Wordpress For Your Website

This article is not meant to be a hard sell (especially since the product is free), but Wordpress is so ubiquitous on the World Wide Web, that there almost isn't any reason to not use it.

In the first place, it's free. Not only free as in price but also free as in "freedom," since it's open-source software. Released under the Free Software Foundation's General Public License, the public is entitled to modify and redistribute Wordpress.

This license makes sense for the lead software powering the blogosphere, since it guarantees that the user base, many of whom are coders, can quickly patch WordPress security vulnerabilities as they arise. As time has moved on since Wordpress was first released in 2003, it's picked up a nice built-in feature set and upgraded to stay current with developing web trends. While it would be going too far to call it "robust," it is solid enough for most use cases and its widespread popularity ensures that show-stopper problems will be fixed.

Wordpress is currently used by some 60 million websites, including a third of the top-rated web domains as ranked on W3techs. It is a Content Management System (CMS) designed to host a blog, which has become the standard method of content delivery since the dawn of social media. Since it has such a wide user base, it has a global support community, including thousands of tutorials available on blogs and video platforms, and a thriving forum community.

What Cases Are The Exception?

There are some narrow cases where you might not use Wordpress.
  • You have no need for a blog. Some web businesses don't want to bother maintaining a blog, or they're better served using Twitter, Instagram, or other social networks for promotion.
  • You'd rather host a blog offsite - using Blogger, Tumblr, or some other free blog hosting set-up.
  • You need more extensive features. The alternative CMSs to Wordpress are popularly Joomla and Drupal, also open source, which have more advanced features for different types of content or even applications. They are also more skill-intensive.

Learning the Platform

In this section, we’ll give you a bit of a Wordpress Crash Course. Most web hosts should offer an "install wizard" option, with a one-click installer in CPanel or some such - assuming Wordpress isn't installed by default already.

Customizing your new Wordpress install centers on two kinds of items: themes and plug-ins . When it comes to theme, avoid the temptation to get an elaborate, splashy theme unless you're setting up a personal site or something to do with the entertainment niche, WPisLife might help. Most sites on the web go for lots of white space and plain black text with minimal decoration.

As for plug-ins, be conservative and research reviews of plug-ins before you just install them willy-nilly. Some concerns you should look for are compatibility with your version and set-up, security reports, and whether that plug-in is the best tool for the job. Remember that some plug-ins don't uninstall nearly as easily as they installed. Most hosted installs of Wordpress come with some plug-ins pre-installed, like Akismet anti-spam and Yoast SEO.

Here are a few uses you might consider for plug-ins:

  • Social media integration - Adding "share this" buttons on blog posts for Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Stats reporting - If traffic matters to you, get detailed reports of statistics to monitor traffic flow.
  • ECommerce accessories - Shopping cart features and other retail-oriented functions to sell something directly from the site.
  • Form tools - Will your blog posts be polling readers for opinions, asking them to sign up for a newsletter, accepting submissions from visitors, and other interactive uses?
Wordpress keeps statistics on their most-used plug-ins, so check there first.

Possible Tweaks

You might want to create pages for standard website templates such as "our staff," "our mission," "about us," etc. Wordpress allows you to create these custom pages in sections separate from the blog.

Do you want comments? Comments are a huge pain to maintain. In the earlier social web, comments were touted as a great way to keep users engaged. Now they're a haven for trouble-makers. While anti-spam measures go a certain ways, keeping comments on is more trouble than most webmasters will want to bother with. Turning them off is easy to figure out from the "comments" menu in the sidebar or with a plug-in.

Now What?

Now you have a blog! So take the spotlight and compose blog posts. For most business purposes, typical business blogs will talk about their industry and field, give handy tips and advice to customers, review certain products and services related to their industry, talk about upcoming products, services, and new features, hype up and promote sales, or just about anything else you can imagine.

What if you don't want to maintain a blog yourself? You can easily hire a blogger, content creator, editor, or general social media expert on a freelance basis. Maintaining a blog does take some creativity. It also takes a steady commitment, because a blog that hasn't posted in a long time is "dead" to search engines and readers alike. The best practice is to set up a schedule, as little as two posts per week, and stick to it.

Happy webmastering!