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Ask Applegreen: WordPress CMS

WordPress is both a blogging platform and a content management system (CMS), designed to enable people with no training in coding to publish on the web.

I intend this page to be mainly a how-to guide to using WordPress. But Wordpress needs some introduction to explain why it works the way it does.

About WordPress

WordPress started life a blogging site used by professional writers to promote themselves on the internet. Eventually, its popularity and ease of use led to its development as a CMS capable of supporting entire websites. While a blog is normally a single page of individual posts stacked above one another, a website has many pages that link together with a navigation system.

Nowadays WordPress enables the creation of CMS websites that look like classic ones but in which one of the pages, usually labelled News or Events, retains the attibutes of a blog, thus offering the best of both worlds.

What is CMS?

CMS is a system that enables the creation of websites destined to be edited by non-specialists. The job of hosting such a website, and of designing it to a particular specification, is specialist work requiring knowledge of web languages such as HTML, CSS and PHP. But once that is done, the non-specialist is given access WordPress's editing facility, called the Dashboard.

From the Dashboard, the user can add and change the text in pages, add photos, upload pdf documents and write blog posts publicising events or news. Advanced users can add extra pages and change information in the sidebar.

Should I choose WordPress?

Applegreen offers its clients three website options:

  1. A hand-coded website;
  2. A hand-code website with an integrated WordPress blog/news page;
  3. A website entirely powered by WordPress, of which Applegreen has done the design.

The first option offers the greatest flexibility in design together with light, fast-loading pages. Any updates are carried out through Applegreen's tailored follow-up service which is fast and affordable (see Website Maintenance on our Costs page). This is the best option for people who either do not feel confident in learning how to update, or who are too busy running their business. Among others, YouByYou Books relies on Applegreen for all its updates.

The second offers the same advantages as the first but with an option for website owners to add their own news or events, or write a blog. The WordPress page is seamlessly integrated into the navigation and styled to resemble the hand-coded website as closely as possible. This option is useful for business people who wish to blog about their work, or for organisations that have regular events or special offers: see the News page at Camden Community Nurseries. There is a small extra cost to adding WordPress to a hand-coded site because Applegreen is effectively creating the design twice over.

The third option offers access to all the pages, including the ability to add new ones. This is particularly useful for organisations like churches and small charities where there may be several people wishing to update different pages, or where new initiatives may lead to the need for more pages in the future. The decision to design purely in WordPress must be made at the start of a project. To choose this option, you must feel confident that you can spend time mastering the editing system that is available to you, or have someone in your organisation or business who will. Check out Smarden and Biddenden Churches.

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Case Study: Frieda Pruim, journalist

Frieda is a Dutch journalist living in Utrecht, where she has exercised her profession for more than 20 years.

Two-and-a-half years ago she went freelance, continuing in journalism, and undertook extra training as a professional organiser (helping to "de-clutter" people's lives). When she found herself engaged in a mix of article and book writing, editing and professional-organising commitments, she decided to present all her work in a single hub: a website she could update herself. She had www.friedapruim.nl* designed by a local developer (not an Applegreen project) and launched it in 2012.
*Frieda's website is in Dutch, but the Latest News heading on the home page should be clear enough to English-speaking readers!

She explains: "I was shown by my developer how to use WordPress. Some things I worked out myself. If I need help I can still ask my developer to explain things, or pay him to do extra things for me."

Asked how difficult she found it at the beginning, she says: "I found it very easy. I am used to computers, but wasn't used to updating websites. That is, I sometimes had to do it at Opzij (my last job) but that was an extremely complicated system. I am also webmaster for a Joomla site and I find Joomla terrible." [Joomla is an alternative CMS to WordPress]

Frieda spends about half an hour twice a month adding news items and links to her home page. She updates her home page most frequently but has edited all the pages at different times. She is comfortable adding photos and uploading pdf documents. With extra instructions she has been able to add new pages to the main navigation.

In conclusion, Frieda is enthusiastic, saying: "I would certainly recommend WordPress!"

Last updated October 2014