I never thought it would happen but it has, I have officially fallen in love with WordPress.  Yes, those of you around me that have been talking about how great it is, can now sit back and revel in fact that I am finally admitting it.  I wave my little white flag as I type.  My obsession has gotten so bad that, perhaps I need to start a WP Anonymous group.  I know there are others of you are out there, enthusiastically popping into the back-end of your admin panel, seeing what other exciting plugins and new widgets you can add to your site.

Until recently, I have poopooed the idea of using anything but an incredibly robust content management system, or better yet, a site built from scratch, to create a website.  Although, I still feel that developing a specialized CMS or a fully customized website is incredibly important for most businesses, it is not always necessary for the average Joe.  Perhaps you are a local cover band that plays in the area, you want a website with a few pages to let people know you exist and you want to keep them informed on upcoming gigs.  Or maybe you are planning your wedding and want your friends and family members to be involved in all the glorious details.  WordPress can help you get sites like these published quickly and easily.  So why do I heart WordPress, let me count the ways…

WordPress Templates & Themes

There are a plethora of templates for WordPress, many of which incorporate well designed layouts and intuitive navigational structures.  On top of that, some of the new WordPress templates are created to look more and more like “real” websites and less and less like blogs.  This was the main reason I stayed away from WordPress for so long; I did not want my site to look like a blog.  With companies like Photocrati and Eyebeam creating unique website-like templates, you are sure to find something that will work for you.  All templates are fully customizable, and the PHP and HTML can be edited to your desired look and feel.  There are even programs that enable you to create your own WordPress template, if you feel so inclined.

WordPress Simple Interface

One of the best features of WordPress is the user-friendly control panel, referred to as The Dashboard.  Components are organized into sections including:

Finding features is a snap.  You can quickly and easily add pages and blog posts to your website with a single click.  The media library offers a quick way to upload files and add keyword enriched captions, descriptions, and titles.  External links can be organized by categories and modified to include link hover descriptions, link relationships, and images.  New comments are flagged on the WordPress Dashboard for immediate moderation.  Themes and widgets are managed in one place and plugins are installed or uninstalled by simply clicking activate/deactivate.  You can manage your users, update their profiles, change their administration level, or deactivate their accounts.  The clean and intelligent layout of The WordPress Dashboard makes updating, upgrading, and general site management almost effortless.

WordPress Plugins Let You Customize

Once you have found a suitable template, you can customize your site by adding Plugins.  As an open source platform, WordPress currently offers over 8,000 plugins; a number which continues to grow on a daily basis.  Plugins range from, data back-up tools like the WP-DBManager to robust spam protectors like Akismet, which comes standard when you install WordPress.

Some of my personal favorites include the NextGenGallery, a fully integrated WordPress photo gallery plugin that incorporates a slide show viewer, Google Analytics for WordPress so you can research what is driving traffic to your site, Thank Me Later, a friendly plugin that sends a customized email to all first-time visitors, and WP Polls, so you can survey and question your community.  WordPress Plugins are what permit you to make your website uniquely your own.

WordPress Widgets and Sidebars

WordPress widgets are tools that configure your blog sidebar without having to change the code on your theme.  By dragging and dropping, you can add and remove these with ease.  Widgets can be designed to match your theme, organized into a hierarchy, and changed at any time to maximize the use of the sidebar on your blog posts.  Visual elements like videos and images can be added to the side bar or inside a blog post itself.  Like Plugins, adding Word press widgets is an exciting way to dive into your site to see what works for you.

WordPress is SEO and SMM Friendly

Once you have created your site, the next step is to make sure searchers can find your site.  SEO and SMM WordPress plugins, are key to making your site visible to the web crawlers and socially accommodating for your website viewers.

Fully integrated link management includes the control of permalinks.  These can be optimized to create user-friendly and search engine friendly url’s for both your pages and blog posts.  Blog posts can be assigned categories which enable you to group your blog posts by topics.  These are enhanced by tags, individual words or phrases that boost the content of the blog post.  WordPress plugins like All in One SEO Pack and HeadSpace 2, fine tunes the search engine friendliness of your blog posts or pages.  These plugins generate meta tags automatically, optimize titles, allows for the usage of keywords and descriptions, and prevent duplicate content.  They are fully functional when installed but can also be fine-tuned to your needs.  SEO Smart Links, gives you the power to inter-link your articles within your website using keywords with matching url’s.  Interlinking enhances your website for your users all while beefing up your SEO.

Social WordPress plugins, are important tools for broadening your reach and empowering your readers to engage and connect with you.  The Sociable plugin is a great way to share your posts with your readers.  This simple plugin adds links of your favorite social bookmarking sites to your posts.  You can choose from almost 100 social media sites, although I would suggest picking the top 5 so you don’t overwhelm your viewers.  The Tell a Friend plugin adds a, share this post button to your posts, so readers can pass that great content you wrote onto their friends and family.

WordPress is smart when it comes to SEO and SMM management, and finding the right tools to optimize your website and blog posts is just a plugin away.

WordPress How To, Tutorials, and Forums

Like most software platforms on the internet, when you get stuck, you can find a way to come unglued.  WordPress itself has a flourishing forum where you can post questions and find answers to your technical dilemmas.  In addition, places like WordPresstutorials.com or Siteground.com, have a multitude of WordPress tutorials, including how to install a WordPress theme, how to upgrade WordPress, and so much more.  These informative sites can show you how to get the most out of WordPress.

Do You Heart WordPress Too

Since its inception in 2003, WordPress has become a cutting-edge publishing platform that makes site development accessible to everyone.  No offense to my friends over at Oxclove Workshop, but with this kind of power, I would say web developers will soon become the dinosaurs of the internet.  Okay, I know, get real, we still need you to program and develop the “big sites”, build all those fantastic plugins and create fancy “website looking” templates for use with WordPress.

Admission is the first step towards recovery.  Now that I have admitted my WordPress addiction, I invite readers to share their WordPress experiences with us.

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