5 Reasons Why Beginners Shouldn’t Fear WordPress
Getting a website up and running for the first time can be as frustrating as a toddler’s first unsteady steps. Just like the falls and bumps that often come with learning to walk, those new to site building typically have to master jargon and code galore. But platforms like WordPress can act as the loving, supportive hand to hold as you take your first shaky steps.
More than 30% of the web relies on WordPress to power its blogs, businesses, professional portfolios, and other online aspirations, making it a top choice among both new and established brands. Given the vibrant open-source community behind the content management system, WordPress functionality far exceeds that of most drag-and-drop website builders — enabling site owners to craft a speedy, scalable, and secure website that will impress their visitors.
With great power, however, comes great responsibility. You’ll want to approach your new website with a healthy dose of patience, for sure, but don’t be intimidated. We’ve put together a list of reasons why WordPress is one of the best choices you can make when taking your first steps online.
1. WordPress is Free, Easy, and Everywhere
It’s pretty amazing that the software used by more than 35 million websites — including the likes of Time Inc., Fortune, Best Buy, Sony Music, BBC America, The New Yorker, and even The Rolling Stones — can be yours for free. There are no special hoops to jump through or applications that need to be approved.
All you need is a web hosting account and a domain name. This doesn’t have to break the bank, either. For those on a budget, iPage can help you get started with a well-rounded hosting package that includes unlimited storage, scalable bandwidth, and a free domain registration.
A custom domain name gives your site legitimacy and will seamlessly tie in with a professional email account. Be sure to find a host that makes the domain signup or migration process a breeze.
From there, many hosts — iPage included — will offer a one-click installation process that automatically takes care of all the technical stuff. You won’t have to worry about downloading and uploading files, creating and connecting MySQL databases, or configuring your .htaccess file. In less than a minute, you’ll be ready to go!
2. WordPress is More Than Just a Blogging Platform
Unlike site builders or traditional blogging platforms, WordPress functionality is limited only to what developers can dream up. With millions of users from around the world contributing themes, plugins, and code snippets, chances are your needs will easily be met. Behind an incredibly user-friendly interface, WordPress lets you make major changes to your site without touching a line of code.
You’ll have a seemingly endless pool of themes to choose from, enabling site owners to craft exactly the right layout, color scheme, and user experience. Choosing a theme can be tough for the indecisive, but adding, switching, and customizing themes takes mere seconds.
Perhaps more impressively, you can customize the program’s functionality with a few clicks. By adding one or a handful of available plugins, you can quickly turn your site from a portfolio to an online store, message board, news outlet, or other type of business. What’s more, plugins can help boost your site’s performance, security, and position in search results.
3. Easy Path to Responsive Designs and SEO
Naturally, the two make-or-break components of a website’s success are the most difficult to accomplish. WordPress inherently resonates with those seeking mobile-friendly designs and improved rankings in search engine results.
Now, simply choosing to use WordPress does not automatically make your website responsive. But with mobile users now accounting for roughly 60% of all web traffic, selecting a responsive theme is a must. Fortunately, you’d be hard-pressed to find a theme that doesn’t adapt to smaller screens. If you’ve somehow stumbled onto a desktop-only design, however, you can deploy a plugin to do the heavy lifting for you. Take a look at WPtouch, WordPress Mobile Pack, or Automatic’s own Jetpack.
Having a mobile-optimized site will also help improve where your site appears in search results. WordPress is naturally built for SEO, especially if you enable “pretty” permalinks that rely on words instead of a numerical post or page identifier. WordPress automatically alerts Google each time you update your site, making your information appear more relevant. Additionally, search engine bots can easily crawl through WordPress’ simple framework and link structure. Add a plugin (Yoast SEO is the go-to option here) for added measurements and controls.
4. Resources Abound When Looking for Support
No, there’s no 24/7 live chat support or tech support agent manning the WordPress phone lines, but you can get help with your WordPress site anywhere, anytime. With millions of users with all levels of experience, you can rest assured that you are not the only person experiencing a certain problem.
The WordPress support forums, along with the main Codex documentation and resources, are a key first stop when troubleshooting an issue. More generic online searches will lead you to tons of reputable experts and support threads on Quora, StackExchange, and others. Plus, if you do your homework and find strong, reputable themes and plugins, chances are the developers themselves will offer support for those.
What’s more, the user passion for WordPress extends beyond the monitor. Users around the world regularly organize informal gatherings and conferences, called WordCamps. Check out a schedule of upcoming events to see where WordPress experts and newbies are gathering near you. Topics, classes, and discussions run the gamut from professional-level coding and consultations to effectively growing your new site.
5. More Help is on the Way
Still a little perplexed by WordPress? It’s ok, you’re not alone. Many WordPress experts, including Morten Rand-Hendriksen, will freely admit that WordPress isn’t easy. By removing common barriers to website creation, WordPress also removes some of the safeguards that guarantee your site is sound and secure. If you don’t keep up with the regular platform, plugin, and theme updates, for instance, you’ll likely find your site compromised before long. Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean there’s no effort.
Since 2003, WordPress has grown in bits and spurts by adding and evolving new features. That path has led it in a different direction compared with the growing popularity currently surrounding site builders such as Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. To help bridge the gap, WordPress is closing in on a brand new editing experience: meet Gutenberg.
Gutenberg represents the largest overhaul to the WordPress experience and will introduce the concept of content blocks that can be placed, moved, and customized much like site builders. The introduction of blocks into the WordPress landscape removes the final bits of HTML and CSS coding needed to create rich and engaging layouts. Gutenberg is currently available as a plugin and a demo, and the full release is expected later this year.
About the Author: Laura Bernheim shows first-time site owners and experienced developers how to explore new technologies and find better ways to work with established platforms. A professional journalist, she has contributed articles to The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, HostingAdvice.com, and several of the world’s top hosting providers.