Previously, a website designer/developer with knowledge of html (website code – basically everything you see when you right click on a webpage and select “View page source”) created most websites. This was usually very expensive, often at least $5000 for the basics then heading upwards in price depending on how big your website was and what you wanted it to do.
There was also a lot of back and forth until you ended up with the website you were after. This was usually a nice-looking website, with all the bells and whistles, which was really nothing more than an expensive online sales brochure – one that you couldn’t change without your website designer, which of course cost you more money.
Truthfully, that same website you spend thousands of dollars on did very little to:
- Promote your products and services
- Market your business
- Make you money through online sales.
What makes things worse is that you didn’t even own your website because all the software and programs that ran it belonged to the website designer.
Under the old system, you sometimes didn’t even own your own domain name (the www.yourbusinessname.com address), which is a complete nightmare, especially if you change your website designer. Thankfully, these problems are a thing of the past – or at least they can be. That’s where WordPress (WP) comes in.
WordPress is what’s known as open source software, which basically means it is a platform that is not owned by any one person. It has been created by many contributors, to be used by many. As a result, it is constantly evolving to keep up with the latest technological trends (such as social media).
WordPress is basically an online blog (short for web log). It’s a way that people can share their ideas, opinions, knowledge, skills, photos, videos, etc. with the world. It can also be used like a standard website to promote, market, and share your business, products, and services.
Most people are not aware that there are actually two different WP websites – www.wordpress.com and www.wordpress.org. Both are excellent to use, with each one allowing you to do different things depending on your needs. How do you decide which one is the right one?
Before making that decision, you must decide what you want your WP website to do, and how you will use it. Both WP websites allow you to:
- Customize your template (the level of this will depend on the theme you choose and is more limited with WordPress.com)
- Use widgets (tools that allow you to do a specific function so you can easily personalize the sidebar on your blog, e.g. add photos, display your Twitter feed, show recent posts etc.)
- Create unlimited pages
- Write a blog post
- Easily update your website on your own – if you can use Microsoft Word, then you can use WordPress
- Get heaps of substantial support when you need help
Here are some things that WordPress.com might be more suitable for:
- You only want to use it as a blog or an online diary to share your thoughts, ideas and knowledge.
- You will NOT be selling any product, only sharing information or contact details.
- You are really only after an online brochure for your business, one that tells people a little about who you are, what you do, what you offer, and where you’re located.
- You want to document your journey as you travel.
- You want to review something regularly (books, movies, food/restaurants, music) and invite people to give their feedback.
- You want to teach people how to do something step-by-step for free.
- You want to connect and share ideas with people within your industry.
- You want to advise people when you have posted a new entry on your blog, but NOT about anything else (e.g. A newsletter, sending out a free report or e-book etc.)
- You want to publicize your blog on Facebook, Twitter and other selected social media sites as soon as you publish your post.
- You think of your business as more of a hobby and something you want to keep small.
- You don’t mind your website name being www.username.wordpress.com (where your username is the WordPress username you set-up.)
If you are after a professional-looking website for your company or business, that you have control over, then WordPress.org is probably going to be more suitable for you.
Here are some things you can do with your WordPress.org website:
- You are looking for a professional website that looks and feels more like a traditional website, without the high cost that usually comes with it.
- You want to build a database so you can connect with your clients.
- You have products and services that you want to sell from your website.
- You are looking for more functions, features and options than are available with WordPress.com.
- You want full control over your website without having to spend a fortune to hire a web designer.
- You have something free that you offer your visitors (such as a special report, audio, or e-book).
- You want an all-in-one option where your shopping cart, autoresponders/email marketing, and database can be accessed from one account.
- You want access to thousands of FREE plugins (a collection of files that either change the way WordPress functions, or adds/removes functionality) to do just about anything you could want or imagine – think spam blocker, opt-in box, SEO (search engine optimization), photos, audio, video, CMS (customer management service – your database), linking automatically to social media sites, automating many functions, and much, much more.
- You want access to templates and themes that are much more customizable to your business.
- You would like to have some input about what plugins they create (by requesting someone create one if it’s not already available) or some additional features/functions you would like to see included in an existing plugin.
- You want your domain name to be your website address – i.e. when people type in www.yourbusinessname.com it goes straight to your wordpress.org website rather than one with the address www.yourbusinessname.wordpress.com
One thing that you will need to keep in mind with your wordpress.org website is that you will need to have it hosted by a website provider. This is the major difference between the two WordPress options.
I use and recommend www.godaddy.com because they provide great service and also have a one-click process to set up your WordPress.org website. All you need to do is choose a username and password – I recommend using your business or company name.
Cheers to your writing success!