What is WordPress?
Headstand Media has been using and experimenting with the WordPress blog engine and open source content management system (CMS) since 2007. It has many Web 2.0 capabilities and features and the more we have used it, the more we have liked it. Here’s why.
WordPress began in 2003 as a simple open source blogging tool and has grown to now be used on hundreds of thousands of websites with a worldwide user and development community. A few of the sites that run on WordPress include: American Red Cross Disaster News, New York Times Blogs, People StyleWatch, Yahoo! Yodel Anecdotal, National Geographic Magazine (Netherlands-Belgium), and SAP.info. WordPress is built upon the open source PHP and mySQL technologies. It is offered free of charge in two options.
The Hosted WordPress.com Option
The first option is a hosted option found at WordPress.com. Anyone can set up a free blog site at WordPress.com and become familiar with the features and options this simple yet powerful platform offers. Your WordPress blog will be found at http://yourblogname.wordpress.com. WordPress.com offers some upgrade plans and options should you want to expand on the features you require.
The Free Software Download Option at WordPress.org
The second option is offered as a free software download at WordPress.org, which can be installed on your own UNIX/LINUX Apache-based hosting environment. Using the WordPress Codex is the option that Headstand Media most often employs for ourselves and our customers because it offers the greatest amount of flexibility, control, configuration and customization, for the least cost.
In 2008, WordPress released version 2.5 which included many major upgrades and new features. In 2009 they released additional versions. Since then, additional updates have been steadily released, and we are at version 2.9.1 in February of 2010.
WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS)
WordPress is no longer just a blogging tool or platform. With the controls available in the “Manage Pages” feature, a complete, multiple page website, with many levels of site navigation can be easily developed and managed. If a blog is desired to be an integrated part of the website, the “Manage Posts” feature can easily be integrated as well.
WordPress is built on modular, “plug-in” style programming that makes it very easy to install additional functionality to the core software. Hundreds of featured plug-ins are offered free on the WordPress.org website. Some WP Plug-ins that Headstand Media likes and uses regularly are:
- Calendar (adds calendar features)
- SEO Title Tag (a helpful search engine optimization tool)
- Akismet (anti-spam filters)
- Contact Form 7 (easy secure web forms)
- Podcasting (integration of mp3 podcasts)
- Amazon for WordPress (integration of Amazon links)
- Rotating Quotes (randomized quotes throughout site)
- Kimli Flash Embed (easy embedding of Flash files)
- Event Calendar (integrated calendar of events)
- Flexi-Pages (expanding-contracting navigation)
- WordPress Themes
WordPress uses the same modular programming idea for implementing sitewide interface designs, called “Themes.” Themes are offered for free on the WordPress.org website, or more advanced users regularly customize and create their own themes. Themes are controlled by master CSS style sheets which make customizing, changing and updating site design features very easy and efficient.
Some of our customer sites that use custom Headstand Media designed WordPress Themes are:
WordPress can also be effectively and efficiently integrated with other open source third party software products such as vBulletin (the most popular and flexible discussion board engine), CubeCart and osCommerce (shopping cart e-commerce systems), Google Analytics, Feedburner, Twitter and Facebook and many more.
In our opinion and experience, for most small businesses, non-profit organizations and personal websites, WordPress offers a value solution that is tough to beat.