This week’s Lowdown for The Production Office was part two of our look at blogs and blogging, this time focused on WordPress – the internet’s most powerful blogging tool.

THE TWO TYPES OF WORDPRESS

So WordPress comes in two forms: wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
The .com side is the simplest and easiest, web-based version of the the WordPress system. It’s by no means as powerful as the other side, but it does everything you want an entry-level blogging platform to do, including offer a huge number of themes or skins to deck your blog out and an array of widgets you can apply to your blog to include your Twitter stream etc. All you have to do is to is go to the site, think of a name, register and you’re away.

WordPress.org is the complicated side of WordPress that requires a little more knowledge and dedication, but you can learn everything you need to know about it from the WordPress website or by using a Google search.

HOSTING
First things first, you need to find a webhost that supports the software and to buy a domain name for it. There’s all kinds of places you can find decent web hosting, but the WordPress site itself offers some options. Or you can try HostGator or a personal favourite of mine, NoWhereLand, which is run by a friend of mine who offers great rates and totally unrivalled support in case you have any problems.

INSTALLATION
Next up, go to WordPress.org and follow their “five minute” install instructions. They’re quite technical, but actually perfectly easy if you follow them step-by-step. Once you’ve installed WordPress on your host’s servers, you can access everything you need via the online dashboard, which is similar to the wordpress.com dashboard but with many more options.

THE LOOK
Then you’re going to want to go looking for a theme. Hit Google with “free wordpress themes” and you’ll get a load of quick results with an array of themes that you can then import into your wordpress. I’d advise going for one that’s been designed as “search engine optimized” as you then don’t need to worry about that side of things too much.

CODING & DESIGN
Once you’ve found a theme you like, you can either throw it up on the site and start adding your content or – and this is the best bit of WordPress – you can go learn the basics of HTML and PHP and start fiddling about with the look of your site.

Unless you’re an utter programming genius (or can afford to pay one), I wouldn’t recommend building your wordpress site form scratch, although you can. Much better to take a theme that’s close to what you’re after and adapt it to what you want from it – that’s what I’ve done with all the sites I’ve created with wordpress, including this one.

WIDGETS & PLUGINS
Next on your list of to-do’s on wordpress is going to be installing your widgets and plug-ins. We talked a little about widgets for blogs last time, which you can catch up with by watching back the last live show, or my previous post.

Plugins are extensions created by people independently of WordPress, so it is worth being a little careful with them, but usually the user reviews and star ratings are a good guideline. There are plugins for just about anything under the sun – if you can think of it, chances are a Google search or WordPress search will find something that’ll do it for you.

That’s a VERY quick run down of WordPress to get you started, but by far teh best thing for anyone to do is simply to go and try it. Get an account and see what you can do with it.

As Chris would say, onwards and upwards!

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