Creating a website continues to get easier and easier. There are all kinds of easy-to-use, off-the-shelf solutions for putting a website together quickly, and easily maintain it.
My favorite by far is WordPress. It also happens to be the most popular. According to data from internet search research firm Alexa, in January 2020 WordPress was running 35% of the top 10 million websites. Last month (January 2021), WordPress hit 40%. That is clearly a big number and growing fast.
So why is WordPress so popular?
Hits design sweet spot of customization and ease
WordPress hits a sweet spot between customization and ease of use. There are platforms out there that are easier to use, such as Squarespace or Wix. But they don’t have nearly the number of options WordPress has in terms of customization.
Out of the box, WordPress is in fact fairly simple. You can pick an off-the-shelf design, called “themes,” and easily create pages. WordPress originally was designed for blogging, so you will have lots of built in tools that facilitate blogging and news.
However, there is so much more to WordPress. How much you want to customize your WordPress website is up to you. If you are a novice with websites, you can keep it fairly simple. If you are a seasoned web developer you can custom code pretty much anything on the site, including functionality and design.
WordPress is open sourced, meaning the code is free to the public and new features and bug fixes are done by the community. This means WordPress is constantly getting updates and improvements. It also means additional features can easily be added on and shared.
Plugins in the 10s of thousands
In the WordPress world, these are called “plugins.” Plugins are what make WordPress truly great. With a click of a button you can add a plugin that allows you to easily create forms on your website. Another click gets you a plugin to help you rank better on Google’s search engine.
In fact there are over 58,000 plugins available for install at WordPress.org. Many more are found for download outside of the office plugin exchange. Most are free, but some that solve very specific problems (like enabling ecommerce) cost a bit of money. Typically the cost is $50 or so.
Being able to extend WordPress so easily is why so many professional web developers prefer working with it. WordPress can save a significant amount of time compared to building a site from scratch.
I have worked on WordPress websites that range in functionality from online retail to paid content subscriptions. It truly is that versatile. If you are interested in getting started with WordPress you have several options. If you want to do it yourself, there are a number of hosting companies that will give you WordPress specific hosting plans.
Costs go from dollars a month to $1K
The barebones plans cost only a few dollars a month. Some examples are Dreamhost, Bluehost, and SiteGround. There also are a number of high end WordPress providers such as Kinsta or Pagely that provide all kinds of additional support, such as advanced caching to maximize site performance, code audits and redundant servers. These plans can run upward $1,000 or more a month.
And if you want help building a WordPress website, most web development companies work with WordPress. I would suggest finding one that specializes and focus on WordPress.
Building your own website may be intimidating. Fortunately, WordPress cuts a lot of the technical work out. And if you want a pro to help you, there are many out there.
WordPress is very easy to maintain and manage and thus can cut the cost of owning a website down considerably. After all, over 40% of the internet is powered by WordPress.