Here’s What SMBs Can Learn
WordPress has been dominating the digital world over the past years. With 33.4% in market share (as reported by W3Tech) and representing over 60% of all CMS in use, it’s safe to say that the ubiquitous platform is the go-to choice for both small businesses and larger enterprises.
Starting as a simple blogging platform back in 2003 (as a fork of b2/cafelog), WordPress has rapidly evolved as a distributed solution that acts in various capacities:
- The leading blogging platform
- A content management system
- An application framework
- A headless solution for mobile apps
- The core foundation behind the most popular eCommerce platform WooCommerce
- An underlying solution for Software as a Service applications
- A robust and powerful multisite platform for education and corporate brands
While its usability and flexibility are indisputable, let’s review the common applications that make WordPress the leading web platform in 2019 and how small business owners can benefit from using it.
Weblogs were the original purpose of WordPress back in 2003. Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, the co-founders of WordPress, were prolific bloggers looking for the “right tool for the job” before starting their mutual collaboration.
2004 and 2005 were in favor of WordPress as leading blogging solutions like Movable Type updated their licensing agreements and placing constraints over the usage of formerly free software. This led to the influx of bloggers transitioning to the “new kid on the block” which cleverly attracted users with its “Famous 5-minute install”.
As Mullenweg said during a WordCamp keynote, the install wasn’t famous at all, but being quick and painless was a key transition benefit to non-technical writers eager to keep producing great content.
Since blogging isn’t dead, publishing regular content is beneficial for both organic search and opportunities for paid ads. Business owners can create a content calendar and solve common pain points for their audience across different steps of their journey. Valuable content generates natural traffic via social shares, grows your email list (or followers), and guides people to your landing pages or free trial opportunities.
2010 was a turning point in the evolution of WordPress. The major 3.0 release brought strategic interfaces that allowed developers to create custom post types and taxonomies — the core building blocks of new data types and categories.
With 12% of market share, WordPress leveraged the traction of the blogging engine and turned it into a fully-fledged content management system. Early adopters took advantage of the move and went on creating powerful plugins, leading to the creation of the first eCommerce extensions, social networks, forums, and other key features in use by business websites across the world.
In addition to leveraging blogging, business owners can utilize specific content formats and post types that allow for searching and filtering content, expanding the default views of product content, creating flexible forms and price calculators, integrate solutions like WooCommerce for shopping, or even integrate learning management systems.
Application frameworks represent software units capable of interacting with other software applications by leveraging external tools or providing functionality and data access to third parties.
In practice, this means that WordPress can integrate with existing tools and services, pull data from external resources, and process information compiled from numerous sources. In business and eCommerce, this translates to a unified approach connecting to ERP tools, CRM applications for sales staff, marketing automation software, and everything else that provides the right application programming interface (API).
And vice versa: WordPress presents a broad set of capabilities for delivering data (and even layouts) to third-party solutions. Hosted applications can directly tap into its database and run any form of reports. External solutions can leverage its REST API by crafting transactions remotely, along with several alternative solutions for other business cases.
This is extremely valuable as your business grows and demands seamless integrations with the rest of your application suite. It also unlocks new opportunities for building web applications — such as designing lightweight and dynamic views that only leverage the WordPress database without loading all of its code behind the scenes. Here’s how headless WordPress applications may benefit progressive businesses.
Through its extensive set of interactive proxies, WordPress can power a fully-fledged mobile application, too.
This isn’t limited to traditional mobile-friendly responsive websites. Android and iOS developers can build a lightweight wrapper that interacts with a WordPress application, delivering and receiving data alike.
Tools like AppPresser even let less tech-savvy people integrate a WordPress application into bundled software for mobile devices. This lets you leverage camera and GPS sensors from the physical device, along with a broad set of hardware features available on different phones and tablets.
A web version named Reactor can simplify the process for you (and let you design your home screen and “About Pages” along the core technical features within a matter of hours).
Following an open source collaboration model led to over a dozen popular eCommerce solutions built on top of WordPress. WooCommerce, the leading plugin acquired by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, has been leading the charts so far, topping the list of most popular eCommerce tools across the Top 1 million websites in Alexa.
Hosted eCommerce solutions like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Squarespace Commerce are popular alternatives for businesses. In terms of software applications, OpenCart, PrestaShop, Magento can be found in the top 10 list of widely used tools.
But both categories lack capabilities once your store grows beyond a standalone selling platform itself. Complex commerce revolves around marketing automation, complex tracking, affiliate programs, a broad number of payment gateways (widely available on WordPress, contributed by third parties). Expanding the business on top of a robust and scalable platform is the primary reason why companies start and migrate businesses to WooCommerce.
In addition to paid offers, eCommerce solutions can help you handle free whitepapers or presentations behind a sign-up process. Instead of handing everything for free, collecting emails in exchange of a valuable report could be used for email automation purposes later.
Software as a Service
Software applications have been transitioning from on-premise to cloud over the past decade. According to a survey by BetterCloud, “73% of organizations say nearly all (80%+) of their apps will be SaaS by 2020.”
Consumers are now used to hosted web applications even for watching video (Netflix) and listening to music (Spotify) – trends that would have been unthinkable 15 years ago.
The diverse feature set of WordPress makes it uniquely suitable for launching SaaS applications in various forms. One product we launched in 2013 onboarded 10,000 customers over the first 6 months of work, automatically skyrocketing the new business to a mid-six-figure venture that scaled onward.
Quickly launching minimum viable products for product-market fit validation made WordPress a strong contender in the space. Companies with strong tech partnerships or in-house teams kept scaling WordPress further. Moreover, specific features could be extracted as free SaaS products that your customers may use and engage with your brand better (before upselling them to consulting or expensive product suites).
Another unique trait of WordPress is the ability to turn the platform into a network of websites.
This feature was introduced as a core functionality along with the 3.0 release in 2010. Universities have quickly adopted this model for their own websites, extending multisites to separate departments and even class activities allowing every student to operate a subsite of their own.
Maintenance is seamless — a platform upgrade automatically updates the entire network. The look-and-feel could be kept intact, which is a great opportunity for leading enterprise brands providing SaaS solutions to their own vendors and partners. A network we built for a leading automotive manufacturer brought hundreds of partners into a powerful union, letting them sell their main services while adopting the brand identity.
If your business relies on building niche websites for clients, handing over landing pages, or doing free demos, a WordPress multisite would be a wonderful option you can present to your prospects.
WordPress Will Keep Evolving
It’s no wonder that small and large businesses pick WordPress as one of their key solutions to represent their digital presence. While the rise of self-hosted platforms is notable, the flexibility of the CMS and its broad set of supported business applications are hard to match in every user journey possible.