Why should photographers use WordPress instead of Wix, Squarespace, Weebly or Smugmug? WordPress is more customizable, and with the right plugins has a much faster page load time than the competition.
- Cheap, at least in the first year of hosting.
- You can host your site where you like. The majority of hosting providers cater to WordPress users.
- You can have the Domain name of your choice.
- There are many free Themes and Plugins. Free does not mean poor quality either.
- Lots of control and flexibility over how your site will look.
- If you want to Blog you can. WordPress is still the number one Blogging Platform.
- If you don’t want to Blog, you don’t have to. WordPress is still a great website builder.
- WordPress is allegedly behind 33 per cent of all websites worldwide. One-third of the world can’t be wrong, can they?
- There’s a whole community of people willing to help you understand WordPress.
- It’s Open Source Software. There’s no corporation dominating WordPress.
- You have control over who you buy Themes and Plugins from.
- There is a robust rating system for Plugins and Themes. No one wants a kicking from their users. Most paid for themes and plugins providers will go the final mile to make sure you are happy.
- It’s not true WYSIWYG drag-and-drop website creation, like Squarespace or Wix.
- There is a reasonably steep learning curve. It does not have the best user interface I’ve seen.
- A hosting provider is not going to help you with WordPress problems. Unlike Wix or Squarespace as they are both creators of the software and the hosting provider.
- Plugins are written by different people. Sometimes plugins clash with other plugins, and you’re left scratching your head why your site looks like crap.
- You are forced to think and understand things like caching, and Search Engine Optimisation and Image Optimisation. If you don’t want to Google will spank you down the page rankings.
- WordPress is not a homogenous environment like Wix or Squarespace. So you have more freedom and more choices. That requires research, tenacity and experimentation. If that’s not for you well go for the obvious rivals to WordPress.
WordPress.org versus WordPress.com
This is one of the biggest reasons why people get confused about WordPress.
The dot com version of WordPress is a business created by one of the creators of the WordPress platform. Yes, it uses a modified version of the WordPress software. It is blogging focused at least for the free version, (yep you don’t have to pay a penny). Many large companies also use WordPress.COM.
If you just want to Blog. WordPress.COM offers free hosting, but you will have advertising on your site.
WordPress.COM is becoming less restrictive with time. They now allow you to have your own domain name now, which they didn’t previously allow.
But there are still plenty of restrictions with the dot com version of WordPress in regards to plugins you can use. WordPress.COM is a homogenous environment a bit like Squarespace or Wix.
ONLY WordPress.COM can offer WordPress.COM services.
If you go to let’s say GoDaddy to host your site and they offer you WordPress hosting. IT IS GOING TO BE WORDPRESS.ORG. SO YOU WON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE DOT COM VERSION OF WORDPRESS. BEST FORGET ABOUT IT.
You can host your WordPress.ORG site with virtually every Website Hosting Company worldwide.
WordPress is a Blogging Platform, isn’t it?
Yep, that’s right it is a blogging platform. That’s how WordPress started life.
But, and this is a big but. You do not have to Blog if you don’t want to.
Content Management System (CMS)
There are many CMS platforms. WordPress is the most famous.
Put simply a CMS has an interface that allows for simple editing and creation of content.
How is WordPress Structured?
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)
WordPress is written with PHP, but it gets outputted as HTML and CSS etc.
Is an Open Source Relational Database Management System. MySQL drives things like the blogging aspect of WordPress.
The theme dictates how your site will look and function.
Inside the wordpress.org environment, all Themes are FREE!
A plugin extends the functionality of WordPress that could be anything from a gallery plugin to a plugin for caching your site.
Inside the WordPress.org environment, all Plugins are FREE!
This is a static webpage. Called a page and nothing else. But do not confuse it with a post.
This is, in reality, a Blog Post
- Has a Date & Time stamp that can be altered retrospectively.
- Usually presented in reverse time order. Newest first.
- Can have a Category
- Also a Tag.
- Can be Archived (it won’t be shown on your site, but the post still exists.
- Can be shared easily on social media.
- Be commented on.
- Uses Pingbacks and Trackbacks. Basically, this allows other bloggers to be notified if you link to their blog.
- This is a Post you are reading right now.
As photographers, we will probably be using Pages, not Posts.
- Every theme comes with a Gallery.
- You can buy a Theme, or a Plugin via sites like Themeforest
- A lot of paid-for Themes and Plugins are often written by coders whose first language is not English. Be prepared for badly worded support pages and head-scratching emails.
- Be prepared to read a lot of webpages, and reviews of Plugins and Themes.
- Specific Themes, for instance, a photography theme will be generally better than a multi-purpose theme.
Should Photographers Use WordPress then?
Absolutely. If you use any of the web performance sites, like GTmetrix on a Wix or Squarespace site they do not perform very well at all. That might change in the future but as of July 2019, I’ve tested a random amount of Wix and Squarespace sites that perform very badly.