To Use WordPress, or to Not Use WordPress

Wordpress Logo

So you want to use WordPress to build a website, huh?

Good choice, and you’ve come to the right place. This is the first part in a two-part series on using WordPress to build a website.

Why WordPress Works?

WordPress has continued to gain popularity as a CMS (Content Management System). Why?

  • It’s free (You do have to pay for web hosting and a domain name, of course).
  • It’s open source (meaning anyone can contribute to the project’s development).
  • It’s easy to use, and relatively flexible when it comes to options for developing a website.

Granted, other choices exist for content management systems, and you should research all of your options. Drupal and Joomla are two popular CMSs that web designers, web developers and companies seem to favor today.

However, some top corporations, organizations and individuals have selected WordPress to meet their needs. Check out the WordPress showcase to see some of the most inspiring and effective ways to use WordPress.

WordPress as a Better CMS

Also, the WordPress team has just released WordPress 3.0. Developers built in several features that make this new version a more powerful content management system. These include:

  • custom background support.
  • custom menu support.
  • custom content types.
  • custom taxonomies (meaning ways to organize content)

You can read about the new features in a great post by Jeff Star at Digging into WordPress. And for a brief on the new features, you can watch the video above.

Important Questions for Using WordPress as a CMS

Wordpress Dashboard

Once you get an idea of what WordPress can do, you’ll want to ask yourself some important questions:

Why do you want to use it?

Ask yourself that question. Just like any other tool, WordPress has its advantages and disadvantages. From my experience, WordPress works best if you are really into blogging, have a lot of content to manage or will be updating your site frequently.

What’s your design look like?

The first thing you need to do is decide how your site is going to be laid out. This will help you select which theme to use. My advice is to pick a theme that is exactly or as close as possible to your desired layout. This will determine how much modification you need to do.

You can select between both free and commercial themes, available directly from the WordPress website.

A note of caution, it’s always good practice to download themes from the theme directory itself, or from reputable theme developers. Lleland over at ThemeLabs says, “People searching for free themes in Google likely have a more ‘innocent’ mindset and probably don’t even realize the mistake they’re making when they use themes from these random sites.” He’s got some good advice on the issue too, so make sure to give it a read.

Inevitably, you might say, “Dave, I found this premium theme, and it’s cool, but it costs money. What do you think?”

I am generally against premium WordPress themes unless it’s EXACTLY what you need. Many fantastic theme developers have built beautiful and easy-to-use premium themes. So it’s a definite option, and one that could make your life easier. However, there are plenty of free options that can accomplish the same thing, so do your research.

Conclusion

Start with these two questions if you want to use WordPress to build your website. Begin browsing themes, and pick some favorites. Then, be sure to remember these two questions: why do I like this theme and does it allow me to do what I want with my site design-wise?

The next part in the series will be a gigantic resource list for using WordPress to build your website.

This is the first part of a two part series on Building Websites with WordPress. The second installment covers resources you can use for building your site with WordPress.