The best way to keep in touch with the outside world, virtual and otherwise is by blogging. Blogging lets you put out more text compared to status updates on Facebook or Twitter.
The most commonly used blogging platform is WordPress. WordPress is a very currently an immensely popular platform and is used by millions of people. It is used for eCommerce websites, non-profit causes, spreading social awareness, education etc.
It could be WordPress.com or WordPress.org. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
If you use WordPress.com your site is hosted by WordPress and you are assigned your own sub-domain website e.g.: yourname.wordpress.com. The biggest advantage is that this costs nothing, it is completely free of charge.
The make their money by randomly displaying ads on your website which in fact can be a nuisance, hence a disadvantage. Another important disadvantage is that it does not support plugins because it does not give you full access to its features.
To get full access to the WordPress features, you need to use WordPress.org. The basic features in this are available for free, and this gives you access to some themes and plugins. You can also buy more if needed.
Biggest advantage on doing this will be that it makes your blog fully customizable. You can use CSS, HTML and PHP to customize your blog to your liking. WordPress also has a whole bunch of templates to choose from. This makes the task very easy. Just select a template based on the theme or topic of your blog and start from there. Further adjustments can be done as required.
Small and mid-sized businesses generally prefer WordPress. This is because it is simple to use and has many features and capabilities already available. This makes it very versatile. Also the user does not need to have any great technical knowledge.
The interface is also very user-friendly and enables non-technical writers to provide or add to the blog content at any time. The availability of a huge template library is a big plus. At the same time, writers with a small amount of technical or programming knowledge can do a lot of adjusting and customizing on WordPress which helps them increase the functionality to their benefit.
The templates and themes are customizable and the plugins added or used can be switched on and off as required. The plug-in repository contains certain bolt-ons that can be used if required.
Cost of Using WordPress
A standard installation is easy and free of charge as mentioned earlier. You can however upgrade the installation to premium versions for fees. A beginner or a casual blogger will prefer the standard version. E-commerce businesses making money from their websites will go for the premium versions.
Any site, including a WordPress site will consume bandwidth. The bandwidth and other resource needs will grow with the increase in the content, media and traffic on the site. In this situation if your hosting plan is not accommodating your growing resource needs, you might have to upgrade your plan.
System Requirements for WordPress
- PHP 5.2.4 or higher
- MySQL 5.0 or higher
- Host must have mod_rewrite
Alternatives to Using WordPress
The most common competitors of WordPress are Joomla, Drupal, Jekyll and Moveable.
Managed WordPress Hosting
A regular WordPress installation is very quick and easy. Most hosting servers offer a One-click installation script for WordPress. This kind of installation also provides regular software updates etc. that are needed with time.
However, this is all the support that will be provided. For most small businesses or bloggers this support is enough. The busier websites might need more support than this. For this purpose Managed WordPress hosting is used.
Sometimes managing a WordPress website completely by yourself, while running a business or making money on the website becomes very challenging and time-consuming. This is because the website owner/developer/blogger will have to allocate time for resolving website related issues alongside their actual job. Some of the common issues that can arise are:
- Several updates and plugins to deal with
- Corrupted databases
- Themes/templates not behaving as required
Dealing with all these issues can be tedious as mentioned above. As a result some website owners outsource this kind of website maintenance to the hosting provider. The hosting provider manages to take care of the installation and maintenance issues, while the website owner can concentrate on their business/website. The hosting provider does this by providing a customer support staff that has great WordPress knowledge and experience.
Cost of Managed WordPress Hosting
The cost of Managed WordPress Hosting can differ greatly depending on the package you choose. You can get the service for as low as $3.95/month and as high as $30/month. DreamHost, Pagely. GoDaddy, Bluehost, InMotion and SiteGround are examples of some of the providers. Different providers have various packages with varying features.
Important Features of Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress Hosting plans usually completely remove the installation process. They also take care of automatic plugin updates and other updates for the software. Database backups are also taken care of. They also generally help the client get his/her website up and running again if there is a crash or some other website failure.
The network provided by Managed WordPress Hosting plans are optimized for WordPress Hosting. This results in the website and data to load faster than that on a shared environment or a generalized hosting account.
This Managed Hosting environment provides a content delivery network that ensures fast delivery of website data to visitors located geographically far from the server. The website will also be regularly scanned for removal of useless plugins. All of the above are provided along with 24×7 premium customer support.
Do You Need Managed WordPress Hosting?
If your website has traffic of less than a thousand visitors a month and/or it does not generate reasonable income for you, Managed WordPress Hosting is not needed and the costs will not be justifiable for you. However, if you are running a business and the website which is generating a steady income and depends majorly on the number of visitors on the site, Managed WordPress Hosting might be the way to help you run your website more efficiently.
WordPress Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free and open source blogging and content management system (CMS). It is based on PHP and MySQL. WordPress is used by more than 25% of the top 10 million websites as of mid-2016. It is currently the most popular blogging and CMS platform supporting more than 50 million websites worldwide. WordPress users can install and use several different themes. These themes are like templates that change the look and feel of the website. Additional features can be added to a website or blog using WordPress plugins.
What are the advantages of using WordPress?
WordPress is ideal solution for you if you are starting a new blog or a small business website. The availability of several design and template options along with the efficient blogging functionality has made WordPress very popular among new bloggers. The core features of WordPress as a CMS and the option of installing additional plugins enables it to handle all the functions required by an ecommerce website like an online store. Other than this WordPress also works well for social sharing, multimedia presentation etc.
What are the disadvantages of using WordPress?
Even though WordPress is the current most popular option for CMS and blogging, there are some disadvantages to its use. Modification of graphics will require knowledge of CSS and HTML. The SQL queries can be complex because additional non-standard fields require additional syntax. Major modification operations require some knowledge of PHP. WordPress needs a lot of plugins to be installed to add functionality.
What are the system requirements for WordPress Hosting?
Following are the system requirements for WordPress Hosting:
- PHP 5.2.4 or higher
- MySQL 5.0 or higher
- Host must have mod_rewrite
Is WordPress installation a long and difficult process?
WordPress installation is not usually a long and tedious process. It can be done with or without installation wizards. These installation wizards like Fantastico are very simple to use with just one click. Even without the installation wizard WordPress installation is a fairly simple process.
Are there any cons of using the installation wizard?
There are some rare situations for which the use of installation wizards is not recommended. In these cases, manual installation of WordPress will be required. Sometimes it is the requirement of custom web development. Also, the BuddyPress social networking plugin recommends manual installation. Other than these rare situations, for users running a regular blog or website, the installation wizard the quickest and easiest way to get started with WordPress.
What do you mean by ‘self-hosted’?
‘Self-hosted’ WordPress blog or website means you have purchased a hosting plan from a web hosting provider and installed WordPress yourself. This means you control the hosting. The other way to use WordPress would be to get a blog at WordPress.com. This option is appropriate only for small personal blogs.
Can WordPress blogs be hosted on a shared hosting plan?
Yes, it is possible to host WordPress blogs on a shared hosting plan. This is mainly because WordPress does not require a large amount of resources. Also, it does not need a lot of special settings or system requirements. Due to this, currently most of the WordPress installations are being used on shared hosting plans.
Does a WordPress user need any special technical skills?
No. A WordPress user does not need any special technical skills. This application is generally simple to use and has lots of features and functions built-in. There is also a big template library available. The user-friendly interface makes it easy for the user to customize the themes and features with small amount of programming experience. This customization and the plugins available enable the users to increase the functionality to some extent.
What is Managed WordPress Hosting and what are its benefits?
‘Managed WordPress Hosting’ packages are special packages offered by web hosting providers. These plans generally have server environments specifically customized to improve the speed and performance of installing and running WordPress. It also includes automatic upgrades of WordPress whenever new versions come out. They generally also help the customer get his/her website up and running again in case of a crash.
Are there any specific reasons for not using WordPress? If yes, what are its alternatives?
There are a few reasons for not using WordPress. If the developer is building a web application and there is a better platform for it other than WordPress, then WordPress is not the best option. Secondly, if the owner of developers of the website are already comfortable with a content management system like Joomla! or Drupal, it is better to go with them. The closest competitor/alternative to WordPress is Joomla! and then there is Drupal. Other alternatives include Blogger, Moveable Type and Jekyll.