Many people approach web design to upgrade. You’ve got your trade, you’ve written a bit, but now you mean business. You want to move from a hobbyist’s blog to a powerful website armed with all the knobs and buttons you’d expect. Many of us rightfully begin such ambitions in WordPress. Here’s how the conversation might go when contacting your developer:
Client: “I’ve kept a blog but I need it to do more. The design is on the bland side and I’d like customers to interact with it. I want to move out of WordPress and get a proper website…”
Designer: “Okay, I hear you. Well what I’d recommend is we built your site in WordPress…”
Client: ” – actually I want to move on from WordPress…”
Designer: ” – oh I don’t mean WordPress, I mean WordPress.”
And on it goes. To save emulating the Two Ronnies, I’ll explain. While the two go under the same banner, the WordPresses are wildly different beasts.
.com: The Blogging One
This is the blogging one. As with Tumblr, Blogspot or any social profile, WordPress.com requires you to sign up. You’ll create an avatar, choose a theme, twiddle some settings and get started. It’s very intuitive and made especially for those who love writing. There is nothing especially lavish about wordpress.com, and design features are largely limited to premade themes. At no cost, you can enjoy it for years.
For all intents and purposes, WordPress.com is a blog. It does articles, but doesn’t do slideshows. You can get your point across, but you can’t sell a product. Confusion arises because this blog is powered by the same team behind…
.org: The Website One
This is WordPress.org. Not very intuitive is it? Unpack that .zip and you’re met with a pile of files, icons and folders, none of which are particularly meaningful to the casual reader. WordPress.org is a tool – the scaffolding around which you create an accessible, editable website. What you’re reading now is built in WordPress.org, as are the websites of Sony Music, Usain Bolt and Sweden.
Why Use WordPress At All?
Why do we build websites in WordPress in the first place? Why not stick to good old fashioned static pages? The reasons are twofold. First, these types of websites are editable. You can log in, add new pages, write articles and manage SEO. That makes it easier for the client to run their own affairs without feeling dependant on a developer.
Secondly, Wordpress is supported by a worldwide community of programmers, designers and guardian angels. Need a shop merchant? There’s one out there. Lightbox Gallery? Dozens of quality plugins are available. Got a glitch in your theme? It’s likely been fixed before. It’s a flexible, secure way of expanding your business, and one I’m happy to recommend to new clients.
- WordPress have a handy comparison of the two. This should help.
- For a broader view of website types, read about the differences between static and CMS websites.