I started using WordPress over seven years ago and now use it to build all of my websites.
If you aren’t familiar with WordPress, here is a little background. WordPress was created in 2001 primarily as a blogging tool but it soon developed into the most robust content management system available today. Over 72 million websites use WordPress—more than 19% of sites worldwide. Why is it so popular? Probably because it is free and easy to use. Most webhosts have WordPress capabilities built in and you can install and get started with it in minutes.
Okay, it is popular, but why do I use it? And more specifically, what are WordPress’s advantages to you?
Primarily, WordPress gives you—the website owner—a relatively easy way to update your site. You can make changes or add pages at any computer with internet without any special software and or knowledge. Changes are made in a simple text editor that would be familiar to anyone who has used Microsoft Word.
Magnify your content’s power.
Every time a page is opened WordPress it pulls its content—text and images—from a database, basically rebuilding the page each time. Depending on how your web designer set up your site, this means that the content can be used in different ways. For example, if you write a new article, a headline could also appear on the home page, and an excerpt and small thumbnail photo could appear on an index page. When it is out of date, the article is moved to an archive Everything is searchable and organized by category. And all you did was write the one story. The rest was done automatically.
Choose from thousands of themes, or build your own.
WordPress is built on themes, a prefabricated framework that controls how the site looks and works. By simply selecting a new theme you can change an entire site in an instant. There are thousands of themes out there to choose from, both free or available for a reasonable fee. Though you may find a theme that has exactly the look you want, they can also be customized. This might require the help of a web designer since it often requires modifying the markup and code. Most web designers start with a framework, that is a bare-bones theme that can be easily modified. I use the Headway framework which has a drag-and-drop interface that allows a site to be built as quickly as it would take to customize a pre-existing theme.
Add the capabilities that you need.
Another reason to use WordPress are its plugins. Plugins are applications often created by third-party vendors that extend the capabilities of WordPress. A plugin can add a shopping cart, build an interactive form, or create a rotating slideshow. Normally these would require a lot of expensive custom programming or software. WordPress has made it easily to install plugins and they have proliferated like crazy. Like themes, many are free or available for a small fee and many come with technical support. Plugins make it very easy to create a unique site tailored to your needs.
Help is everywhere.
WordPress is also stable. Since it is free and open source, developers are always working to improve it. It is not proprietary; all the code is easily available to any skilled expert to work with. Since it is free, it is not dependent of the whims of the market and will not disappear if a company folds. Since the community that works with it is so large (remember 72 million websites?) it isn’t a stretch to find someone who can provide the support or solutions you need.
This doesn’t mean that WordPress is perfect. (Though it is always being updated, so who knows?) One obstacle for the novice user is navigating its admin interface. Sometime it is difficult to figure out where to edit content, say, in a sidebar or a footer. (Hint, look for the “widgets” under “Appearance”). Also since WordPress is ubiquitous it is sometimes the target of malicious hackers. Your web designer should be able to help out with some simple precautions that will eliminate this threat.
So I am sticking with WordPress. With so many advantages it is a bit of a no-brainer. If you have a site that is built with something else, switching to WordPress might be a first step. Though the initial switch will take some time and effort, it will be paid back in time by creating a site that will grow with you and your business.