Over the past couple of years the Internet has changed out of all recognition. Where, not so long ago, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google ruled the web, now social media sites and connected ‘self managed’ websites dominate. Where webmasters controlled development of the content of websites for companies large and small, now users have taken over the content management reins.
Right now Facebook, Groupon, Living Social and other relatively new socially oriented sites are making all the news but WordPress is also quietly revolutionizing the net. And that benefits all of us!
WordPress is a powerful, intuitive, highly customizable and extensible web development technology that is open to and usable by ‘everyone’. WordPress is ‘Open Source’, and open source is now more than just a credible alternative to mainstream software; it is rapidly becoming ‘the’ mainstream. The benefits of ‘open source’ are huge. The development of the product is rapid as so many developers can get involved in its growth, and just as important for the users of ‘open source’; it’s free.
So in a very few years, WordPress has grown from just a blogging platform into what it is today… the best web development environment on the web that incorporates the best of everything else out there. WordPress is easy to learn but has a depth of features that means users and developers alike will never outgrow it.
A WordPress site is unlike a regular website developed in a product like Dreamweaver or Frontpage in that it is multi layered ‘out of the box’. There is nothing ‘flat’ about WordPress; it is ‘cloud based’ and ‘dynamic’ through and through.
With a traditional website, the development environment is installed onto the developer’s computer. The development software will be the Mac version, or the Windows version, or even the Linux version. The site will be developed locally and uploaded to the web. Changes will be made using the software installed on the developer’s computer but only when the developer can get to the project… and that sucks for the company whose website is vital for their business. They need to be able to make changes, update prices, replace an image or video, replace personnel or any number of other ‘adjustments’ to their online presence… and they need to do it in real time.
WordPress is an environment that doesn’t care what operating system you use. It doesn’t care whether you are Mac, Windows or Linux based. All it cares about is that you have a browser and an Internet connection, because WordPress is not installed onto your computer; it is installed onto your website! So you log into the development environment through your browser. You update and enhance your site in real time and from anywhere. You could be sitting on a train and need to update some time sensitive information. No problem for WordPress. Just login through your iPad, Netbook, Laptop or Droid phone. It’s that accessible.
WordPress creates a footprint that the search engines are attracted to because whe
ther you have a small brochure site or a massive content oriented eCommerce and Blogging site, the multi layered aspects of WordPress come into play.
Every WordPress website is sitting atop a powerful database (MySQL) that is indexing the content as it’s created and WordPress is signaling the web that new material is available. WordPress provides you the tools to ensure that the new content gets to the top of the search engines by allowing you to customize what the search engines actually see.
WordPress provides the tools and the environment to create simple websites or extremely complex sites and WordPress is ‘open’; which means that developers can and do create new programs (plugins) that enhance the power of your site without you having to pay substantial fees for that added functionality. Plugins can do pretty much anything from adding a secure contact form to a simple eCommerce system, from a simple slide show to sophisticated photo galleries. You want a ‘Yellow Pages’ style directory of all of your associated companies or contractors on your site? No problem for WordPress as the underlying database handles it with ease.
It doesn’t matter what size of site you want. It doesn’t matter that you may not need the power of WordPress right now. What matters is that you want to grow your business and you don’t want to have to recreate your website in a year or two when you business has grown.
WordPress is a ‘social media connected’ technology that will insure you against the future. It is future proof as it will remain state of the art and upgrade along with all of the changes that are happening in the ‘cybersphere’. It’s an amazing product that is free and always will be; which is why I call it ‘The Jewel of the Internet’.
A Note on WordPress ‘Themes’
It is important to realize that the 3rd layer of a WordPress website is the ‘Theme’. The 3 layers consist of (1) Database (MySQL), (2) WordPress itself (development environment, dashboard etc.) and (3) the Theme which sits on top and provides the interface that is seen by visitors to the site itself.
There are literally thousands of free themes out there and many people choose a theme that looks nice but fail to realize that a theme has to provide access to all of the features WordPress offers. Many of the free themes fall behind the updates provided by WordPress and by default, tie the user to an older technology. In my view, it is vital to get your choice of theme right. We use (almost exclusively) the StudioPress Genesis Framework Premium Themes.
There is a cost involved but as your website is a vital part of your online presence, a few dollars spent on the theme will reward you hugely in the long term. The premium themes keep up to date with WordPress technology and utilize the newer features such as Custom Menus, Dynamic Sidebars and Dynamic Home Pages, as well as providing massively superior Widget and Plugin support.
The moral of the story is that a Theme should be much more than just a pretty face over WordPress; it should enhance both the developer’s and the user’s experience.