WordPress is a free blogging platform used by millions of people. According to this CNET article, 0.8% of all internet sites are powered by WordPress. Wow. That’s a lot of sites. Have you jumped on the WordPress bandwagon yet? Perhaps you’re not a blogger or if you do blog you’re happy with sites like blogger.com. Well let me let you in on a little secret. WordPress is a heck-of-a-lot more than a blogging platform. Sure, it’s a great blogging tool, but it’s also a wonderful platform for any small to medium-sized website. Let’s take a look under the hood.
WordPress is Free and Extendable
Not only is WordPress free, but it is extendable — meaning that thousands of programmers and designers throughout the world write plugins, widgets and themes for WordPress and make them available to users for either no cost in most cases or for a minimal fee. Do you need an RSS reader, a Google sitemap generator, an SEO tool, a database backup manager, a fancy new page design? No problem. There are hundreds of thousands of options waiting for you to install on your new blog.
WordPress is a Great Blogging Tool
You probably already realize that WordPress is great for blogs. In fact, most blogs you visit that don’t have ‘blogger.com’ in their URL are powered by WordPress. WordPress takes just a bit of tinkering to get it to work. Most ISP’s support WordPress and include one-step install options via scripts so it doesn’t take much to get WordPress working. Adding themes and plugins is also a simple process, but to get things right you usually need to know a bit about FTP utilities and you might need to tinker a bit with PHP code (you rarely need to know how to program in PHP, but you’ll often receive tips on how to get things just right by making small changes to a theme’s code). If you have no interest in doing any of the heavy lifting there is a fully hosted option at WordPress.com. The disadvantage here is that you don’t have quite the flexibility that you will have if you install WordPress at your own ISP.
WordPress is More than a Blog
WordPress can be easily adapted to fit your needs beyond blogging. The CMS (content management system) tools are first rate and allow you to easily publish articles and posts and change your design, graphics and layout. Take a look at my Cancerdirectory or LendingLeaders sites. Both are powered by WordPress and neither looks like a blog — do they? Calabasas365.com is another great example of a WordPress powered site using what’s commonly referred to as a “magazine theme.”
Many of these themes are free from WordPress.org, but for a nomimal cost you can purchase premium WordPress themes. Three of my favorite sources of premium themes come from Woothemes.com, Elegantthems.com and StudioPress.com.
No More Reliance on Programmers!
Because WordPress is so powerful right out of the box, and given that there are thousands and thousands of plugins and designs available for free, you often have no need to hire programmers and graphic designers to get a project done. Not only does this mean that it will cost you less to finish your website, it will also take you much less time. On my LendingLeaders site I needed a tool to calculate mortgage payments for my visitors. I did a quick Google search and found a great free tool. It took me approximate 5 minutes to search for and install. Take a look at my mortgage calculator. It’s also featured on the homepage. The WordPress plugin directory lists all of these plugins with reviews, screenshots and download instructions.
In a previous post I mentioned the new website Alltop.com. How would you like to create your own version of Alltop? No problem. Just download the Onenews WordPress theme. For just $49, you can have your own version of Alltop! Pretty incredible.
Other plugins allow you to add voting, polls, social networking features, analytics, sophisticated commenting, shopping carts, discussion forums, etc. If you need a feature for your site, it’s likely already been thought of and a few clicks away.
What are You Waiting For?
So have I convinced you yet? Perhaps it’s time to give WordPress a shot. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them below. In future posts I’ll delve more into the process of setting up a blog, installing plugins and themes, recommending my favorite of each and more.