What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free open-source software that has quickly become one of the most popular platforms to build a website. It’s used by over 75 million websites and that number is growing every day. WordPress is coded in PHP and was originally created as a blogging software however it has evolved over the years and is now considered a content management system (CMS).
WordPress is basically a free software to create a website. It has a back-end dashboard where you can manage and design your website using their user-friendly interface. It can be used to showcase a portfolio or launch a full blown e-commerce store. The possibilities are endless with WordPress. You can download themes for WordPress which are basically templates that can change the look and design of your website with a few clicks. Since WordPress is 100% free to use and download, you can start building a website without any upfront costs. It’s a game changer for anyone looking to build a website without having to code or hire a web designer.
Who Uses WordPress?
According to W3Techs WordPress powers 30% of the websites on the Internet. From news outlets to celebrity blogs and even Fortune 500 companies, WordPress has become the CMS of choice. It can be used as a platform for bloggers or a portfolio for a small business. The versatility of WordPress is what has attracted so many website owners. There are thousands of WordPress developers, tons of themes to choose from and built-in SEO tools to get your website ranked in search engines. It’s by far the most popular software to build, manage and launch a website.
How To Get Started With WordPress
You have two options when it comes to using WordPress. You can download WordPress from WordPress.org to use the self-hosted option or you can go to WordPress.com and use it as a hosted service. These are two very different ways to use WordPress and I will go over the differences so you can choose the best option for your website.
What is WordPress.org?
If you want to self-host WordPress you would download the software from WordPress.org. When you choose to self-host it means you need to find a WordPress Hosting Provider and install the software on your hosting server. When you choose to install WordPress on your own hosting server you have a lot more flexibility and control. You can install any themes and plugins you want and can use ALL of the features of WordPress. When you self-host WordPress you can install it on your own domain name as well. This gives you a professional look since you’re using your own domain name. I would recommend this option for anyone who chooses to use WordPress since it gives you total control of your website.
To get started, you need to find a web hosting company for WordPress. If you’re in a hurry and want to get started with WordPress right away, check out BlueHost or HostUpon. Both of these hosting companies have hosting plans that are optimized for WordPress. They also have a 1-click installer so you don’t even need to download WordPress yourself. You can automatically install it on your domain name with a few clicks and start building right away!
Here is a quick overview of BlueHost WordPress Hosting
- You get a free domain name for the first year
- WordPress is automatically installed
- Your site will be hosted on a server in the U.S.
- You have access to 24/7 support
For Canadian website owners we recommend HostUpon since they are based in Toronto, Canada. Here is an overview of what you get:
- A free domain name is included for the first year and this includes .ca domain names
- WordPress auto-installer
- WordPress security suite to protect your website
- Your site will be hosted on Canadian servers (great for search engine ranking)
- Support is all in-house and not outsourced
When you choose to self-host WordPress you get the freedom to do whatever you want with your website. You can install any theme or plugin and can even hire a developer if you really wanted to customize things. If you have the budget then choosing to self-host is highly recommended.
If you decide to self-host WordPress and are looking for an awesome theme check out ThemeForest. They have a ton of free themes you can use and they also have themes that are professionally designed which you can pay for.
What is WordPress.com?
If you choose to use WordPress.com then you’re using a hosted service. Although WordPress.com is free, you’re limited on what you can do with WordPress. Your domain would be yoursite.wordpress.com so you can’t use your own domain name. This is a big difference if you’re a small business or trying to actually grow an audience. It’s not as professional as using your domain name of course.
TIP: When you use WordPress.com your website will also have ADs displayed on your website so keep that in mind!
With WordPress.com you can’t install any plugins or themes. You have to choose from the options they give you which are free but limited in terms of design. Themes and plugins are one of the core features of WordPress because they allow you to customize your website however you want. This is a big downside to using the free hosted service. If you plan to monetize your website then WordPress.com is not the best option for you. It is great for people that just want a platform to blog and can be compared to services such as Tumblr or Blogger. You’re limited in what you can build and do but it’s totally free and easy to get started.
Here are the key difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
- Use your own domain on WordPress.org or use a sub-domain on the free WordPress.com
- Have control over your plugins and themes on WordPress.org or choose from a limited selection of plugins and themes on WordPress.com
- Get direct access to your website files and database with WordPress.org versus not having any access to the files since WordPress.com is a hosted service
- Look more professional using your own domain and monetize your website versus using a subdomain.wordpress.com
In the end it really depends on what type of website you want to build and how much control you want over it. If you’re a business then a self-hosted platform would be the way to go!