It seems that if you don’t have a website presence these days, you are behind the times. The Internet is a useful tool to grow an online enterprise or two and to draw attention to your brick and mortar business. Along those same lines is the variety of tools available for creating that website presence.

It is hard to know which tool to use especially if the person has no technical knowledge to speak of. Understanding website and coding jargon requires a semester long course for most of us to get our heads around the concepts. With that in mind, many of these technical people have made it easy for the rest of us to enjoy existence in cyberspace. They take care of the technical side and offer us the chance to set up websites the easy way.

One such tool is WordPress. WordPress has gained a huge following since its inception. It is a popular blogging tool that offers open-space software for anyone who wants to begin a blog.

The software is free to install and use. Many businesses use WordPress as a platform for a blog to accompany their website. It is easy to integrate because it has only a few requirements to get started. These requirements are met by most web hosting sites anyway.

Besides its popular use as a blogging platform, users have discovered that WordPress can be used as website design software as well. With a variety of free themes to fit almost any need, this software can create a simple or quite complex website. It’s your choice.

In this report, we will discuss the WordPress design tool. It is popular, but what is behind the hype? Can it really help? Read on to find out information on:

* WordPress.com versus WordPress.org
* Business and personal ventures that will benefit from a website designed using WordPress
* Reasons why so many people love WordPress
* Advantages for bloggers using WordPress
* Advantages for website owners using WordPress
* Other design ideas that can be accomplished using WordPress

WORDPRESS AS A WEBSITE DESIGN TOOL

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org

Many may not realize that there is a difference. Sometimes we type in the wrong extension for a URL and get misdirected to the wrong site. Typing in dot com versus dot org still brings you to a WordPress site. The problem is that each has a different purpose.

WordPress.com is a website that hosts a variety of blogs for free. Users can sign up here and create their own blog. They will have the extension, @wordpress.com in their blog name because the site is owned by WordPress.

WordPress.com is actually a use of the WordPress multi-user platform. With this platform, several blogs can be run off of one installed application of WordPress. Universities, magazines, and newspapers can operate on this type of system. There is one host, but others can feature a blog under the umbrella. It is a great way to bring people together within your organization or offer it as a business perk for using your service.

With a blog at WordPress.com, someone who is not technically minded can create a web presence for themselves and have very little knowledge of the more technical side. Sure, you’ll want to learn about HTML, php, coding, pinging, and other blogging terms but to get started, that type of background is not needed on WordPress.com.

Lots of things go into blogging and running a website for that matter. For instance, files need to be backed up in case they are ever lost, upgrades to the software need to be downloaded, and security needs to be monitored. With a blog on WordPress.com all of those things are handled by the server owner. Even the software is automatically downloaded when you sign up for a blog.

A great influx of web traffic won’t bother your blog. The servers can support it and won’t crash or go down for any reason. The site is secure so you can log into your blog without worries about security issues.

There are drawbacks to this design, however. Because everyone is operating under one server, themes and other design options are at a minimum. Plug-ins to customize the blog are not offered here. This is not a worry for many who are new to blogging and want a simple blog where they can post interesting content and learn the ins and outs of blogging. WordPress.com is a good start.

WordPress.org is altogether different. Even the software installed on your computer is not exactly the same. The software needed to run a WordPress blog or website is free to install on any computer. What is required is a website or blogging host that can support the WordPress software.

To use the software, WordPress requires a web host to be able to:

* Support PHP scripts (a programmable language used in WordPress)
* Provide MySQL database access
* Apache web server (not required but better to run the software)

WordPress.org is used by businesses to start a blog for their website. The blog can be used for customer feedback or whatever else that they have in mind. It is not required by WordPress that a blogger have their own domain name but if the blog is associated with a business website, it is best to identify it with that domain name. A unique domain name that doesn’t have the web host’s name attached will work better for you.

With WordPress.org, a person downloads the software onto their computer. Downloading the zip file of the software will give you access to all of the files needed to set up a blog that has access to a SQL database and an ASCII editor. Doing this requires a little more knowledge. Utilizing WordPress tutorials will help you get through it.

Most web hosts will support WordPress, but there are some that are ranked better than others at providing the most for your money.
You can check this web hosting review 2010 if you are planning to host your own wordpress blog.

Hosting will run about 10 dollars a month. It is better to pay to own a domain name of your own design that doesn’t require the host’s extension.

WordPress is web-based software that needs a server to operate. With your web host, the software has the added option of uploading plug-ins, new themes, and the ability to tweak the code used by WordPress to customize the blog or website to your specifications.

For people who want to work with a wider variety of options WordPress.org provides what they need. Folks with the technical expertise to upgrade, change, and work with code, WordPress is a way to get what you need with ease. There exists a community of techies just waiting to chat with other WordPress users. If you need technical help, this friendly community of experts is the ones to consult.

The major drawbacks to WordPress.org come in the form of manual labor. Users must upgrade the software themselves when a new version is available. They are also responsible for blocking SPAM and backing up files. While you do get more in the way of design control, the knowledge is needed to operate it.

Sites that can Use WordPress

What we want to know is who can use WordPress for their website design. Users of the WordPress.org software have found that the features enable them to expand beyond just blogging. Those that know about codes are able to work behind the scenes with the code. It is easy to manipulate with very few problems. So many options exist for free plug-ins and themes that people find WordPress an excellent option for building websites.

If you aren’t design savvy, hiring a designer is not a bad idea. Tell them that you want to use WordPress as the software for the site. They will work within this software application to provide the services you want your website to perform.

Be sure that the designer explains how to change themes, upload files, pictures, and video, and how to use the content management system as a whole. Once trained, any website owner will see how uncomplicated the software will be when changing and adding to the look and content on the site.

Churches

A church is an organization that has major influence in the lives of a community. Besides opening its doors on Sunday and for various activities through the week, a church can continue to reach parishioners and others twenty-four hours a day with a website. This website keeps people connected to God and their congregation no matter where in the world they find themselves at that moment.

Items like the weekly bulletin can be updated and posted on the website. The church can post the weekly sermons in video and/or transcript form for others to view and read. This way they can create a running archive of all of the pastor’s sermons, special events speakers, and other topics of interest. Each item can have its own page. Post Sunday school lessons so they can be studied ahead of time.

Magazines

Web magazines have a unique opportunity with WordPress. Use it to create category pages. Each department of the magazine or newspaper will have a page where they post relevant news stories. The front page will be left for headline stories.

With WordPress, these pages can be managed and organized to suit any need that the magazine has. With a print magazine, stories that cannot be used in the paper copy can be rolled into the appropriate category and showcased in the online version. Pictures and video are easily paired with news stories to give a more professional look that doesn’t resemble a blog at all.

Brick and Mortar Businesses

It doesn’t matter if you operate a real estate business, a tourism business, a crafting business, or what have you. WordPress has a theme and a plug-in that will enhance your product. With WordPress.org, it is okay to sell merchandise on your website. Feel free to set up a page with items for sale and upload thumbnail pictures and create descriptions.

A business that is looking to grow can offer polls of their customers to gauge what they find satisfying or dissatisfying about their service. Set up a web chat on the site to provide useful advice to customers and other visitors. For a real estate company, the chat could consist of offering advice about t real estate investing and criteria to look for when buying a home.

Answer questions that come from feedback given in the store. Customers who mail back comment cards can get acknowledgement of their suggestions and solutions for their problems. Use administrative tools to collect statistics on everything from unique visitors to poll answers.

Reviews

If it’s one thing that people value it is the opinion of others with experience. Use WordPress to create a review site. The reviews could be about movies, the latest household products, computer software and gadgetry, books, food, and the like. Set up a category for each type of review you intend to publish on the site.

Keep content fresh and up-to-date so viewers will stay interested. Include pictures of the items, videos of items being used, and video clips if you plan to review movies. Adding more plug-in features and changing the theme every once in a while enhances the feel of the site. New movies come out each week and people use reviews to decide which movie is worth the seven dollars or more to see on the big screen or not.

Photo Ops

Let’s say that you want to get into stock photography. Use WordPress to create a gallery of your best photos for sale. Divide the pictures by theme for easier viewing by potential customers. Include posts or articles on how-to’s for photography buffs, tourism stories about photo destinations, and how to use your website.

It is up to you how many pictures are arranged per page and what size. Before letting the updated page go live, review its contents to see that the code worked.

ADVANTAGES OF WORDPRESS

Creating a blog or website offers distinct advantages to businesses. Whether you are just starting out or looking for new solutions to grow the business, WordPress is there to meet the need.

People are looking for information and solutions. Blogs, blog-like websites, and RSS feeds speed up the obtaining of this information. With each, content needs to be kept new and fresh to keep the attention of the customer and other viewers. A stagnant blog or website is dead and wasting your time.

With WordPress, it is easy to make updates to content, change themes, and manage the entire thing with little effort. Changing a theme doesn’t mean configuring the entire site. As often as you need a fresh look, go for it and see instant results.

Blog User Benefits

WordPress was originally designed as a tool for bloggers. It was one of a long line of free blog hosting services, but it offered more to the average blogger than other sites. Bloggers here could use their own domain name and weren’t required to use the name of the webhost if they did not want to.

The site, WordPress.com and WordPress.org became popular because of the benefits it offered to bloggers that exceeded that of other sites. Also, WordPress designers continued to better the application, iron out bugs, and compete with other blogging sites to offer a top notch blog.

A blogger using either site will be pleased with the offerings. There are custom themes and plug-ins for any type of tweaking you want to do. A blog can be basic, like those offered on WordPress.com or more complex like WordPress.org.

A blogger under the WordPress.com umbrella gets automatic software updates, security monitoring, pinging, spell check, and file backup. These services are offered for free. Anyone needing it can go through a tutorial to learn about creating posts, categories, and uploading to the blog.

More advanced bloggers can gain access to more advanced features with WordPress.org. Some bloggers use their blog as an e-commerce site. They can upload a payment option; create a page for viewing items for sale, and other features to enhance that part of their business.

Website Designer Benefits

Someone with the design know-how can create a website from this blogging tool. With all of the plug-ins and available themes, the site can look any way that the owner wants it to. Creative individuals have more gadgets to play with when they install WordPress software.

A site can be used as a functional tool for virtual businesses. Let’s say that you own a writing business. WordPress software can be used to organize a site where writers communicate about current and future projects. This would also work for a magazine that assigns stories to writers.

WordPress can be configured so that content is displayed in a more website friendly format and not the traditional “post” format of a blog. Visitors can still comment on articles if you choose that option. Other users can be granted access to the website and given privileges to do a number of things. For instance, a magazine has one editor but many department heads. Each can access the category page that pertains to them. Posting feedback privately to article authors is also possible.

OTHER DESIGN IDEAS

Widgets

What are widgets anyway? Widgets are those applications that work within the sidebars on a page. They allow the user to customize links that their viewers can follow to find specific information.

These are most useful for blog users. The newest WordPress themes are widget-ready so it is a matter of clicking and dragging the features into the toolbar. They can add boxes that describe their online status for instant messaging programs, blogrolls, Meta tags, article archives, a listing of categories, and so forth.

Those using WordPress as a website and content management system can utilize widgets also. An article archive is helpful for new people who want to know what it has to offer them. Widgets can be used to highlight most popular product searches, most popular article searches, latest searches, and more. Choose the widget options that will help your business.

Social Networking Site

WordPress as a blogging tool can be used to bring more people to your business. With its popularity it could quickly become another social networking phenomenon. Using blogging software to run a website has distinct advantages. Visitors can comment on your articles and posts. You can respond and begin a conversation.

With pings, trackbacks, and links to your profiles on other networking sites, people will find your WordPress blog or business website. With a unique look and a variety of plug-ins at your disposal, any WordPress user can create a following that others will want to know about.

Multi User Platform

Schools like Harvard are using the multi user platform. This can take off as a way to form small communities of bloggers. One entity owns the website and allows others to use the bandwidth to create their own blog. It could be a small business, a community group that wants to attract members, or a high school class who wants to keep in touch.

Someone with an enterprising new idea can use the WordPress multi user platform in conjunction with other blogging tools to set up their own social networks. It can stay small or have the potential to grow enormously. The ease of use of WordPress software makes this a viable design idea for entrepreneurial users.

CONCLUSION

Do you currently use WordPress? Maybe you have been thinking about it but haven’t yet been convinced to try. For people who want to take a chance without a lot of risk, go to WordPress.com and set up a blog. Use themes and templates to get the look you want and learn what you can about how WordPress works. While you’re at it, increase the traffic to your blog site with SEO content, trackbacks, and pings.

Those who are ready to take the next step can find a web host and step up to WordPress.org. If you have a bit of technical knowledge and the vision to grow, let WordPress help you to do it effortlessly. Get connected to all the major search engines and have your content ranked high to be easily found by others.

WordPress has proven that it can deliver what people need and still be user-friendly.