There are important considerations when deciding whether to WordPress or not to WordPress, one of which is, if you’re not going to use WordPress, then what are you going to use? Joomla? Drupal? Blogger? But this article doesn’t head in that direction. Instead, it just looks at the pluses and minuses of using WordPress.org.
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is made to comply with W3C (World Wide Web Consoritum) standards and is considered to be both a Content Management System and blogging software, and it is worthy of your consideration because, as the site claims, it forms the basis of 17 percent of the web. It forms the basis for such diverse websites as MSNBC TV, Getty Images Blog, BBC America, The Rolling Stones, University of Virginia Department of Environmental Sciences, and Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland.
The Double-Face of WordPress
An important thing to know about WordPress is that there are two versions: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. This article focuses on the pros and cons of WordPress.org.
Some of WordPress’s capabilities reside in its feature list, so let’s start there.
As of the end of May, 2013, WordPress is on version 3.5.1. The license for use allows you to extend the code, modify the code, and use it for any purpose you want, including commercial sites, without charge. It is available in over 70 languages. Hosting and domain registration is something you pay for with WordPress.org, and you are responsible for site maintenance, such as installing software updates, making backups, and optimizing your site, but you can sell ads on your website, use any theme you like (free or paid) and add any plugin you like (free or paid).
WordPress is designed to allow you to combine blogging content (with updated posts) with static pages, and you can use your administration interface to maintain multiple blogs. Pingback and Trackback are supported, and its capable of supporting multiple themes on a single site. Posts can be password-protected, and readers can be required to register to post. Comments can be enabled or disabled on any given page, and multiple authors with various roles are supported. RSS can be set up to post your article on social media sites, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
The current WordPress requires PHP to be at version 5.2.4 or higher and MySQL to be at version 5.0 or greater. The only server requirement is support for PHP and MySQL, but support for the mod_rewrite Apache module is recommended, as is suPHP, which makes your hosting more secure.
Set-up is pretty quick and easy if your webhost has a feature like Simple Scripts. If it doesn’t, you’re going to have to do things like create a database in your account and apply custom changes to the WebConfig file—things most folks have never done before and may not wish to do.
Time to learn
When you’re done with your setup, WordPress sends you off to its documentation to learn how to use the site. While the documentation is high quality, the fact that so much functionality comes from plug-ins means that its both an initial and a continual challenge, as you upgrade your site, to learn and keep track of all you need to know.
WordPress is—and looks like—a template site. Despite the wide variety of themes available, there is a certain look to a WordPress site that shouts “template.” Only a high level of skill make a site look really customized, and in some cases, custom HTML may serve better.
Plugins and Themes
There are loads of plugins (>15,000) and themes, some free and some paid. The fact that they are not built in gives you more choice, but also means you have to do the research and make the choices. This is made more tedious by the fact that some plugins haven’t been updated for years, some were never very functional, and still, they’re listed. And there’s not always a clear indication of whether they’re compatible with the version of WordPress that you’re using, although you have more assurance with paid versions.
Many WordPress users have kept the default username of Admin and used a weak password, putting their sites (and maybe their identities) at risk. The defaults should definitely be changed for better security. WordPress recently introduced two-step authentication to provide greater security. It adds a verification code that you either generate by opening the Google Authenticator App on your smartphone or having a verification number SMSed to you. Directions for set-up are available here: http://www.techfleece.com/2013/04/11/how-to-enable-2-step-authentication-on-your-self-hosted-wordpress-org-site/
WordPress updates frequently, and this is good for bug squashing and increasing functionality and security. But frequent updates require backing up the site, disabling all plug-ins and themes, installing the update, and turning the plugins and themes back on. And WordPress is notorious for updates causing existing plug-ins to break. So each time you update, you have to check the plug-ins individually to see what (if anything) community members have reported on the compatibility of the plug-in with the new WordPress version.
Sources (not for publication)