Just this week I was asked by a business colleague: “What is a WordPress website?”
There is some confusion about what it actually is, so I thought it would be useful to clear this up.
Isn’t WordPress a blog?
Yes, and no. (I told you it could be confusing!) There are actually two “versions” of WordPress – WordPress.org (the blogging software) and WordPress.com (the blogging platform). The following is the Wikipedia definition of the software:
“WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL which runs on a web hosting service….WordPress is currently the most popular blogging system being used on the Web, powering over 60 million websites worldwide.”
So what does that mean if you want to build a website using the WordPress.org software?
OK, there are three steps:
1. Find a web host
That’s a company that has servers on which websites sit (are hosted). Your domain name e.g. http://katebacon.com is how your website is identified on the server (and therefore the web).
2. Install the software WordPress.org
(I use the full name to identify which version of WordPress I am talking about!) This is usually a one-click operation if you are using a hosting company like Vidahost (the company I use for all my client website hosting).
3. Build your website
Login to your dashboard and build your website (ta da!)
What’s the WordPress.com blogging platform all about then?
This allows you to build a blog on the WordPress.com server (they are the hosting company, so you don’t have to faff around and sort out domain name and hosting). If I had built a blog, for instance, it would have been identified with the following domain: http://katebacon.wordpress.com. See the difference? On the WordPress.com blogging platform you don’t have your own unique domain name.
If that’s the case, what are the advantages of using WordPress.org software?
Good question! Especially as it is possible to build an entire website around your blog by adding pages as well as (blog) posts. It boils down to the following:
1. Get found on Google
With your own unique domain you can optimise your website to be found more easily on Google (and the other search engines). This is called “Search Engine Optimisation” or “SEO” for short.
2. Design a fancy website
Although there are many “themes” (or design templates) that can be used with WordPress.com, many more have been developed for WordPress.org AND you can “code” (or customise) from scratch.
3. Add clever tools to make it even nicer
Many “plugins” (that add special capabilities to the WordPress.org software). For instance, the image at the top of this post was found using the PhotoDropper plugin – that finds and credits free images on Flickr for use with WordPress websites.
Personally, I will always use WordPress.org because I want my clients to be in control of their domain names, have more options for their websites, and be found on Google (or really, what is the point of having a business website?)
I hope this post has helped clarify the “mysteries” of WordPress and helped you understand what it means to have a “WordPress website”.
Photo Credit: William Iven on Unsplash