Getting Started with WordPress
April 14, 2010 — Writings
WordPress is no doubt one of the most flexible content management softwares available on the web, specifically in the small collection of free ones. But with that flexibility can come a bit of a learning curve, and for some, especially those who are just getting started with publishing online, it’s just daunting enough for them to quit, pay someone else to do it, or choose another platform. But I am a strong believer in the ease of WordPress, and once you get the hang of it I know you will be too.
Jane Wells, the lead user experience designer for WordPress and Automattic, told us recently at a WordCamp that she was once asked, “Will WordPress ever put out a simple version without so many bells and whistles?” Her answer was no, of course, explaining that the bells and whistles are what makes WordPress, and there really wouldn’t be a point in making a simpler version. In my experience, the vanilla install of WordPress is pretty simple, but as I’ve stated, some don’t agree, and that’s fine, I can cope with that, but I would still love to see as much of the web powered by WordPress as it can handle, simply because it is so future proof.
By future proof, I mean that no matter how small, or how simple you start your website and/or blog, you can expand that content to be as feature rich and custom designed as you can imagine it. One of the greatest tools of just about any publishing platform, is the ability to store your content in the database, and change how it looks on the outside with just a couple of clicks.
Back in the day, before I used WordPress to build websites (that’s like 4 years ago), I built them all by scratch, meaning there was an html page for every single piece of content in the website. It really got interesting when I realized I could use
.php at the end of my filenames and then use an
include to, you got it, include a single header, footer, and sidebar page. What an awesome idea! Just one page can control the entire navigation of the website, and I don’t have to update that URL in 50 thousand different places. Then finally, a client came to me, asking if I could do the same kind of thing, but by using WordPress. Being the “I can do anything that I have time to learn how to do” type of person that I am, I said yes.
With WordPress, you can start small and dream big. The content you write now, can live on through as many design changes and feature additions as you want to, and can even go other places.
So maybe you’re one that has already started in something simpler to use, like Gary Vaynerchuk‘s suggested use of Tumblr in his book, Crush It. Tumblr, and a few others, have a very intuitive and fast way of sharing whatever type of content that you want. This makes it really easy to get started, but what if you decide later you want to take the plunge and expand the functionality of your content beyond what Tumblr, Posterous, or even WordPress.com allows you to do. Have no fear, most of these platforms have ways to import all of your content into WordPress, and I’ll list some references for those at the end of this article.
WordPress also makes it really easy to transfer content from one install to the other. Oftentimes, I will suggest a new user to start with a free WordPress.com account and begin writing there. This lets them get a feeling for WordPress, start populating their content, and even start getting some traffic and discussion going on. Then when they feel comfortable enough, transferring that content into a fully customizable self-hosted WordPress site, takes just a few minutes, and is pretty much caveat-less.
So to sum up, I will always suggest to anyone that wants to publish their content on the web, that a custom-built WordPress site is a great solution, but even this brand loyalty addict know that it’s not always the best starting point for everyone. Budget, technical skills, or even doubt about your topic, should never keep you from getting started with blogging or building a site for your business. Here’s a list of other platforms, and articles on how to import your content from them into WordPress:
One more thing to mention is that many of these platforms also import into WordPress.com as well. If there’s anything missing from my list, and you know of a great how-to article for importing it into WordPress, please leave a comment about it!