Best self-hosted CMS

WordPress.org blogging
4.9
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Free/open source
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WordPress.org Reviews

Introduction

What do TED, Flickr, The New York Times, Boing Boing, the Chicago Bulls, BBC America, Beyonce, The New Yorker, Vogue, The Rolling Stones, and thousands of other people have in common? They all made their official blogs and sites with WordPress.org. Launched in 2003, it doesn’t need any introduction except the long list of sites using it today and the fact that it powers almost one-quarter of the web. Just don’t confuse this open-source CMS and hosted blogging software WordPress.com, here is the comparison video.

Main features

 

Launch process

Many hosting providers offer to handle WordPress setup process automatically with one-click installation, but you should still understand how it works. If you’ve never self-hosted a blog or site before, you should probably study a little about it. This is not your standard blogging signup platform that will take care of everything. Before installing WordPress, you need to choose which hosting company you will use and check out if it meets minimum requirements for the WordPress CMS.

After that, you will need to upload WordPress to your hosting account using one-click or manual installation process. If you’ve never done it before and don’t know where to start, read our step-by-step instructions. After you’ve successfully installed the software, all you need is to login to the dashboard and you are ready to use it.

Don’t forget that you will need to update the WordPress system yourself with each new release (or you can setup automatic updates), this can be done with the simple click of the button. Watch this video and learn how.

User friendliness and the dashboard

The best part of (almost any) open source software is that you can customize it in any way that you want. You get a good frame that you can easily navigate through, but you can upgrade your site in every aspect you want. Inside the dashboard (watch a video overview), you will find sections such as pages, posts, plugins, design elements and themes to name just a few, and you can create a site or a blog in no time. Every feature will be present inside the dashboard, but you will need to learn how to use it. There is a learning curve, but if you can get through upload and installation, it will be easy to digest.

Themes and tools

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see what you like after you’ve just installed the WordPress. What you will get is a pre-installed theme that was selected (Twenty Fifteen in this case), but you can browse through thousands of free themes available on WordPress.org. You can also search the internet and find numerous markets with free or premium WordPress themes. You can upload any theme you found. However, you will need to download it first and then upload files into the right place. If you want to learn how, watch this video. Bear in mind that paid themes usually have more customizable options, so choose accordingly to your needs.

Storage, reliability, and uptime

When it comes to self-hosting there isn’t much to say. Storage room, reliability, and uptime have no relation to WordPress, but to your choice of hosting provider. There are many options out there, so you should choose according to your abilities. Since WordPress is one of the industry standards, there is a very slim chance that you will find a host that doesn’t offer it. However, you should ask before you buy any hosting plans. When it comes to updating your software keep in mind that it is your duty, so beware of host and program updates that could cause potential problems with your site and blog.

Help and support

Although you are on your own to take care of your WordPress site or blog, you will have a lot of support materials from the community. Like we’ve already mentioned, this software is a system of choice for a lot of sites and blogs on the internet, and it is open-source. Made by the (developer) community for the community. There are many third party forums (discussions online), taking care of each and every bug or glitch that could happen. If something does not work, somebody already solved it, or will very soon. But there is also plenty of official help. There is official support page where you can find forums, knowledge base and also a code reference part, where you can go even deeper.

Advanced features

 

Hosting and pricing options

Just like with storage room, reliability, and uptime, there isn’t much to say. Hosting is your responsibility and there are a lot of companies offering different packages with numerous prices (you have to pay for the domain name and hosting plan in subscription basis). The good news is that WordPress software is open-source and totally free, so there will be no additional costs on that side, even when there are upgrades. Yes, all upgrades are also free, so the only worry you will have is how to install it and for that, you can use our one-click instructions.

Content management

From a content management standpoint, there are no flaws. All of your basics are covered and the interface is user-friendly. From posts and comments management, over media and pages, you will also have ability to customize appearance, plugins, users, tools and settings. However, compared to WordPress.com plans, you are getting an equivalent of free plan – although many of the features WordPress.com charges for are effectively unlocked in the .org system since you can edit your own code as desired.

HTML and CSS knowledge

It’s meant that you won’t need any HTML and CSS knowledge. But it would help if you are up to speed with some of the HTML and CSS basics since you will be your own webmaster. Some plugins and widgets customization might require that you know what are you doing. On the bright side, it isn’t that hard to learn. WordPress sites have the accessible technology, so you won’t have to worry much about their display on various devices and browsers.

Promotion and monetization

A major benefit is that WordPress structure is a search engine friendly mechanism. And right from the start, your site or blog will be optimized to the best SEO practices, even if you don’t install any additional SEO plugins (which are available for free). Search engines love WordPress and vice versa.

Although it was not originally built as an e-commerce platform, and there are no built-in solutions there are numerous theme designs and plugins that integrate very nicely with all sorts of commerce solutions. After you master some basic installation processes, finding and installing e-commerce options will be easy. Although it is open-source software, everything is quite secure, so you won’t need to worry.

Pros

  • professional and easily navigable dashboard
  • open source and free
  • reliable
  • versatile and customizable
  • thousands of plugins
  • owning your own content

 

Cons

  • taking care of hosting yourself
  • not for beginners that have zero coding experience
  • the learning curve for installations

 

Conclusion

WordPress.org is something you should be familiar with and at least, try it once. There are good reasons it is one of the most popular choices when it comes to managing your blog or site. It has a learning curve and it will take some time to learn it, but that is the cost of having a professional site or blog. Having said that, there is one thing that you won’t get with most of the blogging platforms, and that is 100% ownership of your content. In the long run, it will probably be the biggest benefit than with free hosted solutions. You will have great freedom and customization options are virtually limitless. If you are a casual blogger that doesn’t need an e-commerce solution, there are other options, but if you are taking your business/brand/yourself seriously, you must invest time in this. WordPress started as a blogging platform and has grown into a CMS, but in its core, it is still a blogging platform.

 

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