The holiday season right before the New Year is usually a time when many folks exchange gifts. So, I thought we could explore a kind of gift to the cyber world: OSS.
OSS and No Wonder Woman in Sight
If you’re of a certain age, the term OSS might ring a distant bell (or bell bottoms) from the 1970’s. DC comic book and TV heroine Wonder Woman worked at the OSS (office of strategic services) secretly as Diana Prince. Her invisible airplane confused young and old alike.
OSS in this case stands for open-source software–software that is as far from secret as you can get. Open-source software is distributed with source code that anyone can modify. With OSS, programmers are given license to adapt the code for their own use in any way. So, in this sense, it is “freeware” meaning anyone can freely make changes to it. Read “How Open-Source Works” for more details.
Get a Rise from a Popular OSS: WordPress
One of the more well-known open-source programs is WordPress. This web development platform is special because it has been created, updated and modified over time by a huge community of developers that feed the OSS, tend to it and pass it along like… a bowl of sourdough starter.
I know… nobody really makes bread from scratch anymore. This explanation from WPbeginner might make more sense to you,
“WordPress is an open source community project where tens of thousands of talented people have made contributions to make it into a great software that it is today.
There is a core team of developers that lead the project development, but anyone can contribute patches, fix bugs, make features, suggest features, etc.
Furthermore, project leaders change from one version to another. If you get deeply involved in the community, then you can become a core contributor to WordPress as well.”
So, WordPress doesn’t truly belong to any one person. That means WordPress really can be the gift that keeps on giving. However, there are also a few things you should know about it to avoid surprises.
The Theoretical Yin and the Yang of OSS
Because WordPress is open-source, thousands of cool add-on tools have been designed by smart enthusiasts to help you create and run your site. That’s a plus.
Some nay-sayers say WordPress is inherently bad because the code is freely available. These Grinches postulate that anyone can hack the code and compromise your site.
Supporters of WordPress counter that the deep community of WordPress developers can patch security risks faster than proprietary software teams, and users often discover issues more quickly too. They say WordPress can remain strong as long as communication stays open and solutions are shared.
Freeware isn’t necessarily free
Using WordPress does come with costs: While you can get WordPress for free at WordPress.org, and redistribute it with your modifications under something called a General Public License (GPL), you will need to pay someone to actually host your website. You can pick and choose your own host. WordPress.org recommends a few here.
You will also need to pay for your domain name, associated web email services and you may want to pay a developer to help design your site.
For an in-depth article about the costs associated with a WordPress website check this out.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
Which brings us to this: WordPress.org and WordPress.com are completely different sites with different purposes.
If you want to set up a free blog, you can go to WordPress.com to do that for no fee.
But be aware that WordPress.com is a full web hosting business. They use the free OSS that is WordPress, but the core of their business is to design and host your site for a price. Think of WordPress.com as the place you go when you want to make a cake with a box cake mix. You’ll get a good cake, but you won’t be in control of measuring out each ingredient and you’ll pay for convenience.
If you’re a “from-scratch” baker (blame the holidays for all of the baking metaphors in this blog), and want to control everything from the size of your eggs to the gluten content in your flour, WordPress.org is your source. Go there for WordPress software as well as plug-ins. It is also your gateway to the WordPress developer community.
For more info about the differences between the two sites, check out this article.
A Plethora of Plug-ins and Themes Awaits
Because a whole team of developers passionately toils on WordPress projects for the love of it, you can find a plug-in or website add-on for just about anything from forms to anti-spam filters.
Just like in the world of smart phone apps, some plug-ins are better than others, so do your research before downloading.
Also, keep in mind several different kinds of plug-ins are available. Some are free, but most decent ones come with a fee or a subscription cost. A few well-chosen plug-ins can help your website run better, so consider the costs part of your web investment.
You can also affect how your site looks by choosing from hundreds of available themes.
OSS Makes WordPress a Great Solution
Over 30 percent of the sites on the web use WordPress. It’s incredibly versatile and ever-evolving. Don’t shy away from using this amazing platform to power your website. Check out the Sublime Creation’s blog: 5 Reasons Why WordPress is Perfect for Your Business if you need a little more convincing.
For additional help with your website (not baking) consider Sublime Creations. We are an eco-friendly company that specializes in website consultation, design and personalized training catering (not that kind of catering) to local and small businesses, individuals, start-ups, and entrepreneurs.
Feel free to contact us online or call (720) 443-1407 to schedule your free 30-minute consultation to discuss WordPress and more.