WordPress demystified your top questions answered
So, you’re ready to start your business and recognise that having a website is essential, but maybe aren’t sure where to go from there.
You have probably heard about WordPress, but may not know what it is. WordPress is one of the THE most popular and user-friendly CMS out there!
Let me back up a second. What’s a CMS?
A CMS or Content Management System, is an application that allows you to build or edit your digital content (which you would use if you were going to create and maintain a website). It allows you to organise your digital content and provides a way of presenting the information in an understandable way for your audience.
Made simple, there are two parts to the CMS.
- The CMA (Content Management Application): which is the part of the program you would see and use when making changes to your content on your website.
- The CDA (Content Delivery Application): The back-end of the CMS that processes that information and updates your website.
So, Worpress is a CMS or application you could use to help you create, update and edit information on your website. It is certainly not the only CMS you could use for your web content, but it is by far one of the most popular. There are other cloud-based, CMS platforms that are on the uprise and growing in popularity like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly (to name just a few). They’re often referred to as “Website Builders.” I find that these newer platforms are ideal for smaller to medium sized businesses and they can often be more user-friendly than WordPress, but many times more costly to host (more on this another time).
Now that we’ve defined what WordPress and CMS are, you might be wondering how you could get this application and how to start using it.
Before you can start using WordPress, you need to first consider your hosting.
What’s hosting? I’m glad you asked!
Hosting is where your website is stored (on a server), so the information can be accessed on the internet. There are a whole host of hosting companies out there (someone stop me) and they are all quite competitive in pricing. Some that you may have heard of are GoDaddy, 123 Reg, EHost, Bluehost and many many many more!
Most of them are user-friendly and will offer 1 year sign-up deals, etc…. Usually you would pay them monthly or yearly (or in some cases for up to 3 or 5 years at a time for a discount) to host your site. You are usually able to search and pay for your domain through them as well.
Most hosting companies will also include a basic email inbox (with options to upgrade) so you can have clients email you using your domain. For example, my domain is www.studioktr.co.uk and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org .
So, wait…..what’s a domain?
A domain is the same thing as your web address and is what someone types in to find your website. For example, my domain is STUDIOKTR.co.uk or it can be typed in as https://studioktr.co.uk and this will take you to my website. You cannot have a website without a domain name.
When you set up your web hosting with a hosting company, you will also need to find and purchase a domain name. Sometimes hosting companies will include a domain with the cost of hosting for free for the first year (be careful, though because after the first year is up, you will need to pay for your domain separately to your hosting…..this usually costs between £10-20 and possibly more).
Let me recap quickly.
- WordPress is a user-friendly CMS application or platform you would use to build, edit and organise information for your website.
- Hosting is where your information (website) is held on a server, so it can be accessed on the internet.
- Your Domain is the address people type into a browser to find your website.
Many hosting companies will over different levels of hosting packages depending on your needs and some will offer specific packages for hosting WordPress sites. Once you have your hosting set-up, with your domain, you will need to set up your accounts and your site. Most hosting companies will guide you through this process. Once you have your website set up you will have log-in details and when you log-in, you’ll be brought to the dashboard area where you can access all of the areas of your site for editing, changing and building your site.
WordPress comes with some basic themes to help you design your site.
Hold on….what’s a theme?
A WordPress theme is a template you would use to build your site. There are loads of free themes out there and some that you can pay for. A theme is a template that helps you build the pages of your site. Have a look around by searching for WordPress themes. You can usually have a look at all of the functions they offer and see their capabilities. Another great feature of WordPress is all of the available plug-ins.
AHH ……what’s a plug in (you may be asking)?
A plug-in is an application you literally plug into your WordPress site to give you more options that aren’t built into your WordPress theme. There are bizzillians (I made that up) of plug-ins available (some free some paid) for you to use. You can upload and use plug-ins to help you with your SEO, call-to-actions, building forms, event calendars, etc….. (more for another time). But, if you want to learn more, just type in WordPress plug-ins and you’ll be inundated with all sorts of plug-ins.
A word of warning!!!!
While WordPress is incredibly user-friendly and versatile, it does have it’s drawbacks. Firstly, like any software, it needs to be updated. Just like your Iphone or Android phone, WordPress will send you updates. You will also need to periodically update your theme (when new versions are released) and your plug-ins will need to be updated. Updates often include bug fixes, new features and security updates/patches. It’s very important that you apply these updates.
However, you should NEVER NEVER NEVER (get the idea?) EVER conduct your WordPress, theme or plug-in updates without first backing up your site. Your site MUST be backed up before initiating any kind of update. I’ve seen it soooo many times that an update comes through and people update their sites without backing them up first, only for something to go awry and the whole site crash and be lost into the void…..and this would NOT be great for you or your business.
WordPress, although user friendly, is a very complex tool under the surface of what you see. And a LOT can go wrong if you have too many plug-ins, or your update doesn’t go smoothly. It’s very important that if you’re going to have a go at setting a WordPress site up on your own, that you have a hosting company with VERY good customer service, and that you get support included with your WordPress theme as many times things can go wrong—especially if you’re unfamiliar with how it all works. I also recommend watching tutorials online if you’re unsure about anything.
WordPress is DEFINITELY not for everyone. As mentioned, it is user friendly for some of the design aspects, but there’s a lot to it that requires more of an understanding about coding and how CMS work.
If this is not your cup of tea, fear not, the “website builders” I mentioned earlier might just be the thing for you!
Watch this space for more information to come about all things web design, branding and spirituality in business!