To take advantage of todayâ€™s inbound/online marketing opportunities, itâ€™s important to be able to manage your website day-to-day. If youâ€™re updating your site, one option to explore is WordPress. It started as a blogging platform, but nowadays many companies are building entire, complex websites in WordPress.
Basic WordPress is a free, open platform software. This means software developers can modify the original code to create custom designs and functionalities â€“ known as plug-ins. This is unlike proprietary software like Microsoft Word that can only be modified by Microsoft.
To design a site in WordPress you start with a template called a theme. There are many themes offering different layouts. It helps to think through what content and functionalities you want in your site before choosing a theme. Some are free and others are considered premium and come at a (one-time or annual) fee ranging from $35 to $169.
Where people get confused about WordPress is that there are two of them â€“ WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Hereâ€™s the main difference:
- WordPress.com is a website where you can quickly build and host a blog or a simple website for free. You can pretty easily do this yourself.
- WordPress.org is a website where you download basic WordPress software for free and use it to build custom-designed websites that are hosted with qualified Internet service providers (ISPs). You will almost certainly need to hire a professional website developer.
In both cases, once the site is built, youâ€™ll be able to make changes, add and delete much of the content and add landing pages in-house. With a custom WordPress site, you may still need help from your designer from time to time to add pages to the navigation or after software updates. But youâ€™ll have a professionally designed presence that reflects your company â€“ and any functionality you need, including ecommerce.
Though neither version offers a perfect or completely simple option, WordPress is growing in popularity as a functional way to make the most of your website.
Following is a handy list of differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
- Free. (Upgrades for a custom domain name, to add audio/video, etc., are available at small annual fees.)
- More than 90 themes to choose from. Modify certain design elements if you understand cascading style sheets (CSS). Custom themes not allowed.
- Custom plug-ins not allowed. Some common plug-ins (for subscriptions, social media sharing, etc.) are provided.
- Everything taken care of for you: setup, upgrades, backups, security, etc.
- New features frequently offered.
- Your blog/site is on hundreds of servers and unlikely to go down.
- Youâ€™re part of the WordPress.com blogging community which can provide traffic and social media benefits.
- Free 24/7 support.
- Requires more technical knowledge to set up and run.
- Use any theme youâ€™d like, or one you create yourself.
- Install plug-ins that youâ€™ve created or downloaded from the WordPress.org Plug-Ins Directory.
- Complete control for your developer â€“ or you if youâ€™re technically minded â€“ to change code.
- Paid, qualified hosting service/ISP required.
- You handle backups.
- You stop spam through plug-ins.
- You upgrade software manually when a new version comes out.
- Community/support forums, but no WordPress-provided support.
Ellie Becker is president of E.R. Becker Company Inc. in Norwalk, aÂ public relationsÂ andÂ inbound marketing consultancy. She is an inbound marketing certified professional. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or read her blog at www.erbeckercompany.com.
Bernadette Nelson is principal of Studio B/Visual Communication in Norwalk. She has more than 20 years of experience in graphic and web design. Reach her at email@example.com or www.studiob-ct.com.
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