Figured you ought to have a copy of this here so you know what's being said about WP out there. I'm the web reviewer for Christian Marketplace Magazine, where this was published, June 2008:
So you've decided to take the plunge...
So you've decided to take the plunge and fire up a blog to interact with your customers. But where do you start? If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest exploring a few blogs... but with so many out there, the same question pops up again: where do you start? One of the most lively I've come across, and of particular interest for anyone concerned about the ongoing SPCK/SSG saga, is Dave Walker's Cartoon Church Blog - http://www.cartoonchurch.com/blog - where you'll find new entries on a "not quite daily" basis.
Blogs, unfortunately, are just as vulnerable to technology failure as any other online enterprise and as I write Dave's blog is down, temporarily rehoused at http://cartoonchurch.wordpress.com
"Why draw attention to a defunct blog?" I hear you ask. Because first of all, it's Dave and his blog that I have to thank for pointing me in the direction of WordPress - http://www.wordpress.com - which hosts and provides the functionality of the new Christian Bookshops Blog, christianbookshopsblog.org.uk; second, because hopefully Dave's blog will be up and running again by the time you read this; and third because it highlights the importance of backing up. It's impossible to overemphasise the importance of backing up: please, don't think about it - just do it!
I started writing this review for June's Christian Marketplace but rapidly realised that I couldn't very well comment on WordPress without test-driving it myself: WordPress, unlike other sites I've reviewed, is not so much a website as a platform, a stage upon which you and I are invited to perform. Best yet, we're invited to perform free of charge.
And WordPress make that performance incredibly easy. Some things should go without saying, but to be sure: to use WordPress you need a computer connected to the internet, an email address and a name. Signing up took me less time than it's just taken to type this sentence... but hey, I'm a geek, right? Maybe so: but WordPress is designed for non-geeks. For ordinary people who have something to say and want to get on with saying it without fretting about the technology.
Once you've registered, the fun begins. You can either accept the default template (or 'theme'), Kubrick, fairly bland but perfectly serviceable, or you can choose another from the dozens that are available. You'll find an example of Kubrick - to which the only thing I've done is change the name to "Phil's Boring Blog" - here: http://philgroom.wordpress.com/
Adding to or changing the content of your blog is as simple as using a word processor. When you're logged in to WordPress you'll see an extra item before the 'Comments' link: 'Edit'. This, of course, only appears on your own blogs. Clicking through takes you to the 'Write Post' page, which defaults to the visual WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface. A row of straightforward word-processor style buttons runs across the top of the writing area, including, for example, 'B' and 'I' for Bold and Italic; text align left, centre or right; chain/broken chain icons for creating or clearing links; and add an image.
Work is autosaved on the fly, reducing the risk of losing everything if your internet connection drops out or some other disaster strikes, but once again I cannot stress too strongly the importance of backing up. This too is made easy as the WordPress 'Dashboard', your administration area, includes an 'Export' button to save your blog contents to your computer.
These comments barely begin to skim to surface of WordPress: you'll find more features outlined at http://wordpress.com/features/ - what they all add up to is web publishing made simple. But what WordPress cannot provide for you is content: for that, it's over to you!
Phil Groom, Sunday, June 8, 2008