Websites are the foundation of any digital marketing program for small businesses, and yet nearly half of merchants (46%) still don’t have their own websites. Web hosting giant GoDaddy is looking to change that with the launch of a new program it describes as the easiest way for businesses to build their own WordPress sites.
The offering which debuts this morning, is dubbed WordPress Websites, and gives small business owners a more streamlined way to create WordPress websites, with professionally-built themes, industry-specific images, and a visual page editor for website customization.
“Many of our small business customers want to use WordPress to build their own site, but lack the technical knowledge,” Gabe Mays, GoDaddy’s Head of WordPress Products, told Street Fight.
Although there are thousands of WordPress themes available on the internet, many of which are free, Mays explained that users without advanced technical experience are often stymied when it comes times to install these themes and it “doesn’t look anything like the demo site because it’s a basically a shell.” With GoDaddy’s new WordPress Websites, small business owners will have access to a streamlined “quick start wizard” and they can customize features like photo galleries, contact forms, and social integrations.
During the beta release of WordPress Websites, GoDaddy says more than 3x as many customers were successful in publishing websites and the average time it took to publish a site decreased by 73%.
“We envision that the primary user for WordPress Websites will be small business and entrepreneurs who know they want a WordPress site but likely do not have much experience building websites or using WordPress,” said Mays.
GoDaddy is hardly alone in this space, as many of its competitors continue to push further into SMB marketing with their own DIY website building platforms. Just last week, Vistaprint debuted a website building platform aimed at “micro” business owners. Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace have also been leaders in the space. But Mays emphasizes that this launch is unique because GoDaddy is the only major host that has a WordPress offering specifically for SMBs — besides WordPress.com — and GoDaddy’s new offering will also include a domain, email, and support for free.
In addition to its ease of use, GoDaddy’s WordPress Websites benefits from an optimized WordPress hosting platform. Mays said that GoDaddy has built its hosting infrastructure with load balancing servers, multiple caching layers, and all files and databases are on SSD drives, which serve up site requests 30% faster than standard HDD drives. The WordPress hosting platform has been built using clustered servers, allowing for scalability during traffic spikes.
“Our small business owners are experts at their business, they are not experts [at] hosting administrative tasks to make sure their site performs well and is secure,” he said. “Our WordPress hosting is a managed platform and takes care of the hosting admin and network security for the customer, so they can focus on building a site.”
Today’s launch is the latest in a series of steps GoDaddy has taken to expand its presence in the small business marketing community. (Earlier this year, the company released Flare, a free mobile app where entrepreneurs can brainstorm business ideas.) By simplifying the onboarding and website building process for small businesses that are interested in using WordPress, the company is looking to empower its customers and give them confidence in their own technical skills.
“GoDaddy’s overall mission is to develop products that enable people to start and successfully run their own, independent ventures,” Mays said. “With so much of business moving online, it’s vital that small businesses have fully functional websites.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.