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WordPress.org

The WordPress site has two faces: WordPress.com (see our article about it) and WordPress.org. The .com version has free and paid versions of the software that the Wordpress folks host and run for you. The .org site allows you to download the WordPress software and install it on your own hosting account and customize it yourself. Is it any cheaper than the .com version? Not really. The software's free but you have to rent space on hosting company's servers. This runs about $8 per month for a descent service. So why run your own copy of WordPress? One word: flexibility. The .com version of WordPress has offers its users limited choices of templates and add-ons. It's limited by what the WordPress.com folks can support. The fewer choices they offer their customers, the easier their support job. Truth be told, they do offer a much larger range of templates and plugins than they used to. But it's still rather limited. If you want to really customize your WordPress-powered site, you'll need to host your own. There are other considerations as well. 

I've seen some really pretty custom WordPress themes. But these are kinda pricy. If you're wanting a 100% custom theme, expect to pay a one-time fee of about $1500. Most people choose a theme that's close to what they want and hire someone to recolor it, add new graphics and customize it to their needs. This can be done for about $500. 

The next consideration is that you have to update your WordPress software yourself, as opposed to the good people at WordPress.com doing it for you. As software updates go, WordPress is one of the easiest software packages to update. When you log in to the administrator side, you'll see that updates are available and it's a simple one-click update. Get used to it. WordPress is known for frequent software updates. 

WordPress has somewhat of a reputation for being a security headache. This is somewhat unjustified. WordPress itself isn't particularly better or worse than most other software packages as far as security goes. Where many of the security holes come in is through plugins. What's a plug-in? It's a bit of software you can install in WordPress to extend its functionality. It may be as simple as displaying the current weather, or a twitter feed up to complete e-commerce systems. These plugins are generally written by third-party developers who have no direct affiliation with WordPress. They're either free or low-cost. Herein lies the problem. These third party developers may not be as aware of security best practices as you'd like. Or they may write a nice piece of software and offer it up to the community then move on to other persuits and not maintain it as they should and fix bugs in it. 

Homework

Look through the plugins availble for WordPress.

Would you want your website to have any of these pieces of functionality? 

Is this functionality available from a Wordpress.com site?

If you need it and Wordpress.com doesn't offer it, you may have to host your own. 

 

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