- WordPress is Truly Free and Open Source
Unlike other “free” and “open source” solutions that have hidden agendas, WordPress.org is completely free (learn more) for you, forever. WordPress doesn’t start charging when you hit a certain size, nor does it close off any of its code to you. This is one of the less tangible but probably most important elements of WordPress.org’s success. No fees, no gotchas, no nonsense.
- Automattic is an Awesome Company, and it Takes Care of WordPress
The more we learn about Matt Mullenweg and his company, Automattic, the more we like them. These guys write amazing code, protect open source programming, fight spam, host affordable and educational conferences, take security seriously, and seem like genuine nice guys. We mentioned that WP is open source, but what’s really interesting is that it is commercial open source. That sounds like an oxymoron but it’s actually a breakthrough. Many traditional community-based open source projects are not well guided – they end up floundering, splitting into separate projects, or become stale because volunteers are not motivated to work. Automattic stays on top of their product, steering development in the right direction and constantly updating their product.
- Plugins Give You More Functionality
Plenty of platforms out there offer plugin functionality, but we’ve never seen a more smooth and thorough implementation than the plugin effort on WordPress.org. Plugins allow you to add great photo galleries, sliders, shopping carts, forums, maps, and more great functionality. There’s a searchable, one-click install directory of plugins (think App Store for WordPress). Their code is riddled with “hooks” that allow developers to add their code to virtually any aspect of WordPress without editing the core.
- The Visual Editor and CMS are Outstanding
The intuitive, user-friendly backend of WordPress is probably what made it so famous in the first place. We always tell our clients, “if you can do it in Word, you can do it in WordPress.” In fact, with the Paste From Word tool, that statement is more true than you would imagine (this article was written in Word). WordPress is continually improving its CMS, adding features such as threaded comments, galleries, revision histories, trash, custom post types, and more. If you haven’t maintained a WordPress site yet, give it a look.
- Easily Add a Blog To Your Site
How is this number 5 on the list you ask? WordPress really came to fame for blogging and is still considered by many to be a blog platform. Even WordPress itself seems to identify with blogging first, as the default configuration is for the home page to be a blog. Aside from the amazing advances in CMS (see #4 above), the blog functionality is still the best in the business. With categories, tags, threaded commenting, gravatars, easy theming, widgets, fantastic moderation controls, anti spam solutions, and plugin infrastructure, you can’t find a better blog solution. Adding a blog to a WordPress site is a great way to attract and involve visitors, and to keep Google paying attention. If you don’t need a full site, and just want a quick blog, check out WordPress.com.
- Themes Let You Style Your Site
We tell our clients every day that their site doesn’t need to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to design. We love doing custom web design for our clients, but many of them don’t need it. We’ve been able to make very beautiful and successful sites by starting from pre-existing themes and doing customizations from there. Because themes are open source, you can buy or download them and then modify them to your heart’s content. Remember, themes are independent from your content, so you can edit or swap out themes at any time and keep your content and functionality in place.
- It’s Easy To Keep WordPress Secure
WordPress has always bragged about its “Famous 5 Minute Installation”. In addition to being relatively straight forward to install, WordPress is also surprisingly easy to update for security and new functionality. When a new version is available, WordPress will give you an easy link for a one-click upgrade. Of course, we always continuously backup content just to be sure.
- Google Loves WordPress
There are some valuable SEO plugins such as the All-In-One SEO Pack and Google XML Sitemaps. But even without these plugins, we always felt like the simple layouts of WordPress, the permalinks, and the easy linking in WordPress would be naturally attractive to Google. Matt Cutts, the other awesome Matt and the head of Google’s “web spam team” spoke at WordCamp SF 2009 and said it directly – “WordPress is a great choice”.
- WordPress Sites Are Accessible
WordPress sites are usually built on relatively simple and accessible technologies. The web pages render in HTML and CSS allowing them to show up on iPhones, BlackBerrys, Android, iPad, etc. It’s also easy for alternative browsers such as text only browsers (see Lynx) which are excellent for those with disabilities.
- Your Site Can Grow With You
When you add up a lot of these features, you find that your WordPress site can grow with you over the years. You can easily upgrade it for new features and security. You can add a new theme (ma.tt seems to add a new theme most years) without redoing your whole site. You can add new plugins for enhanced functionality (add maps, embedded calendars, donation buttons, etc.) WordPress.org is used by millions of sites, from the simplest little blogs to huge brand names like the New York Times blog, People, Flickr, and more. See the WordPress.org showcase.
Thanks to Adam Schwartz for contributing most of this content via the Computer Courage Blog.