WordPress is awesome, but as awesome as it is, a lot of people don’t really know what it is.
It gets even more confusing, because there’s actually two definitions of WordPress. One is WordPress the blogging platform, and another is wordpress.com –the blogging website.
WordPress is a blogging platform designed specifically to make blogging easier. It’s a tool that simplifies website creation to a point where webmasters no longer have to be programmers but just content writers. However, just like any other tool or platform, WordPress needs to be installed–usually on a server–for it to work.
WordPress.com is a service that offers functionality of the WordPress blogging platform for free. On wordpress.com you can start your own blog in seconds without worrying about finding a server to install WordPress on. However, because it’s a free service it has it’s limitations (which we’ll discuss later).
There’s a lot of confusion about WordPress (the blogging platform) and WordPress.com (the free service), and I hope those two lines above make the distinction clear.
So what is a blogging platform you ask?
In the olden days of the internet, if you wanted a website, you’d have to write a couple of hundred lines of code. This was perfect for geeks like me, but a lot of people were turned off by the sheer complexity of it all, and hence only a small fraction of the internet users back then actually had websites.
Then along came WordPress.
WordPress was a simple tool designed specifically to remove the HTML part of website creation, so now to create a website all you had to do was write the content and wordpress took care of the rest.
That explains the huge explosion of blogs in the past years, as WordPress simplified the process of blog creation, free-ing up great passionate writers to write without worrying about HTML, SQL or FTP.
10 Great things about WordPress
1. WordPress (the blogging platform) is free, and open source.
2. WordPress is based on a language called PHP (which is also free).
3. WordPress powers 15% of the worlds Top 1 Million websites. Meaning it’s pervasive and that makes it easy to find help articles on the internet. Also, a lot of your neighbourhood geeks should also be familiar with it.
4. WordPress has a theme functionality, that acts like custom paint jobs for your blog. That’s why although WordPress is so pervasive, they all don’t look the same, because anyone can install a theme to make their blog look different.
5. WordPress has all the core blogging functionality built-in. It’s ready to roll in seconds.
6. WordPress has thousands of plugins to improve things like SEO, Comments, Social Media integration that allows you to customize your blog.
7. WordPress themes have both free and premium designs. So you can buy an expensive great looking theme to make your site look different. Even though themes are expensive, it’s cheaper than starting your own website from scratch.
8. WordPress pervasiveness means you can find cheap webhost all around that offer WordPress hosting. My blog is hosted on nearlyfreespeech.net.
9. WordPress has built-in upgrade functionality so you can upgrade with a click of a button. This is important as a lot of security fixes occur (specifically with newer releases) so it’s important to upgrade.
10.Wordpress is agnostic about your content, meaning you can use for anything from commercial content including adult content, and free content as well.
11. WordPress also allows you to completely export the contents of your blog with no limitations. You can also import your blogger blog onto a wordpress platform as well via the use of plugins.
Limitations of WordPress.com
WordPress.com is a free service offering the WordPress Blogging platform. However there are limitations:
1. It shows ads on your blog ($30/yr to remove ads).
2. It has a limited set of themes (a hundred themes in total).
3. It has a limited plugin functionality, so no more additional plugins to extend the functionality of the site.
4. WordPress.com blogs have no ad functionality. If you want to monetize your blog with Nuffnang or Adsense you can’t use wordpress.com. A custom installed WordPress site is fine though.
That being said, WordPress.com is Free, and it does take care of a lot of the technical stuff. If you’re unfamiliar with things like PHP , SQL and FTP , I suggest to start out with WordPress.com. If your blog becomes a hit, then you transfer that to a privately hosted WordPress site easily.
WordPress is an amazing tool, and I’ve always emphasized how important I feel it is to the history of the internet.
WordPress powers the blogs of Malaysias most prominent businessmen and politicians (except Khairy), and it just goes to show that if Najib can use it, you most probably can too.
If you’re wondering how to start a blog, I’d suggest WordPress.com, you can easily point a custom domain to your WordPress.com blog if things get more serious. Also, WordPress.com takes care of the core technical aspects of your blog including ensuring patches and upgrades are done correctly. This takes a lot of effort, so be careful about starting your own custom installed wordpress too soon.
That being said, if you still want all the flexibility and functionality of WordPress, take a look at my tutorial on how to install wordpress on Amazon Web services. I hope to write a how-to soon on installing wordpress on nearlyfreespeech.net.
Hopefully this clarifies what is WordPress for you.