Other Website Builders
First, let’s get the competition out of the way. These are all essentially built using a drag and drop interface that makes them very easy to build for non-coders. There are also numerous pre-built themes and templates. None of these are open source.
Wix is probably the cheapest, good website builder that exists today. A free plan exists with ads. The cheapest plan that removes ads and gives a free domain is 4$ a month but this comes with limited bandwidth (2gb per month). There are better plans if you’re willing to pay more. Disclaimer: I haven’t personally used it.
No free plan. A bit of premium service because of the better design and ease of use. In many ways, this experience is what WordPress is trying to emulate with their CMS overhaul. Their starting plan is about 12$ a month.
As WordPress moved on from being just a blogging platform, it became too overpowered for regular bloggers. I feel that Ghost was built to fill this new gap. It’s very minimalistic and easy to use. It’s open source and can be deployed for 5-10$ a month on your own servers or for 20$ a month on ghost.org. You’re reading this blog on Ghost.
WordPress launched in 2003, the first of all the above services to launch. Because it was free, open source and user friendly, it quickly became (and along with the google-owned blogger) the default place for blogging for many years. Over the years, it has became more than a blog, it has a become a comprehensive CMS or content management system that is used by 20% of the top 10 million websites on the internet. Either through WordPress’ inbuilt features or through integrations.
The current version of WordPress is 4.9. Just from that number you can see that it’s right at the end of a development cycle and a new version is imminent. I think that the plan is that with the release of 5.0, WordPress will complete the shift from it’s older backend to something very similar to Squarespace. Currently, the WordPress backend is a bit schizophrenic, both the old dashboard and the new one exist side-by-side.
If you want to setup a WordPress site, you have two options: hosting on WordPress.com or self-hosting. Neither option is complicated.
If you host on WordPress.com, all you have to do is register and you’re operational. To remove ads and get a free domain, the starting rate is 2400 INR per year. This option is recommended if you don’t want to be responsible for site maintenance i.e. your server going down, SSL configuration, etc.
If you go in for self-hosting, WordPress is free but you’ll have to pay 5-10$per month for the VPS (Virtual Private Server). VPS providers like DigitalOcean or Vultr offer ‘one-click’ installations for WordPress which means you can be up and running in "55 seconds". Because they take care of the installation for you, you dont even need to know how to use Linux.
Once you do this, you have to map your domain. This usually involves three steps:
- Updating the nameservers at your domain registrar (eg GoDaddy)
- Creating DNS records through your VPS (which links the IP address and the domain)
- Updating WordPress settings with your domain
I also recommend setting up SSL/HTTPS for basic security which you can do with Cloudflare very easily.
That’s the entire technical setup.
Then you have to do the design work. Which is another set of tasks completely.