How to use WordPress.com
As I outlined in my last column, some businesses and organizations use social media sites – like Facebook – as de facto websites. Social networking sites are great for marketing and outreach because they have literally billions of users. But a problem with using social networking for your sole business or organizational website is that the resulting appearance is not very professional because you can’t control other people’s comments and links they add.
One of the reasons people use social networking sites as web sites is because they feel that setting up their own website can be daunting task. There’s no one in the organization who can take it on or there’s no money to hire and manage someone else to do the work.
But there is a viable website option to be aware of, and it’s called WordPress. WordPress is a free web “app” service that allows anyone to easily set up a nice looking and full featured website. A WordPress website will appear very professional and can all the usual functions, like image galleries, menus, email contact forms, links to all of the social networking services, and more. You can choose from hundreds of out-of-the-box free designs.
And as a result of being free and easy to set up, WordPress is currently one of the most popular web apps in use, with estimates of ~50 million web sites built with it.
To get started, go to wordpress.com. You will be walked through the process of setting up a WordPress account and your blog. You will need an email address to open a WordPress account. (If you don’t have one, go to gmail.com and get a free email account).
WordPress sites are still referred to as “blogs,” because that’s how WordPress started, but a blog is only one aspect of a website, and with WordPress, you have a lot of control over how your site is structured.
During the sign up process, you’ll be asked about how you want the website address to appear. If you use the version of WordPress that is completely free, your address will be mysite.wordpress.com. If you want your address to look more professional, such as mysite.com, you need to register a domain. You can register a domain through WordPress.com for $18/year. But registering a domain is not necessary, and can be done later if you change your mind.
Once you have registered during the first few steps, you’ll need to confirm your email address. After you confirm, the next few steps of process will ask if you want to follow different trending blog subjects or connect with your social networking friends, but you can click through those because they’re optional, and move on to deciding on a design for your site and adding content.
Next time: choosing a design for your site and other last steps and options.