WordPress for Website Design: Is it right for you?

WordPress for website design

 

Is WordPress for website design the best option for you? Let’s find out!

We are living in a new age. An age where every person aspires to have at least one smart device in their possession. An age where a good number of those people wishing to have a smart device, wish to have a smartphone in their hands. All this, in the span of 20 years since the first smartphones came into being.

What this represents is a broad base of people that can be reached, and a sure way of getting a business to a great number of people. But how will that business get its presence online? With a website, of course.

The concept of the website has come a long way since the internet first came into being. The first websites ever were all about passing scientific information between the researchers. Slowly though, various other entities started taking advantage of this new information superhighway to position themselves for what was coming.

Soon though, various businesses set up an online presence and they were booming. This has been the trend for quite a long time to the point that now, trying to conduct a business without an online presence is almost equal to slapping water and expecting it to part like the Red Sea.

As a business owner, you realize it is a prudent decision to put up a website. But how exactly are you going to do so? There are a variety of options available to you, and while doing your research, you came across the term WordPress for building your website.

Here is where we explain to you what WordPress is and how useful it can be for you.

Can you create a website with WordPress?

Short answer? Absolutely. But how is that possible? To answer this question, we have to take a deep look into what WordPress is, and how it can be used to create the website that you have always wanted.

With how the internet is set up, it’s not possible for anyone to just get on there and build the website that they want without some extensive technical knowledge to help accomplish this. At first, this was the preserve of computer scientists and engineers who were equipped with the knowledge of the languages needed to talk to computers.

Most of these languages are not exactly beginner friendly, and they need quite an effort in practice before you can get things to appear and work as you had envisioned. The good thing about humans is we innovate, and we like to simplify things for those of us who aren’t technically gifted.

These very same computer scientists and engineers built a software that would make it easy for anyone to put up websites. These websites are what are known as Content Management Systems, or CMS in short.

What is a CMS?

When you pay a visit to a website, you come into contact with the words that they have put up, various images of the products you are looking at, as well as the styling that the webpage has been put in. This styling is what will have pulled you into the website by how beautiful it is, or repulsed you the moment you opened it. Whenever you click on buttons, they work.

This is the work of three or four different elements all coming together to work in sync. This is HTML to give the webpage structure, CSS that will be how the page is styled in terms of color, fonts as well as positioning of items on the page. You will then have JavaScript to make all the buttons you click functional, and also to govern the behavior and responses of the website.

The three elements are the most common. Of course, this website will have to communicate with the computer that is hosting it, and this is where a fourth element may come in. Nowadays, JavaScript can facilitate communication between the website and the host computer, also known as the server. However, there are others such as PHP, Python among many others.

Now, for you as a business person just wanting to put up a simple website for your new business, this seems like quite a lot of things that you will have to learn before you even get a website up and running.

While for a time only a few people could get to do these jobs, the appearance of CMSs meant that now everyone could build the website of their dreams without needing a lot of technical knowledge. You could literally learn while you build and manage. But how?

Well, a CMS is a software that was purposely built to help you put up the text and images that you need to get to your customers. You don’t need to learn all those computer science stuff. The software will do all that for you.

And that is exactly what WordPress is. It actually is one of the leading CMSs in the world right now. All you will need to do is install it on a server, and you can get to build the website of your dreams, just by the actions of your mouse and a few strokes of your keyboard.

With WordPress, you can get to build different types of websites, based on the kind of business you are running, or whether you just want to share your ideas with the world. The following are just a few of the types of websites that you can build using WordPress.

  • Blogs
  • Video sharing websites
  • eCommerce websites
  • Forums
  • Social networks
  • Online Courses
  • Portfolios

So, to answer the question can you build a website using WordPress? You definitely can. And you also have the possibility to scale your website without having to rely on the services of a webmaster to get things done.

Can I make a WordPress Website without hosting?

Short answer? Well, the short answer to this question won’t be satisfactory without having to explain it, but here goes; yes and no. Now it’s time to explain why this is.

To effectively answer this question, it would be prudent to first take a look at how websites operate, and why hosting on a server is necessary for your website to be accessible to the outside world.

How websites work

To begin with, your website is just a collection of different webpages. The webpages themselves are a set of instructions and structures that determine how the webpages will appear, where the images will go and what text will be within the webpages themselves. These different webpages will be linked to each other.

Now, for these instructions are loaded onto documents and then saved. When a computer reads those documents, the webpage will be rendered on the screen. This is what appears as a webpage. Each webpage is a different document with links acting as go-betweens with the different webpages. Those webpages all need to be in the same location, or even if they are spread out, the correct linkage must be made.

Now, for your website to be available to the outside world, it has to be in a location where it is easily accessible. Here is where hosting comes in. While the files are on your computer, they can be easily accessible to you. However, what if when you want the whole world to be able to access your website?

What is web hosting?

While you may be glad to see your webpage and how it functions on your computer (offline), it isn’t available to the people who you want to engage with you in business, or read the wisdom and revelation that you have to bless the world with. For that, your website has to go onto a web hosting server.

What this is, is just specialized computers that are available for webmaster and website owners to rent. With a space on these computers, better known as servers, your website will now be available to the masses. These computers are specialized to serve the viewers of the website with speed and are always available 99 percent of the time, which means your website is always accessible and easy to access and use.

While this is what a large majority of website owners do, it definitely isn’t the only way to get your website online.

Self-hosting

Websites serve all manner of people. Some can cater to a niche group, others may be serving billions. Here’s where the distinction comes in. While a rented server is cheaper and more accessible, when your visitors start flocking in, the quality of service will be choked by the capabilities of the space you have rented. This is why large websites like Facebook are hosted on their own servers.

While you may not have the resources to purchase and run an industrial size server in your home, the principles of hosting are still the same. What this means is that you can turn an old desktop, or even your current one, into a hosting server.

For this, you will need to set up the computer to have the right environment to host the website. Luckily, there are programs that will help you achieve this. The first is by using a program such as Xampp. This program will configure the environment for you, all you will need to do is install WordPress and start building your website.

The second option is by using a separate machine. With this machine, just install a Linux Server version of your choice and you are good to go.

One good thing to note, however, is you will need to exercise the patience of a cat stalking a bird. There is a steep learning curve ahead of you, if you don’t already know how to configure these offline servers. You also have a lot of late nights and research your way, and it’s best done when you have dedicated sufficient time towards building the server setup, and then running your website build on it.

So, to answer the question, can you make a WordPress site without hosting? If you are thinking of hosting in terms of paying an online webhost to rent space on their servers, then yes. It is possible for you to build a website without hosting.

However, if you look at hosting in technical terms, then no. you need some kind of hosting, whether on a virtual machine, or an offline server to help you build the website. A website is software and it needs the right environment to operate.

This duality is expressed by WordPress themselves through their websites, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. With WordPress.com, you can pay for hosting and then you can go ahead to build your website online. They will host the website for you, and is the best way to start for absolute beginners, especially bloggers. You can choose to have free hosting or paid, depending on the level of complexity or freedom that you want.

With WordPress.org, you get to download the software and host it yourself on a webhost of your choice.

How much does it cost to build a WordPress Website?

Here is another question that does not have a definite answer. How much it will cost to build a website will vary depending on what exactly it is you want to do with your website in terms of scope, scale and features built into it. At the basic level, WordPress software is free to acquire and use. From here, you get to choose what you want to do.

Things you will need

The thing about building a website is that you will need various things for it to come to a proper working condition. The first, and most obvious one, is hosting. There are various reasons that will influence the type of hosting that you will choose for your website, most important of this is speed and availability.

Hosting

Now, depending on the size of your website, you might need to take up different hosting options. You might choose to have shared hosting for a blog at the cheapest cost, or you might want to go for a dedicated server, which can cost hundreds of dollars a month.

Domain name

The second thing you will have to look at is the domain name. Your business can operate on the internet with just the IP address, but will your customers be able to recall what it is? This is the main reason why you will need a domain name to represent your business online.

Now, your business can have the most unique name out there, or the most generic. If the name you’ve chosen is widely popular, chances are that someone else might have already registered that business name, making it unavailable.

Other time, even though the name is paid for, the domain could have expired and the domain registrar puts it up for sale again.

Now, here is where things will get hairy. The health of that domain name is entirely dependent on what the previous owner did with it. If they engaged in phony business, the name might cause your website to be penalized by search engines. However, if the previous owner ran a valuable business with the name before closing, the value of that domain name will increase.

Depending on the scenarios above, the domain name might either be dirt cheap to acquire and end up dooming your website even before it gets off the ground, or have the chance to immediately have your website on the first page of Google, but cough up thousands of dollars because of the value the name holds.

Web design

The third thing to look at is the design. Are you an aspiring web designer? Do you have someone in mind that will handle the WordPress web design for you?

Even though the underlying software that is WordPress is free, you will still have to build up the website to look and feel the way you want it to. If you decide to do it by yourself, you are in for some long nights with hot coffee, and an open mind will come in handy to help you achieve the look you want. If not, you can choose to have a web designer undertake the work for you.

You do have another option though. WordPress is famous for pre-built websites known as WordPress themes. The only thing you have to do with these themes is install and customize it to your liking. Everything else is already in place and you can launch your business within a week.

For many, WordPress themes are the way to go in terms of building a website. There are tons of samples out there that you can choose from, you just have to have the patience to go through a number of them until you find the one that you would like.

 Plugins and Extensions

While WordPress themes will make things absolutely easy for you to handle, you will still have to get your hands-on plugins and extensions for full functionality of your website. This is especially true for various important functions such as the security of your website, and even payment processing.

In essence, these plugins are mini apps that are specialized towards handling one specific task. These tasks can range from securing your website against would-be hackers (vey important) to helping you connect your website to your financial payment accounts such as PayPal.

Some plugins will also help you improve the performance of your website in terms of search engine optimization.  Others will help extend functionality on smaller screens such as smartphones. There are a variety of plugins to help you achieve what it is your website needs most.

Of course, depending on what functionality you are looking for, these plugins can cost little, or an arm and a leg.

In general, it will simply depend on what you are looking for from a website. If you are looking for simple things, spending less than $100 is not an impossibility. However, if you are looking at building the next best things that will finally kick Facebook off its perch, then you may be looking at costs of over $100,000

Is WordPress for website design the best option?

Here is another question that does not have a straight answer. The thing that first and foremost should determine what CMS you use, is the very reason that you want to build your website. Website design and development has come a long way since inception, and now, there are very many different ways to achieve the look and functionality that you want.

This may mean having to use other content management systems such as Drupal, or even website builders such as Squarespace. However, in most cases, WordPress does have a clear advantage over all the other rivals.

This advantage comes from the myriad of plugins that are available to WordPress users. If you want to extend functionality on website builders, you probably would have to learn how to do it, or even have someone else do it for you.

Website builders might be easier to start with for the absolute noob. This is because they use drag and drop to build the website, and you can edit the text and images as you go. WordPress uses a form builder and it can take a few tried before you get things right.

If you are looking for something simple like a portfolio, a website builder will serve you just as well as WordPress would. But if you are thinking of conquering the world with your business, then nothing else can hold a candle to WordPress.

Conclusion

Well, is WordPress for website design right for you and your business? Most definitely. WordPress is the most popular CMS out there and it is supported by a great number of developers out there. The sheer number of plugins available to help you extend the functionality of your website is just staggering. All it needs is a little patience to get things right, and your life will never be the same again.

About The Author

Dustin Reed

Dustin Reed, is the owner and senior web technician for Innovative Solutions Group. He graduated in 2011 with an Associate’s Degree in Web Design and Computer Programming with a 3.78 GPA, demonstrating that he has taken this education and experience very seriously. He takes great pride in the fact that he truly enjoys doing what he does best, Building Professional Websites! During his 5 years working at Innovative Solutions Group, he has been responsible for many different aspects of the business ranging from creating new accounts/domains on Innovatives server to responsive(mobile-friendly) template creation. Some of his other responsibilities/strengths are WordPress website design, CSS/HTML coding, creating visual animations using Jquery, page layout, and troubleshooting many different types of problems that may arise. When he is not busy working at Innovative Solutions Group, he enjoys doing all of the great outdoor activities that the beautiful state of Montana has to offer. Such as, fishing, camping, hiking and enjoying a day at the lake during the summer.

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