“What is WordPress, anyway?”
WordPress is an open source blog software package that works exceptionally well as a content management system, a blog system, or a traditional website. It makes it easy for anyone to set up, manage and maintain a website—without having an advanced degree in geekery. WordPress started in 2003 and is now the largest self-hosted blogging tool and is used on, literally, millions of sites worldwide.
For example, the New York Times runs its blogs using WordPress. That should tell you something about how powerful and safe it is to use. But don’t let that scare you. Just as the NY Times uses WordPress, so do many “first-time-onliners” who have never touched any type of web design system at all. So it’s simple enough for even the most wary user. First, since WordPress is open source, it’s free. That’s always a bonus.
Since it is open source it also has a thriving community of developers constantly improving the software and creating plugins to expand the software.
WordPress lets you create pages (stand alone content) and posts (time-driven content) to build out the content of your site. And you can also easily manage your site’s look and feel with themes. These are custom designs for your site that control how everything is laid out and organized. (If you’re
familiar with the term “template” just substitute the term “theme” when talking about WordPress.)
The software is highly customizable, and has literally thousands of “plugin” pieces of software so you can use your site for just about anything.
Here’s a quick overview:
WordPress can manage several types of content for you, including Posts, Pages and Links.
are your basic time-driven content and are used for standard blog entries. You might write posts monthly, weekly, daily or more than once a day. It all depends on the purpose of your site and how you want to use it to connect with your visitors.
are basically posts that aren’t time-driven—they’re added to the menu and serve as the basic meat of your site. They are basically the same as any static page on a traditional website…just a whole lot easier to create and update without having to pay someone to do it for you.
are just that—links. You can use links throughout your posts and pages, as well as in your sidebar. This can be handy for a list of recommended services or helpful sites.
are those handy-dandy boxes you often see along the left or right side of a website. They don’t have to go on the left or right – with the right theme you can put them anywhere! – but in general that’s the way people think of them. They let you do really cool things like offer a newsletter subscription box, insert images and videos, put special calls-to-action, list your most recent posts, add easy navigation down the side of your page, or just about anything else you want.
What are the benefits of using WordPress?
Here are just the top 5 benefits of using WordPress:
1. The software is free!
How many times have you been given something for free that is fully functional and ready to use? And if you want to upscale your site a little with premium themes and plugins, you’re still going to save tons of money over what you would pay for a custom designed site.
2. It’s easy to use.
Seriously. If you can send an email, use Microsoft Word, or set up a Facebook account, then you can use WordPress. In other words, if you’ve already used a computer, chances are you are already skilled enough for the WordPress basics. And even better, it’s hard to mess it up. You can add and delete pages, posts, sidebar elements, etc. without accidentally messing up the overall design of your site.
3. You are in control.
Owning your own site, and being able to make changes to it yourself, is the ultimate in online freedom. You don’t have to rely on an expensive web designer to make changes or fix a tiny error for you whenever they can squeeze you in. You’re in control of your site – and your wallet.
4. Search Engine Advantages
Search engines love sites that are easy to index (WordPress is) and that have frequently updated content. That’s where blogging comes in to play so nicely. Just by running your business or personal site and communicating with your readers in a way that’s natural to you, you’ll be producing fresh, relevant content the search engines can’t wait to get ahold of.
5. A HUGE Support Community
WordPress isn’t just a software, it has become a community. Some might even say a movement. In fact, WordCamps have sprung up from grassroots efforts. They are informal, community-initiated and community-organized events put
together by other WordPress users just like you. You’ll meet people of all backgrounds, ages, and nationalities at WordCamps anywhere. Plus, there are thousands of people and hundreds of resource and tutorial sites set up just to help you with your WordPress site.
So, who can use WordPress?
The short answer is anyone. WordPress is a pretty powerful system and it can easily be customized for your needs. There are themes specifically designed for all sorts of scenarios, including blogs, mini-sites, online stores, online magazines, photo galleries and more.
A WordPress site can work well for just about anyone, like:
• Small businesses & large corporations
• Service-oriented companies like plumbers, real estate agents, car dealers, etc.
• Restaurants, caterers, and designers
• Consultants, freelancers & coaches
• Schools, nonprofits and churches
• Bands, artists and creative professionals
• Scrapbook enthusiasts and other hobbyists
• Professionals looking for a job
• Families creating a family history to share
Truly, WordPress can work for just about anyone!