With around 20.5 million installations, WordPress is the most-used open source CMS worldwide. Originally conceived as a blog system, a number of extensions called plugins are now available for the basic installation, making it possible to upgrade the software to a fully functional content management system.
Market share: 58.8%
Number of active sites: 20,580,941
Number of sites in top one million: 311,682
Popular sites built with Wordpress:
WordPress itself is open source software, which means it is totally free. Many plugins are also free but some plugins do cost money. However, paid plugins for the most part are reasonably priced, and quite often you can find a free plugin that does basically the same thing.
Some plugin designers now limit use of the plugin on only one web site, or charge more if you want to use it on multiple web sites, or have a monthly subscription fee, which is less desirable if you manage many web sites.
Installation and configuration
Installation is a breeze with a 5 minute installation wizard you use in your web browser. Even the greenest newbie shouldn’t have any problems with the basic setup and configuration. You don’t need to know absolutely anything about HTML or PHP or any of that technical stuff to get this installed.
The only thing you need to do is to create a database on your web hosting account. Even this, you can usually get your web hosting support to do for you for free, if you ask nicely.
But if you are still intimidated, most web hosts also offer a one button install of this software. You will usually have to update it to the latest version if you install this way, but updates in WordPress are also very easy. Just click a button and wait a minute for the update to complete.
Because of its low effort basic installation, WordPress is good for the beginner or pro with small and simply structured websites. Especially for bloggers, who want to provide their visitors with frequently changing content in attractive layouts, WordPress is an effective CMS with an intuitive web interface.
As the complexity of the online project increases, though, the user-friendliness of the software significantly decreases. Large enterprise projects can theoretically be implemented too, but in such a case the greater number of functions is inevitably accompanied by an increase in administrative effort.
The WordPress user system controls what users can and cannot do on your website. This includes administrative tasks, writing content, approving content, plugin and theme management, and more.
Out of the box, there are five default user roles are:
- Administrator – Has access to all administrative options and features.
- Editor – Can manage and publish posts. Traditionally, editors review posts submitted by contributors and then schedule them for review.
- Author – Can publish their own posts when they wish.
- Contributor – Can write posts but cannot publish them. Instead, they need to submit their posts for review.
- Subscriber – Has basic functionality such as changing their profile and leaving comments.
Unfortunately, the default version of WordPress does not allow you to change what particular user roles can and cannot do. Nor does it allow you to create your own custom user groups.
This can be restrictive when running a multi author website. Take the contributor user role, for example. The contributor user role allows users to delete posts. This is not always ideal as a situation could arise where a writer deletes their article after being paid for it (rare, but still possible).
Contributors are not permitted to upload files either. Therefore, they cannot upload images to their articles. Due to this, I always manually change the permissions of the contributor user role so that they can upload images. The plugin I use to do that is User Role Editor.
There is a free version of the User Role Editor plugin, but you need to buy the Pro Version if you wish to remove advertising, or want additional functionality.
Operation and content creation
For a long time now, the free CMS WordPress has been the premier blogging software. It’s simple really: those who run a blog, use WordPress.
While it is still geared around the creation and management of a weblog, the customization features offered on WordPress mean it can now be used for comprehensive business pages, news portals, and web stores.
WordPress tries to be as simple as possible to use. This starts right from the installation, which is over in a matter of minutes (the free download can be found here). Those wanting to host their own WordPress site will also require a web server, a PHP, and a MySQL.
There is no multi-lingual capability out-of-the-box, but it can be added with plugins.
Menu creation is a bit clunky, but this can be improved via the use of Widgets to specify which pages the menu appears on and what items are in the menu, and the Hierarchical Pages plugin to make nested categories. You can have unlimited menus.
Search engine optimization and responsive design
WordPress is the best platform for getting world class SEO results. That being said, WordPress “out of the box” is not optimized for SEO. It takes some effort to get it set up correctly, so it can then shine.
Wordpress has search engine friendly URLs if you configure it correctly. To do that you just go to Settings => Permalinks and choose one of the options that includes the article title in the last part of the URL.
The following extensions improve the ranking of a WordPress site further still:
- SEO Ultimate: This all-in-one SEO plugin gives you control over meta titles & descriptions, open graph, auto-linking, rich-snippets, 404 monitoring, siloing & more.
- Yoast SEO: This complete SEO package has been popular for years. It features tools for page analysis, optimizing meta and link elements, social media integration, and much more.
- All-in-One SEO Pack: Another plugin that combines many SEO features, this extension can also be combined with the aforementioned WooCommerce add-on.
- Google XML Sitemaps: This tool creates sitemaps to your website that search engines can index more efficiently.
- W3 Total Cache: This very complex plugin optimizes site performance.
- Broken Link Checker: This extension analyzes your website for broken links and suggests appropriate action.
The average mobile phone user will leave your site if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less. Plugins like Better WordPress Minify, Check and Enable GZIP compression, JCH Optimize, JS & CSS Script Optimizer, Speed Booster Pack, WP Performance Score Booster, WP Smush, and WP Super Cache can speed up your web site considerably, which will also improve your search engine rankings.
But don’t go overboard installing plugins. The more plugins you implement, the slower your Wordpress site will get, eventually outweighing the benefits and annoying both readers and search engines, so try to stick to the bare minimum you need to get your job done.
The P3(Plugin Performance Profiler) plugin will show you which of your plugins are slowing your site down the most, so you can decide if you really need all those plugins. Don’t forget to uninstall the P3 plugin when you are done with your analysis.
Themes / Templates:
Called themes in WordPress – also known as skins or templates – this set of files determine the design of a website. There are thousands of free and paid themes for Wordpress to highlight a particular website function or goal. This means you can adjust your WordPress site to specific requirements.
If you want to make your website accessible, then selecting the right theme is crucial.
It is also critical to implement a responsive design that works well on mobile devices, since 85% of all people now access the internet on their phones. Plus Google has a special index for sites that work well on mobile, which gives you an advantage.
New themes (some free and some subject to a cost) can be downloaded from the official WordPress website. Further design ideas can be found on GitHub. The largest collection of WordPress themes is available from Themeforest, with over 10,825 different themes at a range of different prices from $3 to $125, with most templates under $59.00.
You should always download themes from official sites or well known sites you trust. There are many unscrupulous people designing themes with intentional security holes or hidden code that can be found via search engines. Especially if you don’t know what to look for, stick with the sites you know and trust.
If you find a theme you like, but need a few tweaks to make it just right, and don’t have those skills yet, you can hire an inexpensive Wordpress developer at Freelancer.com or Fiverr.com. Most sites that sell their own themes also offer these kinds of services for a fee.
Wordpress can be extended to include ecommerce with the WooCommerce Plugin. It can hold up to 10,000 products but really makes it quick to set up the small store.
With endless flexibility and access to hundreds of free and premium WordPress extensions, WooCommerce now powers 30% of all online stores — more than any other platform.
The WP All Import Pro plugin adds the ability to import datafeeds directly into your store and customize just how you want the datafeed to look.
With WooCommerce, you can sell both physical and digital goods in all shapes and sizes, offer product variations, multiple configurations, and instant downloads to shoppers, and even sell affiliate goods from online marketplaces.
With premium extensions, you can offer bookings, memberships, and recurring subscriptions.
Shipping is highly configurable, and WooCommerce even supports drop shipping. Offer free shipping, flat rate shipping, or make real-time calculations. Limit your shipments to specific countries, or open your store up to the world.
WooCommerce comes bundled with the ability to accept major credit cards, PayPal, BACS (bank transfers), and cash on delivery. Need additional options? More than 140 region-specific gateways integrate with WooCommerce, including popular choices like Stripe, Authorize.Net, and Amazon Payments.
WooCommerce gives you complete control of your store, from taxes to stock levels to customer accounts. With a growing collection of more than 300 extensions, you can enhance each store’s features to meet your unique needs.
While the basic WooCommerce plugin is free, many extensions do cost $$$, although some of them are also free.
If security is a concern, rest easy. WooCommerce is audited by a dedicated team of developers working around the clock to identify and patch any and all discovered bugs.
Security and service
WordPress itself is pretty secure, especially if you have installed plugins like iThemes Security, Wordfence Security, and Sucuri Security. The script will automatically let you know in the admin area when a new version of WordPress comes out and will automatically update itself if a security patch is released.
There is a Captcha plugin to add a captcha to all your logins and other forms to prevent spammers and bots. It uses a simple mathematical equation of primary numbers. No illegible words or stupid pictures to click on.
Most of the vulnerabilities come from 3rd Party Plugins that are poorly coded, so read the reviews before installing a new plugin, check the forums, and only use plugins that are updated regularly.
If you keep your Wordpress version updated to the lastest version, and your plugins updated when there is a new release, you shouldn’t have problems.
WordPress is the most targeted by hackers, simply because it is the most well known CMS. Using the security plugins mentioned above, hiding your admin folder by changing its name (iTheme Security), using long,complex passwords containing upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols that don’t spell any real words, and removing links and meta tags that identify your site as a Wordpress site goes a long ways towards keeping hackers out.
The more plugins you implement, the slower your Wordpress site will get, so try to stick to the bare minimum you need to get your job done.
If you’re striving for a stable website operation, WordPress places comparatively high demands on the server as your visitor traffic increases. Users who are trying to develop complex multi-domain projects with a multi-lingual focus should choose a CMS like Drupal or TYPO3 instead of WordPress.
Most paid plugin developers give excellent support for their plugins and will give you help in getting them installed and working. Some will even make minor tweaks for you to fit your requirements.
Most free plugin developers will refer you to the WordPress Forums for help, or they may have their own forum on their website where you can get help from other users.
The WordPress Codex, is an online manual for WordPress and a living repository for WordPress information and documentation.
If you are interested in delving into the core code or developing your own plugins, there are many more places for help listed in the Developer Documentation.
If you do a search in a search engine for “wordpress +how do I (whatever your problem is or whatever error message you are getting), you can usually find the answer.
If you go to Plugins, then click the Add New button, then search for the problem you are trying to solve, you will probably find a plugin that can do the job.
WordPress is the best choice for the beginner. It is easy to install, intuitive to learn, and can be expanded with plugins as your website grows or needs additional functionality.
No multi-language support out-of-the-box. It places comparatively high demands on the server as your visitor traffic increases or if you install too many plugins.
While Wordpress can now handle multi-domain projects, users who are trying to develop complex multi-domain projects with a multi-lingual focus should choose a CMS like Drupal or TYPO3 instead of WordPress.
There’s tons of competition out there, and getting people to notice your products isn’t always easy. That’s why you should consider learning how to cross-post products on your WordPress website with eBay, so you can benefit from the best of both worlds.
Syncing your WordPress site with eBay broadens your audience and gives you a better chance to make a sale.
There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of web hosting companies out there, making it a tough job to choose the best one for your web site running on WordPress. You might as well start your search for reliable webhosting with the top 3 web hosts recommended for WordPress by WordPress themselves.
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world, but Wix is another popular platform.
The biggest difference between Wix and WordPress is that WordPress is a standalone software that you need to install (or have installed by a third party) on a web server. Only then do you get to use it as the software running your site.
Wix, on the other hand, is a tool/service that you sign up for. Once you’ve signed up, Wix allows you to build, and then manage your website all within Wix.com.