WordPress Shows Once Again Why It’s the World’s Most Popular Hosting Platform With Its Intuitive Approach to Website Building and Content Management
It’s no coincidence that WordPress powers almost 25% of websites. It was one of the first, and arguably one of the most prominent, platforms that made it possible for everyday users to make their own websites and blogs.
With WordPress.com, you just select a pricing plan, set up your domain, opt-in to upgrades you want, and enter some basic personal details and information about your site. Your site is then hosted immediately with your chosen domain. You can then select from hundreds of free or premium templates to start your site off in style.
Right away, you can start creating your content using the intuitive user interface. Pages and posts are made by merely filling in the word processor-like blank spaces and by setting basic display options. You can switch between themes at any time.
With a business plan, you can install 3rd party themes and plugins on your site. This allows you to choose even more unique and stylish themes for your site as well as add extensive features.
I want to clarify that there are two distinct flavors of WordPress. WordPress.COM is accessed online and acts as both a website creation tool, a content management system, and a hosting solution rolled into one. WordPress.ORG is the home for the free, open-source, and self-hosted solution where you download the software onto your own server and create your site and content from there. In this review, we will be looking at WordPress.com as an online website builder – it is also arguably the more accessible way to take advantage of WordPress.
Pick From Hundreds of Templates to Start Your Site Off In Style
You are really spoiled in terms of choices when it comes to choosing themes for your site. There are over 90 completely free themes within the WordPress theme repository that you can choose and switch between at any time. As you can expect, they vary dramatically in style, scope, and purpose. Different themes also offer varying amounts of features and additional customization options. Some are even lite versions of premium themes.
All themes are quality checked by WordPress, and all of them look decent. However, keep in mind that they are entirely free, so don’t expect to be winning any website design rewards.
You can also purchase premium themes or get them for free with the Premium and Business plans. Here, you have a much wider selection to choose from. The themes also get more niche specific and have more refined designs. They also provide more customization options so that you can fine-tune them even further.
Handily, you can view live demos of themes as well as try out their customization options before adding them to your site (free and premium). Depending on the creator, you might even receive extra support services or tutorial videos. For example, WordPress usually provide short tutorial videos for each of their in-house developed themes.
These themes are nothing compared to some of the premium themes that are available from 3rd party developers and that you can add to your site with a Business Plan. Not all themes are supported on WordPress.com, but you are sure to find something that suits your taste on huge marketplaces like Themeforest or Monster Themes.
The customization options that are available depend on the theme you use. However, most settings are standard across themes. For example, it is easy to add a logo or favicon, change color palettes, add header images or set fonts. You can even create main menus and add widgets to your sidebars. However, you can only customize your site through a form-based editor as no drag and drop builder is available.
While it doesn’t feature a drag and drop builder and isn’t quite as advanced as sites like Wix or Squarespace, it does fill an important gap between ease of use and customizability.
Extend WordPress’ Already Generous Offering With Vast Quantities of 3rd Party Content
Wide Selection of Themes: No matter what plan you have, you can choose from over 90 themes that are quality checked by WordPress. There are over 200 premium themes that cost between $30-$80, and that you get for free with the Premium or Business plans.
Customize Your Site: When you unlock advanced customization options with the Premium or Business plan, you can use the WordPress customizer to adjust your site’s appearance. The customizer is extremely easy to use, and the options are very thorough.
Unlimited Paid Third Party Themes/Plugins: WordPress’ biggest strength undoubtedly lies with the seemingly endless array of 3rd party content developed for it. Premium plugins and themes can extend your site’s functionality and design exponentially, at a cost. This includes everything from fully-fledged online stores to media galleries to visual elements to email or marketing campaigns
Jetpack Essential Features: Jetpack is a free plugin developed by WordPress that provides hassle-free design, marketing, and security features. It is included with every pricing plan and provides anyone with a basic level of control over these aspects of their site.
Migrate Your Content: WordPress.com makes use of the same web standards than other sites, and you can import or export most content easily through built-in tools or plugins. Entire site migration can be done through 3rd party services.
Ease of use
Set Up Your Site In No Time
Setting up your WordPress website is extremely fast. Once you have selected a pricing plan, you will go through a simple step by step process where you can enter your domain name, choose a default theme, adjust your privacy settings, and enter basic personal details. You can then immediately jump into building your site by creating pages and posts. Adding other themes from the repository is lightning fast as is adding your own branding elements through the Customizer.
Create and Manage Your Content
The ease with which you can create both pages and posts as then organize them using categories is what made WordPress the most popular CMS (Content Management System) and set the standard for all future competitors. You can quickly switch between posts, pages, categories, and widgets from within the dashboard with a single click.
Creating content is as easy as filling in empty text boxes in an intuitive interface that guides you through the process. The consistency throughout the dashboard makes it very quick to learn to use new features when you are just starting out. WordPress has recently updated how these pages look to make them more modern as well as even easier to use.
Add Third Party Themes and Plugins
If you have a business plan, you can upload 3rd party content with the click of a button. There is an Upload Theme and Upload Plugin button on the respect pages within the dashboard. You simply upload a zip package and click install. The theme or plugin is installed on your site, and you can immediately start using its features.
Premium Support Services Plus a Massive Active Community to Turn to For Help
Unfortunately, with the free plan, there are no structured support services available. You will have to rely on the WordPress community by posting your issue on the community forum. However, this isn’t that bad as the WordPress community is massive and very active. Your chances are also pretty good of a WordPress developer or expert stumbling on your thread and helping you out.
You can also find documentation on the support site. This documentation isn’t the typical comprehensive, structured documentation you may be used to finding on these types of sites. Instead, it’s broken up into bitesize chunks of information that deal with specific aspects This may seem slightly limiting and hard to follow but isn’t too surprising as using the WordPress.com platform is extremely simple and easy to use. That being said, most parts of the documentation come with short video tutorials to visually guide you through the steps.
With all paid plans, you get access to priority support that you can reach via either email or live chat. WordPress.com calls their support staff “Happiness Engineers” which sets expectations high.
The one problem with WordPress.com support is that it can take a while to get a response because they have such a huge customer base. For example, when seeking help with a badly positioned element on one of the themes, I got a reply from a helpful community member before support responded to my email. Live chat is also only available 24 hours a day during weekdays and limited hours on weekends.
A Free-For-Life Plan Plus Three Pricing Plans That Cater to All Levels of Users
WordPress.com offers a completely free, lifelong plan. The catch is that you will have a very bare to the bones set of features. Your site will be hosted as a subdomain of WordPress (i.e., the URL will be yourdomainname.wordpress.com), you will have to rely on community support, you will have limited customization options, and WordPress will display ads on your site.
The Personal Plan adds 3GB of storage space (for a total of 6GB), allows you to have a unique custom domain, and removes ads from your site.
Things only really start to get interesting with the Premium plan. You now get access to unlimited premium WordPress themes and advanced customization options, you can handle simple payments via PayPal, and monetize your site using AdWords.
The Business plan unlocks the full potential of WordPress as a hosting solution and a CMS. You will have unlimited storage space, be able to upload and install third party themes and plugins, be able to use WordPress’ SEO Tools, Integrate with Google Analytics, and remove all WordPress branding.
You can also purchase the most important features that are not included in your plan as upgrades at any time.
Cancellation and Refund
You can cancel a subscription within two days of the purchase date for a full refund. For a simple cancellation, the process is entirely automated. Only if you want to separate your domain and plan, you should contact customer support, and they will guide you through it. WordPress does allow you to point your domain to a new host if you are switching. Except for the standard “sorry to see you go” messages, they aren’t too pushy about staying.