WordPress Review: Is The WordPress Website Builder Right For You?
WordPress is considered the “gold standard” for blogging, and a THE platform for building a flexible, professional website. And for good reason. WordPress is the world’s largest Content Management System (CMS) and the perfect platform to start and strengthen your website. Did we mention it’s free? We cover it all in this WordPress review.
- .Org vs .Com
- WordPress is Ideal for…
- Themes & Design
- Mobile Optimization
- Ease of Use
- In Conclusion
Before discussing the attributes of WordPress that make it great for building websites, it’s important to distinguish between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The two are often confused, and the problem is compounded when well-meaning internet marketers start writing about WordPress without differentiating between them.
WordPress itself (both the .com and .org sites) is an open-source code invented by Matt Mullenweg of the company, Automatic. Open source code is code that can be modified by users, designers, and anyone building a site, making WordPress an incredibly flexible tool.
There are differences between .com and .org versions that are important to understand.
- com is a free website or blog platform that enables you to have your own blog or site. There are some limitations to the ‘free’ concept, however. The free site doesn’t allow Java script text, for example, which makes it difficult or impossible to run advertising and affiliate ads.
- org is actually a content management system (CMS) offered at no charge. The CMS software is provided free, but you’ll need to pay a company to host your website for you.
According to WordPress, the company’s software powers about 24 percent of all websites online, making it truly the “gold standard” of website design.
- Free, open source code makes it incredible flexible. You can build pretty much anything you want to onto the platform.
- WordPress offers plenty of easily customizable templates.
- If you don’t like the templates provided by WordPress, dozens of companies online offer templates you can license.
- Designers also custom-build websites onto WordPress theme.
- Easily optimized for search engine optimization work. Google is said to love WordPress-based sites.
- Plugins offer everything from calendars to forms to customize your site.
- Additional security plugins keep your site relatively secure from spammers and hackers.
- You can easily use WordPress as your main website or as your blog.
- WordPress customizes to mobile devices, laptops and other reading devices for accessible sites.
- Very easy to use management system that makes updates easy.
Ideal Uses for WordPress
WordPress was originally launched as a content management system (CMS).It’s intended for content-based sites such as blogs or information-heavy websites. Content management systems are designed so that anyone can create, edit, and organize content easily online. They were created for non-technical users who created content-heavy websites, such as blogs.
Over time, WordPress offered more graphic-intense themes based on user feedback and requests. Today, you can find photo-based themes with gorgeous, big graphic areas and other effects that will make image-based content really shine.
Many companies use WordPress as the foundation for their websites. Small to mid-sized businesses including consulting firms, marketing agencies, and B2B marketers often use WordPress based sites to showcase their services and capabilities. It is said that worldwide, WordPress is the most popular business site platform.
WordPress makes an ideal blogging platform. Bloggers often use WordPress-based sites to launch their blogs. As their blogs grow, WordPress makes it easy to add on pages and build out portions of the blog so that it resembles more of an online publishing platform, online magazine or website that a blog. You can use WordPress alone as a blog or blog on the platform and integrate it into other site builds.
Once you sign up for a WordPress account, you’ll be prompted to select a theme. There are hundreds of free themes you can select, or an even larger selection of premium (paid) themes on the site. Choose a theme even if you plan to purchase a template later. You will need to select a theme to finish the sign up process.
You can use one of the many free themes available, or purchase a Premium theme through the WordPress site. Designers worldwide have also created custom WordPress themes. These are available to purchase, download and then add to your WordPress account from companies such as ThemeForest. Designers even sell WordPress themes on Etsy!
You can change your WordPress theme at any time. One of the best things about WordPress is that even when you change your theme, you won’t lose any of the on-page text or graphics you’ve uploaded to your WordPress hosting account.
Each WordPress theme is described on the download page. The description includes specifics on how you can customize each theme. For example, some themes are designed so that you can have a static home page. Others enable the use of a slider, or a rotating bar of images on the home page. You can also preview your website in the theme before you download it or make changes to your site.
Plugins offer WordPress users an amazing amount of customization opportunities at the click of a mouse. According to WordPress, there are currently over 43,000 plug ins available! You can add an unlimited number of Plugins to your website. Most are free, but some are premium or paid.
One important thing to note with Plugins: they can sometimes interfere with one another or stop scripts from working on a page. Plugins may be developed by anyone and shared with users on the WordPress open source platform, so WordPress doesn’t guarantee their usefulness. Some are developed by Automatic, the company owned by WordPress’ founder.
Once installed, Plugins must be activated in order to work. You can deactivate a plugin at any time, which renders it inoperative until you activate it again.
Another handy feature on the WordPress dashboard is a prompt to update Plugins when updates are available. The system automatically checks for updates, so every time you login, you’ll be prompted to run updates. These take just seconds to download, and don’t cause any downtime on your website.
The most popular WordPress Plugin is Akismet. Akismet offers great spam-stopping power and keeps those pesky spammers from leaving weird messages with links to sunglasses and designer shoes on your blog.
You know those pictures called Captcha Codes? Yes, that’s a WordPress plugin. It’s another spam-stopper available from WordPress developers.
Other popular plugins include SumoMe, a plugin to add a newsletter popup that effectively drives sign ups for your email list. Yoast makes earch Engine Optimization a snap by providing you with a traffic light colored code to show you whether your post is well optimized (green light), okay (yellow) or poor (red.)
There are hundreds of plugs in for almost any need ranging from contact forms to calendars and beyond. You can always change your plugins at any time by deactivating them or removing the code from your site that makes a plugin work.
Another method by which WordPress users customize their website is through the use of Widgets. Widgets are drag and drop elements which customize the sidebars of your website.
You can rearrange widgets, update them, add more or take some away at any time. One thing to note: when you change your website’s WordPress theme, the widgets disappear and you’ll need to add them back into your site.
Some popular widgets include an image upload widget, which makes it easy for you to add pictures to your sidebar areas, a text image which allows you to add text or HTML code, and social media widgets, which populate the sidebar with links to your social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
While all themes support plugins, not all themes support widgets. The theme description in WordPress tells you whether or not a theme supports widgets.
WordPress and SEO go together like peanut butter and jelly, and Google is said to really favor WordPress’ search engine friendliness. Plug ins such as Yoast and others enable you to add keywords, customize meta descriptions, tag content, add alt tags, and perform similar optimization steps.
It’s important to make sure that your website is created with mobile users in mind. According to the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of cell phone owners use their phones to go online, and 34 percent exclusively use their phones to access websites. Google’s algorithm that determines how a website is ranked on results page also penalizes sites that aren’t responsive, or that aren’t set up for mobile use. Therefore it is very important to make sure your website is mobile-responsive and easily accessed on mobile devices.
WordPress offers a good array of mobile-responsive themes so that your website visitors can easily access content no matter what type of device they’re using. You have to check the theme, however, as not all offer responsive design. Again, as with most things on WordPress, it’s spelled out clearly before you click and download a theme whether or not it’s responsive.
Another mobile option is an interface for your own mobile device that lets you blog on the go. You can blog from your Android or Apple device after downloading a special app. I’m not sure why you’d want to, but the option is there if you can’t resist blogging while you’re on the go.
Ease of Use
WordPress has a lot going for it, and one of the best features is its ease of use.
Once you start using WordPress, you’ll see how the skills you pick up using plugins and widgets translate to many other sites. That’s because many companies copy WordPress’ ease of use and intuitive design.
However, there is a learning curve at the start of WordPress use that can turn off some users. When you first sit down to use a WordPress console, the sheet number of choices can be daunting. It can be hard at first to understand what the terms mean: plug in, widget, CSS, etc.
You’ll need to get used to the navigation on your Dashboard first. It can take a while to figure out where all the components are located and how to change things or access portions of your website that you need to customize.
WordPress does not offer typical support options like a chat or an email. Instead, the Forums and Discussion boards are where users gather to share experience and insights, and to ask questions.
Start with the general Support page and make your way through the considerable amount of free tutorial videos, documentation and other support information available.
When a software is estimated to power over 23 percent of the known internet, you have to stand up and take notice. WordPress earned its reputation as an easy to use, friendly software package that offers tons of value for very little money. Yes, you’ll have to pay for your domain and hosting, but once you get beyond those costs you can build quite the website. It’s recommended for most businesses looking for a robust, cost effective website.
WordPress Review: Is The WordPress Website Builder Right For You?
- Free, open source software
- Thousands of free and paid themes and plugins
- Great support, there’s a support forum, how to blog, video or guide for any topic or issue
- Since software is open sourced, future developments are unknown
- WordPress, plugins and themes must be updated frequently