I got my domain names from Network Solutions years ago. And recently, when it came time to put up my site, it was only natural that I signed up for their hosting service, and then I loaded up WordPress. Unfortunately, for $19 per month, it would take 10 to 20 seconds to load my initial one page site. I confirmed this with others around the US, in addition to using mon.itor.us which would constantly report the site was down. (It wasn’t, it was just absurdly slow.) Yes, I had the W3 Total Cache Plug-In enabled.
That started my search for a fast, reliable host that everyone seems to trust. After too much time and effort, I still don’t really know. But then I found what I was looking for by a happy accident.
One day there was a contest on Facebook and I won a free ticket to the WordCamp San Diego conference thanks to the nice people at WebDevStudios.com. My first WordCamp was an eye-opening experience!
I learned that WordPress is the most popular blogging software out there. Most of the attendees were making a living setting up sites for clients using WordPress. An important thing I learned was that while WordPress.org provides the free open-source software which you can load up on any hosting service (which is what I did on Network Solutions), there’s also WordPress.com which is where you can go to set up a site for free that’s already hosted on their high-performance distributed servers optimized to serve WordPress sites. My search was over.
So I signed up, chose a template, tweaked it a little and, in just a couple of man-days I created all of this.
And when the time comes down the road when I want to move beyond any limitations that WordPress.com imposes, I can move everything I have to a traditional hosted site, comments and all.
If that wasn’t enough, Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress was there for a “town hall” discussion. I got to experience one of the big reasons why WordPress is so excellent. He’s a remarkable person and he makes me think of another super famous CEO we all know and love. Here’s Matt speaking at the recent WordCamp San Francisco that had a record 1000 attendees. It’s a great introduction to everything and well worth watching.
Before I committed to WordPress.com, I tried SquareSpace on the recommendation of Merlin Mann. SquareSpace is very good, but their software feels like you’re wearing handcuffs compared to WordPress. And trying to understand the concepts in order to post my first page was enough of a brain-twister that I told myself “You know what, I’m super busy and I don’t have time for this!” Sorry guys. We love you, but… Since I set SquareSpace aside they’ve had a major update so they deserve to considered.
A year earlier I had tried to understand how to use Joomla and that was absurdly complicated. I tried to use it to set up a site for a business. I never did figure out sections vs. categories, nor could I explain it to the employees. And that’s all I needed to know about the design of that platform. (See my quote about simplicity on my home page.)
Of course, this is just my experience, and everyone else’s will differ. There are tradeoffs and pros and cons with every platform. But I think one thing we can all agree on is that there’s a lot to be said for the ability to get in, quickly get the results you want, and then move on to other things!
WordPress is elegant, beautiful, inspired, flexible, inexpensive, and most importantly, easy to understand and use. It has a surprising number of features arranged in a “progressive disclosure” fashion. There’s a tremendous amount of energy and talent in orbit around it, as well as a thriving ecosystem.
And now for a little humorous but related entertainment. (Thanks to Shawn Blanc).