What is WordPress?

WordPressYou’ve probably heard “WordPress” mentioned a few times as you’ve traveled the Information Superhighway, but what is WordPress? “Simply,” WordPress is a blogging tool and a content management system. You probably don’t need the definition of “blog” but in case you do, “a blog…is a discussion or information site published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (‘posts’) typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first” [from Wikipedia.org: Blog, accessed 26 June 2012].

Prior to 2009, most blogs were run by individuals and were primarily for personal use. When these same individuals realized how easy it was to customize and add additional functionality through plugins and templates, the number of blogs exploded. According to Leena Rao of TechCrunch, 22 percent of all new websites are built in WordPress while almost 15 percent of Alexa’s top one million websites are in WordPress. This site, in fact, is built upon WordPress!

WordPress isn’t just for individuals or small websites either. Here are a few users: WIRED, The New York Times, TechCrunch, The University of Mary Washington, Adobe Blogs, Nokia Conversations, Justin Guarini, Spotify, and many, many more.

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

There are two “flavors” of WordPress: dedicated hosting on WordPress.com and self-hosted on a server of your choosing. The software to create a WordPress blog is available as a free download from WordPress.org. The site provides detailed instructions on how to install and configure WordPress as well as free themes, plugins and tons of information. As of 26 June 2012, WordPress version 3.4 has been downloaded 2.6 million+ times!

If you want a business site, then you should not use WordPress.com. For one thing, you cannot upload themes or plugins on a WordPress.com blog. You also cannot post third-party ads or most affiliate links (e.g., Clickbank).

With a blog created using the WordPress software on your own server, however, you can do almost anything you can imagine—and probably some you haven’t thought of yet! You can sell advertising or paid content. You can sell your products and services. There are plugins for shopping carts, forums, polls, etc.

It is very easy to install using the instructions on WordPress.org. In fact, they call it the five-minute install. If installing software on your server seems intimidating to you, many hosting providers also provide installation through your domain’s control panel. The latter route is probably even easier as it creates the database for you.

If all of this seems a little overwhelming to you, you can hire us to do it for you. Besides installation, we will also create a custom header and sidebar graphics to make the site uniquely yours. We will also install a set of plugins that we have found the most helpful (spam prevention, backup, caching, social media, etc.). Find out more and then contact us to get started.