Ask an average IT manager how much a web content manager for a corporate structure should cost and you’ll hear numbers ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars but as with everything the internet has brought us, it took a 24 year old from Houston Texas to do it right.
Matthew Mullenweg, founder of Automattic created the WordPress blogging package as a simple and easy to use solution to a fairly complicated problem … how can you let non technical people maintain their own web pages. In truth, WordPress started out as a tool for blogging but it quickly evolved to become one of the great content managers for powering business websites. Best of all, it’s still free.
Personally blogging websites have been using Automattic’s WordPress for the past few years and with the newest version the corporate world has finally figured out that this free, open source package can complete the same tasks as a high budget commercial CMS tool. In fact, the tool easily handles search engine optimization, portal development, content management, response systems and permissions based reading.
WordPress claims the tool can be installed in as little as five minutes, it’s more fair to say that in the hands of a skilled (or semi skilled) web master, the tool can be installed in under five minutes. Matt has done a wonderful job of simplifying the process and his trademark wit, charm and sense of humor can be found throughout the install process.
Installing WordPress is done in five simple steps.
Download the most recent version of the software from the free website
Upload the archive contents to your web server
Setup a database capable of supporting your WordPress installation
Using your web browser, follow the onscreen instructions
WordPress lets the site administer create multiple users, from editors and contributors who are capable of editing content to end users or other administrators. Using the various user profiles, the administrator can control who can post, edit, reply or delete posts and pages created in the manager.
On a technical note, WordPress requires a web server running PHP and MySQL which allow the tool to be used on both Windows and Linux web servers. The tool is released under the GNU GPL (General Public License).
The WordPress manager is very good and features an exceptionally strong design with careful attention paid to the user interface. This alone makes WordPress easier to use than the average CMS. It’s an intuitive design with commonly accessed features found along the top and a hierarchal menu designed to make accessing subsections straight forward.
The default installation of WordPress supports powerful blog settings such as trackback and pingback which allow blogs to communicate with each other and notify other blogs of recently posted content. This is a great feature when combined with the WordPress Dashboard since it allows business owners to see who is linking to articles found on the site.
WordPress uses an advanced Theme system to allow corporate web masters to create stunning, customized websites and since they’re based entirely on PHP the Themes can be customized to look (and act) however the team needs. WordPress has thousands of free templates available online. Using WordPress Theme’s an effective web team can publish thousands of pages of content under an existing theme and then update it to a new theme simply by adding the theme to the server.
Plug ins allow the WordPress system to be expanded with the bare minimum amount of effort, users will find that the WordPress community has already created thousands of free plug ins to help WordPress communicate with other websites, business applications and news services.
Christopher Ross is a web technologist and a writer living in Fredericton, Canada. When he’s not building websites, he’s taking photos, writing about the web and trying to communicate with his dog.