Today kicks off a new Q&A video series called Bea Knows Best. Take a look and listen to Karolina’s common question.

Q: What is the difference between a WordPress website and a traditional HTML website?

A: To explain the differences between WordPress and a traditional website I need to explain how the different types function.

WordPress is an application. It’s a content management system that allows you to use pre-defined templates and add-ons to create and maintain a great website. For people who do not know the special language that websites use (called HTML) it’s a great option for getting a website online and being able to make changes easily.

Traditional websites are customized using a special series of computer languages that can vary from HTML, PHP, Java, etc. They look like gibberish to the naked eye, but someone who knows these languages can read them just as you read english. These special languages (which are the back-end of wordpress, by the way) allow you to create a design and function on a web page independently.

Here’s the difference: WordPress is an application, and though it serves users well for edits and maintenance, it is not the type of program that can give you “anything you want.” WordPress works as a piece of software, like Microsoft Word does, and to use it you simply need to point and click. With this convenience you lose any ability that a plug-in or add-on can’t give you.

A traditionally website allows a designer to completely customize both the visual aesthetic and the user experience. Since the coding is independent of any applications the sky is the limit. This type of site works well for a business owner that either has a coder/designer on staff, or doesn’t mind paying one to manage the upkeep and maintenance.

Which should you choose? That’s often an easy question to answer. If you have a very specific vision for how you want your site to look, and what you want it to do, and you are not confined to a strict budget, a traditional website will do you well. If, on the other hand, you need control over changes and updates and don’t know much about computer languages WordPress is a good place to start. You may outgrow your wordpress site, or you may not… only time will tell. It’s a vast application that is constantly changing and evolving…

Which leads me to another simple thing you need to know about wordpress. It is constantly changing and evolving and with each update to the software, which tends to happen several times a year, you have to install a new version of the software. At times this creates bugs and breaks the system. It’s one of the frustrations of using wordpress, as noted by many users. Plug-ins and add-ons sometimes break when this happens or your entire design scheme can be impacted. You need a good backup system before doing this, and the process is fairly simple, but it’s good to know this going into the decision.

If you’re still split between the two options you can do what I do. My website is built as a traditional website, but this BLOG portion is built using wordpress, which is what most users want to use WordPress for in the first place. As you navigate my website and go to my blog the process is seamless (this is what a good designer can do for you). My blog runs on wordpress, the entire rest of my site does not. My reason for this has to do with flexibility and functionality. If that’s your deal, that may be the way to go.

Do you have follow up questions to this topic? Post them below and I’ll answer them as thoroughly as I can.


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