It’s no secret that WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) platform out there. We at Web Design Review love it, and there hundreds of thousands of other people who rate WordPress as the best way to build and manage a website. There are definitely more benefits to using WordPress than there are disadvantages.
In this post we’ll take you through some of the reasons why WordPress is so popular with web designers and clients alike. We’ll also look at some of the ways you can make the most out of WordPress’ immense features.
An Overview of WordPress
What is WordPress?
WordPress has been around since May 2003 – and boy has it changed since then. It is one of several available Content Management Systems (CMS) and is free and open-source. Easier to use than the other CMS option such as Drupal and Joomla, WordPress has so many features it would be impossible to document them all in a blog post like this. Books – big, fat books with hundreds of pages – have been written about WordPress, and we’ve only have 1500 words!
WordPress comes in two flavours – wordpress.com, which is a completely free means of trying out blogging for the first time; and wordpress.org. Both are free – but wordpress.org has many more features and requires you have a web hosting provider who offers the ability to install WordPress.
So, technically, wordpress.org isn’t without cost – but you can get hosting for the same price as a coffee at Starbucks these days, so it’s still the best option.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is limited and not really suited for a business website. You can purchase add-ons that increase the functionality, but in all honesty, you’re better off going for the .org option. For the remainder of this blog, I’ll be discussing the .org version when I talk about the features and benefits.
How Does WordPress Work?
The inner-workings of WordPress is something that developers understand, and I don’t, so I’ll tell you in layman’s terms instead. Once WordPress is installed on your domain, there are two aspects – the frontend (which is what your visitors see when they visit your website) and the backend (the admin area).
Previously, all of the work of building was done in the backend, and to an extent this is still true. However, in the last few years there have been plugins developed that allow you to use a front-end editor, so you can see exactly how your site looks with every change you make.
Themes are what control the look of your website, and there are a wide range of free and premium themes available. Thousands of them, in fact, meaning that there’s always going to be the perfect theme for you out there. Plugins are tools that you can install within WordPress to add additional features and functions.
There are over 50 thousand plugins available – and we’ll share a list of my favourite plugins later on. With so many plugins available, the options for what you can do with WordPress are seemingly limitless.
Who Uses WordPress?
With the functionality of WordPress and the unlimited possibilities for use, it’s not surprising to find that web designers love using the CMS. Some designers will create completely bespoke themes and plugins for their clients, whilst others tweak and adapt existing themes to match your brand and requirements. It’s easy to use and makes managing content simple and stress free.
There are also a lot of people who use WordPress to build their own websites. The great thing about WordPress is that you don’t need to know how to code in order to create an exceptional site. With so many gorgeous themes available, it’s certainly possible to go down the DIY route with WordPress.
5 Key Benefits of WordPress
The benefits of WordPress apply whether you’re working with a web designer or going down the road of DIY. Here is just a selection of benefits that can be gained by using WordPress to power your website.
1) Ease of Use
2) Endless Possibilities
With the number of themes and plugins available increasing on a regular basis, you really do have endless possibilities. Want a membership site? WordPress can do that. Need to provide courses on your website? There’s a plugin for that! Want to start an online shop? WordPress has everything you need.
As your business grows and expands into new areas, WordPress is able to adapt and grow with you. The option to change your theme, update your branding, and much more is just a couple of clicks away. With WordPress you never have to fear that your website is going to become outdated, because everything is customisable. Colours, fonts, images, layouts…you name it, you can change it with WordPress.
In terms of keeping up with web standards, WordPress has plugins that help you have a responsive, mobile-first ready site that is virtually future-proof.
3) Content Control
Since regular content is important for SEO and ranking, being able to easily add blog posts, resources and new pages is vital. WordPress makes adding new content intuitive and stress-free. For years the WYSIWYG editor has been hugely popular with users. 2018 marks the launch of Gutenberg in WordPress, a new editor that will incorporate drag-and-drop functionality, so that your content is visually appealing and totally customisable.
What’s more, with WordPress you have the option to schedule blog posts days and weeks in advance. That means you can upload a batch of fresh content and sit back in the confidence that your content will be automatically published according to the schedule you set.
4) Multiple Monitoring Options
WordPress can integrate with Google Analytics and other analytics options so that you can get a clear look at visitor behaviour on your site. What’s more, there are plugins that allow you to see those analytics right on your dashboard, without ever having to navigate away. This makes understanding the impact of any changes you make really easy. A/B testing content is a breeze with WordPress’ options.
In the past, spam comments used to be a problem, but WordPress has a variety of options for controlling and filtering out spam. With a plugin to handle your spam monitoring, you can relax and get on with running your business.
5) SEO Friendly
Search Engine Optimisation is something that can’t be ignored if you want your business to succeed online. Thankfully, WordPress makes SEO easy. There are plugins that can analyse your site and give you SEO recommendations. These plugins also allow you to ensure that your content is easy to understand and has appropriate meta descriptions. Other plugins can improve the responsiveness of your site, page loading speed, and more.
Top Companies Who Use WordPress
Big brands and corporations build their websites on WordPress, which kind of speaks for itself really. Here’s some of them:
• New York Observer
• USA Today
• CBS Local
• BBC America
• The Walt Disney Company
5 WordPress Plugins You Can’t Do Without
There are currently over 50,000 WordPress plugins available, many of them free, others available for purchase. Many plugin developers offer a free plugin version and then ‘suggest’ you upgrade to the paid version for more features. Be careful with this, and make sure you’re not paying a premium for something that you don’t really need.
Here’s our (brief) rundown of 5 popular plugins that every website needs:
1) Yoast SEO – This is a popular SEO plugin that gives you everything you need for effective on-page optimisation. It can help improve your content readability, too.
2) Akismet – The most popular spam control plugin is hugely effective when it comes to capturing spam comments and malicious login attempts.
3) Contact Form 7 – Rich in features but simple to use, Contact Form 7 makes it easy for you to embed a contact form on your website.
4) WooCommerce – If you run an online store, then WooCommerce is the plugin for you. With payment gateway integrations and a variety of options for adding additional functionality, it’s got everything you need to run your online shop.
5) WordFence Security – With more and more hacking attempts, and big businesses experiencing data breeches, a plugin that secures your site is always a good idea.
More than 27% of all websites online are built on the WordPress platform. That’s an impressive percentage – and it looks set to increase year on year, in the future. That percentage equates to somewhere in the region of 75 million websites that are powered by WordPress. Customisation options abound, and WordPress is always been updated and developed. It really is the easiest and most functional CMS out there and is perfect for pretty much any kind of website.
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