What the f*!@ is WordPress?
“Oh, so you want a new website, you should totally use WordPress for it” – sound familiar? Have no idea what the heck that means? Let me put it simply (or, as simply as one can) : WordPress is a free, content-management platform that allows you to build and control a website. Now, that’s a very “nutshell” definition, but that’s the gist of it. The reasons that WordPress is so darn popular are :
- it’s free
- it allows non-techie people to make “most” changes to their websites, on their own
- you don’t need to know how to “code” to use it (necessarily)
- there are loads of resources out there to help you along the way, if you get stuck
- if you want to customize your site somehow, there is most likely a “plugin” that can help you out (a “plugin” is just an add-on you can use to help make your site function in better / different ways)
There are two ways you can use WordPress.
The first way is to use wordpress.com. You can get a decent (and totally free) website set up this way, but you will be quite limited to customizations that you might want to make. Also, your domain name (aka “www.yourwebsite.com”) will look like so: www.yourwebsite.wordpress.com. So, if you want a custom domain name, going this way might not be for you.
The second way you can use WordPress is to use wordpress.org (note the “.org”). This is also known as the “self-hosted” way to get on to WordPress. Basically, what this means is you download ALL the files that make up WordPress and upload them to your web host (like GoDaddy, Bluehost, or even I could just set you up with me!) using FTP (explained below). Once those files are uploaded there are a couple items you’ll need the information for, such as:
- your database name (create in MySQL with your web host)
- your database username
- your database password
- your database host (most of the time it’s “localhost” – but GoDaddy often uses something a little different, like: “yourwebsite.db.1234567.hostedresource.com“)
Write this information down once you have it. You should be able to find it all from your web host.
“FTP” stands for “File Transfer Protocol” – put simply, it’s how you move files and folders from your computer, to the server(s) supplied by your web host. Think of it as just another “folder” that you’ll be moving the files on your computer to. Now, you’re going to need a specific “host” or “link” to connect to. Again, you can get this from your web host. It’ll look like this: “ftp://123.456.123.4″ – Or, you may even be able to connect using something like: “ftp://yourwebsite.com”
Next, you’re going to need an FTP “client” (or, “program”) to be able to move your files from your computer to your web host (or vice-versa). Here are a couple that I have used and highly recommend:
- FireFTP (add-on for the Firefox browser) – If you decide to go with this one, it will be available to you in Firefox under “Firefox” -> “Web Developer” -> “FireFTP”
- FileZilla (stand-alone client / program)
Once you have one of these set up, you’ll want to configure a new account and input all the required information. Again, if you have any issues or questions, call up your web host (or me!) and they (or I) will help walk you through the process.
But, I’m not tech-savvy?
So what?! That’s the great thing about WordPress. Even if you have questions or struggle a little bit, there are lots of resources out there and ‘most’ of the time, the answer is just a Google search away. In my experience, I find the number one reason people struggle with technology is because they are afraid they are going to “break” something. Although this is a completely legitimate and rational thing to be afraid of, you can’t let it stop you from “trying” something. As long as you have a decent backup system in place (and there are lots of WordPress plugins out there that can do that for you, usually automatically), this shouldn’t stop you from at least giving it a try! Of course, you can always contact me and I’ll gladly give you a hand or offer any advice I can to help!
WordPress is honestly, just fantastic. I don’t foresee myself using anything else in the future (but with technology, that could change tomorrow), but I truly do think WordPress is going to be around for the long-haul. If you want to see it in action, let me know and I will set up a dummy website and allow you to play around on it, make pages, posts, add images, do whatever you want, all in an “offline” location. I really want YOU to be as excited by it as I am!
If this all sounds a little daunting to you, I recommend you let me help you out with it, or use the WordPress “codex” for help – this is their knowledge-base that is chock full of great resources:
Till next time! Stay nerdy.
– David Steenkamp