I set out to write this post about why I switched to WordPress, but it turns out that the answer isn’t very complicated: I wanted to combine my blogs. The reason I had blogs on WordPress to begin with was because I wanted to learn how to design for WP, and the best way to do that was to set up a blog and a website myself.
Once I decided to combine, the choice to move my Blogger blog to WordPress was easy. Ultimately, I like WordPress better, and even though the set up of migrating my blog was kind of a pain, in the long run I think it will be worth it to build brand consistency with my web design company.
So since I’m not going to write about why I moved, instead I’m going to talk about the things that I really love about WordPress now that I’m using it exclusively as my blogging platform.
Before I launch into the things I like about WordPress, I wanted to say something about WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a free blogging platform run by WordPress (so basically an equivalent of Blogger) but it has less design options than Blogger does, because it doesn’t give you full access to the HTML template without paying a fee that is almost as much as it would be to just pay for web hosting. WP.com is also really strict about having paid advertisements on your blog. If you’re on WP.com and it’s working for you- that’s awesome. I just wouldn’t recommend that anyone starting off go there, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend that someone who already has a blog switch to WP.com, just because there are less opportunities for growth there, in my opinion. This infographic explains it nicely (thanks Sarah!)
The Dashboard. This is totally a personal preference, but I just love how the WordPress dashboard looks. Is it easier to use than the Blogger dashboard? Not necessarily. With more functions comes a more complicated set-up. Considering just how complex it is, I think WP does a pretty good job of making it user-friendly, but there is a learning curve. For example, one of my favorite things about the WP dashboard is how you can edit the menus. It’s so easy to have multiple menus and switch them out of two menu locations, and you can make dropdown menus just by nudging the item to the right- no coding required.
Access and Design Capabilities. As a designer, I prefer working with WordPress. The set up is cleaner, and the possibilities are pretty much endless (although, like we discussed last time- you can do some pretty awesome things with Blogger!) You can easily turn your blog into a website by adding some code. I build all of my WordPress sites on the Genesis framework– that’s how I learned to design and it has a ton of great features built into it. And although you have to pay for web hosting (I use RFE Hosting– love them!) it means that you have access to the back end of your site.
Plugins. There are an infinite amount of plugins out there. The important thing to keep in mind is that for every awesome plugin out there, there is a bad plugin out there. And did you know that plugins don’t always play nicely together? 99% of the time that one of my clients contacts me to let me know that there is something buggy going on with their site, it’s because one of the plugins is acting weird when combined with another plugin. The moral of the story is to be careful, but here is a list of free plugins that I’ve had really good luck with so far:
- Akismet. Because spam happens more than you might think. (This isn’t necessarily free, depending on your circumstances)
- Comment reply notification. This solves all my problems of people not seeing replies to their comments by automatically sending them an email every time their comment receives a reply. Love it!
- NextGEN Gallery. This is what I use for my portfolio. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to customize, but it gets the job done.
- Pinterest Image Pinner from Collective Bias. What can I say- having that little “pin-it” hover over my images makes me happy.
- Serendipity Themes Social Media plugin. I use this on practically all my WP sites- it’s a great way to include social sharing icons that you can customize to match a site. No one likes super conspicuous share icons.
- Tabber Widget. There are a lot of tabber widget plugins out there, and they can be kinda buggy sometimes. I’ve had good luck with this one- and I love how it keeps all those administrative boring things in one place.
SEO. I don’t pretend to know a ton about SEO, but I do know that there are a ton of options when it comes to WordPress, and Genesis has some pretty awesome features built into it. For example, you know how you like to have post titles that are written in your voice, but maybe don’t include search terms? Well, you can add a title that is better for search terms, but still have your title appear on your blog. Pretty neat, huh?
Are you on WordPress? What are your favorite features or plugins? If you’re not, are there any features that you would switch platforms for?