Create a Website at WordPress.com

I love WordPress

The primary thing to remember in creating a website is that you’re not creating the website for you; you’re creating the site for your visitors. If you have created websites on other software and now want to create one on WordPress.com software it’s important to fully comprehend the limitations of blogging on the WordPress.com multiuser blogging platform.

themesFacts

You cannot build or use your own custom theme built from scratch at WordPress.com. There is no FTP access and installing plugins or uploading third party themes is not possible.

As WordPress.com is a multiuser blogging platform, all blogs wearing the same theme are using the same underlying template and we bloggers cannot access the underlying files and edit templates or themes.  The only themes you can use on a WordPress.com site are those found here Appearance → Themes and described in the Themes Showcase.  There is no upgrade you can purchase from WordPress.com that changes those facts.

themestripCustom Design Upgrade

Two free WordPress.com themes, Sandbox and Toolbox designed to allow maximum flexibility for CSS editing and creating new “skins”. Toolbox is more modern and includes support for CSS3 and HTML5, so it is really only limited by your skills and knowledge. Many bloggers have showcased their content beautifully using one of hundreds of WordPress.com themes as a base and customizing it with the Custom design CSS upgrade.

The Custom CSS feature on WordPress.com now supports all of the new features of CSS3. This means that you can use gradients, animation, multiple backgrounds, @media queries, and many more new features in your custom CSS. — Custom CSS gets an upgrade

fonts

If you have CSS editing experience the WordPress.com custom design upgrade will allow you to stylize the appearance of themes you find here Appearance → Themes, including customizing fonts.

Custom Colors is designed to make it as simple as possible to update your blog’s color scheme with just a few clicks. Adding Custom Colors to your blog just got simpler than ever! Now you can change your entire color scheme with the single click of a button.

Adding color to your blog makes it stand out and gives your message impact—so wrap up your work in that perfect color choice! To try before you buy, go to your blog’s Appearance → Themes page and click “Customize” or open a live preview for a free theme and then click on the “Try Now” button. — Custom Colors Previews All Around

The WordPress.com custom design upgrade will not allow you to change the functionality, by editing the underlying template. It does not allow you to edit HTML markup, PHP code, or content. It does not allow you to remove footer links to the theme designer or to WordPress.com. Also note that CSS is theme specific, so you cannot use the CSS stylesheets from other themes with the themes at WordPress.com. For more information on what can and cannot be done check out the Custom design FAQs at this link.

Structure

A WordPress.com blog can either be structured as a page based website or its conventional post based structure can be retained. See > Using WordPress.com to Create a Website That’s why understanding the differences between posts and pages, the SEO implications of creating a page based structure, and knowing how to create and use custom menus are key to selecting a theme, and setting up your WordPress.com blog.

5 Blog and Website Differences

1. The main difference between a blog and website is the communication style. A website has a noticeboard communication style. A blog is a website designed for interactive communication. Collectively blogs create the blogosphere, while websites are like standalone islands.

2. It’s because blogs encourage conversation that businesses with websites are adding blogs, and sometimes forums and wikis to them for complaint handling, customer feedback purposes and for collaborative purposes.

3. Blogs feature dynamic content and position it front and center. The entries have date and time stamps, and blog entries are customarily displayed on the front page in reverse chronological order. Most most websites do not have dynamic content on their front pages. Many websites have static front pages. The information most websites provide is static, rarely updated, and the sites are often poorly maintained.

4. Blogs have RSS feeds, websites alone do not.

5. Usually but not always, blogs rank higher in Google as “freshness” is extremely important when it comes to content appearing in the SERPs.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Comparison

blog or website

On one hand, the characteristic “blog” features like categories, tags, authors, dates, etc. cannot be removed from a free hosted WordPress.com blog, without purchasing an annually renewable custom design upgrade and doing the required CSS editing.

On the other, one can edit a WordPress.org theme free of charge. This comparison WordPress.com and WordPress.org: The Differences provides clarity.

Once you are clear on the differences between WordPress.com blogs and WordPress.org software installs for self hosting, the choice you make depends on your budget and your skill sets.

30 thoughts on “Create a Website at WordPress.com

  1. Pingback: Advertising on WordPress.com Blogs | one cool site

  2. Thanks Mark,
    Every day there are people posting to the support forums who have purchased upgrades but decide to move to WordPress.org. They were not clear on the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org because they didn’t read the documentation. They assume throwing money at the situation by purchasing upgrades would mean they would have a site equivalent to a WordPress.org self hosted site.

    I assumed all bloggers are both readers and writers but I have learned that’s not the case. I’m astonished that so many bloggers do not research and read. They jump into the deep end and then cry like babies for phone support. The amount of Volunteer and Staff time wasted on reiterating exactly what the bloggers chose not to read is appalling. The abuse received from a minority of unhappy campers when they hear they won’t be babysat on their phones is another reflection of the lack of civility we experience in society today.

  3. time thief, I think that your posts are interesting, helpful and engaging….definitely not “boring” or “repetitive.” Even more remarkable, you’re able to write to such a wide range of skill levels. I appreciate all that you do!

  4. Hi there–I’m writing you because you were so helpful to another blogger a year ago, who wanted to change their wordpress blog address to a NEW wordpress blog address they had already registered. I now find myself in this position, but I can’t get in touch with tech support, since my blog is free. Do you have any idea how I might be able to do this?

    thanks so much in advance…
    Lesley

    • The top level domain is wordpress.com and all free hosted wordpress.com blogs are on .wordpress.com sub-domains. When you say “a NEW wordpress blog address already registered” you mean another .wordpress.com sub-domain URL. In that case you don’t use the changing a blog address guide. You export the content out of one blog and import it into another. Use the searchbox in the support documentation please.

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/export/

      http://en.support.wordpress.com/import/

      If you have additional question please post to the support forums http://en.forums.wordpress.com

      • I did that–but the minor problem is only the content came, not the theme. That’s easy enough to replicate. BUT I also created a facebook page for the site–is it possible to link the page to the new site? Truly, what I would like to do is just change the blog address without going to the trouble of importing the content, getting the theme and widgets correct, and figuring out hte facebook thing again. Maybe it’s not possible.

        • WordPress.com themes are not now nor have they every been transferable. Changing themes is easy to do and no data is ever lost. You can go here Dashboard > Appearance > Themes and select a new theme and activate it. After you change your theme all you need to do is go here Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets > Inactive Widgets and re-install them where you want them to appear. The widget contents and settings will be the same as they were prior to changing themes. Of course your can have a static page on the new blog. You can have as many pages as you wish.

          Please stop posting off topic to this article and post to the support forums for this kind of help. http://en.forums.wordpress.com. I have answered over 1678 pages of threads there (30 threads to every page) and I’m taking a well deserved rest today so I can work on a post for my personal blog.

  5. Great article. After creating a blog how do we get it listed on Google public directory? Also being a garment designer my pictures are boring. How can I add life to my photos without me being in them. Any ideas? Thanks

  6. I always enjoy your comments. Your writing is not dull. I come away from your articles with a deeper understanding of the writing process. I blog for the sheer fun of it. Although my Hawaii Island news blog is highly structured, I find the experience enjoyable and the local response gratifying. I’m a niche blogger that finds a daily post a good way to start or end the day.

    • Hi Russ,
      I’m so glad to hear you enjoy my comments. I’ve frequently puzzled over how I attracted so many comment subscribers. I’m a technical writer and in this blog I write to inform. Whenever we write to inform we run the risk of boring readers so that concern is always below the surface for me. As I have a small business and do contracted work and as my husband’s position requires travel, there’s no way I would every commit to blogging on a daily basis. That said though, do know that I wish you well with your blog.

  7. I really liked the “5 Blog and Website Differences” section. I think it’s a very helpful distinction, that I should understand what I want to communicate, and how blogs and websites would suit that purpose in different way. One observation I’ve made is in regards to point #1. The structure of the communication is a factor, yes. But I think writing style (for the content) is a factor too. I’ve read it said that blogs more often have a personal, persuasive writing style while websites may have a more journalistic, informative style. There are exceptions but I think this is worth considering with point #2– deciding to use blog elements on a website (or a little bit of both, in other words).

    • Hi there,
      I agree with your point on writing style and also on “a little of both”. I think businesses can benefit by having a blog as well as a website. Websites are often often neglected and many are moribund within months of launch. What’s key is to dynamism is to have at least one Staff member who will be on top of publishing fresh and engaging content so the website remains lively.

  8. Hi Timethief, this is a great post! I just referred several bloggers to your post and the topic they were looking just happens to be the very thing you’ve written about. How about that for timing.

    • Hi Mary,
      I’ve been noticing an increase in the number of new bloggers posting to the support forum who aren’t clear on the options they have. As I aim to publish timely information so it’s such good news that you have referred other to my post. P.S. I tried to avoid opinionated rambling and make it as concise as I could.

  9. I used wordpress to make a website for my sister as she needed to explore whether she could work that way to put a proposal together for an exhbition that she wanted to run past various people. It meant that I was able to help her and sort out small problems and teach her a little as we went along. We kept it private and I think so far the exercise has been useful to her. We will see !

    • What I should have said (oops) was that I wouldn’t have thought of doing that if I hadn’t read earlier posts of yours. You make it all very clear, so it is easier to share and show other people the little bits I pick up. You are a very fine teacher in a medium where your ‘students’ attention is hard to capture!

  10. “The primary thing to remember in creating a website is that you’re not creating the website for you; you’re creating the site for your visitors.”

    Very good point, tt, and equally applicable to blogs – and something too many people tend to overlook on both media.

    If you can’t get people to want to read/view whatever it is you’re offering them, it’s all for nothing. For that very reason I found myself re-writing over 5,000 words a few days ago, not because there was anything wrong with the content, but simply because it was dull.** Based on the response, it was time well spent.

    **Nothing actually wrong with it, grammatically and syntactically it was fine – which is what made it dull. If you doubt that, read Stephen King. Technically, he’s not that great, but he sure as hell can tell a story – and that’s what we’re doing, too.

    • Hi Ron,
      Oh no, now I’m worried about my posts being boring. Last week I worried that I was being reptitious. Who knows what I may find to worry about next week? ;)

      • If we’re ever 100% satisfied with our work, we’re probably wrong ;)

        Seriously – nobody is perfect and there’s no point in worrying about it. But, if you accidentally stumble on your own stuff on Google, and enjoy reading it before the penny drops (perfectly possible, out of nearly 1,800 posts I only remember a few in detail), that’s as good a measure as any that you’re doing it right.

        • tt, here’s a quote from King himself that makes my point (the speaker is an English teacher**) “the spelling – was mostly correct, and the was diction clear – but the writing was pallid.” (From ch.2, 11.22.63.).

          **I was an adult literacy tutor.

          The 5,000+ words I re-wrote were pallid (and perfect). They simply failed to reach out and engage the reader. I choose to think that King’s English teacher was thinking to himself, where are the colloquialisms, the tiny, deliberate, inaccuracies of syntax that give the reader a feeling of familiarity, of comfort, and at which King excels? In a nutshell, perfection is pallid.

          I’ll defend to the death the cause of correct grammar and punctuation, but the rest is up for grabs.

      • You are not boring, Timethief! You are always spot on helpful and to the point in this and all your posts. As for repetitious – don’t worry about that either! With the way things change you have to address topics again to keep your readers up to date – another quality of this blog for which I am very grateful.

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