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18 December
2014

Independence Day: Why a future-proof WordPress site is the way to go.

Richard Muscat Azzopardi

Richard Muscat Azzopardi writes.

I have a few buttons. Things that really get me worked up about our industry.

One of the biggest ones is web-development companies that try to tie their customers into their services in the long term by building sites that depend on the agency itself.

In some cases this is hard to avoid. When you’re working on a project that is completely bespoke from the ground up, then it’s hard to use loads of open source solutions. This makes it harder for other developers to work on the project after you’re done, and therefore creates a bit of tie-in.

Just as with personal relationships, a long relationship with a client is something we all crave. It is beneficial for both parties because it reduces a lot of the stresses that come with starting off a new project, building trust and re-creating something you’ve worked on with another supplier.

But, just like with personal relationships, sometimes things don’t work out for some reason or another. It could be on the client’s side or it could be coming from the supplier’s end, it’s irrelevant. The relationship has run its course and you need to get out of there quickly.

independence-day-wordpress-websites-are-future-proof

 

So what happens next?

If your site is not future-proof, you’re stuck with the supplier simply because they’re the only ones who will touch your site. And everyone knows what it means to be forced into a relationship. It creates resentment. Your client rues the moment they need to ask for a change. You fear the moment that particular client comes with yet another request.

There’s nothing either one of you can do until the client decides to abandon their website or to choose to create a new site with a different developer.

 Independence

And that is why, when we insist that we build sites that are future-proof, we build them in a way that gives our clients independence from us. They should be able to replace us (from a technical point of view) in a matter of days, if not hours.

So what keeps them here? Well, we do. Sites built on an open platform keep us on our toes. They don’t make it hard for clients to switch us, so the only way we remain relevant is by giving an amazing service.

An open source platform such as WordPress offers website owners independence because there are thousands of great wordpress developers around the world. This makes it relatively easy to change suppliers, and therefore reduces the chance of you having to stick to one supplier because they’re the only ones who will ever understand the coding that happened on your site.

Add-ons

So you have a great site that’s been serving its purpose for years. You need to add a simple block to pull all your tweets on your home page. If this was not planned for by the bespoke site that was built for you, you’re either going to have to get it coded from scratch or you’re going to have to change your site.

WordPress has thousands of plugins that can be installed and customised for use on your site. Some of these are free and others need to be paid for. You’ll also probably need a team to set them up correctly and to get the best out of them. But compare the cost needed to set up a plugin with the cost of developing an addition from scratch and you’ll immediately start seeing the advantages of going for open source solutions.

Even when a plugin does not exist, finding a developer to build one for you is a viable option. Each one of the thousands of WordPress developers I mentioned earlier is familiar with the system, so they’d find it much easier to build an addition to your site.

future proof wordpress websites

 

Updates and maintenance

The same applies for something that is, to a certain extent, far more risky. If you have a site that violates some updates in Google’s algorithm, or that is easily hackable, you need to be able to update it easily. You also need a team of developers to work proactively to update the core code of your site to keep it at the forefront of technology and online marketing.

WordPress, like most other widely-supported open source solutions, has thousands of developers who are constantly working on improving the security, search visibility, ease of use and functionality of the system.

 Changing look & feel

Last but not least, you might need to change your site because of its aesthetic qualities (or lack thereof). No matter whether it’s because you want something that looks better or whether you need the change because of a rebrand, changing the look and feel of your site with WordPress is much easier than starting from scratch.

You get to keep all the hard work you’ve made (or paid for) on the back-end of your site and just change the skin without affecting your content and the way it is seen by search engines.

So the next time you’re looking into getting a new website built, ask your developer whether the site is future proof. A great web company will do their very best to make themselves redundant after delivering the site. We, for one, want you to come back to us because you want to, not because you feel you have to.

 This article is the last in a series of six articles about what we at Switch Digital believe to be the principles of great websites: Design, Reliability, Simplicity of use, Social-media prepared, Search-Engine Optimised & Future-proofing. If you want us to take a look at your website or would like a free consultation about how you can get a website which checks all these boxes, get in touch with us today.

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A little more about

Richard Muscat Azzopardi

Richard is Co-founder and Director of Online Marketing at Switch Digital, which specialises in building long-term relationships and increasing return on investment for clients online. In a previous life, Richard was a marketing manager in a US software company. His writing has been quoted in Forbes and appeared on Wired.com.