Sometimes a specific Web building platform jumps out at us as a good fit for a particular project; perhaps Weebly for a simple but attractive brochure site, or Joomla for a portal site. However, there’s one Content Management System (CMS) that we all use more than any other, and that system is WordPress.
I work with them all and have gone from Joomla to WordPress mentality over the years. Why? It has nothing to do with me and what I like to build – it comes down to the end result and what the client feels comfortable using. I’ve heard it a million times over – Joomla is so confusing! DNN doesn’t do it for me…
Truth is – I am a Joomla girl – I quite like it and its power however, WordPress has made massive in-roads to the percentage share of Joomla and Drupal. This website/blog is WordPress – not the garden variety out of the box freebie, but it is undeniably WordPress.
WordPress was first launched in 2003. At that time, it was seen an a fairly simple (yet competent) CMS for blogging purposes.
Even as recently as a few years ago, many Web designers still thought of WordPress as a CMS best suited to blogs, and chose Joomla or Drupal for other types of website. Now, however, this has changed. WordPress is capable of acting as the backbone for all kinds of different websites. It’s now used by names as big as Samsung, Forbes and CNN.
You only need look at some of the advanced themes now available for WordPress to see just how much it can do.
1. WordPress is now packed with standard features
Although WordPress has retained ease-of-use (and practically the same “back end” interface) for a number of years, the features list has grown exponentially. Menu configuration and media handling are two good examples of things that have got steadily more powerful with no sacrifice made in usability.
Wise enhancements in new versions of WordPress are what has made the platform evolve into a great CMS for all types of websites, and not merely a solid blogging platform.
2. The learning curve is just right
Creating a new post in WordPress and uploading some images is simplicity itself, to the point that real technophobes can use WordPress without feeling intimidated.
At the same time, however, there’s loads of functionality at your fingertips. It’s easy to ignore things you don’t understand, and then gradually learn more and more. By contrast, Joomla and (especially) Drupal, make the basics easy, but then leave you with complex documentation to achieve things that WordPress can do without blinding you with science.
3. The theme selection is as good as it gets
There are thousands of great WordPress themes available, and many of them are completely free.
However, it’s at the premium (commercial) end of the market that things get really interesting. Some of the premium WordPress themes essentially work like Web design construction kits in their own right and give you the ability to create sites that look truly world-class – at an average price of about $50!
Now before you get all excited about that $50 tag, I spend more than my fair share of time picking up the pieces of people who’ve either attempted the extravagant website and failed or have had one built and then had no ability to use it because the plugins etc. are all too confusing.
4. WordPress is easy to monetize
Whether you are selling products directly from your site, or monetizing with ads and affiliate offers, WordPress makes it easy.
Ads are easily inserted using widgets and eCommerce can be handled by a range of plugins including the popular WooCommerce.
5. There are some superb plug-ins
There are so many quality plug-ins for WordPress that you’d be hard pressed to think of any functionality you cannot quickly add to a WordPress site.
Best of all, you can usually find a free plugin to do most things perfectly well. Furthermore, most plugins are downloaded, installed and configured in a matter of minutes. WordPress’ emphasis on ease-of-use seems to have rubbed off on the plug-in writers!
6. Updates just keep coming
As WordPress is so popular, work on the platform never stops. While this sometimes means that keeping on top of updates feels like a never-ending job, it also makes for a system that’s constantly evolving and improving, with new functions being added all the time.
7. Support is second-to-none
As you would expect from such a popular platform, the support community is active and huge. Aside from the dedicated WordPress support resources, you’ll find an abundance of third-party forums and other options for assistance. If you have any question at all, you can be pretty sure that somebody has already answered it somewhere.
8. SEO is made easy
WordPress is inherently quite SEO-friendly, with features such as the ability to automatically generate search-friendly URLS, but with the addition of a couple of plugins, such as the Google XML Site Map and the All-in-One SEO pack, you can force yourself to maintain good SEO discipline, giving your site the best chance of good search results.
Add to this how easy it is to use plugins to integrate with social networks, and a WordPress site can perform very well in terms of modern SEO with quite minimal effort.
9. Setting up a WordPress site is inexpensive
WordPress is open source, so using it costs nothing. Even with the addition of a hosting package and a premium theme, you’re still looking at very little money to get a quality WordPress site up and running. The fact that many great plugins are free helps too.
10. WordPress remains the best blogging platform
We’ve left this point until last as it does no harm to remember that WordPress started out as a pure blogging platform.
It remains a great (if not the greatest) blogging platform around. WordPress is a great choice for a new website and an obvious choice for a new blog.
While we’re discussing WordPress, it’s important to note the distinction between WordPress.COM and WordPress.ORG.
WordPress.COM is a hosted blogging platform. It’s completely free to use, and it’s easy to get started. However, your website will have an address like www.yourpersonalblog.wordpress.com
There are also various restrictions to WordPress.COM blogs. Although you can use affiliate links to make money promoting products, you are not allowed to place banner ads or sign up to third-party networks such as Google AdSense.
In addition, WordPress.COM restricts you from using advanced (premium) themes and limits the number of plug-ins you can use. It should be seen as a “starter pack” and not as the foundation for a major Web project.
WordPress.ORG uses exactly the same framework but is installed on your own Web hosting space. A WordPress.ORG blog is completely your own, and you are free to sell advertising and use it exactly as you wish.
If you’ve yet to try WordPress, we seriously recommend you give it a go. If it’s been a while since you worked on a website, you will find what you can do with such a simple interface truly staggering.
No – Horses for courses. There is not one of us the same as another and we all like different things. We all utilise different platforms and want to show different things to the world. One needs to determine their skills, what they require and how they will manage their blob/website.
Go with what feels intuitive – don’t let someone steamroll you into something you neither want nor need or worse still, can’t handle.
At the end of the day, it’s supposed to make it easy – well, let it.