Everything you need to know about Wordpress

What is WordPress? In simplest terms it is software (an application or program) that allows anyone to create a website or blog. It is free and anyone can install it on their server from which they plan to deliver their website.

WordPress is often marketed as a platform to build website without any need for programming. I am not a programmer. I code in HTML and CSS, but PHP (the server-side scripting language on which content management systems such as WordPress rely) is not within my area of expertise. And yet, I am able to use WordPress to create websites.

How easy is it really? Well, that depends on the user. If the user is computer and Internet savvy, if s/he is no stranger to uploading or downloading files, manipulating images, formatting text, linking, etc, then using WordPress is not difficult. But if he or she uses computers only sporadically, if operations on files are not very familiar to them, if the Internet is still somewhat intimidating, then there will be a learning curve before such a user can comfortably use WordPress. The third category of users are those who have come out of graphic design background, learned to translate their graphic work into HTML and CSS and therefore have a greater ability to tweak and adjust the code to create unique WordPress websites without building them from scratch. I find myself in the third category.

How can a non-programmer build a website in WordPress? There are a great many talented WordPress developers who create very compelling and functionally specific WordPress themes. Such themes can be acquired for free or for a small fee. Once installed, a WordPress theme can be customized to adjust its look to the unique need and expectation of the website’s owner.

Which is better, getting a free or a commercial theme? That really depends on the purpose of the website one is creating. For a personal website, a free theme would do great. And there are many very nice free options out there. But if one is planning a large website with extensive functionality, then paying a small fee for a theme is very much worth it. With a commercial theme usually comes good technical support and theme updates, which is an important factor to consider if one is building a website in a platform that undergoes continuous development and change. Plus there are many commercial themes that have been built with a specific industry in mind and therefore come with functionality most desired on a website featuring a given service or product.

My first ever attempt in WordPress was a blog that I built using a free theme with very basic functionality. The entire content of that site is text, and the main objective was to create a website where articles can easily be searched by topic, author, or date. For that blog, I did not do any customization beyond changing the website title and adding an About page. Visit the resultant KPL Blog.

The next step I took on my way to master WordPress was building a pro bono website in the default WordPress theme at the time, TenTwenty. On that website I customized its basic appearance features such as background and text colors; added custom header and images; and installed a couple of plugins. This was the first WordPress website I built with multiple static pages. To live came the Ancient Universal Medicine (AUM) website.

Tomahawksurf blog, the website you’re reading right now, is a WordPress blog also built using TwentyTen theme. Compare its look to the Shopify website. The layout is familiar, isn’t it? But the look and feel are different.

My most recent accomplishment is the EverythingGood website built in a commercial WordPress theme called Cadca. The project owner and I chose that specific theme for its lovely way of showing portfolio and creating slideshows. The website ended up more extensive than initially intended and it now contains a number of static pages plus two dynamic blog sections that are independently displayed. The theme we used has been very well documented and the creators offer very good and quick tech support, so working with that theme turned out to be sheer fun and pleasure.

I am now excited about a new project, a WordPress website for an arts and crafts professional. The client is browsing commercial themes to select one that will best serve her purpose, and I very much look forward to beginning the work.