Why Use WordPress And What Else Can You Do With It?

learn wordpress

Why WordPress Is King 

If you have been online, and looked at website builders for any length of time, you could not fail to have seen that WordPress is very popular. Commencing in 2003 the version of WordPress which has evolved into a ‘content management system’ is driven by an SQL data base, an administration back-end that enables you to build a very broad range of website types.

New players often get confused about WordPress, and this is perfectly understandable because of the dot com platform which is also pretty good as a public blog creating platform. But for serious contenders, people wishing to own their own sites and develop a unique digital presence, the software version of WordPress, headquartered @ WordPress.org, offers a powerful, professional site building system which is remarkable in its versatility.

Alternative CMS’s

There are contenders in this very active field of website building platforms, and there are always options and alternatives that have their loyal followers; indeed it is sometimes practical to use different platforms for particular objectives. Joomla is one of such contenders, and Joomla has some significant features which make it very attractive.

I have used Joomla in the past and I have to say I am impressed. Also a content management system, and also having a large range of options Joomla is rock solid and highly scalable – it powers some big businesses out there. However, the technical demands for using Joomla are considerable, for non-technical people it is way out of reach. You do not need to be a coder, but the level of detail involved with producing websites is often time consuming, the learning curve is too steep, because of my IT training and experience I was able to achieve what I intended, but it took way longer than I would have liked.

Drupal is yet another offering, and once again this is a content management system, I also investigated this to build a site. Drupal has lots of themes and templates, it is powerful, secure, versatile but the technical skill level to build and maintain even a simple website is even more rigorous than Joomla. For people who are not particularly skilled with digital media the time factor is daunting to scale the learning curve!

All three content management systems, Joomla, Drupal and WordPress are ‘open-source’, meaning that the code making them up is completely open to everyone to use, edit, modify and even sell. All three systems are distinct communities, made up of people all around the globe:moms, dads, engineers, scientists, grocers, students, ordinary people 🙂 There are some others also available, and they also have their communities.

The Big Advantages Of WordPress

What makes WordPress more appealing than these other equally excellent open source web builders? Really it is the balance of:

  • The level of difficulty in learning how to use it, combined with the
  • Results you can attain, together with the
  • Time needed to achieve the final result

On balance WordPress outstrips the alternatives because you can build great websites much more quickly. This basic fact is the major reason. This is certainly why I normally choose WordPress for my projects, along with some other factors.

So what can you build with WordPress, just how versatile is it really?

If you take a quick look on the wordpress.org site you can see a list of well known companies who use WordPress to power their websites – from Disney to Adobe so you can see that serious business uses WordPress; these businesses could easily hire a professional website developer to build whatever kind of site they wanted, but they chose WordPress. There are other reasons, beyond efficiency of build time at play here. The big advantage in using WordPress is the fact it is fantastic out of the box with being optimized for the search engines, the site structure you can attain quickly with ‘permalinks’, the clean coding. WordPress is truly a ‘Sweet Machine’.

From simple one page sites, to huge corporate publications, to membership sites, eCommerce shops, personal blogs, all kinds of ‘niche’ based sites such as this very site, directories, city portals. Along with this core versatility there are thousands of php applications, called ‘Plugins’ that can be applied in combination to achieve different functionality. These additional functions can range from additional fonts, to complex directory systems, mapping, eCommerce shopping carts… The list is simply mind blowing, and many excellent ones are free – there is also a huge market for premium plugins that are sold along with frameworks and themes.

Huge WordPress Industry

There is a large industry around WordPress, and the ever growing community of users to provide innovative extensions and features. One of the biggest aspects of this industry are site builders. 

The core functions of WordPress allow for all kinds of building, the native ‘wysiwyg’ editor can be enhanced to provide a word processor style tool bar, this is fine for general site building. However, the demands for modern web pages have evolved, time is always a massive factor for project deadlines and commercial pressures – these site building tools allow us to generate attractive and functional pages even more quickly, they have a modular architecture, which means you can place entire divisions and blocks of content containers directly into the page.

Entire site systems have been developed, Optimizepress is a hugely popular platform which took the core open source platform of WordPress and shaped it into a massively useful tool for commercial use. I used the first version of Optimizepress (the clue is in the title) this was back in 2011 – the results it produces looks a little ‘dated’ now but can still be used. Optimizepress 2.0 was released in 2013 to much fanfare and acclaim. It seems many players use this for everything-you can build landing pages and fully featured ‘funnels’ and membership sites. But it is not cheap, and it is also pretty techy. I do not use this version, I looked around for other options and found a really great tool.

Thrive Themes are producers of WordPress based extensions, themes, site builders and content tools. I have used their content builder, not on this site because I am aiming for a publication not commercial pages; but certainly on a number of other projects. The big advantage with Thrive Content Builder is speed and the quality of results.

Learning how to use WordPress is one of the best things you can do for yourself, it allows you to develop all kinds of related skills, using hosting accounts, building pages, writing articles, networking with other online people, web development skills you can re-purpose through offering your services to business and people wishing to build an online presence, SEO skills… you could say that learning WordPress is a ‘gateway drug’ to the digital economy. The internet is crammed full of WordPress tutorials, the skill level is within most people’s reach. This is the big advantage of WordPress, it allows non-technical people to easily participate in the digital revolution, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity! Do yourself a big favor and get stuck into discovering WordPress, it will pay off in ways you probably can’t even imagine at this point.

Security Considerations

One of the big questions about using WordPress CMS is that of security. Being so popular, and because many inexperienced people tend to use it a lot of WordPress sites are ‘wide open’ to even newbie hackers, the big trick that is most often employed by these irritating and negative oinks is ‘brute force’ attacks. Bots are available to download which challenge the passwords on a WordPress site, automatically, and many people use ‘Admin’ for their main account – it is a simple matter of running one of these bots and within an hour the site can be breached, defaced or even deleted and all your hard work is Kaput. NEVER use ‘Admin’ as your main account name, and defending your site is a simple matter of implementing a free security plugin.

Let me put it this way, I have used WordPress actively since 2010, built dozens of different websites and I normally have at least 7 sites running at any given time, I have been ‘hacked’ once, and once only; this was before I was fully aware of what security options were available. What security plugin do I suggest? Wordfence, this is the only plugin you need, it is reliable, almost bullet proof and…Free, but you do need to set it up properly, and activate the firewall rules.

 

Author: MikeG

The internet has been with the public for about 20 years now, many take it for granted, but as eWriters we understand we should never take the internet for granted!