For months now a lot of us who kept ourselves in the loop have been hearing a lot about WordPress.com which is the commercialised hosted version of WordPress. I have been writing about it a lot lately as well as a second hand look on what is it all about. Well it's about a few days since I got my hands on alpha-beta-testing the new WordPress.com site and I've got to say one thing.
It's not really mind blowing.
Don't get me wrong, WordPress.com is loaded with features even in its Alpha state. Let me show you a screen clip to show you what I mean.
I know you might not be able to see it clearly from here, but how cool is that? I mean, look at that Write Page. Streamlined and built with a purpose. It's got expandable options and sidebars that you can even move them around by dragging them. If you think your "Trackback" is too low…just drag it up. It's that simple. And just when you think thats enough playing around…that text area where you write your posts…thats expandable as well.
But when you had your fun and games playing around with the writing area and you want to blog. It settles down into a comfortable purposeful blogging tool. It feels like double whipped cream with a dash of chocolate sprinkles and a cherry. Simple yet elegant. Things that you need for blogging is there, bold, italic, strikes, adding links and pictures. But it's got more because they have added the new <--more--> and <--next page--> for those of you who love to write long posts with teasers and "Edit HTML" for those hardcore geeks.
It gets you right down to the very heart of blogging and lets you waste no more time on other unecessary things. It makes it so simple that even your mother could use it.
My only misgiving and it's a very slight one is that clicking on these tools pops them up on my browser and because I'm using Firefox which expands all popups, it can get a little tedious…but it's only a slight reservation.
Your Dashboard I should say as purposeful as what you write. Since its the first page you log into, it immedietly presents you with 4 links directing you to write, add links, change profile or password and change your theme. Everything you need to the the first moment you log in. Perfect. Now this is where WordPress.com tries to show itself as a community based blog.
- Top Blogs
- Top Posts
- Latests Posts
Now that WordPress.com is expanding, having something like this is good. I can see who's blogs have the highest hits, which posts have the highest hits and well who just blogged. It tries to build on what Blogger or other ping sites has in a more detailed way. When you come to think of it, it draws you…entices you to take part in the WordPress.com community…like Livejournal or PPS before it. I can say it's a step in the right direction with blogs especially if they plan to develop it further. The only catch is…when there are A LOT of bloggers using WordPress.com…this system can be a problem. But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
Which is another thing about WordPress.com. Community. To date, it's still by invite only and from what I have heard, it's going to be invite only. The reason why they did this is because of 2 things. Close community and spam blogs. The idea behind it is so that you can invite family, significant ones and close friends to blog around you and they do the same thing. With that…you're creating a niche for blogging. A way where people can stay close and keep in contact with each other through blogging. It's a solid idea.
With spam in mind, even though WordPress.com runs on the famous Bad Behavior spambot filter. Places like Blogger and Blogsome have become a HAVEN for spam blogs, people who sign up so that they can foward whatever spam to other blogs and swamp them with spam comments. The invite system gets rid of that…hopefully…because at the end of it, it's people you know and trust that you'll be giving the invites to.
It's even got a 25mb storage space for your pictures. It's not much if you're already using things like Flickr, but for those that don't a nice web optimised picture is a perfect upload not to mention future developments for theme backgrounds which you may want to upload on site instead. It's still pretty generous to begin with.
Which brings me to the business of the themes. At this moment, you can't customise your own themes. You can pick and choose your themes with a click of a mouse but they are the default themes taken straight from the WordPress.org site. Fear not because this isn't going to permanent. Remember, it's still in Alpha which means new things are added as time goes by before the big opening. They aren't that stupid to make sure you can't edit the theme…they just put up the most simplest and easiest of user related functions first. Which is a good thing.
Elsewhere, it's business as usual. You can write pages to personalise your blog more. You can add links into categories with a nothing more than 20 seconds of selecting and writing. You got your basic options, profile (WordPress.com allows one user per blog for now). It's got everything a self-hosted WordPress blog has…to a lesser extent.
And that…is the problem.
If you already run a WordPress blog of your own with your own server, chances are, you're not going to go for this unless you're a serial blogger looking for a free hosting for a system you're already familar with. With the magnitude of features that WordPress has by itself and with even more features coming out in Version 1.6 which may be at the end of the year.
WordPress.com seems a bit watered down…but it's meant to be that way.
WordPress.com is meant to be the blog that everyone can use. A blog that has the user-friendliness of Blogger with the community of Livejournal. A blog where blogging comes first without the hassles of other things. It doesn't machine gun you with power options and the hassle of plugins like our WordPress blogs do. It drapes and cradles you in the heart of a blog – in your content.
Despite the fact that it really isn't mind-blowing. I like it. It's got an elegant charm and familiar features I would use. It could stand for more improvements like customising the theme and maybe adding more authors. It could have options to update your Dashboard so that only people on your blogroll are the ones that are updated…give it a whole 6 degree of seperation concept. Even so…I like it. I would use it. In fact I am using it.
Maybe in time…you would to.