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Building a WordPress website: hosted vs self-hosted WPWP was developed by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little in 2003 on top of the b2/cafelog blogging platform that had been discontinued by its main vendor. The new CMS was written in PHP, employed the MySQL database and featured several new templates. Also, Little and Mullenweg made significant changes to the admin interface. A year later the Plugin Architecture was introduced, enabling developers to write WP extensions and share them with the community. Since 2010, the CMS has been owned by the WordPress Foundation, so its future no longer depends on a particular vendor.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
- WordPress.com. In case you’re a passionate blogger or want to build a business site just to test the waters, you can register an account on the WordPress.com platform owned by Automattic (Mullenweg’s company). What are the benefits of using a hosted WordPress website? Although you won’t have a custom domain name, the platform features a limited set of design themes and plugins (enough to run your food blog) and offers 3 GB of free storage. Automatеic uses the Freemium model, so you have to pay upgrade fees for every new feature. For example, it will cost you $ 18 per year to register a custom domain name, $ 30 to block irrelevant ads and $ 160 to extend storage up to 100 GB. With WordPress.com, you don’t have to learn HTML and CSS, roll out plugin updates or worry about security. However, you will have insignificant control over your website – and limited customization options. Also, you won’t be able to set up an online store, incorporate video content in your marketing strategy or track stats with Google Analytics;
- WordPress.org. Provided you have some coding experience or can afford hiring a good vendor, we recommend that you download the CMS on WordPress.org and build a full-featured custom site (either using the available WP themes and plugins or from scratch). Although you’ll have to choose a hosting plan (approximately $ 5 per month), purchase a domain name (about $ 10) and handle maintenance (including regular CMS and plugin updates), you’ll have a lot more freedom in setting up, operating and scaling your website (which is essential for every business).
WP functionalityThere are three ways to customize a WordPress site and enhance its functionality:
- Use themes (a set of files that modify a website’s interface; themes – or templates – often contain plugins; there are over 3 thousand free and paid templates for WP);
- Use plugins (pieces of software that feature certain functions and can be integrated into a WP website; there are over 36 thousand free and commercial plugins available on WordPress.org);
- Write custom code (customize an existing plugin/theme or write one from scratch).
What can you do with WordPress?
- Blog or personal website. Built as a blogging platform, WP has matured over time and now offers a plethora of tools that will help you improve SEO (Yoast Plugin), gain a better insight into user behavior (integration with Google Analytics) and increase the quality of your content (spell, style & grammar check with After the Deadline);
- Corporate website. Should I use WordPress for my business website? You may address the question to Fortune, TechCrunch and Reuters. The world’s biggest companies build good-looking, secure and high-performance sites with WP; why not learn from the best?
- Online store. In case you’re not a big fan of shopping cart software, you can use WooCommerce (like 17% of all e-retailers), Jogoshop (17+ customizable themes) or MarketPress WP plugins to convert your site into an online store. And there’s also Magento – a PHP-powered e-commerce platform that is 100% compatible with WordPress;
- Web community. Websites like Tech.co and Business2Community enable third-party authors to publish their content and build brand awareness. WP allows them to assign editor roles to an indefinite number of users and leave administration to themselves. Using the DW Question Answers and BuddyPress plugins, you can even create a second Quora with social network components!
6 benefits of using WordPressAlthough WP dominates the CMS market, some companies opt for Joomla or Drupal instead. Both are written in PHP, support MySQL and offer plugins/templates for customization. Why use WordPress then?
- Easy administration and maintenance. You can have a WP website set up and running in five minutes. Unlike its rivals, the CMS is user-oriented and has an intuitive admin interface. The WP ecosystem has undergone major tech changes over the last few years, and now you can automate the CMS, plugin and template updates. WP also allows you to create all types of content, add media files using the drag-and-drop tool and arrange posts using categories and tags;
- Security. Millions of websites can be hacked because of a minor security flaw found in a popular third-party WP plugin – but it doesn’t mean the CMS is wrecked as it is. Since 2005, WP has had 240 documented vulnerabilities (compared to 280 and 307 flaws discovered in Drupal and Joomla, respectively). There are many ways to secure a WP website, including automatic core updates, dashboard activity monitoring and security audit. Provided your vendor uses reliable third-party extensions or implement custom plugins, your website will be out of danger;
- Robust functionality. Joomla and Drupal offer considerably less plugins than WP (8.6 thousand and 16.5 thousand, respectively). WP supports integration with popular marketing automation tools, email platforms, CRM and payment systems by default – and even more functions are available through third-party extensions. What does it mean for a businessman? Why, cost reduction, of course! With WordPress, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and build software that is already available on the market;
- Large developer community. The WP community offers a plenty of resources to help companies get the most of their websites. Every problem you might face while managing your site has already been solved and documented;
- E-commerce support. Although both Drupal and Joomla have e-commerce extensions, it takes quite a lot of time and coding to integrate them into your website and achieve the desired performance. WP e-commerce extensions (WooCommerce in particular) enable businessmen to manage catalogs the way they add blogposts, use digital coupons and accept PayPal payments by default;
- Reasonable cost. Thanks to WP’s out-of-the box nature, in most cases software vendors implement and customize existing extensions, thus saving your time & money. Provided you purchase ready-to-use templates and plugins, an experienced developer will put up a blog in just 16-32 hours. Building a full-featured WordPress corporate website or online store requires up to 40 hours. However, the numbers are only relevant for standard WP projects. If you want to build a website with scalability in mind, it’ll take extra customization and re-coding to reach the goal. That’s why you should consult a reliable vendor who will help you choose the best tech stack.