Some questions we are often asked are “How does WordPress work?, Is WordPress really free? How is it better than what I have now?” Deciding on a platform for your website can be a tough decision, and will have a significant impact on your success over the short and long term. To help you with your decision, here we will provide some of the basics of how WordPress works, and compare it to some of the other platforms available today.
What’s A Content Management System?
A content management system (CMS) allows you to build your website in a graphical interface, as opposed to strictly with HTML code. There are many advantages to this type of system, the primary one being the ability for anyone without HTML knowledge to easily create new pages or edit existing pages on their website.
Out of the box, WordPress organizes content in either pages or posts. Pages are for static content that doesn’t change as often, like an ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact’ page. Posts are for blog content. While having Posts and Pages are a great start, you can also install plugins and themes which will add portfolios, event calendars, unique post types, products, and other custom ways to organize your content.
WordPress is overwhelmingly the most popular content management system in the world. A whopping 26% of all websites utilize WordPress, with Joomla being it’s closest “rival” at 2.8%. This dominance of the market is supported by the vast number of developers who create themes and plugins for WordPress. If you need to hire a professional developer, it will be very easy to find one that is familiar with WordPress vs a lesser used CMS.
Is WordPress really free?
Yes! The WordPress software can be downloaded from wordpress.org and is complete free to install and use for your website. You will however need to purchase a web hosting package that will host the website. Prices for a web host can vary from a few dollars, to a few hundred dollars a month depending on a variety of factors, and the overall needs of your website. While it may be tempting to roll with the cheap web hosting option, as with most things, you get what you pay for. Our company was founded at least in part after we saw how frustrated site owners were getting when trying to run WordPress on a $3/month hosting plan, but didn’t have the resources to spend $30 – $50/month for their own server. We encourage you to take a look at our affordable WordPress web hosting plans.
What about other free options? Why is WordPress Better?
There are many different platforms that allow people with little or no coding knowledge to create a website. Wix and Weebly are two of the post popular platforms that utilize a “drag and drop” interface to build a website. While these options are very user friendly when initially building your site, there are some serious drawbacks you should be made aware.
Professional Look & Style
To start, most of these options will not allow you to use your own domain name on their free plan. Instead, you will be stuck with something like http://yourbrand.weebly.com. They may also show advertisements you cannot control on the top or bottom of your website. This may be fine for a personal blog, but looks very unprofessional for a business or brand website.
Most of these platforms are hosted, meaning they host your website on their server. Typically this means that you do not have access to the base files, meaning you cannot fully customize the templates or functionality. Many will offer plugins or extensions to add functionality to your site, but none can compare with the over 30,000 plugins available for WordPress.
WordPress on the other hand is open source, and allows you full freedom to customize either the template or any plugin. Don’t like your calendar widget? Install a new one! Want to enable e-commerce? easy just install the WooCommerce plugin. If you can dream it, there’s probably a WordPress plugin already created for it.
I hope his post has given you some more insight into how WordPress works, and how it’s different than other competitors. Have a question? Ask us in the comments below!