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Building a website with a Content Management System (CMS) is an increasingly popular option for small business owners who value versatility and simplicity. And one of the most powerful and well-known CMS applications on the market today is WordPress.

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Why Choose WordPress Hosting?

WordPress is, like its many competitors, template-based. You simply choose a theme you like, customize it, and voila—you're up and running. And with a wide variety of plug-ins, add-ons, themes, and widgets to provide customization, you can use WordPress to create just about any kind of site you can imagine. This versatile software is used by millions to create eCommerce sites, social communities, blogs, and corporate websites around the world

The application is available as a free download from Wordpress.org, or as a one-click install from many hosting providers' Web control panels. If you choose the latter method, you can usually have the basic framework of your new WordPress site up and running in just a few minutes. Manual installations are a bit trickier, but if you've got a Web administrator or your hosting provider has a strong support service, you should still be able to get your site up relatively quickly.

The WordPress application is free, and so shouldn't add any additional costs to your monthly hosting (unless you purchase custom themes, premium plug-ins, etc.). Remember, though, that any additional features you add to your site via plug-ins or add-ons also consume resources like bandwidth. If you've got a big photo gallery, lots of media files you're sharing, or large databases for eCommerce, be sure to budget accordingly and pick a plan that fits your needs.

You can also get hosting for free directly from WordPress.com, but keep in mind that you'll have limited control over your WordPress installation, design options, and plug-ins unless you choose to upgrade your plan or buy additional services.

Why Choose WordPress Hosting?

Small businesses are particularly into WordPress because it's simple and versatile. It can do a lot, but you don't need to have a lot of technical knowledge to get started. WordPress offers SEO-friendly URLs, RSS feeds, post categories, sticky pages and media, and the interface is suitable for non-technical writers who can contribute towards the content any time. Posts and pages can be queued, scheduled, moderated and password-protected.

WordPress is based around templates, so edits are fast and easy. Its vast template library offers thousands of options for layouts, and WordPress is designed to accommodate endless tweaking and customisation. With only basic knowledge of coding, you can adapt a theme to do exactly what you need it to do.

The WordPress plugin repository contains additional bolt-ons that can be added to WordPress to increase its functionality. Almost every WordPress site has a couple of plugins installed; some use dozens. Plugins can be switched on and off as they're required.

How to Install

WordPress is available as a zipped download from Wordpress.org, or as a one-click install from many hosting providers' web control panels. If you choose to use a one-click installer, your new WordPress site will be ready to use within just a few minutes. Manual installations are a bit trickier, but if you've got a web administrator (or your hosting provider has a good support service), you should still be able to get your site up relatively quickly.

What Does It Cost?

The WordPress application itself is free, and it won't normally require any changes to your hosting package, assuming you have a standard package. There are ample free themes and plugins to get you started. In fact, many businesses set up their websites without spending a penny on the WordPress platform.

If you choose to purchase premium add-ons for WordPress, these will incur a fee. Some premium themes and plugins cost a few dollars, or can be downloaded in return for a donation. Others cost hundreds of dollars a year. As a beginner user, it's highly unlikely you'll need to spend any money on these items, since they're aimed at more advanced users.

Like any site, a WordPress site is going to consume bandwidth, and over time, it will grow. The more content and media you have, and the more plugins you use, the more likely it is that your resource needs will increase. Your hosting plan should accommodate your growing site without incurring overage fees. In the beginning, shared hosting will be fine for most WordPress site, but some hosts will ask you to upgrade your plan if your site outgrows the shared hosting model. If you run an ecommerce site, or a business site, you'll probably want to upgrade eventually for other reasons.

Alternative Set-Ups

You can get hosting for a WordPress blog free, directly from WordPress.com. However, by using WordPress' own hosting, you'll have limited control over your WordPress installation. You won't be free to tweak themes so extensively, and you will be limited to certain plugins that are pre-installed. Breaking free of these limitations will attract an additional cost.

WordPress Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Essential components are free
  • Scales up easily
  • Intuitive interface
  • Easy to install
  • Runs on almost any hosting platform

Cons:

Points to Remember

WordPress isn't a site builder. You can get a site up and running within a few minutes if you use a one-click installer, or a day or so with a manual install. However, getting the look and feel in place can take longer. If you're a novice, you'll need to learn on your feet, unless you pay for a managed WordPress hosting service.

Server Requirements

WordPress requires PHP version 5.2.4 or higher, and MySQL version 5.0 or higher. Your host must also support mod_rewrite, which is an Apache module that can change the appearance of a URL dynamically. Your host will be able to tell you if their hosting is suitable; most hosting is perfectly adequate.

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