This article comes as no surprise since this website runs off WordPress and the GeneratePress theme. I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions on why WordPress really is the best blogging platform. Actually, WordPress is good for all sorts of websites save e-commerce in some cases. If you want to know what I think about WordPress and e-commerce compared with Shopify, take a look at the linked article. In the case where you want simple and easy e-commerce without the shipping and taxes headache, go with Shopify even though it costs money. For the most part, WordPress can handle most websites.
Why Should You Use WordPress for Blogging?
WordPress is very simple and was originally meant for blogging. This is just how WordPress started. Over the years, WordPress became a platform that could do so much more. WordPress expanded into ecommerce with WooCommerce, message boards and social networks. I still think that WordPress is good at making basic and general websites. If you need to make something special or specific then you should do some research and choose the right platform for you. Right now, about 43% of websites use WordPress. That is almost half of all websites running WordPress. So that is saying something. So for your next project, you should consider WordPress because it is popular and has a lot of support.
WordPress Has Very High Market Share
That 43% market share means that there are a lot of people using WordPress. All of these people are part of a community of web designers, developers, bloggers, marketers and more. Every single one of these people must have used WordPress before and I feel that there is something for everyone. For designers, there are page builders and I highly recommend the built-in Gutenberg block editor to build your pages. For developers, you have hooks and ways to create custom pages that go beyond making changes in the admin. Bloggers and marketers have an easy to use back-end that makes it simple to write content that converts and sells. I feel that WordPress is a CMS (content management system) that has something for everyone. It must be because there are so many people using it.
Very Good Documentation and Support
WordPress has some of the most thorough, detailed, and comprehensive documentation out there. This is great for developers like me who use hooks that allow you to modify WordPress without touching the core. Long story short, us developers have to be careful not to touch what are called core files. Core files are files that power the themes and plugins that we use. There are proper ways to modify the core indirectly through the changing of other files that are not part of the core. The reason why we do not want to change the core is because all changes to core files are lost when themes and plugins are updated.
Support for WordPress is great too. There are forums online like Stack Overflow that have answered the most technical questions on WordPress. People are the ones who carry a platform and a lot of people are carrying WordPress. With so many people using WordPress, there is almost nothing that cannot be done in WordPress. These message boards are great because chances are, someone else has run into the same problem as you. If there is no support, then people will abandon a platform because they cannot look for help on how to use it when they need it.
WordPress is Open Source and Free
Since WordPress is open source, it is free to use. This is great because we can use it, change it, do anything we want with it. This contrasts with something like SquareSpace, which is closed source. I personally have not used Wix and SquareSpace but I suppose there are some upsides to using them instead of WordPress. I like to be in full control of my website and be able to make any change that I want to it. With other platforms, you are limited to whatever access you are granted and you must stay within those limits. This might be okay when you first start your website. Once you start growing and wanting more, you will hit those restrictions that made you wish that you had just gone with WordPress instead. Rather than deal with a risky migration over to WordPress, just start with WordPress from the beginning.
Themes: Making Your WordPress Blog Look Great
What is a Theme?
A theme is a design for your website. Not only is a theme a design but it also comes with a lot of pre-built components and widgets that you do not need to create yourself. Depending on what kind of website you want, there are different themes. For example, there are themes for websites about food, sports, movies and more. You can browse through a list of free WordPress themes. However, beware that some themes are slower than others. I noticed that the default 2022 theme is not the fastest theme at all. So you need to know how to choose the right theme.
What Theme Should You Use?
The best theme for your website is one that not only looks the way that you want it to but also has the functionality that you need. In many cases, some themes that come with a lot of features cost money. So note that if you really want a good theme, you might have to pay for it. Please keep in mind that the more features and functionality a theme has, the more CSS and JS that it is using. All of this CSS and JS can lead to slow loading pages so know the trade-off. In general, more features means a slower website. If you want a bare-bones blog that is fast and just works. Then I recommend GeneratePress, which I will talk about more in the next section.
GeneratePress: The Best Theme for Fast and Basic Blogs
GeneratePress is a good WordPress theme for those who want a basic blog or informational website without all of the fancy frills. The page speed scores are very high and the best part is that you can slowly add features that you need and not ones that you do not. Most people tend to look at a pretty fancy theme and use it but do not know about checking its page speed scores.
Check the Theme’s Page Speed Scores Before You Commit to It
Then when they start to customize the theme, it is too late to change the theme because people are already committed to a theme. Unless people are willing to let go of a customized theme and start over. Speed scores are not everything but I would rather focus on my content than worry about the pages being slow because of images or there is too much CSS or JS on the page. Also, when you think about ranking on Google because we all want to be on Google, you do want to deal with low page speed scores.
Plugins: Extending Your Blog’s Functionality
WordPress plugins are great because there are many free ones and most are customizable just from the admin without having to use code. These plugins are powerful and work really well with each other. Of course the goal is to just use enough plugins so that you do not put so much weight on it that it slows your website down. I will talk about what plugins are next.
What is a Plugin?
A plugin is just something that adds more functionality to your website. I have a list of recommended plugins specifically for blogs. These plugins can backup your website in case of an emergency, protect your website from hackers and also optimize and make it faster. Plugins can do so many things for your website that you have to be careful not to add so many as I mentioned before. When you see how many free plugins WordPress offers, you will be tempted to add tons to your website.
Check To See If Your Plugins Are Slowing Your Website
One trick that you should do is check to see if a plugin slows your website down. Check your pages after activating a plugin using Google Pagespeed Insights. If you can handle the loss in your page score then keep your plugin, otherwise find an alternative or maybe drop the plugin if it is really slow. There are trade-offs, like I said earlier, more features means a slower website. This is why if we are running a blog, then we should really focus on getting our content ranked on Google. So go easy on the plugins. WordPress is great but you need to know how to properly leverage it.
What Plugins Should a Blog Use?
The plugins that you use should be the main required ones that I recommend. Outside that, you should try to find plugins that are lightweight and keep your website fast. Also, look for plugins that you are actually using and not just sitting there. I know that over time as our website grows, we will need more and more plugins. When we reach this point, then we might have to consider removing some old plugins that have outlived their usefulness. These could be plugins that we once used and no longer do because our focus is shifting elsewhere. Look for opportunities to remove old plugins when adding new ones. Of course, if you are careful with the plugins that you use, you may be able to add more without having to sacrifice any of them. Keep all of this in mind because it is all part of plugin management.
WordPress is really the best platform for most websites save some heavy applications like e-commerce. In the case of e-commerce, you might want to consider Shopify because it handles taxes and shipping for you. WordPress is great for blogging but can do other things like e-commerce, message boards and social networks. Do some proper research and find the right platform for you. With 43% of websites now using WordPress, most people know a good thing when they see it. WordPress has the benefit of very good documentation and support due to its community. Being open source, WordPress is free to use and modify.
WordPress offers free themes so that you can change the look of your website. Feel free to explore and see what theme is best for you. Be sure to check page speed scores so that you start with a fast theme. If you like a fast minimalist look, then GeneratePress might be the right theme for you. Remember, the more features that a theme has, the slower it will run. This will affect your rankings on Google so always keep it in mind. Plus, when you start adding plugins, then you really do not want to have a slow theme. A slow theme with too many plugins can really hurt your page speed scores.
Plugins extend the functionality of WordPress and like themes are free. However, you need to be selective with what plugins you use after using the core recommended set. Just keep checking your plugins after you install them and you will know which plugins are fast and slow. Of course, we cannot avoid using plugins forever. As your website grows, you will have to rely more on plugins. When you start to feel that your website is slowing down, think about removing older plugins that have not added any clear benefit to your website. Do not keep plugins just for the sake of keeping them. Better to remove them now before you end up with millions of plugins that are harder to remove later. Plugin management is a very important part of WordPress. Also consider that some plugins might not work well with each other. Do not use plugins that perform similar functions as that might break your website.
There are a lot of good things to say about WordPress and I have only touched upon the basics of it. I could not possibly write enough about WordPress because there is just too much to say about it. Blogging is great fun because you can sit down and just pour your heart and soul out. I hope that this article can at least give you an idea of why I highly recommend WordPress and why you should use it for your next blog. If you would like to know more about blogging, I have some articles on how to write for both your audience and search engines.