Picture this: It’s 1996. There’s no Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Hardly anyone knew about Google outside of Stanford.
I was 14 and we just got dial-up internet. I quickly became interested in web design and wanted to make a tribute website for my favorite actor John Travolta.
Don’t laugh at me.
So, my dad took me to Staples and I bought a program called Visual Page. I followed the tutorial step by step for weeks (maybe months). I used NetMeeting to connect with a guy in Italy to help me program parts of it (SideNote: NetMeeting is kind of like the primitive version of Skype for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about).
Over time, I created the coolest Geocities site you’ve ever seen, TravoltaFever. My fan club site got tons of traffic, but it was also slow and clunky. Updating it became this long, arduous process that took hours. Every page had different navigation menus and backgrounds. Even different headers. And John kept coming out with new movies. The site kept growing, and became this uncontrollable beast that I could not tame. Back in 1996, webpage design was a nightmare in the absence of easy-to-use software. Very few people could do it.
How come? Well, because any changes (text, images, menus) had to be made in Visual Page using HTML code and then manually uploaded using File Transfer Protocol (FTP). There were no templates to maintain the structure of the site. No drag and drop features. No support forums.
7 years later, everything changed. In 2003 WordPress was released. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.
Back then, everyone was calling it a blog engine. First of all, what does that even mean? Second of all, I assure you that it is much, much more than that.
So what is WordPress, you ask? WordPress revolutionized the way that websites are designed, and more importantly, how they are maintained. It’s a complete content management system. Your front-end company website. Your backend membership website. Basically, if you want to build something online there’s a good chance WordPress will be involved.
That’s because about 25% of all websites (globally) use WordPress [Source].
It made it possible for an average person, business owner, or Travolta fan to update their own website, and easily share messages on the internet. And hopefully get those messages to potential customers and like-minded individuals, too.
So, what is WordPress?
WordPress is the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (CMS for short) in existence today.
- WordPress is open source (free to install)
- WordPress is web-based… meaning you access WordPress online.
When you use a CMS like WordPress, you:
- Log into your website through a unique URL with a username and password.
- Update your website at any time, without learning HTML or any programming!
- Can be in complete control of your website content.
- Will become your company’s website superhero!
If you can use a program like Microsoft Word, you have the skill level needed to use WordPress! Bullzeye Design specializes in WordPress CMS solutions.
Problems you may be facing with your current website
If you are wondering about WordPress, you probably are doing research on an easier, better way to update and maintain your current website. The truth is that if you aren’t using a CMS like WordPress, making changes to your website can be very technical and time consuming. You are also living in the dark ages and probably need a website update anyway. Come out! Come out of the dark! Let us show you the light :)
Before WordPress and other CMS solutions, websites were setup on web servers by experts in website programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, PHP, Java, Cold Fusion, etc. While having a website programmer set up your site allowed you to get your business online, the information on your site gets out of date quickly.
But what can YOU do when that happens? You aren’t a programmer!
Let me guess. You call Johnny the programmer and pay for him to fix a typo, add a page, or update your contact information. But sometimes it’s not that easy to get Johnny to call or write you back. He may have other projects that are keeping him busy, and fixing your typo isn’t at the top of his priority list. Or you just may not have the budget to call good ol’ Johnny every time you find a stupid typo. Understandably so!
Luckily, Wordpress has resolved a lot of these issues by making your website easy for YOU to update without having to know any confusing, technical… junk.
Solve your problems with the Wordpress CMS
A Content Management System like WordPress solves these “Johnny” problems for you. Why? Because it gives you the power to make changes like these all by yourself. The CMS takes all the code your website is made from, and converts the pages and other content into a WYSIWYG (pronounced WIZ-ee-wig) editor, so you don’t need to be a programmer to make simple changes. WYSIWYG stands for “What You See Is What You Get”, and makes editing a webpage as easy as creating a Word document or an e-mail. You can even add photos and links to your page without ripping out your hair (assuming you have any left at this point).
WordPress Powers 25.5% of the Web
WordPress Powers 30.3% of the Top 1000 Websites
Wordpress is the most popular CMS, with 58.7% market share
More than 60 million websites use WordPress
of New U.S. Registered Domains Run on WordPress
There are 18 New WordPress Posts Every Second
Pros of WordPress
- Cost: This is probably the biggest pro of WordPress. Because it’s open source (free), anyone can install it, and individual licenses don’t need to be purchased. Themes add a “skin” to your WordPress install to make it look unique. You have a few options:
- Highest Cost: You can get a website designer to custom design your theme
- Medium Cost: Convert your existing HTML website into a WordPress site theme that looks EXACTLY the same. The only difference will be the way it is updated.
- Low-Medium Cost: Choosing a premium theme and customizing it is a great cost-saving option. There are a lot of themes you can purchase, or you can even hire a WordPress designer or developer to customize a theme for you. Because the “bones” are already built, the cost is much more reasonable. And, you can still get a site that looks really unique without paying a premium.
- Free: On the other end of the spectrum., there are also free themes available. There are very few I would recommend, especially for a business. Most free themes are created for hobby bloggers, and many free themes are not very professional or, more importantly, programmed well. I wouldn’t recommend going the free-route unless you are just experimenting. Starting with a solid foundation will save you time and money in the long run.
- Tons of Support: WordPress is extremely well documented and there are forums and websites everywhere that could help you should you run into a problem.
- Your website gets updated quickly and easily by you, or your own staff.
- Changes that you make are published immediately to your site! No need to contact your programmer or upload files using FTP… just press the publish button!
- You don’t have to be at your office computer to make changes- log into your CMS on any computer with an internet connection to make edits. There’s even an app for your smartphone!
- Reduce the cost of website maintenance- feel empowered and take control over your own web presence.
- If you do know some HTML or other programming language, you’ll still be able to use those skills (if you want to).
- Awesome features right out of the box:
- Edit existing page copy: Have a change in staff? Want to promote a sale or new product? No problem!
- Add new pages: Creating a new page in HTML used to be a professional-only job. Now you can create new pages with ease.
- Blogging: When asked “What is WordPress” the answer is that it started as a blogging platform. Now it’s much, much more… but if you are looking for a way to post new content regularly, WordPress is KING of blogging. Add new posts. edit existing posts, respond to and approve comments, all with ease.
- User Management: Have others you want to help with your website or blogging? You can give them different permission levels so they can only do what you need them to do.
- Plugins: WordPress out of the box comes with a full list of features. There’s also a plugin directory with thousands of extensions. Add complex galleries, social networking, forums, social media widgets, spam protection, calendars, fine-tune controls for search engine optimization, and forms. Some plugins are free, and others are “premium” meaning you pay to purchase the plugin.
- Check out the full list of features on wordpress.org
Cons of WordPress
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t list the cons of using WordPress. There are a few, and they are worth considering before you jump onto the Wordpress bandwagon.
- Security: Wordpress is an open source structure (which is also a pro because it’s free). But since all of your system’s code is available online, it is also easy for hackers to find security holes.
- Stuff can still break: Because of the security issues, WordPress needs to be updated frequently. Updating the system is critical to close security holes that may pop up. However
- plugins you may have installed on your site can break when a new version of WordPress comes out
- plugins can become “abandoned” - since the software is free and a lot of plugins are free, good ol’ Johnny (your now “plugin creator”) may lose interest and just stop updating his plugin. When this happens you have to scramble to find a different one.
- Speed: WordPress sites contain lots of generic code unnecessary for every specific website, so the loading times of the webpages become slower. Adding additional “features” or plugins also add bulk to your site.
- Hosting Upgrade: Because of the speed issues, many WordPress users decide to pay for an upgrading hosting package to make their site run better, smoother, and faster. This can get expensive in some cases. Expect to double your hosting costs for a good WordPress host — so if you are paying $15/month now, expect to pay $30/month if you upgrade your hosting. An extremely good host can be upwards of $100-$200/month!
- It’s easy to build a bad WordPress site: While it is easy to update, maintain, and even install a WordPress site,changes and adjustments will still require a website design professional. A lot of people get caught up in making these changes themselves, and can cause more problems.
The Starter Website is quickly becoming our most popular choice for new clients looking for a website. This option gives you the ability to start with a template but customize it… a lot. We can change the layout and color of the templates significantly to fit the style of your business. If you need a feature, most likely the feature is available or can be programmed for an additional fee. If you are flexible in the way your pages are laid out, and can “roll with the punches” this is certainly the option for you.
In this post we’ve learned exactly what is WordPress. This free, open-source content management system (CMS) is the most popular CMS in the world! WordPress has a lot of pros, such as low cost, the ability to update your own website content, great support, and tons of features out-of-the box. We also talked about some of the cons, such as security vulnerabilities, increased hosting fees due to bloat, and problems with plugin abandonment and incompatibility with WordPress core updates.
But remember: using the WordPress CMS comes AFTER the actual design of your website. And trust us, you need a great one. The good news is that we can design an awesome, customized solution, AND give you the functionality and freedom to control it with a Content Management System.Our Starter website option is the most popular and affordable option for small business owners with small websites.
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The first step to your WordPress CMS is to fill out our project planner.
This post was originally published on November 18, 2015 and most recently updated on May 3, 2016