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You may be wondering, “What is WordPress?” and “Why should I use it?” If you want a quick, effective and good looking website that you can manage on your own, without having to pay hundreds of dollars, then WordPress is for you.
I would have never admitted this a couple of years ago because as a “new” web developer at the time, I didn’t want people to manage their own website; I wanted them to come to me! I also thought WordPress was just for blogs anyways, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the most popular, easy-to-use, stable, content management system out there that is totally free, open-source and has the ability to grow with your website.
Back then, I didn’t see this.
All I saw were the dollars rolling in, from building websites from scratch and getting paid to add a link to someone’s website here and there. This was back in 2007 – 2008.
Fast-forward to today, and I realized that making a few extra dollars here and there just to add a page on someone’s website, or change a link… was kind of old school. Why should I have to “manage” everyone else’s website, when they were capable of doing it themselves, for cheaper?
The Turning Point
Finally, a client of mine came to me and asked how they could upload their own images to their portfolio site. He was a photographer and had dozens of photos to upload each week. Usually, I would do it myself, but that meant doing some Photoshop work, launching an FTP program and adding the code. This took time, so I taught him how to do it.
A few months pass and he came back to me and asked if there was a better way. He didn’t know how to code, so he was struggling with the simple task that I gave him. He also had trouble with editing his photos, because he needed to edit almost all of them to fit the website.
It was at this moment I decided to let go, and embrace the power of the Content Management System, WordPress.
What did this mean? This meant his website would no longer feature my design, my code, my creation that I worked hard to make. But if he had WordPress, this would allow him to manage his own website, without having to bug me and would save him hundreds of dollars in the long-run. Also, he would ultimately be responsible for his website, and I would just be there for support. This meant more time for me to do other bigger things. It was a win-win.
But Why WordPress, and Why Not Some Other CMS?
There are 3 major open-source CMS systems out there right now, and they are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Out of all these 3, WordPress comes out with more themes, plugins, websites using WordPress, SEO integration, lower costs, and the most important thing for beginners is the ease of installation, use and learning. WordPress is the best solution out there for simple, smaller websites especially blogs.
What WordPress is weak at is being able to integrate bigger, more complex things like a company needing a giant intranet to manage and connect 15,000 employees. Bigger companies wouldn’t use WordPress, and they would hire a firm to develop something to suit their specific needs.
The other two CMS systems are called Joomla and Drupal. I don’t want to get too in depth about these, but in general if you needed something more complex, then you would probably want to look into building a website using one of these two.
For an in depth analysis and info graph on the differences between WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, I’ve made a shortcut link to a useful article by WebNetHosting, and you can read this article and look at the graphical illustration of the 3 CMS systems by going to http://markammay.com/cmswar
WordPress is the back bone of your whole website, and serves as the framework in which you will be doing everything in. There’s not much of a difference in what other people see in terms of your website design, but in the back end you will have your own admin section to do whatever you want to your website. This includes adding pages, adding blog posts, images, videos, links, changing your design and even keeping track of comments and different users to your site.
WordPress automatically structures your pages with correct title tags, meta titles and descriptions, and other out-of-the-box SEO friendly ways according to what you type in each page or post. But you have the ability to modify these values by using a plugin for SEO.
Also, WordPress will allow you to upload images and re-size them, add titles and captions and even edit your photos in a sense. Adding media to your website hasn’t been easier!
The other great thing about WordPress is that you can access your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any web browser on any computer, not just your own.
- Launched in 2003 but has roots that go back to 2001.
- Created by the community, for the community and is a very mature and stable product.
- Hundreds of developers and designers all over the world working on it
- Most popular Content Management System (CMS)
- Open Source project, FREE to use, modify and advance with
- Search Engine Friendly by nature
- Built on PHP and MySQL
wordpress.org – This is where you would download WordPress and install it on your own domain, except now all the work is done for you. If you have a one-click install of WordPress through your web hosting service, you no longer need to visit this website and install WordPress yourself. It’s done for you already, and for a quick tutorial on how to get WordPress installed for free, visit http://www.markammay.com/howtomakeawebsite and here I have a series of videos on how to get web hosting, get a FREE domain name, and then in my second video tutorial I show you how to install WordPress automatically.
wordpress.com – lets’ you start a WordPress-based blog but with less flexibility and control. It’s basically a website service that you submit content to, under their domain and website rules.
WordPress allows you to quickly install and even switch different themes for your website with a click of a button. Basically, it’s like switching the look and feel of your site into another website, but keeping all of your original content and images. The advantage of themes is that if you decide to change the style, you could do so without having to restructure everything or do it from scratch.
Themes come in two flavors, FREE and Premium. When you first start off, you may want to browse the FREE themes and check out the possibilities. Some free themes are always free, and some ask you to pay to unlock certain features. My advice, if you’re serious about your website and have the budget, is to pay for a Premium WordPress theme. I use themeforest
to purchase my premium WordPress themes because they give me more options and are usually of great quality. You will spend less time fiddling with your website to make it look how you want it, if you purchase a Premium WordPress theme, and you will most likely receive better documentation, instructions and have a community to help you just in case.
Also, buying a Premium WordPress theme can save you hours and even days / weeks on development, but after installing it you still need to tweak the layout to fit your needs.
Again, remember, you can always change your theme at any moment, and that’s the beauty of using WordPress for your website. It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s awesome.
If you want to see a live example of a Premium WordPress theme that I’ve installed and customized myself, here’s a couple:
http://ourlovelycafe.com – This is using a Premium WordPress theme called U-design, and this theme is by far my favorite theme to work with. The documentation was easy and thorough, and I highly recommend this theme. You can go to http://markammay.com/udesign
My own blog at markammay.com was customized using the Avada theme, and you can purchase this theme or just check it out by going to http://markammay.com/avada
Keep in mind, I highly customized this theme with code and extra plugins, but this started out as the Avada Responsive theme.
To access all the FREE themes, in your WordPress Admin section go to Appearance > Themes > Install Themes. To search for free themes from the WordPress database, simply use the filter system to narrow down the results, and then click “Find Themes”.
If you need certain functionality within your site, such as “social bookmarking” on each of your posts, or a website back-up system, you would install plugins made for WordPress. There’s literally thousands of different plugins, made by large companies and individuals alike, for you to add to your website to make it better.
Whenever you add a new plugin, you will usually see it added to the left-hand navigation where you can change the settings. Most plugins are free, and I rarely buy a plugin unless it’s a Premium plugin that I trust and need.
A few plugins worth mentioning are Akismet, Broken Link Checker, and Pretty Link Lite.
Akismet – this is already installed with your WordPress, and you just need to activate it. This plugin eliminates over 90% of SPAM coming in from comments, and is a great tool to have.
Broken Link Checker – this is a nice plugin to have to help detect any broken links on your website. This is important because having links that take you to nowhere can really ruin a user’s experience, and may even drive people away from your website.
Pretty Link Lite – this is a cool plugin that allows you to “make up” your own links that redirect people to a longer link. For instance, if I wanted to give you a link to go to my Google Plus page, I could tell you to just go to http://markammay.com/googleplus instead of https://plus.google.com/113370394157336001614
Also, this plugin keeps track of how many people actually clicked on this shortened link you created.
There are thousands of more plugins, but those were just a few I wanted to mention. If you need to integrate Facebook with your website, there’s a plugin for that. If you need better SEO or search engine optimization, there’s a plugin for that.
To access your plugins, in your WordPress Admin section go to Plugins. To add a new plugin by searching the WordPress database, go to “Add New“.
Widgets are small drag and drop modules that usually appear on your side navigation of your website, but can also appear in the main content, footer and header. You automatically get the default widgets with WordPress, but through plugins and even Themes, you get even more.
Widgets can be customized and a few widgets to know about are the Category widget, Recent Posts, and Search widget. Basically the category widget allows you to add a filter to your side nav for users to filter through your categories. The Recent Posts widget allows the user to view the most recent content of your website, and the Search widget lets users search your whole website by using keyword phrases.
There’s even a widget called “Text” which allows you to input anything you’d like, even html code snippets.
Other WordPress Notes and Capabilities
WordPress is easy, but can be a learning curve for some people especially if it’s their first time knowing about it! I would recommend that you just take it slow and just learn as you go by simply looking around in your WordPress Admin section. This is really the best way to learn and you’ll be amazed and how fast you pick things up. You figure, this is probably easier than trying to learn how to code from scratch.
Free WordPress Auto Updates
Another thing worth mentioning is that WordPress updates automatically, and all you need to do is allow it by clicking on a button. That’s it! It’s pretty easy and fast, and you always want to keep your WordPress up-to-date.
As far as plugins, I want to mention that these too automatically update with a click of a button, but do keep in mind that since plugins are made by individuals (and companies), they only update when the developers update them. So, when choosing a plugin, you may want to consider how many “stars” they have and only choose plugins with good ratings, and also find out when the last update for the plugin was. If the plugin has been un-touched for a number of years, I’d say don’t use it.
Access for Other Users
WordPress also allows you to give access to others in case you want other people to add content or do something on your website. You can add people and give them a login and password by going to your WordPress admin section and clicking on “Users” in your left-hand navigation.
How Do You Log in to WordPress?
To log into your wordpress website, it depends on how yours was set-up, however most of the time you would go to www. yourwebsite .com/wp-admin
Here you would put your login name, and then your password.
How To Install WordPress?
But in general, once you have a good web hosting service like IX Webosting, there will be a button that you click to instantly start your WordPress website. Before you had to manually download the files from WordPress.org, and then modify the files, and then upload them to your website and hope it worked. But now, it’s as simple as a few button clicks.
Once you install WordPress, you literally could start your website or blog, and then start adding themes, plugins and widgets to your site.
If you need any help or advice, you can ask me by going to my website and leaving a voicemail. On the right-hand side of my website you can click the button that says “Web Question?” and I will get back to you. If you asia good question, I may even answer it in my upcoming podcast episodes.
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