Whether you already have a website, or are thinking of starting one, you’ve probably come across some pretty confusing terms and acronyms while scouring tutorials. Often, this infusion of Internet jargon can result in complete overwhelm when it comes to creating your presence online.
But the good news is, it doesn’t have to.
With a few simple tips and by mastering just a little bit of ‘geek-speak’, you can make some real strides towards setting up your own business website. And, you might even impress a few people (including yourself!) along the way.
In this article, I’ll explain what a ‘CMS’ does, and why you should be using one for your website. Then, I’ll talk about WordPress, the web’s leading CMS and why it’s such a great option.
Nervous? Don’t be! Let’s dive in together.
What’s a CMS?
CMS stands for Content Management System.
On the web, a CMS is an application that allows you to build and manage your website without knowing any code whatsoever. It features a simple graphic interface that lets you drag-and-drop desired elements for the desired graphic layout while providing a word processor-like format to add copy. Whether blog articles, static pages, images, or sidebar widgets, a CMS helps manage and categorize all your content for you in one central location.
Why should you be using a CMS?
One of the best things about a CMS is that you can manage it yourself.
In the past, every time you wanted to make a change to your website, no matter how small, you would have to contact your designer, wait for them to do it, then pay them for their time and expertise.
Now, you can install a CMS, then update and maintain your website yourself. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may still need a designer to set up the site in the first place (depending on your level of technical prowess), but beyond that, it really is do-able to manage all on your own.
Reasons to use a CMS include:
- having greater control over your website
- being able to update your website from any computer (and even tablets and smartphones)
- being able to change the design of your website without losing any content, and wanting to save money
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS. In fact, it currently powers about 20-25% of the world’s top 10 million websites!
There are two “flavors” of WordPress: wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The .com version is hosted free, but has limitations on how much customization is allowed on your site. The .org version, on the other hand, is installed on your own paid hosting, but offers a wide range of customization possibilities.
*The vast majority of businesses will want a wordpress.org website, so that’s what I’ll be referring to in the remainder of this article.
WordPress is open-source, which means that all the code is completely open and available to the public. There is a collaborative effort of developers contributing to the code and sharing it throughout the WordPress community.
For the end user, the result of this is a plethora of available themes (designs) and plugins (modules that extend WordPress’s functionality).
Why should you be using WordPress?
When I first began creating websites, I was overwhelmed by all the options available out there. So, I can certainly understand any confusion when it comes to all the technical aspects of a website.
Here are a few reasons why I strongly recommend using WordPress:
- WordPress is easy to learn. Once it’s set up, you can manage the website yourself. If you can use a word processor, you can use WordPress.
- WordPress is open-source. The application’s features are frequently updated and made more secure. And, there are plenty of free plugins available, many are free.
- WordPress is popular. As I mentioned before, millions of the world’s top websites are built on WordPress. This means that there are plenty of support resources available.
- WordPress is portable. You can work on your website from any computer or mobile device.
- WordPress is flexible. Because it’s customizable in so many different ways, each WordPress website looks totally different. You won’t have to be worried about compromising the integrity of your brand.
- WordPress is SEO-friendly. WordPress and its themes are built to be ‘Google-friendly’. So, with a bit of set-up, you can be rest assured that people will find your site.
How to get started using WordPress
Ready to get started with creating a WordPress site of your own?
Here’s a brief overview of the steps:
1. Get a domain name and web hosting. There are many places to do this; just make sure they have the minimum requirements for WordPress. I use and recommend Siteground.
2. Install WordPress on your web hosting. Many hosts offer this as an automatic installation. Find a theme you love and install it. I recommend using a premium theme, such as those from StudioPress, as they have more functionality and support than free themes. DIY Themes is a good option, too.
3. Set up pages and widgets. You might want to install some plugins for extra functionality.
4. Go live to the world!
In the comments let us know your experience with WordPress. Got any favorite plugins? Themes? Do tell.
For more a more in-depth guide, download the free “Using WordPress” guide from my website WP SuperGeek.