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Wordpress sites: the lowdown.

by  David Dwyer on  06/05/2015

There are millions of Wordpress sites (in February 2014 there were 74,652,825); in fact, roughly 24% of all websites use Wordpress.  Some of them are hosted by Wordpress.com, the rest are downloaded from Wordpress.org and hosted elsewhere.

If you didn't know there were two Wordpresses, you're not alone.  Wordpress.com is the "we take care of everything, including hosting" version, and Wordpress.org is the "download it, customise it and find a host for it" version.  Both have hundreds of themes to choose from, free and paid.

Wordpress.com started as a bloggers' site and has grown; you can now add any of 34,000 plugins, for everything from search engine optimisation to generating random song lyrics.  You can create and use a Wordpress.com site with no programming skills, but they are quite limited in what you can do with them in terms of design.

 Wordpress.org sites do need programming skills.  They're more flexible, so you can add your company branding or whatever, but you have to know what you're doing. 

There are drawbacks to using Wordpress.  The chief one is security.  Given the number of people who use it, it's hardly surprising that a few are malicious and nasty.  And because Wordpress is easy to use, it's easy to hack.  Wordpress is very aware of this and issue updates, and finally deprecate (i.e. retire) versions, regularly.  But they can issue all the alerts in the world, and some people won't listen: apparently only 22% of Wordpress sites are up to date.  [Those will be the ones that have regular input from people like us, then.]

Updates are crucial, but they can cause problems with your site: things stop working or they don't look how they should.  Unless you know what you're doing, that makes life difficult.  A professional developer will be on the alerts mailing list (Inspire IT is) and make sure your site is updated quickly.  But some developers update sites while they're live, which means that if something goes wrong, you're in worse trouble than before. 

We don't do that: we go through a process called "release management".  We take a copy of your site, leaving the original up so you don't lose business.  We put the copy on our test server, update everything and replace any necessary files.  Then we assess it, fix any problems, re-check, and finally go live with the clean version. 

Release management is a process I have followed right from my days with Aviva, it's not only best practice but avoids stress and business disruption. Our Active Developer SOS service fixes websites on four continents, and not just for our own clients.  So even if whoever developed your site can't sort it out, we almost certainly can.

We know a lot about other ways to build websites too - I'll cover them in future posts.  Our goal is "Apple design quality with Fisher-Price simplicity". 

And remember if you've got a broken website and no-one else can help then just like the A-Team we're here to help.

David Dwyer is Managing Director of Inspire Web Development. He has years of experience in a range of web and IT roles plus seven years in sales and marketing in a blue-chip FMCG company. David’s academic and professional qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Business Economics (Personnel & Ergonomics) from the University of Paisley, an MSc in Information Technology (Systems) from Heriot-Watt University and PRINCE2 Practitioner-level certification. He is also an active member of the British Computer Society, Entrepreneurial Exchange and Business for Scotland.


Follow Inspire on Twitter @inspireltd and @developersos


Content Management, Developer SOS, Inspire Web Development, Inspire Web Services, Security, Server, User eXperience, UX Design, Web Consultancy, Web Design, Website Management, Website Support, Wordpress
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