Why WordPress is the Right Choice.

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Snapshot of how WordPress works

This schematic gives a snapshot of how WordPress works.

WordPress comes in two forms. The original and well known blog version hosted at WordPress.com with limited features and the powerful, robust, self hosted websites provided by Image BlackSmith LLC and widely used by well known organizations like Yahoo, CNN, Sony, Nokia, TechCrunch, eBay Ink, and Samsung among a long and ever growing list of WordPress users. With a wide range of powerful features such as user activated accounts where users can register and interact with other users on your site, WordPress provides a full and powerful website package. (See the schematic on the left illustrating some features available in a self hosted WordPress website.)

When consulting with clients and potential clients there are often a lot of questions around websites. With so many options then people and organizations providing services on varying levels of skill and quality. To help draw a clearer picture of where we are with web standards and how WordPress fits into the picture lets start with short history of web presence. The first website was published on 6 August 1991. Compared to today’s websites a lot was to left for the imagination. But after many failed attempts to get online, CERN’s project by physicist Tim Berners-Lee, who also created the first Web Browser, had finally delivered us the chance to share information via the world wide web. This immediately followed a period of web design that is more amusing than it is admirable.

Before Hamsters began selling cars they were moving websites. Luckily they moved on.

For starters not many people knew how to make websites and there were relatively few resources. (Who can forget The Hamster Dance? Featured in the 1999 Earthlink internet provider tv ad, it almost epitomizes the time.) Before viable research on user behavior and web specific tools it was a time when getting anything online was good enough. User expectations for any standard was relatively low. The combination lead to sites often crammed with useless amateurish features placed on the site for no real purpose other than it was a newly created feature. From JavaScript to animated GIFs and flash intro splash screens; it was generally a smattering of anything and everything.

Understanding a self hosted WordPress Site

A more detailed snapshot of how WordPress works under the hood

While there were many obstacles to providing substantive and easy to navigate sites we’ll just highlight the ones important to understanding why WordPress is right for you. Most early sites were based on simple HTML and tables limiting design capabilities. The biggest was due to styling of the elements on pages having to be hand coded making it difficult to maintain consistency and with large sites changes meant changing each page. This brought the implementation of Cascading Style Sheets or CSS allowing global site changes and more importantly much more flexibility. People still build sites using just XHTML and CSS. We refer to these sites as static or brochure sites. These sites only provide information with little to no interactivity and require an understanding of code to update. To add to the downfalls of simple websites is that its barely SEO compatible. While flash only websites can be interesting in their visual design they are not recommended for meaningful website deployment for the same reasons of simple sites with the added issue of not all devices supporting flash sites its often that an elaborate flash site is nothing more than a background and a message to download flash player to the user.

User interface

WordPress's User friendly interface allows for easy rearranging and updating site menu items.

Enter content management systems (CMS) like WordPress. CMS changes the equation by giving you a user friendly interface to update your site. However, its built on a database. This allows user interactivity and advanced features like shopping carts, commenting and user accounts to name a few. Updates can be done in-house using any computer with an internet connection. This saves money as you don’t need a web designer for every little update including adding images and content. Most importantly, updates are SEO compatible allowing you to reach a wider or targeted audience as your updates are automatically pinged to publishing services.

When it comes to CMS the main choices are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Lets cut to the straight numbers – the latest report from The 2010 Open Source CMS Market Report shows WordPress with 938,625 downloads per week and 12.9% of the web market (currently over 70 million sites are based on WordPress CMS). Joomla was significantly lower at 113,836 downloads per week in 2010 with 2.5% of the market (and about 27 million total downloads). Finally, Drupal stood at a distant 33,671 downloads per week and 1.4% of the web market. Based on the plethora of resources for WordPress alone gives it an edge over the lather options. This just allows for better options across the board for site features and support.

Easy User interface

Updating your site is easy with the WordPress user interface.

We’ve seen the numbers now lets see the important part, the ease of use. You’re busy running a business, pushing a product, promoting a service or even yourself. Frankly, you are not a web designer or developer and you have no intentions of becoming one now. Once your self hosted WordPress site is set up you will be free to add your own content with ease from any computer with an internet access. Its as simple as loging in and posting either a new post or a new page. You can even change and rearrange menu items with the user friendly WordPress interface.

Great! So WordPress is an easy to use and update site. So what you ask? Yes there’s more. It comes down to SEO compatibility. Sure there are tricks and gimmicks out there and they all become obsolete but one thing never does. Consistently providing relevant information to your audience never becomes obsolete. You cannot do that with a static brochure site and you certainly are not going to achieve that with a flash site, they almost don’t exist in the world of search engines. With tags, categories and a plethora of SEO assisting tools at your finger tips and good old fashion consistency in providing good and relevant  information, you should be able to reach your organizational or personal goals. While there is more to SEO than just adding content and tagging it you are miles ahead of static sites and flash only sites with WordPress. If you are a developer and you’re not up to date with WordPress head over to WordPress.org. If you need someone to bring your business or organization up to date you’re in the right place. Contact us for a consult.