WordPress is an open source blog software package that works exceptionally well as a content management system, a blog system, or a traditional website. It makes it easy for anyone to set up, manage and maintain a website—without having an advanced degree in geekery. WordPress started in 2003 and is now the largest self-hosted blogging tool and is used on, literally, millions of sites worldwide.
For example, the New York Times runs its blogs using WordPress. That should tell you something about how powerful and safe it is to use. But don’t let that scare you. Just as the NY Times uses WordPress, so do many “first-time-onliners” who have never touched any type of web design system at all. So it’s simple enough for even the most wary user.
First, since WordPress is open source, it’s free. That’s always a bonus. Since it is open source it also has a thriving community of developers constantly improving the software and creating plugins to expand the software.
WordPress lets you create pages (stand alone content) and posts (time-driven content) to build out the content of your site. And you can also easily manage your site’s look and feel with themes. These are custom designs for your site that control how everything is laid out and organized. (If you’re familiar with the term “template” just substitute the term “theme” when talking about WordPress.) The software is highly customizable, and has literally thousands of “plugin” pieces of software so you can use your site for just about anything.
WordPress can manage several types of content for you, including Posts, Pages and Links.
Posts are your basic time-driven content and are used for standard blog entries. You might write posts monthly, weekly, daily or more than once a day. It all depends on the purpose of your site and how you want to use it to connect with your visitors.
Pages are basically posts that aren’t time-driven—they’re added to the menu and serve as the basic meat of your site. They are basically the same as any static page on a traditional website…just a whole lot easier to create and update without having to pay someone to do it for you.
Links are just that—links. You can use links throughout your posts and pages, as well as in your sidebar. This can be handy for a list of recommended services or helpful sites.
Widgets are those handy-dandy boxes you often see along the left or right side of a website. They don’t have to go on the left or right – with the right theme you can put them anywhere! – but in general that’s the way people think of them. They let you do really cool things like offer a newsletter subscription box, insert images and videos, put special calls-to-action, list your most recent posts, add easy navigation down the side of your page, or just about anything else you want.
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