Update: We have recently returned to self-hosting. While we greatly enjoyed our WordPress.com experience, we found that running a website for business purposes required greater control of the platform. We hope to write more about this in a future post.
Homestead on the Range has come a long way since we launched our website almost five years ago. Our site was originally self-hosted. About a year ago we moved to WordPress.com, and we haven’t looked back.
If you are launching a new website for your farm, small business, or personal enjoyment, or if you are dissatisfied with your current arrangement, you might consider hosting your site on WordPress.com. Here’s why:
No site is immune to hackers. Maintaining the integrity of a self-hosted site, especially one that uses a database, can be an absolute nightmare.
Our previous setup was an amalgamation involving WordPress.org (the free open-source version), a theme, and a multitude of plugins. In short, a patchwork quilt of sometimes incompatible pieces, all regularly requiring updating and all regularly breaking when updated. WordPress.com is a complete package, and it updates in the background. No supervision required. (And no vetting of plugins to sort the good ones from the malware!)
2. Intuitive Design Process
The WordPress.com interface is incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. You don’t have to know anything about coding in HTML or CSS to get started (although learning these two languages will give you greater flexibility). Pick a theme that looks nice to you. Then use the drop-down menus and drag-and-drop widgets in the Customizer to change fonts, select a color scheme, upload a header image, and set up sidebars and footers. It’s really that easy.
3. A Plan for Everyone
WordPress.com offers four plans, so there is something to fit every budget. The basic plan is free. For a custom domain name (e.g., myfarmwebsiteexample.com instead of myfarmwebsiteexample.wordpress.com) or for a little more flexibility about how your site looks, select from one of the paid plans. The highest package offers almost total control over all aspects of your website.
4. Excellent Documentation and Support
Have a question? WordPress.com offers extensive and easy-to-understand documentation to guide you every step of the way. Plus, if you get into a real bind, you can browse the support forums or contact their extremely responsive staff.
And then there’s a whole host of nice features we use daily and love, such as the diverse selection of themes, the built-in share buttons and contact forms, and the attractive gallery feature (check out this page from our gallery). The entire system is novice-friendly and super easy to use.