WordPress.com Review – The Best Known Website Builder, but Is it Also the Best One?
There are website builders all over the internet. If you want to create a website or a blog site, this can lead to overwhelming confusion as to which one will you choose. You will have to think about what it is that you want to achieve with your site, how capable you are of building websites, and how much you can spend. One option that you may want to choose is WordPress, one of the best known site builders around.
What you have to understand firstly, however, is that there is WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.org is a posting service that is completely free to use. WordPress.com is the hosting site. This does include a free posting option, but it is likely that you will want to pay for a premium theme or upgrade to a better account in order to really use all the features it has to offer.
If you choose WordPress.com, you will have the opportunity to easily share your message with the world. Every feature you could possibly think about is included, from spell check to traffic tracking. It is the best known site of its kind, and for good reason.
What I Liked About WordPress
- It offers top of the range, crisp design tools.
- The dashboard is intuitive and easy to use.
- You can customize your site as much as you want.
- It comes with dozens of different widgets.
- WordPress is perfect for blogging, giving you deep control.
- You can pay to have your own unique domain name.
- It offers more than 100 free themes, as well as many more paid versions.
What I Didn’t Like About WordPress
- If you really want to get something cool out of it, you will have to host your site, or pick a paid for theme. This means it isn’t really free.
- You need to invest some time because, although it is intuitive, it is a system that you have to learn to use.
- The blog editor is as good as it gets. It has a beautiful composer to which you can add tags, categories, excerpts, featured images, and more. You can draft your post and ask the system to automatically publish it on a day of your choosing. You can even add ‘related’ posts underneath your new post. You also don’t have to include only text, or even any text. Choose audio clips, quotes, photo galleries, and so on. You cannot integrate Facebook comments or Disqus, unfortunately. However, it does have its own comment moderation platform, from which you can choose a range of options such as email notification settings, moderation settings, commenter registration, and more.
- The form builder allows you to add forms to your page through the WP Admin dashboard. You can choose a wealth of field types such as emails, check boxes, radio buttons, multi-line, and text. You cannot, however, upload files to your form. Any submitted forms are automatically sent to your email and are not saved anywhere. Unfortunately, you don’t have the opportunity to customize the URL your user goes to after submitting a form, nor can you edit the message they receive to say their form was submitted successfully.
- You can publish podcasts and make them accessible on various players, including iTunes.
- It has excellent design tools through which you can customize your templates. You can choose from lots of free options and if you have some CSS knowledge, you can modify them so that they are tailor-fitted to your specific needs. WordPress has really put a lot of effort into allowing anyone to have a beautiful website, so if you don’t have any coding experience, you will still be able to make your site look great. The standard themes and setups look absolutely beautiful.
- It comes with a really easy to use posting box, and you can choose either HTML or text. It looks a lot like a standard word processor, with very similar controls. These include things, such as changing font, color, and text size. Plus, it comes with a spell check and you can preview your post to see what it looks like. Adding videos, links, and images is really easy, although all images must be in JPEG format. If you know HTML and want some more control, you can switch to HTML posting. Here too, video, music players, and podcasts are fully supported. All you need to do is copy and paste the HTML embed code.
- There are lots of widgets and plugins to choose from. Because WordPress is open source, people continuously create new plugins, further increasing the platform’s functionality. You can add pretty much anything you want therefore, such as recent comments, top posts, archive lists, and more.
- WordPress, uniquely, allows you to post your own ads on your website, even if you use their free service. This includes affiliate links, Google ads, banner ads, and widgets. The approach is very free from clutter, so you can also choose not to add any if you want to.
- The comment moderation feature is out of this world. You can stop people from commenting, allow specific people to comment without moderation, reply to comments, block people from commenting, approve new entries, and so on. You can also set your system up in such a way that it automatically recognizes spam.
- When you upload images or videos, they will remain in your library media forever. This is great, as it means you can reuse images over and over again.
- The SEO features are also really good, with your information being automatically sent to Bing, Yahoo, and Google. You can also add Atom and RSS feeds. As such, you can be listed on Google in just a day.
- You will struggle to find another website builder that offers such good traffic stats, particularly considering WordPress is free. You can see how many people saw your website, or individual posts, where they are from, where they came from, which sites referred to you, which keywords are working, which links are popular, and more. This is really good to help you fully optimize your website for SEO purposes without having to hire an expensive SEO agency.
With all these features, it is quite clear to see why WordPress has such a huge competitive edge over other websites. You can own your own website if you want as well, although you do then have to pay for your own host. That said, you can choose your own, or you can follow the WordPress recommendations, which is great for those who may not have much experience with building websites.
The number of templates that are available is so large, it seems unreal. There are currently around 220 free ones to choose from, and 180 premium ones, with new ones being added regularly. The themes look modern, sophisticated, and generally nice. Within each theme, the look and feel of the site, including its design, typeface, and color, has been preset. You can generally choose an overall color theme within each design, and you can also change the individual elements as you see fit. The paid for themes usually range between $45 and $100.
If you have one, uploading your own CSS theme is also possible. However, to do so, you will need to pay $30 a year.
You can generally change the headline colors as you want. It also gives you the opportunity to change your background image. The rest, however, is pretty much set.
The WordPress app market is fantastic. WordPress Apps, as it is known, is filled with widgets, tools, add-ons, and more. Because it is an open source platform, people can continuously develop new widgets and add-ons that you can choose to download. Some of these are free, while others need to be paid for. They cover a huge range of different issues and really allow you to fully customize your site. The only issue is that there are so many available that you run the risk of duplicating things, and some do seem to make the site run a bit slower as well.
There are a lot of plugins available to enable you to use WordPress as an ecommerce site. That said, it was built mainly as a blogging site, so the add-ons usually are third party options, generally fully supported by WordPress itself. Through these, you can sell physical products, digital downloads, memberships, subscriptions, and anything else you could come up with. Essentially, you could be just minutes away from finally making that all important sale. To achieve this, a number of options are available to you:
- Create your own plugin, using HTML and CSS customization.
- Use the video tutorials that are available to find out how ecommerce will work for you.
- Integrate your system with a huge range of payment gateways supported by WordPress.
- Use existing plugins that focus specifically on ecommerce functionality.
- Use any of the many marketing tools built into the platform.
- Using the built in shipping tools, or use plugins to integrate with various popular couriers in order to make shipping easy.
- Install a secure SSL checkout service.
- Have full control over your catalog and orders with various built in tools.
- Use additional modules to further extend your ecommerce efforts.
- Integrate your ecommerce with the WordPress multisite.
- Use any of the many hooks that are made available by WordPress developers to essentially do whatever you can imagine it to do.
WordPress offers a number of different plans. These include:
- The free for life option, which gives you an unlimited number of blog posts and pages. You also get a custom address, with the WordPress.com domain. You can choose from hundreds of free themes and you will receive 3GB of space for your media and files. Furthermore, you can access the full community support. Essentially, you can sign up within a few minutes and start to publish your own content to your website.
- The Premium option costs $8.25 per month and is billed once per year. This gives you everything the free package offers, but adds your own domain, 13GB of space for your media and files, advanced design customization options, and live chat and email support. Furthermore, all ads are removed on this plan. This really allows you to go beyond the basic, supercharging your website. Yet, you continue to receive access to the easy to use interface, but you get a whole lot more features and the option to customize a whole lot more.
- The Business option costs $24.92 per month and is billed once per year. This gives you everything the Premium plan offers, but also adds more than 50 premium templates, unlimited space for your media and files, and full Google Analytics. This is designed for those who feel having a presence online goes beyond a fun hobby. The resulting website creates a high impact and really is the best WordPress has to offer.
Customer support is quite good with WordPress. That said, a lot of people find the system so easy to use that they don’t ever need the support anyway. Furthermore, there are some really good resources available on the WordPress website and in other locations that give you a whole lot of information. The help section is excellent, giving you access to a huge knowledge base where you are almost guaranteed to find the answer to the problem you may have. Furthermore, the community forums are really vibrant and offer a place for people to ask questions and share knowledge. It is likely that any problem you may have has already been encountered by someone before, and that the resolution is out there. Finally, there are good FAQs and troubleshooting tips as well.
If you sign up for one of the paid packages, you can also receive email support. Unfortunately, there is no telephone support.
The Final Verdict
WordPress is probably the best known website builder out there, and for good reason. They offer advanced features and functionalities, but in a way that is easy to understand even for absolute beginners. Whether you want to create a personal or professional website, you really can’t go wrong with WordPress. The only thing you will have to decide for yourself is whether you want to sign up for the free option, or whether you want to choose one of their two paid for options. Overall, however, this one is highly recommended.