Tuesday, March 24, 2015

WordPress for Your Society Website

Gone are the days when hiring a professional computer programmer to be a "webmaster" was required if a society wanted an online presence.  These days, it's easier than ever to build your own website without having to know all that computer code!

Listen in as WordPress "guru" Taneya Koonce explains how easy it is to get started with WordPress and build your society's website (including a blog).

Many organizations use WordPress as the platform for their websites ... big and small ... from BestBuy and Xerox to the North Carolina GenWeb Project.

Some of the benefits of using WordPress:
  • It's FREE**
  • Allows you to focus on your content rather than spending all your time worrying about your layout
  • Your content is readily searchable on all major search engines
  • It's easily customizable
  • Many (20,000+) plugins can be installed to perform pretty much any task you can think of to automate your site, leaving you more time to create content
Maybe now is a good time for your society to create (or update) its online presence!

Listen to the archived broadcast of "WordPress for Your Society Website" on the blogtalkradio My Society channel by FGS, or you can listen below:

Check Out History Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with mysociety on BlogTalkRadio

For more information, check out these articles from our Society Strategy Series:

**WordPress.com is absolutely free, but you are limited in the plugins you are allowed to use.  With WordPress.org, you may incur some expense in purchasing a domain and a hosting company, but the WordPress platform is free of charge.  Some plugins are also available for a fee.


  1. I have been a Wordpress developer and user since its release in 2003. I am also a genealogist and web consultant. The embedded video, at one hour long, is too long for me to listen to, but I hope it addresses all of these important caveats -- otherwise, it puts societies at risk. I love the product, but the product requires responsible knowledgeable use.

    1) It's important to distinguish between the 2 flavors of Wordpress: a) the freemium hosted Wordpress.com version, and b) the open source self-hosted Wordpress.org version. Societies can benefit from both, but need to wisely choose which one to use.

    2) While the 20,000+ plugins are great, these can also put your website at risk. Too many plugins, or resource-heavy plugins, drastically slow down the load time on a page and site. If one does not keep on top of updating plugins promptly, your site can be more easily hacked and will crash when that old code becomes incompatible with other plugins or with your main code base. This is important to consider on a Wordpress.org site; Wordpress.com limits the plugins available.

    3) If the site owner/administrator a) is not regularly backing up the database, b) is not regularly backing up the files, c) does not know how to restore a site and database from a .sql database backup file, then one has no business running Wordpress on behalf of someone else (including a society). It's one thing to be careless with one's own personal/hobby website; it's another thing to be careless with another person or organization's website. This is critical for a Wordpress.org site. Unfortunately, it's not possible to do on a Wordpress.com site (hopefully Wordpress.com does this for you), except for manually exporting pages and posts on a regular basis as some sort of "backup", and copying/pasting any custom CSS upgrade changes to a local copy.

    4) If one isn't keeping all of the code up to date (base code, plugins, and theme releases), while doing everything in point 3, they shouldn't be running a Wordpress.org site. Because it's not a matter of IF your website will break; it's a matter of WHEN your website will break.

    Again, I love the product, and love to teach the product. It his highly customizable and scalable. But, it requires responsible knowledgeable use. We need to warn our societies of the risks as well as the benefits.

    Colleen Greene, MLIS
    Librarian | Web Developer | Content Strategist | Educator | Genelaogist

  2. Thank you, Colleen, for sharing your insights on the Wordpress platform!



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