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What is WordPress? … And Why You Should Consider Switching to WordPress if You Haven’t Already …

For Context …

This blog post is written for someone who is new to WordPress … is primarily a non-techy type person … and is considering a longer-term deployment of a web publishing platform for his or her business or service.

What is WordPress? …

If you are brand new to WordPress, you must first understand there are 2 different forms of “WordPress” …..

(1) … WordPress.ORG … which is the free Open Source CMS web publishing software that you CAN download for free to build your own independent stand-alone website.

(2) … WordPress.COM … which is a free Blogging platform where you only get a free “sub directory” on the main WordPress.com web domain for publishing blog articles – where you CANNOT build your own independent stand-alone website.

….. for the purpose of this article, we are only talking about the WordPress.ORG platform

Furthermore, to understand what WordPress is, you also need a basic understanding of what  “Open Source” software is, because WordPress is an Open Source software platform … and “Open Source” software has it’s own unique set of quirks and nuances when it comes to customer support & product updates … the following link to a Wikipedia article gives a short primer on Open Source software;
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software

Because WordPress is an “Open Source” platform – this means things like “Customer Support” & “Software Updates” from WordPress itself cannot be guaranteed to follow a timely-rigid schedule like software released from big private corporations … this is important to understand when considering WordPress for commercial deployments; because timely & guaranteed professional customer support is simply not guaranteed by WordPress.org … it’s more appropriate to think of WordPress like a big non-profit volunteer organization, and not that of a big for profit corporation like Microsoft.

You also need to know; WordPress is also a “Content Management System” (CMS) ….. if you don’t know what a Content Management System is, it’s somewhat self explanatory, it’s basically; a software system that manages, to varying degrees, the creation, modification, organization, and storage of digital content.

During the very early history of WordPress; it started out as just a very simple CMS Blogging platform … but has since evolved into a very versatile CMS web publishing platform that supports a extremely wide variety of web publishing functions … in fact; it can easily be argued that WordPress is currently the most versatile & cost effective web publishing platform available today for the masses.

Who Owns WordPress.org? …

The WordPress trademark and the WordPress.org domain name are owned by the “WordPress Foundation”; https://WordPressfoundation.org … the WordPress Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, whose sole purpose is to ensure that WordPress is freely available, maintained, and developed.

Understanding the Difference Between “WordPress Core” & “WordPress Plugin” Technology …

“WordPress Core” is the basic minimum technology bundle that runs a WordPress website in it’s “most basic” form … “WordPress Plugin’s” on the other hand, are optional/separate software modules (plugins) that extended the basic functionality of “WordPress Core” … WordPress Plugins come into 2 primary forms; “Free” and “Paid”.

Some “Advantages” for Using WordPress … In No Particular Order …

WordPress Advantage 1 … The Most Popular CMS System … And It’s Free …

WordPress has evolved into the #1 most popular CMS system (by a wide margin) when measured by usage … WordPress, at the time this article is being written, powers aprox. 61% of all web publishing CMS systems, source; https://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all  as measured by W3Techs.com.

WordPress has become so popular, that the 2nd most popular CMS technology (Joomla) only commands aprox. 5% of CMS market share, making WordPress aprox. 12 times more popular than the 2nd most popular CMS technology … this popularity of WordPress has attracted a very large number of people who regularly contribute to the “WordPress Eco-system”, which has created numerous advantages thru critical mass.

In addition to being the most popular CMS web publishing platform; the basic WordPress CMS software package is FREE … you can build very powerful blogging websites using just some of the latest FREE WordPress technology … although for some of the more advanced 3rd party technology features, that you may, or may not require, may require a small fee … and 3rd party web hosting/servers do cost some money.

WordPress Advantage 2 … Huge Number of Free Software Plugins …

At the time of writing this article, the WordPress.org community has developed/contributed over 54,000 free software plugins that are listed for free use on the official WordPress.org website; https://en-ca.WordPress.org/plugins/  … this huge resource of free Plugins is unmatched in the CMS market, and gives WordPress publishers an almost unlimited amount of free possibilities to extend the basic functionality of a WordPress website.

WordPress Advantage 3 … Huge Amount of Free Learning Resources …

Because of the massive popularity of WordPress; there’s a massive amount of free resources on the web for learning WordPress for free … you do not need to go to a College or University and pay thousands of dollars to learn WordPress … if you spend enough time studying free WordPress courses on the internet, you can eventually become a WordPress expert for free, excluding your time cost … many of the best software developers are self-taught.

WordPress Advantage 4 … Huge Number of Professional WordPress Service Providers …

Because of the overwhelming popularity of WordPress, a huge number of professional WordPress service providers have sprouted up over the years – as a website owner, this means you have alot of choice on potential service-providers, as well as, some pricing power over them ….. conversely, if you choose to build your web site in a much less popular CMS system than WordPress, you may encounter problems finding a good & affordable service-provider fluent in a more obscure CMS technology, especially one that is located locally.

WordPress Advantage 5 … You Own Your Content & it’s Easily Moveable …

When you produce your own content for a WordPress website; you own that content – and you can relatively easily move your content from hosting company to hosting company.

When you produce content on some other CMS platforms, you might not actually own the content, or you might not be able to easily move that content to another Hosting company … each CMS platform has it’s own “terms-of-service” – and it’s imperative to fully understand the T.O.S. of a CMS platform and it’s potential long-term ramifications before making a large commitment of time & money into the CMS system.

WordPress Advantage 6 … Recent Advances in 3rd Party Page-Builder Technology …

There’s been a quiet revolution happening in WordPress over the past few years – and it’s taking place in the “Page-Builder” technology space … Page-Builders are like mini CMS systems that make the process of more advanced web development easier … for a lack of better words, Page-Builders “sit on top” of the WordPress CMS … good Page-Builder technology allows for much more rapid advanced customization than what’s found in the core CMS UI – this translates into quicker development time & lower maintenance costs … good Page-Builder technology is still in it’s relatively early stages, but the leading WP Page-Builder technologies are evolving rapidly.

Some “Dis-advantages” of Using WordPress … In No Particular Order …..

WordPress Dis-advantage 1 … Hacking & Security Issues …

Due to the overwhelming popularity of WordPress, Hackers have targeted WordPress websites in increasing numbers … this has significantly increased the risk of WordPress websites getting hacked – good security practices for a WordPress website is a “must have” these days.

WordPress Dis-advantage 2 … Free & Open Source “Software” …

Free is generally good, but with WordPress, free comes with potential cost’s in not so obvious ways; because WordPress is a free & open source system; some of the free 54,000 plus WordPress Plug-ins contributed by thousands of different people from within the WordPress community – some may not regularly maintained, and as a result, some can have compatibility/security issues … a very important skill of a modern WordPress Publisher is to understand the complexities of the WordPress Plug-in & Theme Eco-System; to be able too identify & evaluate Plug-ins/Themes for their potential long-term reliability, security, & support issues … choosing the wrong Plug-in or Theme can cost you alot of time & money if your website gets hacked or loses functionality due to technical obsolescence issues.

WordPress Dis-advantage 3 … Free & Open Source “Support” …

Because WordPress is free & open source technology; there isn’t a “reliably expedient” support system for troubleshooting mission-critical problems from WordPress.org … official WordPress.org support is handled thru free documentation found at; https://WordPress.org/support/  … as well as thru free community support forums here; https://WordPress.org/support/view/all-topics/  … and thru support pages maintained by some of the various theme and plugin developers … reliable mission-critical support for your WordPress site is handled either by yourself, or thru private 3rd party companies-services – which are generally not free.

Private 3rd party support for WordPress is complicated by the fact that there is currently no “industry standard” for quality WordPress service & support … the “quality”, “speed”, “reliability”, and “cost” of good 3rd party support for WordPress can vary greatly from company to company …  an important skill of a modern WordPress Developer is the ability too accurately evaluate 3rd party WordPress companies for their quality, speed, reliability, and cost attributes if outside expertise is needed for additional/specialist support.

WordPress Dis-advantage 4 … Information Overload …

Because of the open-source nature of WordPress & the thousands of people who regularly contribute to the WordPress eco-system; technological changes/advancements in the vast number of WordPress plugins, themes, & technologies now happen so frequently that it is impossible for a single human being stay up to date with all the daily cumulative technological change related WordPress … with over 10,000 different free themes and over 54,000 different free plugins within the WordPress.org eco-system, it means it’s nearly a full time job to stay highly informed on the changing WordPress technology landscape.

Conclusion …

WordPress is a powerful and relatively low cost solution for the modern web publisher … and with recent advancements in WP Page Builder technology, WordPress is becoming an increasingly powerful CMS platform for low cost rapid commercial deployment … backed by a robust 3rd party support eco-system, WordPress can be used as the foundation for a small 1 person website operation, all the way up to big government & Fortune 500 applications.

When I decided to transition from custom hand-coding websites – to a more automated CMS system, i had a choice from dozens of different CMS platforms … it literally took me years of research and study before making the decision on what I thought would be the best overall CMS system to use for the next 10 to 20 years – which lead me to chose WordPress as my primary web publishing platform.

For a number of reasons … some of which i’ve described in this article … it’s my opinion that WordPress is currently the best “overall” CMS web publishing for small to medium sized businesses and services … does WordPress do a better job at doing everything compared to all other CMS systems? – no … but when you take into consideration dozens of different contributing factors into your decision making process, it’s hard not to consider WordPress as currently being the most cost effective and versatile web publishing platform for the masses, with a reasonable possibility of holding that title for some time to come.

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