"But, isn't WordPress just for blogs?"
We see this question asked a hundred times a day all across the web. Here's our answer:
WordPress is suitable, even the best choice Content Management System (CMS) for the vast majority of websites. Yes, it did originally start as a blogging platform years ago, but it has come a very, very long way since then. Yes, there are exceptions.
WordPress CMS Features
WordPress is the Swiss Army Knife of content management systems - it can do almost anything you throw at it. I recommend it for ~90% of websites. But occasionally you are better off using specific tools for the job like if you are building a complex web application like Gmail, or a large ecommerce site with thousands of products. For almost every other purpose, WordPress will suit your needs.
Alastair McDermott, SelfAssemblySites.com
Here are some typical requirements for a website CMS - WordPress ticks all of these boxes - some of them with plugins, but most out-of-the-box:
- Ease of use (subjective: WordPress has the best CMS user interface)
- Modular and extensible (the most extensible CMS by a country mile)
- Full template support, for unlimited looks without changing a line of content
- Easy install and upgrade procedures (unquestionably the best)
- Powerful Admin control panel (the WordPress Dashboard)
- SEO Friendly URLs (brilliant plugins available)
- Easy user management
- Integrated and online help (lots of resources online)
- Availability of friendly support (lots of free and paid WordPress support available)
- Integrated file manager with upload capabilities (media management could be improved)
- Minimal server requirements (13MB of files, small database, low overheards, caching plugins)
Popularity = Scalability + Choice
WordPress is more popular than all its rivals put together - it accounts for 53% of the Content Management Systems space (CMS Share Report). This has a big impact when you realise the amount of developers and users this involves and the benefits that brings to you.
Plugins – Like Apps for Your Website
If you understand how Apps can improve the things you can do with a smartphone you've got the idea of plugins. These little beauties dramatically improve the functionality of your website, extending its reach and scope to remarkable heights.
If you wanted to add a photo or image gallery to your site, shopping cart or PayPal function, maybe a daily temperature update in your area, a mortgage calculator, social media sign up box or numerous other functions that are particularly relevant to you and makes your site visitors' time more enjoyable on your website - plugins pretty much always have the answer.
Even just a few years ago most of these functions would have cost a lot of money to create especially for your site, but now they're virtually all free. Again, all the better on WordPress as there are so many developers building them all the time, that if you don't quite like one, chances are good you'll find another one that does the same job and more that suits you better.
Themes – Change the Layout and Design
Professionally designed themes that would otherwise cost you $1,000s can be bought for around $50 and customized from there. There are also well over a 1,000 completely free themes available for you to use. Whether you choose a free or premium theme the content, all your text and images and what not, are all kept safe and separate from your theme, so if you want to change the entire look and layout of your website you can with ease. It takes less than a minute to install a new theme, and pages all across your site will now display the new design. This is a revelation and a revolution if you remember the bad old days of having to manually change design on every individual page of your site when you wanted to change things up. Not too bad on a 5 page site, but on a 500 or 5,000 page site?
Ease of Use
It can take some a little while to get their heads around the back end of any Content Management System (CMS). But once you get going you'll see why WordPress CMS is renowned for being the most intuitive and instinctive. It's sensible and logical with its straight forward and user friendly interaction, which seen all on it's own or all the more so when compared with other rival systems.
In Demand Skill Set for Those Upskilling
These figures speak for themselves. The number #2 most useful and desired skill on ELance is to be proficient in WordPress. The #1 Most sought after skill is in PHP which is used in WordPress. That accounts for 118 jobs in and around WordPress posted on Jobs.Wordpress.net alone, at the time of publishing the infographic above.
Is WordPress for You?
Maybe it is, maybe it's not. What you should do is make a list of what features your site requires and ask around if WordPress can support them. If you have a web hosting account, why not try installing and playing around with WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, and seeing which you prefer to work with? You'll get a great idea of what the systems are like to work with.
Please leave a comment letting us know why you do - or do NOT - like WordPress as a CMS!
WordPress.org: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins and http://wordpress.org/extend/themes
CMS Share Report: http://www.waterandstone.com/book/2010-open-source-cms-market-share-report
Jobs.WP.net: http://jobs.wordpress.net/ (accessed 2011-05-12)
Sources accessed 2011-06-01 unless otherwise stated.