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WordPress

At a Glance
  • WordPress

    PCWorld Rating

WordPress.com offers versatile and free blog hosting on its own servers, or you can install its open-source code software on your own server. WordPress will let you host a blog on its domain (yourblog.WordPress.com) or use a domain or subdomain (blog.mycompany.com), but currently you cannot add a blog as a subdirectory (mycompany.com/blog).

The service offers more than 50 high-quality templates, and also makes design changes to those templates simple. It's easy to upload a custom header image, and you can choose from a small selection of sidebar widgets to drag and drop onto your blog design. The widgets are limited, however, to items approved by WordPress.com, meaning you can't embed third-party JavaScript-based widgets or news feeds. Custom modification of CSS templates is possible, but that feature costs $15 per year.

WordPress uses a homegrown comment-spam prevention system called Akismet that works remarkably well without the need for visual CAPTCHA challenge-response tests. Posting through the Web form is a straightforward process, but the interface uses text buttons rather than icons, which may throw off users who don't know to click, for example, the 'b-quote' (blockquote) button to indicate that they are quoting another source. Image uploading is not intuitive, but it is fairly uncomplicated once you figure out the process. WordPress offers 50MB of image storage, substantially less than Blogger allows.

The posting page has only one view, a mixture of WYSIWIG and HTML code, which works well enough. A dictionary lookup is available for individual words, but WordPress doesn't offer an inline spelling checker. You also get no way to preview an entry before publishing, which can be frustrating when you want to decide whether a page is ready for posting or needs more editing.

Other features include an API that lets you use third-party software such as Google Docs to post, as well as the ability to blog through a mobile device. Post and comment management is robust, and includes a unique search feature. WordPress nails some of the smaller (yet still important) things too, such as continuous autosaving, the ability to add categories as you write a post, and the ability to import from other blogging sites. WordPress also stands out by making it simple to create static pages with the software. (Static pages do not have to be updated and always look the same.) This option makes the software a robust content management system through which you can post custom photo galleries or FAQs as easily as you can a blog entry.

As for drawbacks, posting videos from Google or YouTube requires you to edit the embed codes. You cannot put ads anywhere on your blog, and the software crawls when uploading large images or a video.

WordPress is a great option for people looking to host a blog on their own domain for free. It also has a very dedicated set of users who contribute code to the product and answer questions in its forums. If you want to make money from blogging, however, you should look elsewhere for a hosted offering that allows ads, or find one of the many hosting providers that will install the full WordPress software on their servers.

Ryan Singel

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Offers 50 blog templates

    Cons

    • Software slows when uploading video
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