Web development is big business, it is used to develop websites and online applications, every time you browse the internet you are using multiple examples of “web development” even this website you’re reading right now used web development to get it online!
Although the terms are often used together, or in place of each other, web development should not be confused with web design, likewise, search engine optimisation, whilst linked, is not the same. – web design is the art of physically designing a website, the images and the look of the website, whilst the web development part of the process puts the website together and makes it work. Search engine optimisation does what it says – optimises the website for search engines, to encourage better rankings.
Do you use Google or Bing to search for the answer to questions, or to find a website covering a topic you’re interested in? If so, you’re reaping the rewards of thousands of hours of web development time, not only the website itself, but the workings behind the scenes, the databases, the scripts and the calculations that take place in order to serve you the most relevant accurate results possible all take place because of web development.
Ever used a website to find out when your favourite game is being released, or to organise matches with friends, or even play in Online Fifa Leagues? Those websites have had countless hours of development put into them too!
If you’re an amatuer when it comes to web development, there are many systems out there which take out all of the hard work – one such system is WordPress (this website is built using WordPress). With thousands of pre-built themes, and plugins to add any functionality you could think of, you can have a website up and running out of the box within a couple of hours from start to finish.
If you choose to build a website using WordPress you have a choice to make – WordPress.org or WordPress.com. What’s the difference? I hear you ask!
Simply put, WordPress.com is slightly simpler to use, however, it is a hosted solution, you will need to host your website over on WordPress.com and if you wish to use a domain name you own, you’ll need to pay them extra. Some plugins are included for free, as are a selection of themes, however if you wish to use custom plugins or themes you would need to pay extra again.
WordPress.org can be used on any webhost (as long as it supports the minumum requirements – PHP 5.6 and MySQL 5.6, we strongly recommend that mod_rewrite is also supported) and has no restrictions on which plugins or themes can be used, you will also be encouraged to use a custom domain name as with any standalone hosting, so you will not be stuck with the WordPress.com domain.
Should you decide to go with WordPress.com and switch to WordPress.org down the line, you should note that whilst moving your posts and images is easy enough, it’s trickier to move custom themes and plugins, and you may need to manually install these and configure them to look like your old WordPress.com hosted website.
So you’ve chosen WordPress as your website’s platform – either .com or .org, you now need to install a theme (or go with the default!) and add your content.
WordPress has 2 main content types, “pages” and “posts”. I’ll quickly explain the differences between the two so you can decide which is more suitable for your requirements.
A page in WordPress is basically what it says on the tin, we generally use these for the main pages such as About us, Contact Us, Home etc – these are static pages and would not show up in a blog or news feed.
Posts should be used for news style content, for example announcements, industry news, random musings, all of your posts will show up on your “posts” page in a blog style format, you can then click on these posts to read the full post.
Once you’ve added your posts and pages, your theme, and any plugins you wish to use, your basic website is complete, the actual web development involved was minimal, but why is this?
Well quite simply, the majority of the development work itself has been done by the team of coders who work on the WordPress core, WordPress themes and WordPress plugins – if you needed some form of custom functionality then you would need to get into the real gritty side of web development – writing custom code, and that is certainly a lot less achievable than setting up a basic WordPress website for most people.
So if you’re looking to develop a website from scratch, take a look at a pre-built content management system such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal before you think about considering expensive custom development, you might be surprised just how versatile these systems are!