07 Jun

Why We’re Obsessed With WordPress

If I wanted to write a ‘War & Peace’ length post then this subject would probably work well. There are so many reasons why we love WordPress so much. First up though, I think I should clear up some possible misconceptions.

Blog is short for ‘web log’, a term that was probably first used around the mid 1990’s. Back then pretty much anything related to the Internet and blogs was like geeksville central. I know that because I was there… not blogging but certainbly lurking around Internet newsgroups and active on dialup bulletin boards for many years prior to that.

WordPress first appeared in May of 2003 as a fork of another blogging application called ‘b2’ (a fork is a derivation of the original source code – it often happens with open source software – someone takes the code, massages and improves it and then releases a new application). Eight years on from that first release, WordPress has retained all of it’s blogging functionality and style, but also blossomed into a very powerful content management system (CMS). Once upon a time most blogs looked something like the blogs on Blogger or other free blogging services. They had 2 to 4 columns with a column of posts and the other columns contained various links and other information.

The real power of WordPress, besides its stability and the constant development that is going on, comes from plugins and themes. There are thousands of free plugins available that can do anything from automatic posting of your posts to Twitter to running a full blown online shop. There are also thousands of free and low cost themes available that allow you to customise your site with just a few mouse clicks.

Now don’t be misled by those magic words – ‘few mouse clicks’. Remember that there was a time when, if someone said ‘it’s as easy as 1,2,’ … you wouldn’t have known that 3 came next. There’s a learning curve with just about everything and WordPress is no different. One thing that is different though, is the amount of free information, tutorials and discussion that are available. So as long as you aren’t one of those people who messes around with the remote, throws it at the TV in disgust and THEN picks up the user manual… you should be fine :).

Getting back to the original topic – one of the reasons we’re so obsessed is because we’ve met a lot of business owners over the years who either have no website at all or they have something that their ‘computer friend’ whipped up in MS Word five or ten years ago. They don’t want (or aren’t in a position) to spend a whole lot of money on a new website but there’s no question that a website would get them some new business. That website is within easy reach for all of those businesses… by using WordPress.

The next stumbling block is content. Most business owners don’t know how to update a website and it used to be that you would need to know HTML, FTP, image editing and several other technical skills. Not so with WordPress. Updating is as easy as logging in and using an editor that is similar to a very simple word processor.

I guess the final reason we’re obsessed is because the learning curve isn’t steep. You don’t need to learn programming languages or how to transfer files or anything like that. I know that I could teach anyone how to update their site in around 15 to 30 minutes… and that includes the whole process of logging in, getting into the ‘posts’ or ‘pages’ area, writing a post, giving it a category and adding some tags.

If you’ve never had a website, or you have had a website but you have never been able to update it (or were too scared to try) then you NEED to give WordPress a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to have a really active, attractive site!

Here are some pointers to help get you started.

WordPress.org Docs – the official documentation.

CopyBlogger – an excellent resource about marketing your blog/website online.

31DBBB – This, in my opinion, is the ‘absolute must have’ for anyone who wants to take their Worpdress based website to the next level. Written by one of the most successful bloggers in the world, Darren Rowse, it is a 31 day plan that is chock full of ideas and techniques that are both essential and very enlightening for everyone from beginner to advanced.