Reference Guide: Managing Your Online Presence
Get Online: WordPress
If you’ve looked into websites at all, you’ve likely heard of WordPress. As you should. It’s used by millions of site owners of all skill levels and business types. There are two WordPress options: WordPress.com and the self-hosted version available through WordPress.org. Each is excellent. Here is a quick overview of each option.
There are definitely instances where use of this platform makes the most sense. It depends on what you need, your skill level with regard to programming, and time constraints. When I think of WordPress.com, I think of “easy” and “peace of mind.” All background tasks such as security are taken care of for you. All you have to do is plug in some content.
- The host is WordPress.com, and is used by millions to host their sites. You don’t have to research different hosts to find one that works for you.
- Everything is taken care of for you: security and upgrades, for example.
- You can select a theme and make a few changes and you’re good to go.
- There is a completely free option, or you can add features for an additional cost.
- You don’t have to download or install WordPress. It’s already set up.
- You’re very limited in what you can control with regard to design.
- While you can use an existing theme, you can’t change very much about the theme design without paying extra.
- Use of plugins is limited.
- If you use the free option, your design options are very limited. You’ll have to pay extra to get some basic control.
- Ads will be included on your site if you choose the free option. However, you can block those for an additional fee.
- Personal blogs
- Sites that have primarily static content
- Smaller sites that are primarily content-based
- Webmasters that are more comfortable with a WYSIWYG-type interface, not detailed code
- Sites where all you want to do is go in and add a blog post or photo once in a while – and not have to worry about overall upkeep and maintenance
- Use of this platform is not completely intended for use by businesses; check the requirements.
- Sites have a wordpress.com URL, unless you purchase a standalone domain.
This is the more comprehensive option. It’s really suited more for professionals and companies. There is a large amount of ongoing upkeep and maintenance required. You’re responsible for everything, but the functionality you can add is more robust.
- You completely control the look and feel and all aspects of the site.
- You can add whichever plugins you’d like to add functionality to your website.
- WordPress is open-source and developers around the world work on it continually.
- There are many people that know WordPress, so it would be relatively easy to find someone that could take over site maintenance if necessary.
- There’s quite a bit of support and other information available on WordPress.org.
- To tap in to the community, there are WordCamps you can attend and oftentimes there are Meetups and user groups you can find in your area.
- Developers are always creating plugins that add functionality to your site.
- You can choose which Internet Service Provider (ISP) you want to host your site.
- There are many more themes you can use to design your site. You can use free ones or purchase professionally-designed themes.
- No third-party ads are automatically placed on your site. Only ads that you include can be posted.
- Most ISPs are set up to host WordPress sites. You can usually install WordPress through the ISP’s control panel.
- You are responsible for all WordPress installs, upgrades, and security settings.
- You must stay current and upgrade WordPress when new releases come out.
- You have to continually update plugins, themes, and everything else that goes into running your site as updates are provided.
- You’ll have to research different ISPs to find that host that will work best for you.
- You will have costs associated with hosting, registering a domain, and all costs that go into running a site.
- You will have to purchase or add some kind of spam-blocking app or plugin if you allow comments on your site.
- Security issues continue to increase, so you may need to devote much time to that.
- Company websites and blogs
- Personal blogs, provided that webmasters are more technically-oriented and willing to devote the time in maintaining the site
- Sites that have primarily dynamic content
- Sites of all sizes
- Complex sites: for instance, those with shopping carts
- Webmasters fully comfortable with working in the code or understanding the platform
- Site owners that want full control over every aspect of their site
- While you can use free themes, I recommend purchasing a professionally designed one. These are more likely to be supported and have a lower risk of security issues. In searching for themes, I think that support is critical. Look for companies that provide tech support after purchase. Some provide groups on Facebook or in other locations. Some provide user documentation. If you’re up late at night working on a site and have a quick question, it’s nice to have a knowledgebase to review that are specific to those themes, or to be able to submit an inquiry.
- You really need to stay on top of WordPress upgrades and security issues. Take them all seriously.