How To Build Great WordPress Sites for Business
A few months ago the company I work for decided it was time to begin thinking afresh about how we market our products. Our business is built on the idea that people need help navigating through the maze of the health care world. We work for individuals to lower their medical costs, whether they have a prescription to fill, a doctor to see or a hospital bill in hand. It’s a huge need that grows ever larger with the real start (for individuals) of health care reform in 2014.
We have been in business for over 16 years doing this very thing, and we know how to get medical costs down. We save millions for our customers each year (after they have incurred expense).
What we have had to learn in the past year is how do we as a small business leverage technology to its fullest in marketing to, signing up and then providing service directly to people who are left with large out of pocket medical bills even if they have insurance of one sort or another. Too many Americans believe that insurance is a panacea that makes everything easy, and the government has only exacerbated that belief. It simply isn’t true.
The product that we have worked hardest on in the past 6 months is The Health Co-Op. The Health Co-Op is a registered cooperative functioning to help individuals, business, churches and faith-based non-profits find answers to sky-rocketing health care costs. Our company founded the co-op to put together the best offerings in medical benefits that are not insurance with largest of the three Christian medical needs sharing organizations.
We believe it is the best alternative to insurance in existence.
We worked through the process of developing the new website with real passion, because while we have known how to mediate medical bills for people, we had a lot to learn about marketing.
We began with working on the value proposition for our products, which necessarily impacted how we built the new site. We worked with some amazingly talented consultants from Chief Outsiders, as well as SocialFactor. They were excellent teachers; we attempted to be good students!
We also began looking for a company that would provide us with an amazing web site that, oh, just happened to need to be built on WordPress.
Why WordPress? Because that is the platform we have known and understood for web site maintenance since we launched Kare360 in 2011. We chose WordPress because it is an incredibly flexible platform for maintaining a website, well within the budget of small companies.WordPress from Start to Finish: Create Your Own Website Fast Even If You Are a Total Beginner (The “Get it Done-FAST” series of technology books)
For the launch of The Health Co-Op site, we wanted to leverage what I know, and what the company knows how to use, but we wanted a site that popped, one that looked amazing, and one that would not cost us a small fortune.
To find that we began a search for companies that could do great web design, and one which would build out a customized WordPress theme.
Since we are located in Austin, and since some of our staff have experience in the technology world (web tech and social), as well as the knowledge of the two consultants, we are fortunate.
We got bids from very small companies, from large companies, and from a company about our size (okay, just a bit smaller). The process was thorough, and had to meet our budget and our design requirements (including being built on WordPress).
The large company wasn’t interested in our project really, because we had what they believed to be too small a budget. The smallest company wasn’t quite large enough to meet our requirements.
The company that we eventually selected (which I will be doing an interview with in coming weeks for ThadThoughts), is a Dallas based company called MODassic Marketing. It wasn’t just their price that got our attention, it was how well they seemed to understand what we wanted to accomplish with the launch of this revamped site. They just fit, both our budget and our culture.Beyond Blogging: Using WordPress to Build Your Business (Business Matters)
They understood that the site needed to tell a compelling story, that it needed to look amazing, and it needed to be one which, because we are small company with talented people, needed to be very flexible.
Oh…did I mention that MODassic specializes in just those kind of sites? They take WordPress, on the backend, to whole new levels.
Key Points in Building A Business Site on WordPress
1. Understand your value proposition. Small companies probably struggle with this more than others because with a small company employees wear so many hats (to make the company succeed) and are so deep in to the business processes (again, to make the company succeed) that they lose sight of what the value of the product(s) or service(s) is to the end customer. Get this right and your web site will flow.
2. Understand what your employees are capable of. At The Karis Group we know how we want to manage our sites. We know our way around the backend of WordPress. What you need to know as a company is whether you need special functions built in to your WordPress custom theme. MODassic built exactly the kind of backend functionality to allow our site to be both flexible and look good.
3. Hit as many platforms as you can with a single theme. This was not on our radar when we started down the path to a new site. Oh, we might have had some ideas about needing to address mobile devices, but we weren’t thinking about that when we engaged MODassic. However, they specialize in responsive web design, which adapts a single theme to every platform.
4. Don’t orphan data. This one is especially important if your company site is to be either a significant lead source, or if your company is a provider of business services. Our company is a professional services firm, and we use Salesforce.com as our primary platform. But are increasingly using Salesforce for, amazingly, sales, and capturing leads off of our web sites is critical. Thankfully WordPress is adaptable to both ends. We used our primary software developer, Ionia Solutions of Cambridge, MA to finish off the signup at the new site. This creates new user records not in the WordPress database, but where we actually work day in and day out: Salesforce.
5. Trust your developers to make the user experience and the user interface work. Trust yourself to know your business. At the end of the day, working with a web developer is a partnership. If you want your new WordPress site to “pop”, let your developers do what they excel at. But don’t expect them to understand your business. You are, or should be, an expert at what you do. Work, rework, and rework again, the content you are putting on your site.
6. Use some fresh eyes. This doesn’t necessarily relate to WordPress, but it is important in website development for your business. Sometimes you know your product, or your preferred path through your website too well. You know how you would move through the site, but that is not how people not familiar with your business will necessarily see your site. We have had to learn that many times in the past 18 months. Just because we are experts at what we do does not mean that everyone will understand our products the way we do. That’s the point of your website, and that’s what a great web development team (like MODassic) can help you develop. Find people who can help you tell your story well.