Earlier this week a person who attended one of my recent speaking sessions on social media e-mailed to ask me a question about converting his organization’s Web site over to blogging software. As I was writing back, I realized that when I speak I always advocate using blogging software, but I haven’t really written much about it here. Specifically, for small-to-mid-sized organizations, I highly recommend using WordPress not just for blogging, but for powering your entire Web site. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. It’s free!
Free as far as licensing costs go, at least. You can sign up for an account at WordPress.com and get the hosting for free, too, but what I recommend is your own installation of the WordPress software at a hosting provider of your choice. (I use Netwisp for this site and have been very please with them so far.) WordPress isn’t going to look like what you want it to right out of the box, but that leads to my second point…
2. You can make it look like pretty much whatever you want
There are who-knows-how-many free and low cost “themes” available for WordPress. (Themes are the piece of WordPress that control most of how your site looks to an end user.) You can find these by searching right within the WordPress administrative panel or by using Google. In either case, installation requires just a couple of clicks. Or, you can go the custom route and hire someone to trick it out for you (which is what I did here on my site, as well as on Tagoras (e-learning) and Mission to Learn (lifelong learning)). Naturally, that means laying out some cash, but that leads to my third point…
3. There is a vibrant services market
As with any mature, successful open source software, a huge community of designers and developers have cropped up to provide services related to WordPress. That means you have a wide variety of choices, and the pricing is very competitive. I got the design and custom template coding work done on this site – which is entirely WordPress driven – for about $600.
4. There are extensions galore
Related to the last point, there are any number of developers out there who are creating and releasing new plug-ins and themes on a daily basis. If you need WordPress to do something it doesn’t already do, chances are very good that someone has already created a plug-in that fits the bill – and yes, that even includes handling membership. Most of these are free, but even the ones that cost don’t tend to cost all that much. And while installing plug-ins to WordPress used to be somewhat complex, the latest edition has turned it into a search, point, and click process. Which leads to my next point…
5. It’s incredibly easy to use
Yes, there are some complex areas of WordPress that help give it such incredible flexibility, but for the average user, creating content is pretty much like working in Microsoft Word or any other “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” (WYSIWYG) type environment. Need to make a change to your site? Just log in, navigate to the page you want to change, click edit, make the change, and save it. You are done. No need to call a developer and pay $100+ per hour.
6. It’s easy to get started
Most major hosting companies – and even most minor ones – these days provide for “one-click” installation of WordPress as part of their standard packages. You don’t really need any significant technical ability at all simply to open a hosting account and install WordPress. One word of caution, though, if you expect a high volume of traffic, I’d stay away from cheap “shared” hosting packages. Get a virtual server or dedicated server package . Or, maybe try out GoDaddy’s grid hosting. The grid approach is supposed to ensure that extra bandwidth and server capacity is made available to you as demand rises. I am not endorsing it at this point, but I’ve been using it over at Mission to Learn and have so far encountered no issues during big traffic spikes.
7. It’s easy to stay up-to-date
Another feature that came available in one of the recent updates is “one-click” updates of the WordPress platform from with the WordPress administrative panel. That’s right – click one button to update your software installation. A word of caution, though – if you have done any customizations to the core WordPress code, this will wreck your site. That’s why I like the Thesis theme so much – it offers an approach to putting all customizations in a separate directory that is not touched during WordPress updates. I’ve been using Thesis on three different sites for quite a while now, and it has been a dream.
8. The search engines like it
WordPress provides for good search engine optimization (SEO) right out of the box. And readily available plug-ins and/or premium themes like Thesis, help fill in the few gaps that are left. Even Matt Cutts, basically Google’s voice when it comes to SEO, say that WordPress is one of your best bets when it comes to creating a site that Google will like. (Related: Here is a good video of Matt giving Google tips related to WordPress.)
9. The support is good
No, you wont’ have the dedicated support team than you might (in theory) get if you license a full blown content management system or or go with some other approach, but most decent Web hosts will provide at least basic support, and with the huge network of developers out there – many of them blogging daily about WordPress – and WordPress’ own support site, you are likely to find that WordPress is the best-supported approach to Web site creation and maintenance that you have ever experienced.
10. It’s free
Okay, maybe this one is cheating . But really, after reading everything above, isn’t this a point worth repeating?!
If you have questions or experience with using WordPress for your site that you are wiling to share, please comment!