WordPress is a free, open-source service that is “designed for everyone, emphasizing accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use.” The company states that its basic version is “simple and predictable so you can easily get started.” Additionally, the company believes in “democratizing publishing and the freedoms that come with open source.” WordPress can be used for blogs, newsletters, videos, stores, and other businesses. Because of these qualities, WordPress is widely used by people for their websites. For instance, this course’s blog is run by WordPress.

While WordPress is free, there are also ways to upgrade your website with paid plans, which range from $4-$45 per month. The paid plans offer a range of options for the website, which might fit your plan depending on what your site’s purpose is. Since the basic version of WordPress is free, anyone from an academic historian to a museum curator to a person who is just wants to share their passion for history can utilize the site without spending money.

Before you create your website, WordPress asks you questions in creating your website. First, it asks for your domain, which is free for the first year. This is an important deadline to keep in mind. Other questions the service asks is what plan you want to subscribe to, what your goals for the website are, what your website is about, to create your blog name and tagline, and to choose your design. An interesting feature is that you can see what your site would look like on other screens, such as on a smartphone, tablet, and computer.

After you set up your free account, WordPress takes you to the “Reader” page. Here, you can follow your favorite sites, track your likes, and keep up-to-date with discussions you commented on and tags you’re following. These features are great when following blogs so that you do not miss out on the latest post and discussion.

To write on your page, you click the “Write” button with the feather pen in the upper-righthand corner. It will take you then to the page where you can write and edit your latest post.

On this page, you can edit your latest post, such as creating your title and adding textual and photographic information. To make the post aesthetically pleasing, you can edit the color of the text, the background, edit font and its size, and the spacing of the letters under the “Block” tab on the right side. Additionally, you can add links to your information, such as what I did in the first paragraph of this post. For historians, this is great as you can site other people’s projects, online sources and exhibits, and other virtual resources in the text without the messy footnotes and endnotes.

On the “Post” tab on the right side, you can make the post Public, Private (meaning for the other administrators and editors on the website to see), and Password Protected, meaning that anyone with the password can access the website. These privacy settings are great resources as some people do not want their blog to be open to the public for various reasons, while many people do want to share their website with the public. Additionally, you can set the time and date that you want to publish your post, whether that’s immediately or hours later or a week later. Other features include: editing your page template, creating and sorting your posts into categories, creating tags for your website, inserting a featured image, writing an excerpt of your post, and allowing discussion, such as turning on the comments section.

As one is writing their post, pop-ups will appear on WordPress that are easy and accessible to use. One of these includes editing the paragraph block, text alignment, bolding and italicizing the test, including a link, and other features in the drop down menu and in the three dots that can be seen below.

The drop-down menu has features that include highlighting, inserting code, inserting an image, strikethrough text, and super- and sub-script. The three dots feature tools that include copying the block paragraph or image, duplicate text or image, inserting an image or text or something else, moving the paragraph block, and deleting the paragraph block.

If you click on the plus button – which starts another paragraph block – you can see other tools that pop up easily for convenience as you are writing your post. These features include creating a new paragraph block, adding an image, adding a heading, creating a gallery, creating a list, and inserting a quote. These pop-ups – while some can see them as cumbersome and obstructive – are highly helpful in popping up right as you are writing for easy convenience.

In editing your post, I would recommend that you save as often as possible. There have been instances where WordPress has crashed on me and closed, so I would highly recommend saving often. Also in the upper-righthand corner, you can see a preview of your post and can publish your post.

Another feature is the green icon in the upper-righthand corner of the screen. It is called JetPack, and it allows you to share your post on your social media platforms. This is a great feature as you can alert your family, friends, and followers about your post. Additionally, this would be a great tool for public social media accounts so that people are aware of your latest post in case they do not have alerts set up for your post.

Overall, I think WordPress is a vital tool to use in the digital age if you want to connect and spread your findings on the Internet if you are interested in making a blog or newsletter. WordPress is user-friendly, which explains why so many people utilize it. Additionally, the feature with sharing on social media platforms is an advantage as it shares your findings with large audiences and possibly attract people to your site if they did not find it on the Internet. However, if you are looking to create a digital exhibit, I would recommend Omeka.net, which is another free resource, as it was created for that purpose. For historians, museum professionals, and public history practitioners who want to share stories and research, WordPress is a great, cost effective tool to utilize in sharing that with the large audience of the Internet.

-Meredith Jackson

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