BANGO plc, a micro-cap software firm with offices in the UK and the US, is saving thousands per year by hosting its investor relations website entirely on the popular WordPress.com blogging network.
While it’s quite common for small companies to run their corporate sites using the WordPress blogging software on their own servers, Bango is the first company we’ve seen that hosts its IR website on WordPress.com, which is home to 346,000 sites, including some of the world’s busiest blogs, such as CNN’s Political Ticker and Dow Jones’ AllThingsD.
The $80 million market-cap company, which trades on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market, provides a fairly comprehensive IR website, including news, regulatory filings, director bios, financial documents and contact information. For stock information, the site links to the LSE’s website.
And while there’s not much about the site to get excited about besides the low cost, it clearly demonstrates what is possible as a baseline with today’s freely available web publishing technology.
Strong features out of the box (and free)
A basic WordPress.com blog with 3GB of storage, which is more than enough for an average IR website, is free. These sites are hosted on hundreds of servers in three datacenters to provide a highly reliable hosting environment.
And all sites come with many free features that companies typically pay for when they use traditional IR website hosts, including:
- RSS feeds (which use a real-time push technology that IR website vendors have yet to adopt);
- Integrated email alerts;
- Free mobile version of the site;
- Working search utility for the site, something many IR websites don’t have (note: it works);
- Integrated statistics so you can keep track of up-to-the-minute site traffic;
- Word processor-like writing, editing and publishing;
- Support for popular embeds, such as YouTube videos;
- Easy integration with popular social media like Facebook and Twitter;
- Access to administer your site on Blackberry, Nokia, Android and Apple’s iPhone, iPod or iPad;
- Drag-and-drop menu builder so you can quickly customize your navigation menus;
- Spam filtering for contact and commenting forms;
- Dozens of free plugins to expand the basic site capabilities;
- No long-term contracts and easy exporting of your content if you want to move to a different service;
- Automatic backups of your content;
- Secure admin login through SSL; and,
- Standards-compliant HTML5 code.
However, the free WordPress.com package is supported by advertising and does not enable companies to customize the look-and-feel of their sites beyond the 100-odd free themes that are provided. The free sites also are hosted on generic wordpress.com domains.
To get around these issues, companies can purchase upgrades, which is what Bango has done. Looking at the site, it seems that Bango has paid $14.97 to be able to customize the site’s design, $12 to map the site to its own custom domain at http://bangoinvestor.com/, and $29.97 to remove ads from the site.
That’s a grand total of $56.94 per year, which works out to just $4.75 per month. For small companies with tight budgets, that’s hard to beat no matter which way you look at it.
Of course, WordPress.com is a blogging system. It’s not designed specifically for IR websites. It doesn’t come with integrated stock market feeds, regulatory filings or news releases, and there are no service level agreements or people you can call up and yell at if something doesn’t go right.
That’s probably why we don’t see a rush of companies following Bango’s lead. However, with feature-rich sites available at negligible cost, the pressure is on big IR website vendors to provide more and better features and services, or cut their fees to remain competitive.