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Beyond The Blog: Wordpress And Websites

If you’ve ever written a blog (or even seen one), you’re probably familiar with WordPress. After all, according to the site, it’s “the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.”

The term “blog” (and its longer form, “web log”) was coined in the ‘90s to describe an online diary. Numerous online communities (like Blogger and LiveJournal) cropped up, allowing everyday users to start free personal blogs. There were few options, however, when it came to hosting your work on your own server with your own domain name. 

In 2003, 19-year-old developer Matt Mullenweg and co-founder Mike Little released the first version of WordPress (as seen in Photo 1), an open source program that enabled users to create and customize pages with thousands of widgets, plug-ins, and themes. Although its bells and whistles were attractive to many, it was really the site’s “five minute installation” that caused its popularity to skyrocket.

Another key element to its popularity is the fact that, over the years, the site has become a highly versatile platform for a wide variety of content-rich websites. Premium themes have taken WordPress beyond blogging into the realm of full content management systems—with more options, advanced capabilities, and a sophisticated look.

Tens of thousands of premium themes are available for as little as $1—on sites like ThemeForest, a marketplace for developers (as seen in Photo 2); WooThemes, a subscription-based provider of exclusive themes; and Premium WordPress, a news and listing service of popular themes and plug-ins available around the web. 

Many free themes also offer premium-quality designs and extended customization options—on sites such as Adventure Journal, Arras, and NewsPress.

In addition to acting as fully functional content-driven websites, a variety of themes exist to serve other purposes, as well.

  • There are themes that mimic high-end print magazines, featuring clean, white layouts begging to be filled with articles, headlines, graphics, and photos.
  • Some sites (like recipe sharing destination Tasty Kitchen) operate as interactive communities, filled with user-generated content.
  • Photo album and art portfolio themes are perfect for creative professionals (like fine artist Larry Roibal and web design company iDesign Studios), who want to showcase their work online.
  • Homegrown radio and TV “stations” cater to podcasters, talk show hosts, and subject matter experts (like stock trader Timothy Sykes).
  • Celebrity sites built on WordPress platforms are as plentiful as paparazzi (including those of singer Tom Jones, actor Sylvester Stallone, and athlete Kobe Bryant), and are replete with photos, press clippings, and even online stores that sell swag to fans.

To take away the “blog” feel, there are themes that disable the ability to leave comments, as well as ones that list permalinks without the date. Other options include having a static home page (rather than a listing of the latest posts) and using page templates that create distinct looks and unique headers and footers on different pages.

For step-by-step instructions on how to go from readymade to robust, check out these great tutorials: