If building a WordPress Web site were that easy, everyone would be doing it.
It is and they are.
The ease with which almost anyone these days can build an inexpensive yet professional-looking Web site with WordPress also makes it especially easy to end up with something that strokes the owner’s ego while sending visitors running for the exits.
A walk back in time
The current state of the Web reminds me of the state of desktop publishing circa 1985.
That year, the Aldus Corporation (which would merge with Adobe within a decade) released Aldus PageMaker, the first commercially successful desktop publishing software program for the Macintosh and IBM PC.
The great thing about PageMaker was that anyone who was adept at learning applications on a personal computer — and there were relatively few of us at the time — could publish newsletters in a jiffy, using any and every feature the program offered.
It was also the terrible thing about PageMaker.
Enabling people like us — people who scoured computer manuals in our spare time and who prided ourselves on knowing every nook and cranny of every software program we ever encountered — to publish newsletters with PageMaker was a recipe for aesthetic disaster.
Our problem was that we could easily use every font and every style the program came with.
And often we did.
Lacking training and sensibilities in the principles of graphic design, we created newsletters that at best looked like hell and at worst were unreadable. But we sure as heck used all the bells and whistles.
Because we could.
Back to the present
WordPress software is free. If none of the 1,600+ free themes in the WordPress repository suit your fancy, you might have to spend $25 – $50 for a premium theme. Web hosting costs about $8 a month. Add $15 a year for your domain name.
It’s also pretty darn user friendly. With a little bit of patience — and some time invested in looking over any of the gazillions of online tutorials for the parts that aren’t quite so easy to understand — pretty much anyone who knows how to send an email with an attachment can create a WordPress blog or Web site.
So rule out cost and usability as barriers to putting your business or cause online.
But getting online is only part of the story.
Getting attention, engagement, and trust is the other part of the story. And not the easy part, by the way.
Before you get lost checking out this carousel slideshow plugin for your portfolio of charcoal drawings or that accented analogic color scheme for your UI or any Flash intro for your Home page, ask yourself:
Am I doing this just because I can?
PS / ICYMI:
Because they can is the punchline to an old, blue-ish joke which begins with
Why do dogs and cats… (Figure it out or ask someone.)