Why Your Business Website Should Be Built With Open Source Software
This article, I hope, will convince you fairly quickly why your business website needs to be built with open source software. That’s the goal anyway. And if I am even moderately good at getting my point across I will accomplish my mission! Being a small business owner myself, I like to think that I have the best interests of other business owners at heart – so any time I have information that I think may be useful to my shipmates I really do enjoy passing it along. To be fair, that’s one of the main reasons this web site even exists.
Before I move on I’ll admit that this subject matter might beeeee…. a little bit, ummmm “dry”? – so I will try to be funny whenever I can. But don’t hold your breath.
First of all, what does open source mean?
It has taken me a long time, but I have finally learned to never make assumptions when talking ‘web stuff’ to people that aren’t used to talking about ‘web stuff’.
So just in case you’re unfamiliar – open source simply means there is a project that exists out there on the web and it was created by somebody (or some bodies) that chose to give other people permission to use and add on to what they have created. The idea being that they came up with an awesome idea and they recognize that other people may also have awesome ideas that can make the original….even more awesome.
Pretty cool idea, right?
Moving right along, then.
Something I’m “uncomfortable” admitting
Before I attempt to make my point, I have a confession to make. You see, whether folks realize it or not there really are two camps that people fall into when they think about a web site. They either think about how nice (visually) and functional the site is – OR – they think about how easily it can be found in the search engines. Usually the people in Camp A are the end users and the people in Camp B are the site owners! With maybe a little variance!
Anyway, my confession is this…
While EACH of those two things are incredibly important (visual/functional aspect vs ranking power), at the end of the day if one is forced to make a decision as to which is more important – ranking power wins. Period. There may be minor exceptions, but as always the exceptions are there mostly to prove the rule.
Being a designer/graphic artist, that’s a big OUCH. But hey, I need to “suck it up, buttercup”, don’t I? And, just to soothe my own pain – they really are BOTH important.
One plus one plus one plus
Okay, so I’ve told you that I think your website should be created with open source software. I also told you that, in the big scheme of things, having a website that google “enjoys” is more important than having the potential eye candy thing going on.
So, what does one have to do with the other?
Let’s see if I can tie this all together
There is an absolute GLUT of new (newer) website builders out there – with more being released all the time. In fact, if you spend any time at all on YouTube, you’ve probably seen advertisements for these things ad nauseam. You know what I mean, right? The cool hipster guy telling you about his idea for a hotel in space, right? You’ve likely heard of WIX and Weebly but there are many others out there too. Heck some hosting providers have even created their own.
AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE.
The number one “feature” that these shoddy site builders tout is that you can create a nice looking website.
Sometimes they’ll even add in, “in less than an hour” – that one really slays me!
Side note: Sort of seems like they’re on the wrong side of the “pretty vs easily found” equation, doesn’t it?
In some cases you really CAN build a decent looking site with their builder. Credit where credit is due. Hell, I’ve seen a couple of truly remarkable looking websites built with WIX. Weebly, not-so-much.
But what happens AFTER you build your (hopefully) nice looking, super deluxe, impress-me-I’m-a-hipster website?
Usually not much.
At least not much in terms of getting picked up in search engines. That is unless you have an absolute TON of time, money and know-how to throw at the thing. A TON.
So why open source?
Before I explain why open source site builders are so much better, let me first be fair and say that building your site with open source software also doesn’t guarantee instant search engine results. NOTHING guarantees that. At least not any practices you’d want to associate your business with!
But here is where open source solutions like WordPress and Joomla shine and the other resources I have mentioned, well… just don’t. In a word: Extensibility.
Simply put, if you choose to use a “solution” like WIX or Weebly or something else that’s similar, you are 100% limited to what that business has baked into their software. No, I don’t just mean that you’re forced into one of their cookie cutter template designs, although there’s that too. What I mean is, there’s a reasonably good chance that you’re going to want your website to do more than what these subpar builders have the ability to do (or have the ability to do well).
Things such as:
- Create a contact form
- Create a survey
- Use Google fonts
- Add a shopping cart/turn your site into an e-commerce site
- Add social icons
- Add social feeds
- Add a job application
- Have caching ability
The list could go on forever but I’m sure you get the picture.
Now, it’s not that you CAN’T do some of these things with the subpar site builders. You absolutely can do some of the simpler things. But be prepared because you will have one way and ONLY one way to do them. Theirs.
Compare that with an open source builder. Say for example you want to add social sharing icons to your latest blog post. Simple. Find a plugin, install it, learn the basics and you’re done. Don’t like the way it looks or behaves? No problem, there are 120 more developers out there that build plugins to accomplish the same thing with just a slightly different look.
Oh, and did I mention that 99.99% of the time these add ons – the ability to extend your website – are FREE? That’s right, even some of the most prominent plugin developers will have free versions of their product.
In all honesty, I have to say that the fact that open source software even exists still boggles my mind. It’s actually cause to have hope for humanity!
Hopefully I have done a fairly decent job of convincing you that, as a general rule, steering clear of these all-in-one website builders is really what you need to be doing. Especially if you take your business seriously.
I truly hope you found this article helpful. Especially if you are about to build a new website or revamp your current one! Do you know anyone else that might benefit from reading this? Please feel free to share it socially. Thank you.
Marc is a Dad, a Web Designer, a Creator of Branding and an occasional blogger . (and probably in that order!) with some affiliate marketing thrown in for good measure.
He owns Thirsty Fish Graphic Design, A one-man web design biz., based in Corning, NY which is in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate NY.
He enjoys physical fitness and healthy eating to an annoying degree, playing guitar, playing piano, sketching and most of all hanging with his daughter doing just about anything!