I enjoyed my fling with WordPress.com but that affair came to a quick end. Don’t get me wrong it really has it advantages. Being completely free, it proved itself to be a great introduction to WordPress by the people who know the most about it.
Setting up my site was fun but I came to wondering a couple of things. Firstly how do I get the domain I currently own to work with it and, secondly how do I use all those plugins people talk about that can make your WordPress site into something special with little effort?
As it turns out the answer to the first question is a simple “that will be £9 please”. In an effort to make a little money out of people using WordPress.com for free, is to charge for the little things of course. They actually stop you from redirecting to your site with domain forwarding unless you pony up for the extra domain mapping option. All the extra options are available in the shop section that sits in the dashboard of site created in WordPress.com. I was tempted but the second question I had, was the one point that made me look elsewhere.
Plugins can make a WordPress site into a great WordPress site. There are so many to choose from and can add all sorts of functionality, from favicons to eCommerce. The problem with plugins is there is just so many to choose from. You do need to start looking around the internet for advice on the best ones. Fortunately WordPress.org has a great section on plugins and sorts them by most popular. The good thing WordPress.com sites is that there are preloaded with some of the most useful ones, including Jetpack. That plugin adds lots of general admin improvements including social networking support. But the basic free site option simply does not allow you to use download and install plugins. I can’t even see a mention of them in the premium level which is £70 for the year.
Well my budget is modest to going on almost non-existent. I also simply don’t like spending money unless I need to. If I can save some great. What of course I really dread is finding an even better deal after I’ve taken the plunge. You know what I know mean right?
So with a little searching I came across the offer on GoDaddy. With a whole years hosting and a free domain for little under £10. It seems a bit of a bargain. Of course that won’t be the cost the year after at £5 a month plus vat. We’ll cross that bridge later. But it would still be cheaper and more useful that the WordPress.com option.
The set-up was amazing simple. Just like the WordPress.com set-up. Just nicer to watch as they have some impressive little graphics telling you what’s going on as it sets up. Cloud based servers just make everything so simple these days. The other option is to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) which takes a little bit more setting up. But is certainly more flexible. GoDaddy’s default WordPress set-up is very good and if you don’t like some of the defaults then of course you can change it later. They do try and help you setup your site as quickly and as painlessly as possible. The old days of setting up servers is something best left to hobbyist’s these days I think.
With my new site up and running it was an easy job to export the contents of the old site and import it to my new one with the option in the Tools menu. A theme supplied with the GoDaddy installation was nice enough to use and also has its own extra set-up and customization settings. I should also mention that the importer is a plugin.
Now I could experiment with other plugins. Jetpack was the first of course. That made the two sites look very similar in administration. So what I learnt from my first site, was put to use here. Followed by a Acurex Social Media Icon. Which you can see at the top of right hand column. It had an option to float them around the screen. Can’t say I thought that was useful. Another nice plugin is ImageInject which can help make you’re posts pretty by finding and inserting images you may find relevant to your post. Staight into the post, nice and easy.
I did notice that there was no favicon to the site as was created on my old site. Searching for help on this you get suggestions for how to create one and then where to copy the files so it appears on you site. Or you could use the plugin Real Favicon Generator, which did the job and then some. It can also make the best favicon for the platform your user is viewing your site from. Android and even Retina displays on iPhone’s and iPad’s. So you’re site needs that little extra you think is missing? There’s a plugin for that.
My next step in the WordPress universe is to create my own themes and plugins. That’s an interesting project for my software developer side. Now that most of the grunt work is done by WordPress. Cool.