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.
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.
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.
Examples of WordPress Websites
Below are some examples of WordPress websites that I have built. As you may know, there are millions of WordPress websites out there, and I alone have built over 200 of them. The websites shown here are NOT shown because I think they’re the best in the world or anything. Instead, I’m displaying these to show you a small variety of what you can accomplish with WordPress.
All sites below are the self-hosted type (WordPress.org) because I want the ability to customize a website. I would not have been able to create any of these had I used WordPress.com.
Designed Learning – A Peter Block Company
About the Client: Peter Block is famous worldwide for his work in developing Flawless Consulting, a training guide for internal and external consultants. Designed Learning’s client base is Worldwide, and clients primarily consist of Fortune 500 and Fortune 50 corporations, as well as many government organizations and private entities.
About the Website: Website incorporates a membership management system, a full eCommerce system, content protection, and contains over 160 pages of content. Click here to view website.
Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO)
About the Client:This is a government organization responsible for planning transportation growth for a rapidly growing quad-city area. CYMPO opted for WordPress so that internal administration staff would be able to make updates to the website without paying for, or scheduling with, a webmaster.
About the Website: This website includes multiple methods of automatically distributing content to subscribers. There is email subscriptions, Twitter feeds, and RSS syndication. Click here to view website.
Back Country Stoves
The Irish Cafe
About the Website: This WordPress website is an affiliate catalog featuring products from Amazon. The website is created with the FlexSqueeze Theme, which makes building an affiliate catalog very easy.
Weber Summit S-670 Grill
About the Website: This WordPress website is designed to perform as an affiliate sales site. I built this in early 2011, and it made me approximately $600 through the summer of 2011 (grill buying season). No maintenance is required on this site, and it’s fully auto-run.
I am considering putting together a step-by-step instruction guide on how to build sites just like this, along with marketing strategies. If you are interested in something like that, let me know. The more interest I have, the sooner I’ll do that.