Whether you’re running as a candidate or you’re driving an issue campaign or you simply need a new website for your association or nonprofit, you will benefit from using WordPress.
In the unlikely event that you haven’t heard of WordPress yourself, you have certainly used it. In fact, this site is run using WordPress — as are the websites of most of my clients in the last 5 years. Although originally developed as software for blogging, it has evolved into a full-fledged Content Management System (CMS), suitable for all but the most complex and demanding content-oriented websites.
Here are some reasons you should consider using WordPress for any website that you need to build or rebuild for use in the public affairs and political arena:
- It’s easy to use. Since most public affairs and political campaigns have limited budgets, it’s important to make the CMS something that can be utilized by just about any staffer to update content.
- It’s free. When I worked with my first off-the-shelf CMS nearly 20 years ago, it cost over $100,000. There are very few solutions that cost that much today, but it’s still nice to have one that costs nothing (for the software itself, at least).
- It’s customizable. With WordPress, there are thousands of simple customizations (called “plugins”) that let you do most anything you can imagine. That means that when you want a signup form, a donation page, a FAQ section, or pretty much anything else, you don’t need to write custom computer code (or pay someone else to do it for you).
- It’s design-friendly. There are some campaign-specific CMS products out there that certainly do a decent job, but they often result in cookie-cutter websites. You don’t want to look the same as everyone else if you can avoid it. There are lots of pre-made and customizable designs for your WordPress site (called “themes”) that range in price from free to less than $100 or so. In addition, most website designers are skilled at building custom themes if you’re so inclined (and have a little more budget).
- It’s conducive to quickly-built websites. Pretty much every public affairs and political project I have worked on over the years has been on the basis of “we want it built yesterday.” WordPress let’s you do that. OK, not really. After all, it’s not a time machine. But it’s certainly possible to get a decent-looking website up and running in as little as 24 hours (sometimes less!) if you have content ready to go.
- It’s well-supported. Companies that provide web applications for the tools needed to operate a successful website typically support WordPress right out of the box. No need for custom code or complex integrations. From landing pages to analytics and everything in between, you’re likely to find WordPress supported, often with just the click of your mouse (or trackpad).
- It’s well-known. Just about any tech guy you have in-house or will ever hire will be comfortable using and customizing WordPress. No need to pay extra for someone with an obscure skill. It also makes it much easier to switch vendors than if you use one of the more obscure CMS systems out there.
- It’s easy to host. Chances are that you never give any thought to where your website is hosted. Hopefully it’s never a real issue for you. With WordPress, it shouldn’t be since just about every host on the planet is set up to support WordPress without jumping through any hoops. Oh, and it’s affordable, too, since WordPress doesn’t have any complex hosting demands.
I could go on and on with reasons why you should consider WordPress for your website, but hopefully you’re already sold. And it’s not because I get any kind of commission, but rather because I believe so strongly in its power to provide a useful, affordable solution for anyone in politics and public affairs.
I can’t tell you how many times I have worked with clients in recent years who had a web developer stick them with some obscure CMS — or worse a custom-built one — that makes future changes more difficult. That may be a great way for those developers to trap clients into future fees for website updates, but it’s not a good way to establish a meaningful long-term relationship with customers.