It’s hard to spend any time in the world of the Internet without hearing mention of WordPress. This incredibly clever software has made it possible for the least technical to have a web presence.
The very active WordPress community continues to produce an abundance of add ins and options to extend the functionality of the core software, making WordPress very versatile.
BUT, it is the sheer volume of WordPress ‘stuff’ that can cause confusion and overwhelm. Which are the best WordPress plugins to use? Which WordPress themes? Who offers the best support? Who offers any support?
Then there’s the debate about premium services – those WordPress addons that are not free.
WPMU.org offers a membership service which gives access to a lot of premium services and that’s what I want to discuss here.
The WPMU name harks back to a time when it was possible to install a slightly different version of WordPress on your server in order to run multiple blogs from the one location (I am sure the tecchies will throw up their hands in horror at that description but this is not a technical post). A recent upgrade to WordPress has embraced that functionality within the core product, again making it possible for the least technical to benefit from this facility.
Many of the themes and plugins offered by WPMU, it seems to me at least, were originally developed with this multi-site function in mind BUT that doesn’t mean they can’t be used on a single site. Indeed they can.
The themes are clean and attractive (this site makes use of one of them) and my only minor grouse would be that documentation regarding theme tweaks, which allow personalisation of themes, is a little thin. It’s a case of the user poking around and trying the different options.
I think the real strength of the membership for me is with the plugins. There are over a hundred of the things (don’t rush out and install them all – you don’t need them all!) and they cover just about every web site type you can imagine. A few examples:
- Membership Management
- Content Management
- Turn your WordPress into a Wiki, a Directory or a CMS
- Affiliate Management
- Split Testing Themes
- Classified Ads
- Community Building
- Advertising Solutions
- A Pay-to-Blog system
- A Support Desk
I haven’t yet failed to find just the help I needed.
There is a strong support community and the plugins and themes are all updated regularly to keep on top of security issues.
Like everyone, I have to be sure I am extracting value for money from all investments I make for my business. Having ‘tried’ WPMU for a couple of months I have just committed to a year’s membership, to take advantage of the significant discount that represented, simply because this is one of the few tools that has saved me money – already.
It’s well worth dipping your toe in the water and trying a month’s membership to see what’s under the cover. You are free to continue to use the premium downloads if you decide not to renew BUT you won’t be able to download the upgrades when they become available – which seems reasonable.
For me WPMU has made it easier to get WordPress to become a multi-functional platform. What used to be a straightforward blogging tool can now be used to run the wide variety of sites I own or manage. In addition, some of the ideas that were simmering on the ‘too-hard-to-do-list’ can now be dusted down as WPMU has provided the additional technology I needed, at the right price, to shift them to the ‘now-possible-list’.
For good order’s sake, know that if you follow links to WPMU from this post and then go on to purchase a subscription, there is a chance I will benefit. That’s not the sole intention of this post! I want more people to realise that WPMU has come of age and what was perhaps previously associated with multi-site installations can also be used with single sites (if I was the only person labouring under that misapprehension I apologise!)
If anyone else has experience of WPMU or if they have a favourite plugin I hope they’ll share below.