When people think of WordPress, they often immediately think about blogs, but this content management software is about much more than just blogs.  Many business owners have found a lot of success using WordPress.  It is an easy-to-learn Content Management System (CMS) for websites.

WordPress began as a blogging software.  This was one of the first softwares that empowered the non-techie to be able to have the ability to share information on the web.  Recently, WordPress has surpassed being simply a “blog” tool.  Now, many small and large businesses are using WordPress to build their primary websites.  In fact, you might say that WordPress can put the small ma & pa business on the same footing as a national company when it comes to web presence.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a free open source content management software program that’s been around since 2003.  The site is community-based, which means that the WordPress community continues to update and support it, although the major official updates come from Automattic, which is the company owned by WordPress developer Matt Mullenweg.

WordPress is now the internet’s most popular CMS, in addition to being the world’s biggest self-hosted tool for blogging.  It’s in use on millions of websites all over the world.  There are numerous plugins available for WordPress, making it one of the most versatile CSMs out there.  All those plugins also make WordPress scalable from small blog sites or business sites all the way up through large business sites.

WordPress is free.  There are no licensing costs.  Really – the only costs absolutely necessary when it comes to running and maintaining a WordPress site is hosting.  However, there are many very cool tools, themes, and plugins that can cost some money (but again, these are optional).

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

One of the first things you should learn about WordPress is that there are two different forms of the software.  The software found at WordPress.com is actually managed by the development team at Automattic.  It’s also hosted by them as well.  However, with WordPress.org, you actually have to download and install the software on your own server or on the server of the web hosting service you use.

WordPress.com (the online version)

WordPress.com Pros:

  • It’s easier to set up and manage because all of this is done for you.
  • You do not have to pay hosting costs (typically $50 to $100 per year)
  • Automatic backup of postings
  • SSL (secure) login
  • Works best for Blogs
  • Visit WordPress.com

WordPress.com Cons:

  • Minimal customizations allowed.
  • Your web location / URL will look something like www.mycoolwebsite.wordpress.com (note the “.wordpress.com” that follows)
  • Again – minimal customization allowed.
  • Not recommended if you want to build a true branded business website or affiliate marketing website.

 

WordPress.org (the self-hosted website)

WordPress.org Pros:

  • You can upload custom themes and plugins.
  • Easy one-click installation is available from many hosts.
  • Website will run off of your branded domain name.
  • You have full control over the code and can change it whenever you want to.
  • You have FULL control over your website. I know I mentioned this before, but it’s important.

WordPress.org Cons:

  • You will have to maintain a hosting account for around $50 to $100 per year.  NOTE:  You also get email accounts with hosting, so this cost is negligible.

In short, the most basic difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is that the .org version is more for the tech-minded website owner.  It has a lot more functionality, but you have to learn how to use it.  Those who are looking for a no-frills approach that takes care of itself will prefer the .com version of the software.  The fact that there are two different versions of WordPress makes it perfect both for beginners and advanced webmasters.

WordPress Tools

Probably one of the best WordPress features is the number of tools that are available.  Since it is such a popular CMS program, there are hundreds of tools and plugins that make customizing your website a breeze.  Whatever you are looking to do with your site, there’s a tool or plugin that will make it a reality.

Here are some of the most popular WordPress tools:

  • Askismet – protects your site from comment spam
  • Google Analyticator – enables Google Analytics on your site
  • XML Sitemap – Each time you update your website, a sitemap is automatically generated and submitted to Google, Bing, and Ask.com.
  • Google Analytics Dashboard – integrates the Google Analytics graph into your WordPress Dashboard
  • HeadSpace2 SEO – a meta-data manager that will help fine-tune your SEO content
  • WordPress Navigation List – makes it possible to create unique site navigation
  • Contact Form 7 – a basic, flexible contact form plugin
  • Cart66 Pro – one of the top ecommerce plugins

Other Features of WordPress

Another benefit of WordPress’ popularity is the fact that most web hosting services will accommodate it easily.  Hosting companies like BlueHost and Hostgator offer quick install tools to make it very easy to integrate WordPress on your site.

WordPress is also constantly being updated, so you know that the software will always be top of the line.  Just keep in mind that you will have to install the updates yourself if you are using WordPress.org rather than WordPress.com (but it’s the click of a button to do so).  As with anything, there is a bit of a learning curve to using WordPress.  If you’re thinking about implementing it on your site, the best thing you can do for yourself is install it and start tinkering.