure page load speed is not affected.

  • Page titles and meta descriptions – this one becomes a little more complex, but all your team members who are posting should have a basic understanding of SEO. All pages need a proper title tag and meta description, ideally each page is optimized for 1-keyword with optimal global monthly searches (I will discuss this later in another post).

  • What and what not to modify – a single team member should manage what team members can edit and what they should not.

The ease of update applies not only to content updates but advanced functionality as well. Much of the functionality we wanted to add to our website like integration with HubSpot and SEO tools could be easily handled with free Wordpress plugins that were easily downloadable and easily added without technical expertise.

 SEO elements can easily be edited with free add-on plugins like YoastSEO.

SEO elements can easily be edited with free add-on plugins like YoastSEO.

While additional add-ons post-development are relatively easily, the initial development of a custom size can be extremely complex. All content on the website needs to be mapped to custom fields for easy editing in the Wordpress backend, this can add difficulty to the build.

So should your business go with a content-management-system backed website? Below are questions to consider when making this decision:

1.     How technical is your team? Do you have in-house developers to make changes to your website after the build is complete? If not – a custom Wordpress site might be a good option.

2.     Do you or any of your team members have experience with Wordpress? Are you or any of your team members willing to maintain a list of best practices? I’d advise you to make sure that at least one member of your team is experienced with Wordpress and willing to maintain a list of best practices to keep your site organized and consistent.

3.     Is your development team experienced/can you find a development team experienced with Wordpress? This step is crucial, the mapping of content to backend custom fields can become complex, and an experienced Wordpress developer is necessary.