Blogging tools have evolved significantly due to the tremendous popularity of blogging in general. Because of this evolution blog software has actually become one of the best ways for small businesses to easily build feature rich, simple to edit, search engine friendly web sites.
I would urge anyone without a web site or with a boring static brochure site to take a good hard look at free piece of software called WordPress. The current version of the software can be downloaded from WordPress.org (They have a hosted blog version at WordPress.com but you want the download from the .org site.)
You can use this software to create your entire website whether you have or want a blog or not. (But, of course you need a blog too.) One of the best functions of this set-up is that anyone in your organization with the proper login permission can update and edit the site including adding pages, text and images without any knowledge of HTML or web design software such as Dreamweaver.
On of the core elements of WordPress is something called a theme. This is essentially the design template that controls the look and feel of all of the pages throughout the site. There are lots of places you can get pre-designed templates for blogs, but recently designers have started creating themes for the type of web site implementation I’m talking about in this article. Using these themes your web site looks like, well, a web site, instead of a blog.
Setting up WordPress
Since WordPress is software you install and configure on the server of a host you still need to have a domain name and hosting. Your host needs to support PHP and mySql databases. Now, don’t worry, most do. In fact, a host that I’ve used frequently is Lunar Pages and they not only support these, they can add WordPress to your site with the click of a button. WordPress also has the famous 5 minute install, leading the way in open source software installation.
Getting your theme
As I mentioned above, the theme is the WordPress name for the design of your site. I’ve discovered the following themes, designed by very talented WordPress designers, to be very suited to overall web site design and use. All the hard work is done for you, you simply install, but you can also do a fair amount of customization if you are a do-it-yourself type.
Great premium themes
- Woo Themes – http://www.woothemes.com/
- DIY Themes – Thesis – http://diythemes.com/
- wp remix – http://wpremix.com/
- iThemes – Flexx – http://ithemes.com/
- StudioPress (formerly Revolution) – http://www.studiopress.com/
- Theme Forest – http://themeforest.net/
- Theme Spinner – http://www.themespinner.com/
- Elegant Themes – http://www.elegantthemes.com/
- ColorLabs Project – http://colorlabsproject.com/themes/
- Gabfire Themes – http://www.gabfirethemes.com/category/themes/
- Solostream – http://www.solostream.com/
Using one of these themes you can automatically get the look of a web site – with a static homepage and the function of a blog all in one. And, you can add pages using the software to your hearts delight. It really is the best of both worlds
Blogs in general fare much better than traditional static web sites so using this tool, particularly if you utilize the blog functions – meaning you write a blog and add fresh content – will allow your site to generate better search engine results. The software automatically optimizes any new pages your create and the RSS feed from the blog makes it much easier for search engines to find your site.
There are hundreds of additional plug-ins that you can get for free that take advantage of the WordPress platform and allow you to add powerful functionality to your web site just as easily as you edit new pages.
Anyone with a little web site design and set-up knowledge should be able to use one of the themes above to create an entire WordPress blogsite but I am also in the process of creating a series of video tutorials to make it even easier.
Note from Women Unlimited: If you are looking for a website check out our Build your website in a day workshop that we have coming up at the British Library. We will guide you through the whole process and you will come away with a website you can feel proud of. This workshop works very well with the search engine optimisation workshop we’re holding on June 1o.
About the Author:
John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach, award-winning publisher and author of “Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide”