A lot of people ask me about creating a church website and when I recommend WordPress, I get a variety of responses such as:
- Isn’t that just for blogs?
- Oh, cool!
- Never heard of it.
- Why don’t you use Wix?
- JOOMLA IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN WORDPRESS!!!! (No, Joomla is hard and complicated both for developers and users!!!!)
- I don’t want my domain to include wordpress.com. (WordPress.com is a hosted service for WordPress.org – This article deals with .org, not .com)
- It’s open source. This means it’s firstly free for the taking, but secondly is a product of thousands of people coming together for a common cause. It’s continually being developed and upgrades are always free as well. This beats purchasing a retail product that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars per year. Many content management services have monthly fees that really take a bite out of smaller budgets.
- It’s extensible. You can pretty much do anything you want within WordPress. There are hundreds of thousands of plugins and themes available that extend the functionality of WordPress. If you need new functionality on your site, chances are, someone has already released a plugin or theme that will accommodate your needs for free. If you’ve got the chops or you know someone who does, you can morph WordPress into your flavor of content management.
- It’s easy. The core developers of WordPress are not all geeky guys sitting in mom’s garage throwing back Red Bulls. There is an entire team devoted to the user interface (usually fancy designer types) that strive in every release to make WP more useable. They even use focus group testing and document every click on a timeline. I have personally found the user interface to be quite friendly and getting friendlier with every release. Even if you’re a non-techy, you can have WP installed in mere minutes on your hosting plan with a few clicks.
- It’s supported. There will be those who will argue to the death on this point that there is not official support for WP. I disagree. The core developers and extended developers devote much of their time to giving back to the community through support. If you have an issue, there are a couple of different venues to which you can go to find answers. To start, you can meander over to the official support forum at .org. There are archives of thousands of support tickets that could possibly have the answer you’re looking for. If not, open a new ticket. I also love WordPress Answers over at Stack Exchange. It’s a valuable Q&A forum that is very high quality. A lot of core contributors also lurk there waiting to help others in need.
- It’s widely adopted. 17% of the entire Interwebz are powered by WordPress. That means with 60 million WP sites out there, there is a substantial base of developers that are dedicated to WordPress. It’s not hard to find good WP help for free or for hire. If you need to extend your site, all you have to do is search around on sites like WPCandy.com to find good help. I’ve found the majority of WP developers are very fair when it comes to pricing. You can also look at the top support contributors on WPSE to find a good hire candidate. I work on corporate sites that use WordPress and get millions of hits per month. Even corporations around the world are see the value, why shouldn’t your church do the same with your budget?
- It’s great for SEO and Analytics. Many of the build-it-yourself sites are not good for search engine optimization. With a few plugins, you can start getting indexed by major search engines without much effort. Here are some plugins that I use that can be installed right in the WP administration panel:
- Yoast SEO - Gives you the ability to edit page titles, descriptions and keywords per page. You don’t have to know any code to set META tags in your theme’s header.
- Google XML Sitemaps – In the old days, you would have to generate a sitemap manually which meant a lot of ugly code work. This plugin generates everything for you and submits it to sites like Google, Yahoo, Ask, etc…
- Google Analytics for WordPress – This allows you to tightly integrate your Google Analytics account with your WP installation.
- WordPress.com stats – The guys at WordPress.com have shared their stats tracking with the rest of us who self-host. This is one of my favorite plugins for seeing real-time statistics right in my admin panel.
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