WordPress Basics, Part 1: .com versus .org

I have been shocked over the last few weeks to learn that many people are intimidated by WordPress… I’ve always found it to be extremely user friendly, but then again – I’ve been using it for over 5 years now so when I began with my very first installation years ago, it was actually a very basic package so all of the features you see now were introduced to me little by little. However, I believe my first version was 1.5.1 in the Summer of 2005. At that time, you had to have at least some database knowledge and technical expertise to go self-hosted because there was no such thing as the 1-click install as there is now with most hosting providers. You had to manually set up your database, create your wp-config.php file to connect your installation to that database, and there was no searching for or uploading plug ins and themes directly in your dashboard either. All of that had to be found on the web, downloaded, unzipped, and uploaded via FTP then activated within the installation. WordPress has come a long way since then!

I can understand how getting thrown into the WordPress platform at this point can be overwhelming with all the plug ins and widgets and customizations and themes. The possibilities are endless… but for those who aren’t accustomed to it, they come to feel lost at sea when they try to switch over from other blogging systems. Because of this, I decided to dedicate a little time to a series on the basics of getting started with WordPress. And count yourself lucky that so many things that used to be done manually with WordPress (most customizations used to require hard coding into the files themselves) can now be done mostly by installing a plug in! You’re not even subject to have to learn such primitive methods!

WordPress comes in two different forms which most people refer to at the .com and the .org versions of their software. The .com version is hosted on WordPress’ server and the blogs there are connected much like the way Blogger is. Your options for customization and theme selection are quite limited. You also have no real control over the software itself. The .org version is a complete download of the entire software package which can be installed on your own server, giving you complete control over the software (you can directly edit the files to get the exact look and feel that you need) and you can upload and install any theme as well as directly edit the theme files as well. Self-hosted is ALWAYS better. A self-hosted installation also allows for you to have your blog located on your own personal domain rather than a subdomain of wordpress.com.

There is also a financial aspect to consider. Blogs hosted on wordpress.com are free and completely maintained by WordPress. Self-hosted blogs require that you secure your own hosting account which on average runs somewhere around $60 per year for the lowest tier {I offer my clients hosting at a fraction of the price of most hosts and would love to hook you up!} and a domain which, depending on the registrar (who you get it from) and extension (such as .com, .org, .net, .info, .me, etc) can run anywhere from $2 to $20 on average for a yearly registration. WordPress’ platform and design is so feature-rich, customizable, and intelligent that there is literally no other blogging software that can hold a candle to its functionality.

WordPress can be made into networks of blogs, can have multiple authors, and can even be customized to appear as online magazines with dynamic content or static websites for more informational or business purposes. WordPress’ system also supports password protection and private posting as well as sticky entries (which remain at the top of your blog) and has a highly preferred commenting system integrated (which can be disabled). Using WordPress for a company website actually helps to cut the cost of maintenance down significantly as the site can be updated through the user interface by just about anyone once the design is complete and customization of existing themes is typically very inexpensive.

Like myself (here at eDesign-Pro) there are many designers who offer very affordable transfer services which completely take the guesswork out of moving your blog to WordPress. Your blog’s entries, comments, widgets, and even Google Friend Connect can be transferred without so much as one iota of lost data. To boot, the self-hosted installation provides MUCH stronger search engine optimization for those who intend to monetize their blog or who simply want to drive as much traffic to their information as possible. Sweeeeeet! Check back soon for Part 2 of the WordPress basics series!

If you’re interested in getting a quote on my services, please visit the Packages and Options page for more information! A full listing of services provided by eDesign-Pro Company is located on our Services page.

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