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Thinking about using WordPress for your small business website? The world’s most popular CMS recently released new Business and e-commerce plans. These packages include hosting and technical support for your site.
We’ll explain everything you need to know about these plans. Plus, you’ll learn about alternatives to WordPress.
What is WordPress?
If you’re just getting started with small business web hosting, you might be looking for some clarity on what exactly WordPress does.
As a content management system, it simplifies the creation and management of content.
WordPress is owned by Automattic, founded by Matt Mullenweg. Since its release in 2003, WordPress has grown exponentially. Today, the platform powers 26% of the web.
Hosted vs Self-Hosted WordPress
There are two ways you can use WordPress:
- Self-hosted: You can download the complete platform from WordPress.org for use on any web hosting environment that you set up and control. You get the greatest control over your site with this option but you have to manage all the technical elements on your own.
- Hosted: If self-hosting isn’t for you, you can sign up at WordPress.com to use an online-only version of the same application. You can access your WordPress dashboard online, and you don’t have to worry about the infrastructure powering your site.
The latest update to the WordPress core (available to everyone regardless of whether you run the self-hosted or hosted version) is version 5.0. It’s nicknamed Bebo after the Cuban jazz musician Bebo Valudés.
It was announced on December 6, 2018, in a blog post written by Mullenweg.
Video: Introducing WordPress 5.0
It rolled out with the new block-based Gutenberg editor. This was the biggest change to the editor in the history of WordPress.
And users now have access to a new default theme called Twenty Nineteen.
Is WordPress Good for Business Sites?
So, should you choose this platform for your business website?
WordPress caters to users across the spectrum, and bills its Business plan as perfect for businesses selling online but ideal for anyone who wants more control over their CMS:
Whether you’re a restaurant looking to let your diners book reservations, a small business looking to sell your wares on the web, or a writer collecting payments for your bestseller, the Business plan at WordPress.com is for you. WordPress.com Business is an excellent choice for e-commerce, but anyone who wants to upload custom themes or plugins will also find themselves at home. —WordPress
Now, let’s take a closer look at how the Premium, Business, and e-commerce plans stack up.
WordPress Premium Plan
The WordPress Premium plan is ideal for entrepreneurs and freelancers and it comes with:
- A free domain name for the first year
- Jetpack Essential Features (an optimization tool to make sure your WordPress site performs well)
- Support via email and live chat, as well as a personalized orientation with WordPress to get you started on the right foot
- Removal of all WordPress.com ads
- Advanced social media tools, including easy integration, advanced scheduling of posts, and post promotion tools
- Support for Simple Payments via PayPal, as well as site monetization via ad revenue, PayPal buttons, and more
- VideoPress for video management
WordPress Business Plan
The WordPress Business plan is a good fit for small businesses. This plan comes with the Premium features listed above and also includes the following:
- Enhanced SEO tools
- The ability to upload themes and plugins
- Support for Google Analytics integration
- Unlimited access to premium themes, as well as advanced features to customize these designs
- Unlimited storage space
WordPress E-Commerce Plan
The WordPress E-commerce plan comes with all the Business plan features, plus the ability to accept payments in 60-plus countries and integrate with top shipping carriers. This plan is essential if you want to sell anything online.
While any site may gain from the powerful SEO features and customization, if you are a small business site looking for a basic online presence, you probably don’t need the Business or e-commerce plans.
Plan Comparison Table
Here is a quick snapshot detailing the difference in cost and capacity for each plan.
|Online Selling Features||Simple payments||Simple payments|
Live shipping rates
Integration with multiple
|Ideal For||Entrepreneurs and freelancers||Small businesses||Online stores|
WordPress Features For Business
This is a lot to take in. In case you’re still unsure, we’ll break down how these additional features actually benefit your site.
In the WordPress universe, a plugin is a piece of software that adds features or extends existing functionality available on the WordPress platform.
Plugins are part of the reason why WordPress is so powerful.
WordPress’s extensibility and flexibility make it possible to support whatever projects you have in mind. When you’re on the Business plan, you can take this even further by uploading custom plugins.
Similar to plugins, themes are a way to customize your WordPress installation. Many people see them as a way to control the look of your site, but they can also be a simple way to install functionality.
Business users are not restricted to options available in the WordPress theme store.
Excellent WordPress Business Themes
You’re probably wondering why you might care about being able to upload custom themes to WordPress when there are so many options available in the WordPress repository.
There are plenty of excellent themes designed especially for businesses that are not available in the WordPress repository . And to do so, you’ll need a Business WordPress plan.
- Divi is a powerful, fully-customizable theme with a clean, professional appearance. It is nevertheless easy-to-use.
- StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes are similar to what can be found in the WordPress store, but small tweaks to the design make the StudioPress options stand above the free themes.
- Koehn is a premium theme for business users that is designed to be flexible, aesthetically pleasing (yet minimalist), and editable with a drag-and-drop editor.
Google Analytics Integration
All WordPress users get built-in status tracking that includes information on the number of new posts, likes, and comments, as well as visitor traffic and activity.
However, Google Analytics offers features like funnel reports to track your visitors’ path through your site, get conversion rates, and so on. This is ideal for e-commerce.
Users with the Business plan get support for Google Analytics, though it is disabled by default.
You can easily enable this by going to Settings > Traffic under the My Sites area of your WordPress admin dashboard.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
WordPress.com’s Business plans come with special SEO features. You can add meta descriptions, custom title formats, and search and social previews.
The only other WordPress plans to offer these SEO tools are the Jetpack Premium and Professional plans for self-hosted sites.
Business plan users have access to Jetpack Search — a powerful onsite search tool.
Video: Jetpack Search brings powerful onsite search to your business website
According to WordPress.com, the enhanced search functionality is ideal for all types of organizations, from news sites to e-commerce:
Once you activate Jetpack Search, you’ll be using the same search engine powering some of the largest sites on the web. Jetpack Search provides a more engaging experience for your visitors: it relies on modern search algorithms that take phrase matches and the recency of your content into consideration, which in turn produces better search results. —WordPress.com
Advanced E-Commerce Features
In addition to WooCommerce (which we discuss below), you can start selling easily on WordPress with a Premium plan.
Users can activate Simple Payments with a few clicks.
Video: Simple Payments block overview
Setting up a store takes a few more clicks. To set up a store on WordPress, you need to check the following boxes:
- Business plan user
- Based in the United States or Canada
- Previously installed a custom theme or plugin
Eligible sites can create a store from their dashboard.
The WordPress e-commerce plan takes online selling to the next level. You’ll get support to accept payments from clients across the world and live rates from major shipping carriers.
Are There Downsides to WordPress?
We’ve discussed the upsides of WordPress and its benefits for small business websites. However, there are some downsides to using WordPress.
Some of these negatives apply to WordPress in general, while other notes are specific to the top-end plans from WordPress.com.
Hackers Target WordPress
Because WordPress is the most commonly-used CMS in the world, it is a desirable target for hackers. According to research from Sucuri, 90% of all hacked CMS websites in 2018 were WordPress sites.
The developers behind WordPress issue regular security updates. By keeping your core software updated, you can better protect your site against hacks.
You can also use third-party plugins to help protect yourself. However, be aware that plugins can be another way by which hackers can gain access to your site.
Keeping your site updated can be time-consuming, especially if you’ve taken advantage of the robust themes and plugins WordPress offers.
You’ll need to update the WordPress core itself. More, you’ll need to make sure your theme and that individual plugins are updated and that nothing is broken.
Speed and Performance Issues
Depending on the theme you’ve chosen and the plugins you’ve installed, your WordPress site might become sluggish. Developers add code to themes and plugins to increase functionality but this also creates bloat, slowing down your site.
The solution to this is to optimize your site by removing any extra code. However, you’ll need some understanding of programming to do this.
Third-party tools will help identify performance-related issues and determine the steps you need to take to fix these.
WordPress ships with Jetpack for some of these tasks, but if you have a Business plan, you can use third-party options.
WordPress.com’s Business Hosting is Pricey
If you’re ready to deal with those cons, and you still want to use WordPress to build your website, keep in mind that the WordPress.com Business plan comes with an expensive price tag.
This may put it out of reach for many entrepreneurs starting out but you do get value for money.
Alternatives to WordPress
WordPress isn’t the only website building option for businesses. Here are some alternatives that you might consider.
Like WordPress.com, Squarespace is a fully-hosted solution so it is a one-stop-shop for everything you need for a functional website.
Check our Squarespace review for all the facts if you need help deciding between the two.
Drupal is a CMS that’s very similar to WordPress: it is open source, has a strong community supporting the product, and offers extensibility via themes and modules.
If you’re willing to put in the time to conquer the learning curve, you’ll have a powerful, secure platform.
WordPress.com For WooCommerce
WooCommerce also powers WordPress’ e-commerce plan.
You’ll get the ability to sell both physical and digital goods, and you’ll have everything you need to manage physical inventory, offer a shopping cart, and handle the checkout and payments processes.
Most e-commerce platforms provide these features, but there are certain aspects that make WooCommerce stand out from many other e-commerce options.
WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress, but you can also add features and functionality to WooCommerce with extensions.
Extensions provide functionality like the ability to set up subscription plans, memberships, and dynamic prices.
Essential WooCommerce Extensions
You can see a full listing of the extensions available for WooCommerce in the WordPress repository, but here are some of the ones that caught our eye:
- WooCommerce PDF Invoices and Packing Slips: easily create package inserts for all your sales
- Customer Reviews for WooCommerce: increase your sales by allowing prior customers to review your products (thereby gaining you social proof)
- WooCommerce Wishlist Extension: add wishlist functionality so that people can save products they’re interested in
One of the biggest challenges with online stores is offering a sufficient number of secure, simple payment options. Checkouts with clunky interfaces can increase cart abandonment and reduce conversions.
WooCommerce comes with extensive functionality to accept major credit cards, bank transfers, cash on delivery, and more.
WooCommerce integrates with over 140 region-specific payment gateways, which is nice if you have an international clientele.
WordPress is supported by a huge community and WooCommerce’s following is similar.
Currently, there are hundreds of contributors to the WooCommerce repository on GitHub, and there are many translations of the plugin available. You can even join in on a WooCommerce Meetup local to you!
Popular Alternatives to WooCommerce
There are a lot of upsides to using WooCommerce but it’s not a great fit for everybody.
If you’re in the market for an e-commerce platform, here are some alternatives for you to consider.
OpenCart is an open source, free-to-use e-commerce platform that comes with everything you need to get your online business up and running.
Its features include easy product, customer, and order management, as well as built-in support for tax calculations, coupon code support, and more.
Check our OpenCart review if you think this e-commerce solution will best serve your business.
PrestaShop is an open source e-commerce application built on a technology stack that is similar to that of WordPress and WooCommerce. It’s flexible and easy to spin up.
A big difference is that PrestaShop is a standalone product and WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. The core platform is free-to-use, but you can purchase add-ons and themes from the marketplace.
Our PrestaShop review will guide you through the benefits and potential drawbacks of this open-source e-commerce platform.
Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce platform, so in addition to getting everything you need for a website, you’ll get everything you need to run an online store, such as:
- Shopping cart
- Checkout functionality
- Shipping integration
- Tax calculators
Read our Shopify review for a comprehensive look at this platform.
Here are some of the most common questions people ask us about WordPress. Have a question of your own? Leave it in the comments below this article and we’d be delighted to answer it.
What are the best WordPress themes for business?
Divi is a powerful, multi-purpose theme popular with WordPress users. Koehn is another business theme, and it comes with a drag and drop editor. There are several themes in the WordPress store to choose from and you can also upload themes on the Business Plan.
What’s the biggest difference between WordPress’ Business plan and its other plans?
WordPress for Business comes with unlimited storage, and the ability to customize themes and install plugins. The Business plan also comes with support for Google Analytics integration, and advanced SEO tools.
Can you get WordPress business themes for free?
You’ll get access to premium themes designed specifically for business. If you don’t find a theme that matches your business needs, you can upload and customize themes.
Is WordPress Best for Your Business Website?
Setting up a business website can be a daunting prospect but there are many different options available, and it’s easy to see why WordPress is the most popular one of the lot.
It’s affordable, comes with loads of room to enhance functionality, and is widely supported.
Businesses selling online, and those who want greater control over their website, might gain from the WordPress Business and e-commerce packages. The ability to upload custom plugins and themes gives you the power to create a unique online presence.
Which WordPress Plan Is Worth Considering?
If you’re planning to — or already are — selling to customers internationally and need to integrate with major shipping carriers, consider the e-commerce plan.
A small business just starting out may not require the extra features on offer, though, and a Personal or Premium plan would be adequate and affordable.
And if you’re still on the fence about WordPress, you might want to review our article on why you might find WordPress a great option.
If you’re eager to get going, you can signup with WordPress.com now to get our exclusive discount.