We at Computer Courage are huge fans of WordPress. For the last several years, we’ve programmed 90% of our sites on the WordPress.org platform. WordPress enhances websites at every step of the process: our users to save money, take control over their own sites (add/edit/remove content), incorporate advanced functionality (e-commerce, mapping, user submitted content, etc.) and get better search results. WordPress.org is simply a stroke of genius, and we take great pride in using it to make beautiful and powerful websites for our clients. Below is a list of the top 10 reasons we believe in using WordPress.org for your website. If you are interested in getting professional help setting up or optimizing a WordPress.org website, contact us any time.
1. WordPress is Truly Free and Open Source
Unlike other “free” and “open source” solutions that have hidden agendas, WordPress.org is completely free (learn more) for you, forever. WordPress doesn’t start charging when you hit a certain size, nor does it close off any of its code to you. This is one of the less tangible but probably most important elements of WordPress.org’s success. No fees, no gotchas, no nonsense.
2. Automattic is an Awesome Company, and it Takes Care of WordPress
The more I learn about Matt Mullenweg and his company, Automattic, the more I like them. These guys write amazing code, protect open source programming, fight spam, host affordable and educational conferences, take security seriously, and seem like genuine nice guys. I mentioned that WP is open source, but what’s really interesting is that it is commercial open source. That sounds like an oxymoron but it’s actually a breakthrough. Many traditional community-based open source projects are not well guided – they end up floundering, splitting into separate projects, or become stale because volunteers are not motivated to work. Automattic stays on top of their product, steering development in the right direction and constantly updating their product.
3. Plugins Give You More Functionality
Plenty of platforms out there offer plugin functionality, but I’ve never seen a more smooth and thorough implementation than the plugin effort on WordPress.org. Plugins allow you to add great photo galleries, sliders, shopping carts, forums, maps, and more great functionality. There’s a searchable, one-click install directory of plugins (think App Store for WordPress). Their code is riddled with “hooks” that allow developers to add their code to virtually any aspect of WordPress without editing the core. Look for a few new and important WordPress.org plugins to come from the Computer Courage labs soon!
4. The Visual Editor and CMS are Outstanding
The intuitive, user-friendly backend of WordPress is probably what made it so famous in the first place. I’ll never remember the relief I felt when I first installed WordPress after a few Drupal experiences. I always tell my clients, “if you can do it in Word, you can do it in WordPress.” In fact, with the Paste From Word tool, that statement is more true than you would imagine (this article was written in Word). WordPress is continually improving its CMS, adding features such as threaded comments, galleries, revision histories, trash, custom post types, and more. If you haven’t maintained a WordPress site yet, give it a look.
5. Easily Add a Blog To Your Site
How is this number 5 on the list you ask? WordPress really came to fame for blogging and is still considered by many to be a blog platform. Even WordPress itself seems to identify with blogging first, as the default configuration is for the home page to be a blog. Aside from the amazing advances in CMS (see #4 above), the blog functionality is still the best in the business. With categories, tags, threaded commenting, gravatars, easy theming, widgets, fantastic moderation controls, anti spam solutions, and plugin infrastructure, you can’t find a better blog solution. Adding a blog to a WordPress site is a great way to attract and involve visitors, and to keep Google paying attention. If you don’t need a full site, and just want a quick blog, check out WordPress.com.
6. Themes Let You Style Your Site
I tell my business clients every day that their site doesn’t need to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to design. We love doing custom web design for our clients, but many of them don’t need it. We’ve been able to make very beautiful and successful sites by starting from pre-existing themes and doing customizations from there. Because themes are open source, you can buy or download them and then modify them to your heart’s content. I have to give special credit to the folks at Elegant Themes who make wonderfully powerful and easy to use themes at a very reasonable price. Remember, themes are independent from your content, so you can edit or swap out themes at any time and keep your content and functionality in place.
7. It’s Easy to Keep WordPress Secure
WordPress has always bragged about its “Famous 5 Minute Installation”. Not only is WordPress pretty easy to install (it actually takes 5 minutes if you are handy with your web servers, newbies will have a learning curve), but WordPress is also surprisingly easy to update for security and new functionality. When a new version is available, WordPress will give you an easy link for a one-click upgrade. Warning: Computer Courage always recommends backing up your blog before doing an install in case something goes wrong. Look for backup plugins or techniques first.
8. Google Loves WordPress
At Computer Courage, we focus on getting new customers for our clients via Search Engine Optimization. Ever since we started doing WordPress.org installs, I noticed a spike in search results. Over the years I’ve used many valuable SEO plugins such as the All-In-One SEO Pack and Google XML Sitemaps. But even without these plugins, I always felt like the simple layouts of WordPress, the permalinks, and the easy linking in WordPress would be naturally attractive to Google. I even heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. Matt Cutts, the other awesome Matt and the head of Google’s “web spam team” spoke at WordCamp SF 2009 and said it directly – “Google Loves WordPress”. Edit: After saying this for the last year, I went back and checked. It turns out I’ve been exaggerating. He said “WordPress is a great choice” (video and slides here) but still, he goes on to gush about how much WordPress helps you get better results. We always recommend a conversion to WordPress when doing SEO.
9. WordPress Sites are Accessible
WordPress sites are usually built on relatively simple and accessible technologies. It’s easy to install on Windows or Linux servers. It uses all free license server software. The web pages render in HTML and CSS allowing them to show up on iPhones, BlackBerrys, Android, iPad, etc. It’s also easy for alternative browsers such as text only browsers (see Lynx) which are excellent for those with disabilities.
10. Your Site Can Grow With You
When you add up a lot of these features, you find that your WordPress site can grow with you over the years. You can easily upgrade it for new features and security. You can add a new theme (ma.tt seems to add a new theme most years) without redoing your whole site. You can add new plugins for enhanced functionality (add e-commerce if your business grows, focus more on search results, add a store finder, etc.) WordPress.org is used by millions of sites, from the simplest little blogs to huge brand names like the New York Times blog, People, Flickr, and more. See the WordPress.org showcase.
Have further thoughts on why WordPress.org is or isn’t a great platform for building websites? We’ve love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for your participation and interest in the web and in WordPress.org. Finally, if you’re looking for a professional team to put a WordPress.org website together for you, contact us today or sign up for our newsletter.
PS – If Matt or the WP team reads this, hook us up with a VaultPress beta – we can’t wait to get our hands on this!