Using WordPress as a small business website

I’ve developed a teaching module that helps students start to create a simple business web site using WordPress.  The students launch a new site on a web host via an install script, come up with a simple category structure, and download/upload a new theme.

As an example of a business WordPress site, I use nextbusnews.com.  NextBus is the groovy technology that tells me real-time how late my next MUNI bus will be (more details on how NextBus uses WordPress as a simple content management system here).

It amazes me that only 36% of US small businesses with net access have a web site (as reported in the Wall St. Journal last week).  This is 2008, not 1998!

Is there an opportunity for WordPress to become a kind of generic small business solution?  Business sites can be done now, of course, with some tweaking and geeking.  But, following the analogy from Stephen O’Grady’s talk at WordCamp on Saturday, perhaps someone needs to build a company on top of WordPress, in the same way that Google builds its services on top of open source software.  A small business website service built with WordPress, but where 99% of the users don’t even know what WordPress is?  Edublogs for small business, but maybe without even using the term ‘blog’?  Is this a good idea?  Is somebody doing this?  In the meantime, we think there are lots of good reasons to teach students about open source business platforms and basic content management via WordPress.

(I’m going to wait on an official release of this teaching module until after I hear from reviewers at the WITS 2008 Technology Instruction in Business Curriculum Competition.)

5 thoughts on “Using WordPress as a small business website”

  1. J.P.
    Thanks for the shout out.
    The NextBusNews.com site is something that my company worked on with NextBus. I am a WordPress fanatic and have helped create a number of WordPress sites–including my own. I write a lot about WP at ContentMarketingToday.com
    You might want to take a look at some just launched sites: http://www.swfloridabusinessnews.com, http://www.5advise.com, http://www.mimismanners.com, and my book site, http://www.getcontentgetcustomers.com. They are very different, but all built with WP.
    One of the things I love about WP is that I can prototype a website very quickly, even though I am not really a techie.
    I guess I should add that I believe that delivering relevant and valuable content is every bit as critical as the web design.
    Cheers,
    Newt

  2. Hi JP,

    Great insights. I didn’t know that only 36% of small businesses in the US have websites. I’m glad that you are educating the future entrepreneurs and business owners that WordPress can be used as a CMS. In my experience, I found most small business owners generally want a website and do not really care about a blog. Most are pleasantly surprised that WP is so easy to use and maintain.

    I have developed a methodology of developing WordPress websites which I call IDOL. Here’s a brief intro to it – http://www.wpresscoach.com/idol-methodology-wordpress-small-business.html

    Cheers,

    Dipankar

  3. Thanks Dipankar. You’ve got a great site for WordPress business users, and the steps in your methodology match well with my experience. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. The genius of WP is that we can upload whatever we like to it. Small business owners used to have to “call the guy” and “pay a fee” to change a comma. When they figure out they can do it all if they like, they actually start figuring out marketing.

    The problem is,no small business owner knows where to start. There’s no credible “teacher” or “road map” to doing this stuff. Just a buncha opportunistic consultant hacks….and when trust is gone.

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