Why WordPress?

WordpressIf you’ve decided that having your own blog would be a good idea then your next decision is to choose a blogging platform.

You might go for the old favourite, Blogger or the funky fresh new kid, Tumblr. Or how about something like Posterous, allowing you to blog entirely via email?

They each have something to offer and they’re by no means the only choices,although they are the most well known. We’ll look at them all over the coming weeks, but I’m going to kick things off with a look at my personal favourite, the mighty wordpress.

There are two different versions of wordpress. The first is wordpress.org and is known as a self-hosted blogging platform. That means you buy a domain and hosting space with a web company and you install and run wordpress yourself. See Will Write For Cake for an example of wordpress.org in action.

Doing this gives you many advantages, such as your own domain address (which can look more professional) or the ability to fully customise your blog. But it can be expensive and is certainly more complicated than any newcomer to blogging needs to worry about. We’ll save that for a more advanced look another time.

The second version is wordpress.com and you’re looking at that right now.

I specifically chose wordpress.com to run this blog so you can see what can be done. I’ve not paid for any premium features, everything on this site is straight out of the tin – so to speak. The most complicated thing I’ve done on here is to write a little HTML code to handle the links in the subscribe section at the top. And I mostly copied that from someone else :)

There is nothing on this site that you can’t do yourself simply by clicking a few options on the wordpress dashboard.

That’s what I love about wordpress, it gives you a lot of options. Some people find this overcomplicates things which is why Blogger still remains popular. Personally, I find it liberating. And let’s remember, you don’t have to learn everything all at once. It’ll all be there for you when you’re ready.

There are 136 themes to choose from (as of July 2011) as well as custom menu options like the one I have here. Integrated social sharing buttons are included and, thanks to a great team of programmers, the platform is improving all the time. It’s fast, stable and secure too and as the wordpress team are looking after all the complicated stuff, you can concentrate on the content.

Best of all, it’s free.

You only ever have to pay for premium products, which are entirely optional. You might want access to the CSS files, for example,  to allow you to fully customise your site. Or you could buy your own domain name right here in wordpress and have it attached to your free wordpress blog. So instead of having http://www.myblog.wordpress.com you could have http://www.myblog.com which looks better and you wouldn’t have to go to all the trouble of hosting the site yourself.

For now, I would recommend you get used to the platform before paying for things you might not use or need.

In conclusion then, the best things about wordpress.com are:

  • It’s free
  • It’s very functional
  • It’s very customisable
  • It’s very well supported
  • It provides a good balance of ease of use to both the blogger and the reader

The bad things:

  • It can be overwhelming
  • It’s not always obvious how to do things
  • It doesn’t handle picture layout very well (just try getting two pictures on the same line)
  • There’s a lot to learn

What you need to do now is have a look around this site. It will show you exactly the kinds of things you can do with wordpress.com. Next, have a read of this handy guide to setting up a wordpress blog. It’s written by the wordpress team and tells you everything you need to get started.

After that, it’s up to you. As always though, if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.

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