WordPress is open source (free) software used to run websites. Most people think of it as blogging software, but it does so much more. We can set up shopping carts, special members-only areas, image galleries, contact forms, or just use it for a plain website without a blog or special interactivity.
What WordPress has is
- the ability to, fairly easily, do fancier things with your site (like add blogs, contact forms, image galleries, etc)
- the ability for website owners to maintain their websites without needing Dreamweaver, and knowing little to no HTML
- the ability to change it via web browser, so the site can be updated anywhere there is Internet access
- the ability to change the look of the site fairly quickly though pre-built templates that are easily installed.
- the ability to update navigation site-wide when new pages are added
While it is fairly easy to use as these things go, sometimes people will find that they may need a hand getting it set up initially. There are a lot of books out there for WordPress, and bear in mind that some of them are made for people like me who create WordPress templates. So you’ll want to see if the book (or part of the book) is geared towards someone who is is not a web developer/designer. The book Teach Yourself Visually WordPress appears to be geared to novices as does WordPress For Dummies, 3rd Edition. Meanwhile, books like Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog (Smashing Magazine Book Series) and Build Your Own Wicked WordPress Themes are geared for people who already have a background creating websites.
Or to make things easier, some people hire a web designer to do the initial setup, and then the site owner takes over from there. This can be a nice compromise when you can’t afford a custom designed site yet, but you really need a professional looking site on a smaller budget.
Some of my clients just use the default template and we make a few modifications to customize the look of it. Sometimes, they purchase a cheap template or get a free one, and we just customize that. Sometimes, I do a custom template with that client’s branding instead.
Provided clients run a pre-built template past me before buying, they get a cleanly coded, easily maintained and modified website, for fairly little as websites go. Even using the default template also can make for a nice website too. We can do quite a bit of customization to it to make it look less like the fresh-out-of-the-box version of WordPress.
My clients love their WordPress sites. For the past year, every site I’ve made has been WordPress. Even if they don’t have any special functionality now, I do a WP site because without fail, in a year the client will come to me and want a blog or other things that would cost more to insert into their site than if we already had WP installed and just did it that way. So it can be a cost-saver down the line because we’re making the site once, rather than re-creating it again as a WordPress site.
If you are wanting a new site, or even want a code overhaul, WordPress may be the way to go. If you would like a code overhaul, I recommend setting up a WP site, and recreating your pages in them with nice, clean code. (Granted, there are tricks to this I’ll have to address in a later post.)
Because I do so many WP sites over the years, there really is no cost difference. Although it can speed up time spent on some site features like the set up of image galleries and forms. Using the pre-built plugins and features in WordPress can be a cost-saver compared to doing custom hand-coding (unless you want a custom template of your own for your own branded look, in which case that’s not a super-cheap option).
I plan to write upcoming posts on WordPress plugins I use, how to have clean WordPress code, and other posts on getting the most out of your WordPress site. I recommend you check out one of my prior posts I Want a Website I can Update Myself. It does address some of the pros and cons of a website like this, as it’s good to be aware of the downside of these things too.
If you’re debating blogging, you may want to read To Blog, or Not to Blog?
Are any of you WordPress site owners? What do you think of it?