Who says nothing in life is free?
WordPress.com is a freebie. WordPress.org's downloadable publishing platform is free. Heck, even WordPressMU is free.
WordPress is an open source project, which means it can be used on any personal or commercial website for free and is licensed under the General Public License (GPL).
But the free part isn't what makes WordPress (here's
what's included in WordPress 2.9
) a worthwhile platform for your blog.
Here are the real reasons WordPress has separated itself from the Bloggers and the TypePads of the world.
Usability. User Experience. UX. Call it what you want, WordPress is easy to use.
The interface is intuitive and the user experience is always improving.
In short, Wordpress is all about the user, constantly evolving with major releases three to four times a year to make life easier for everyone, whether you’re the developer, designer, administrator, blogger or reader of that particular blog or site.
Supporting the cause
It’s extremely difficult to find good help these days, especially when mega corporations like Google have a stranglehold on the Web.
Try contacting a supersite like Facebook, for example, and you’ll find out what I mean. No e-mail addresses to be found anywhere. Contact forms can be found after some heavy searching, but they funnel users into the wrong channels and return boilerplate "no-reply" e-mails that make you wonder why you even tried to get your problem solved.
While the web giants, and their users, struggle with support, this free, open-source project has so much support it’s tough to know where to start.
A Google search for "WordPress theme" nets more than 75,000,000 results. "WordPress plugin" nets more than 20,000,000 results. If you don’t like something in your version of WordPress, there’s a good chance you can find a free theme or plug-in that can accomplish what you want without much hassle ... and if all else fails, you can post your question in the WordPress forum and usually get a response within a few hours.
If that doesn’t work, try asking your question on a tech-specific Q&A site like Experts-Exchange.com. Yes, I’m biased, being part of the EE community, but find me another site that has more tech experts who have answered almost 3 million questions, and I’ll recommend that one instead. Chances are someone's already had the same issue as you using WordPress and has found an answer before you've even posted your question.
SEO good, Spam bad
Google might own Blogger, but WordPress owns the search engines, with search engine optimization functionality that is second to none and built into nearly every action you do with your blog. On top of being able to quickly syndicate your content and ping the engines with every post, there's a WordPress plugin for just about anything an SEO could wish for -- custom permalink structure, canonical URLs, ability to turn on/off no-follows, add related posts/links to blog entries, etc.
Plus, I figure if WordPress is good enough for
Google's Matt Cutts
to use on his blog (for the record, Google owns Blogger), it's probably good enough for all of us.
And as far as Spam control, WordPress’ Akismet Spam guard comes bundled with every copy of WordPress. All you need is a WordPress.com API key to use it. And to show you how well Akismet works, I had a small blog that barely saw 1,000 page views a day, and the Spam guard protected my site from more than 10,000 Spam comments in a matter of a couple months ... and I didn’t have to do anything. Akismet does most of the heavy lifting for you.
If Akismet isn’t enough protection, there are plenty of other Spam guards you can bring in such as Bad Behavior, Defensio.com, Simple CAPTCHA, Trackback Validation, Spam Karma and WP Spam Hitman.
Here's a list of the
top 25 WordPress plugins
I'd recommend, including a couple solid SEO additions.
Not your grandfather’s blog
WordPress has not only evolved into the top blogging platform in the world (WP 2.9 has been downloaded more than 3 million times since its release last month), it’s revolutionized the way we publish multiple content types on the Web.
Today, WordPress can be molded into a full-blown CMS, membership site manager, company intranet, a wiki, e-commerce site, photo gallery or portfolio, social community, forum, video or podcast channel, aggregator, affiliate center, job directory, classifieds site or even a real estate showcase site.
The possibilities are really endless, and WordPress will go as far as its users, bloggers, designers and developers take it.
Geared toward all levels of users
The people behind WordPress have always been passionate about making it as user friendly as possible ... for all types of users.
And that's why WordPress’ founding developer Matt Mullenweg thinks you should use WordPress, commenting about the vastly different types of users WordPress serves during the very first
Web 2.0 Podcast
debuting way back in Aug. 2005:
"For new users, we try to put as little between writing and publishing as possible. We try to keep it relatively frictionless for just writing, which, at the end of the day, is what writing blogs is about. And it’s a lot simpler than a lot of the packages out there."
At the same time, Mullenweg points out many experienced bloggers began their joyride through the blogosphere with LiveJournal or Blogger, but when "they get serious, they’ll graduate to WordPress."
WordPress is simple enough for the novice user yet advanced enough that it can cater to the more power users. That's what makes it tough to beat.
"For advanced users, we have some really exciting features like custom fields and multiple categories, and we even have subcategories and some hidden features like third-party comments," Mullenweg adds. "You can have subposts to posts. You can have different post types inside the database, or completely redo the permalink structure or URL structure. I think those kinds of things can be really appealing for the advanced users."
More WordPress Articles
This is part of a series of Articles on WordPress and its family of projects. You might also enjoy:
Upgrading to WordPress 2.9
Top 25 Wordpress Plugins for Your Site
WordPress Projects You Haven’t Heard of – WordPress MU, BuddyPress, BBPress, BackPress