I’ve seen a lot of questions about WordPress this week in the forums I visit. So here’s my take:
For the vast majority of people working online WordPress is the best platform I know of for publishing online.
There are platforms that are more powerful in certain ways – like Drupal and Joomla – but both of those require more technical knowledge than the majority of online publishers have, or want to be bothered with.
Without any technical knowledge (other than the ability to manage your website through FTP) you can customize your WordPress site almost without limit.
You can run it as a blog or turn it into a static site. You can add pretty much any functionality you want (and certainly all the functionality that the majority of online marketers need) through the range of plugins that’s available, a huge number of which are free.
There’s a huge range of themes (both free and paid) that you have access to. Good themes are more Search Engine friendly than many of the free ones. So selecting the right theme will bring more traffic to your WordPress site, both from the theme’s SEO features as well as the look and feel it creates.
This is a WordPress blog and I’m using WordPress in a conventional way here. If I was starting out with my online business again, though, I would go straight to WordPress to build my static sites. I wouldn’t bother with the site builder I learnt on initially.
Although, I have to admit that what I learnt about HTML, CSS and the other bits and bobs by starting on that site builder has helped me to get even more out of WordPress than I might otherwise have done.
I’m delighted with the way WordPress has worked out for me. In case it’s of interest to you, here’s how I’ve configured WordPress for this blog:
I use the following plugins:
- Akismet. Anti-spam
- All-in-one-SEO pack. Allows me to optimize both the blog and each individual post for the search engines – keywords, page titles, meta descriptions, etc
- Breadcrumb NavXT. Helps both readers and search engines to find their way around the blog
- Feedburner Feedsmith. Directs all feeds from my blog through my feedburner account which makes them as widely readable as possible. Feedburner also gives you great stats on your visitors
- Google Analyticator. Google Analytics plugin for comprehensive reporting
- Google Sitemaps. Another way of helping the search engines find their way around. Also pings them every time you update.
- Most Commented. Lists the posts that have received the most comments – helpful for readers and search engines.
- Popularity contest. Lists the most popular posts, and you can define the criteria for it to use. Again, helpful for readers and search engines.
- Redirection. Automatically applies a 301 redirect on any post on which the URL changes. This can happen if you change a post title after it’s been published, for example.
- Share This. Encourages readers to bookmark your posts or submit them to the social sites.
- Subscribe to comments. Allows people to follow the conversation around a post.
- What would Seth Godin do. Encourages readers to subscribe to your RSS feed.
I also use the auto upgrade and database manager plugins, which are excellent administrative aids to help with making proper backups and simplifying the upgrade process.
I’ve set up quite an extensive ping list – and those services are pinged every time I post. I’ve also set it to allow comments, pings and trackbacks, in order to facilitate conversations around posts and encourage linking.
My theme is a paid theme, and I like it because it allows me to get a lot of content onto the front page, much more than more conventional blog themes. Those usually present the most recent post and, if you’ve activated the appropriate widget, the titles of your last few posts.
This theme allows me to present the titles and excerpts from 7 posts (the most recent plus 6 others) as well as a listing of posts ranked by various measures of popularity – all on the front page. The benefit of this? It helps to keep readers on the blog for longer because it presents them with more to read.
I do know how to use HTML and CSS, and that has helped me to tweak the theme a bit.
But if I didn’t have that knowledge I would still have been able to set up this blog pretty much as it is today, without any technical knowledge at all.
And that, to me, is the power of WordPress.
Leave us a comment with your thoughts about WordPress if you’re a user, or a question if you’re not!