This post discusses how I chose WordPress over other options. I will explore the set up process in more detail in future posts.
Based on recommendations from a colleague, I found HostGator, a low cost hosting service, that supported a range of open source products and tools. (I have also found HostGator’s service good – have had problems due to a long time lag between creating accounts and actually using them and have had them fixed easily). If you decide to use HostGator yourself, use the coupon code: sktraining092010 to get an $9.94 discount off the package price.
HostGator support php/mysql, Joomla, WordPress and even Ruby and a range of open source tools and products. So this gave me my base to build on.
Option1 – Write my own database backed site using php and MySql
This would have been a good learning exercise, and would build on existing skills. I routinely use Dreamweaver to create ASP pages that talk to Access and now also SQL server databases. I have also done some work in php/mysql – to build the sign up/payment processing/storing outcomes and user details in an MySQl db for a charity bike ride.
Doing it myself I can also be sure that there is server side validation code to handle faulty input, prevent sql injection etc.
It would have taken forever to do, especially fitting the time in around work and study commitments.
Also I wanted to explore some of the open source tools that are out there eg WordPress/Joomla.
So on to Joomla…
Option 2 – Joomla
Joomla is an open source Content Management System (CMS). If you image it as an open source SharePoint lite (with the range of add on components, not so lite). You can define a range of roles for your users, create information resource sites, forums, blogs etc.
So equipped with Barrie North’s excellent book, Joomla! 1.5: A User’s Guide: Building a Successful Joomla! Powered Website (2nd Edition)
, I explored using Joomla as a blog. I also looked at themes for Joomla.
In the end, I looked at the time I had available and looked at the customisation I would have to do and decided for what I needed to do NOW, a dedicated blog tool was the answer. I had helped a colleague set up a WordPress site and so I was off to look at WordPress.
I will be back to Joomla – I can see a use for its broader capabilities as a CMS over WordPress and will install it elsewhere on the site. The theme I ultimately chose for WordPress has a twin for Joomla which make it all look “all of one site”
Option 3 – Word Press
I could get it up and running in a day, and I did.
There are a range of free and pay for themes out there to give it a professional look. I used a theme I purchased from from Joomlashack, but I was impressed with other commercial theme sites. After discounts the theme cost $AUD 40, which is at the dearer end of themes, but way cheaper than writing the CSS myself. (SitePoint have a book out on making your own themes – for your own use or resale)
While this will only be part of what I am building, I can see WordPress being all some people, clubs and community groups need.
I will write a separate series of posts on the set up process, adding components, widgets, spam filters etc.
With any of the open source solutions, you need to work within the framework of the product, you loose a little of the flexibility of a solution you build yourself. However the broad range of add in components balances this out as does the speed of getting up and running. You also need to make sure you keep the product up to date to address known issues (eg bugs and security issues).
Your comments and feedback welcomed