The Basics of WordPress for the Local Business (Part 1)

By Chris Marentis

In part one of this two part series on WordPress, I explained some key differences between and You likely discovered is particularly friendly for the non-technologically savvy local business; however, there it is not as customizable as the .org platform. Another key aspect of the WordPress platform to understand is common terms; these include “theme,” “plugin,” and “widget”.

Regardless of whether you utilize or, you’ll need to choose a “theme” for your site. At its simplest essence, a “theme” determines the basic layout and appearance of your site. This includes the location of your banner, how many columns your site has, and general color scheme. The amount of customization of each aspect of a theme varies by the theme itself.

One important difference between and, however, is as a local business owner, you’re able to access and modify code in It can be scary and powerful all at the same time to have the power to modify information at this level. It also means your local business needs to have access to someone with the technological know-how to make desired modifications. can be wonderfully helpful to the local business with a novice website building skill set because it comes with many key features already loaded. These features include spam filtering, Captcha, contact forms, and Askimet. In, many features such as these, if added, are considered “plugins.” “Plugins” at their essence help a site creator extend how a site functions. For example, as I mentioned, does not automatically come with a site visitor tracking mechanism, and this item is highly desirable for any site.

Other users/ developers have already created a script to help deal with this issue. As a user, you’re able to download and activate a multitude of plugins to deal with this issue. There are not, however, always “plugins” available for every possible enhancement you may wish to make to your site. Or, a “plugin” may conflict with other “plugins” you’ve installed. Further, “plugins” often need to be updated and modified over time. Therefore, if the creator does not take this step, you may not be able to use a “plugin.” Therefore, while “plugins” are tremendously helpful and can assist you as a local business owner in enhancing a site, they can lead to some website creation and maintenance headaches.

Finally, a “widget,” whether in or provides a local business the ability to add content and customize a site without adding code. One of the most common areas a local business may use widgets is adding interactive components to their side menu(s). You may recall seeing newsletter signups or the ability to follow a company on Facebook on the side of an organization’s website. If that organization is using WordPress, this content is likely being displaced with the help of a widget.

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