Q: I want to start a website, but I don’t know how to do it. I’ve heard good things about WordPress, but are there any other options I should consider?
For many, WordPress has become practically synonymous with blogging and for good reason: it’s open source, easy-to-use and extremely flexible. But it’s certainly not the only option. This article will outline a few other platforms you might want to consider for your blogging or website needs.
You’ve likely seen Blogger blogs already (they end in .blogspot.com) but you might not know they’ve recently undergone some major improvements.
Blogger is a service owned by Google which competes with the free-to-use WordPress.com. (This is different from WordPress.org, open-source software you install on your own server space and use with a domain name you have purchased.)
Many used to look down on Blogger for its amateur-looking templates and the minimal amount of customization allowed, but it’s a lot different today. The new Blogger Template Designer tab allows you to customize your blog’s colors, fonts, backgrounds and styles with the click of a button and no coding.
And unlike free-hosted WordPress.com, Blogger allows you to post advertisements on your blog, and thanks to easy integration with Google AdSense, you can easily start earning from your posts.
Overall, most Blogger templates don’t look quite as professional as WordPress, but they’re quickly improving, and Google has big plans for the Blogger service in the future (it’s rumored it will change its name to Google Blogs). Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to get familiar with it now.
In contrast to Blogger, which is most appropriate for personal blogging, Drupal goes all the way in the other direction when compared to WordPress.
It’s a full-blown Content Management System (CMS) with the capability to power large multi-author blogs, company and organizational homepages, forums, and e-commerce websites.
Like WordPress, Drupal is open-source, but it’s more difficult to install if you don’t know what you’re doing. And if you want to do any customization, you will need to learn how to code, including PHP. The base install will also require some additional tweaking if you want to set it up for blogging.
But if your website needs include more than the simple posting of articles, Drupal’s core functions and modules can do a lot more than WordPress.
You’ve also most likely seen Tumblr if you spend much time in the blogosphere. It’s another free-hosted option that makes it easy to “microblog;” that is, quickly and easily post shorter pieces of content that can be text, images, videos, links, quotes, and audio.
The main advantage of Tumblr is the emphasis they put on community. It’s easy to set up your Tumblog to post to your Twitter or Facebook account, and the Tumblr Dashboard itself functions as a social network, as you can follow other users, “heart” your posts, and reblog them if they like what they see.
It doesn’t have nearly as much advanced functionality as WordPress, but if you like sharing brief bits of content in various forms and connecting with a network of other bloggers, then Tumblr might be perfect for you.
Finally, some people throw Dreamweaver into the discussion of the best website platforms, but this isn’t quite an appropriate comparison. Instead of a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal, Dreamweaver is a software program used to design websites. In fact, you could use Dreamweaver to design a WordPress or Drupal theme!
What they usually mean instead is using Dreamweaver to design a static HTML site. While there are a few advantages of this approach—it’s flexible and you don’t have to deal with a MySQL database, for example—the lack of an easy visual editor for adding new content usually makes things much more difficult.
If you only need a few pages on your site and don’t anticipate you’ll be posting anything new, a static HTML site might be appropriate, but you can actually do this easily using static pages in WordPress.
There are plenty more options spanning from free-hosted options to powerful full-blown CMS solutions. Other popular platforms include Joomla, Typepad, Movable Type and Weebly.
Do you use anything other than WordPress? What are your favorite platforms for blogging and website creation?