What is WordPress & why is it so good?

Firstly WordPress (with a capital P) is not just a blogging platform. Appropriately used WordPress is a complete content management system.  There is no reason why a WordPress installation cannot manage any type of business or personal website.

WordPress is available in two forms, the “hosted” version available from WordPress.com and the self-hosted version from Wordpress.org.  There is a little more to it than that, but let us keep it simple.

  • The hosted version of WordPress is quick and easy to set up with plenty of great features and would suit most casual users.  There are some limitations which can be worked around by opting for the premium services.
  • The version of WordPress which offers the most significant flexibility and adaptability is one that you upload onto a server and take responsibility for configuring and keeping up to date.

To get the best out of WordPress, you must find the right hosting service.  Most of the mainstream “cheap” services and indeed the free options just do not have the capability to either run WordPress or get the most out of it.

Many of the better hosts will now provide auto-installers which automatically install the latest version of WordPress for you.  The added benefit of this is that they also keep it updated, although it pays to keep an eye on it yourself.

WordPress: the do-it-yourself content management system

Perhaps the greatest strength of WordPress is the ability to easily add functionality to the site in the form of “plugins”.  The range of plugins available both on a free and commercial basis is almost bewildering.  If you think of almost any feature, you can be pretty sure that someone has already written a plugin for it:

  • Shopping carts
  • Membership sites
  • Sitemaps
  • Mapping tools for google maps etc.
  • Galleries and Video tools
  • Podcasting

Some plugins add entirely new functions to a site, while others will enhance existing features.

Additionally, you also have the option to install “themes”, which again can transform the way that a site looks.  The pre-installed WordPress themes are actually excellent but add a new custom theme, and you can have additional columns, headers, and colours, in fact, complete control over the appearance of a website.

There is plenty more to add to this, and over time I’m going to include some guides to getting the best out of your installation of WordPress.  If you have any questions about using or installing WordPress, please ask.