1. WordPress is FREE… or very inexpensive
Before we start, to save any confusion, there are two versions of WordPress – and both are free.WordPress.com is a hosted version. It’s a great introduction to the WordPress platform and ideal for running basic websites, though it has its limitations. However, it’s completely free to use – you simply go to the WordPress dotcom website and sign up. You’ll get a domain name like mysite dot WordPress dot com so the only cost involved is if you want to buy your own domain.
However, once you’ve got your head around the hosted version you might find yourself wanting more… and this is where the.org, self-hosted version comes into play.The software is still free but you will need to purchase some webspace to host it on, which costs anything from about £30 upwards, and a domain name, which is just a few pounds a year for a.co.uk. You’ll also have to install the software (though many web hosts will do that for you). But in terms of monetary costs, that’s it.
2. WordPress grows with you
For most people, their first experience of WordPress is the.com version. It’s easy to access and use. There’s no complicated installation or backing up to do, your site is saved across several servers and the software upgrades automatically. It will even automatically sort genuine comments from the spam! Adding pages, posts and changing content is easy too, though the dashboard can take a bit of getting used to. There are limitations on what you can do with it though. There are only about a hundred templates, you can’t edit or customise them, you can’t add plugins etc. But it is easy to get started, especially if you don’t want to get your hands dirty!
You might be happy with the hosted version, but once you’ve found your way around WordPress you may want to do more with it, and this is when people switch to the.org version. This version has thousands of themes available, both free and premium, and you can edit the code on which your site is built to make it unique. You can transfer your existing.com site across so you don’t lose the content, and it uses the same user-friendly dashboard. You have to be far more pro-active though – you need to install plugins to do many of the things the.com version did automatically. But with tens of thousands of plugins available, rather than using a “one size fits all” solution you can find the one that works perfectly for you and your site. As you understand more about how WordPress works, you’ll find yourself delving into the code to change everything about your site, from the fonts and colours to the way each individual page displays. It’s not always straightforward, and it can be downright frustrating, but look on it as a journey of discovery, with the perfect website waiting at the end!
3. WordPress can be a team project
The trouble with web design software such as DreamWeaver and WebPlus is that it is installed locally, on one computer. Fine if only one person is responsible for the website, but not so good if you are working collaboratively or you want to be able to update your website from home and the PC is at work. Because WordPress is web-based, you can access it wherever you are, and you can set up multiple accounts so other members of your team can edit it too. You can set different levels of access so people can only edit their own posts, or can edit, add and change all the content but not get at the theme files. There are even plugins available that let you set different actions for every single person who can access your site.
4. WordPress isn’t just about blogging
Though WordPress was initially created as a blogging platform, it’s become a lot more now and is often used as a content management system. Rather than having a website and separate blog, you can integrate them into one site. You can create static pages as well as blog-style ones, add contact forms, forums, gallery, directories and more. You don’t even have to use posts at all, and there are templates available that will make your site look absolutely nothing like a blog!
5. WordPress has lots of support
Ever bought some software, come across a problem and not been able to find the solution? Frustrating, isn’t it! The great thing about WordPress is that there is a lot of support out there. The official sites – both.com and.org – have detailed documentation on every aspect and very active forums where you can ask questions. You’ll also find that lots of the themes and plugins have their own support communities too. If you get stuck, just Google the problem and the chances are the answer will be out there!