For many years, Microsoft Word has been the traditional word processor of choice for students, business professionals, and anyone looking to create and print a document. As the world moves away from print and toward digital publication, we compare our personal favourite online publication platform, WordPress, with the ubiquitous Microsoft Word.
Why Do We Use WordPress?
You may not know that we build nearly all of our websites with WordPress. One of the reasons we love working with WordPress is that it’s extremely malleable. WordPress is a fantastic content delivery tool with near endless options for customization. Think of it this way: building websites with WordPress is a bit like building something with Legos. You can build anything you want using Lego pieces and still have incredibly unique designs even though you’re using the same tiny Lego pieces. The same goes for WordPress; you can build a one-of-a-kind website using different fully modifiable templates, features, and tools.
One of the reasons why WordPress is so customizable is because it is open-sourced. While some design strategy firms have their own proprietary content management system that only their staff can use, there is a very large community of people using WordPress as an online publishing platform. This means there is a great deal of expertise about WordPress out there. There are also countless forums to find solutions to any questions or issues users might be experiencing. Since there isn’t a single entity working on it, more people are engaged and WordPress more rapidly develops. This leads to community members writing a myriad of plug-ins for WordPress. Just like the saying “There’s an app for that”, someone has written a plug-in for just about any task or feature that you’d like to include on your website.
These plug-ins, along with an extremely user-friendly interface, make using WordPress incredibly easy. Almost anyone with a blogging background will quickly familiarize themselves with how to use the site. In fact, we’ve trained clients who have never seen the software before to be comfortable in updating a WordPress site in under one hour. Users can manage their sites or blog with little to no technical knowledge. This is great for clients who intend to regularly update and add content to their own websites.
Similarities and Differences
At first glance, WordPress and Microsoft Word may seem like completely different programs with different purposes. However, while WordPress and Microsoft Word serve distinct functions, these programs also have several similarities. In fact, WordPress displays the main elements of any typical word processor. The toolbar above the text area has options for headings, bullets and numbering, adding links, and text styling. These are familiar looking: a bold “B” for bold, an italicized “I” for italics, etc. WordPress also has a proofreading feature to help eliminate typos as well as a word count tool that allows you to keep track of your text’s length. Like Microsoft Word, you can make changes to the text directly in the WordPress editor. Once you are happy with your post, you can preview it or publish it directly and immediately to your site.
Despite their similarities, WordPress does possess certain features that Microsoft Word does not. For example, I’m sure we can all remember at least one infuriating instance when we forgot to save a document in Word before the file is accidentally lost. To put your mind at ease, WordPress has a convenient auto-saving component that regularly saves your work as a draft. Furthermore, WordPress also has a revisions feature that allows you to look back at every version of your document, as opposed to overwriting it completely like it does in Word. This features helps to avoid the need to save multiple versions and the subsequent headaches of finding the right one. It has saved our own hides numerous times and our clients are always happily surprised to see that revisions are built into the software.
Furthermore, WordPress isn’t as proficient as Microsoft Word for creating charts and tables. However, yep, you guessed it, there’s a plug-in for that. As a digital publishing site, WordPress is also much more capable of incorporating multimedia in your document. WordPress is capable of incorporating a video, a photo gallery, and audio files directly on the page.
Where People Get Tripped Up in WordPress
Since Microsoft Word was one of the first and most popular word processors around (hey, anyone remember WordPerfect?), many people are reluctant to make the switch to an online processor. The initial experience with WordPress can be intimidating for a new user and like any other program there can be a learning curve. The interface and web design jargon may initially seem daunting, however, it is easy to adapt. At Manoverboard, we do all of the handholding to get clients comfortable with WordPress and make sure that any questions you have are answered. Your designer and developer should walk you through, too.
Moreover, developers can customize the interface settings to make it as user-friendly as possible for clients who intend on updating their own sites. They do this by stripping the toolbar down to the essentials and spending time educating clients on how to use the program for their needs.
Interestingly, since Microsoft Word is ubiquitous and WordPress can be intimidating to work with in the beginning, many people initially write their copy in a Word document before copy/pasting it into a WordPress form. This combination of Microsoft Word and WordPress can often cause complications. What many people don’t realize is that there is a great deal of hidden coding that comes along with copy/pasting text, which can come along for the ride and disrupt the formatting. Some of the templates in WordPress will already have their own settings for paragraph breaks, text styling, and spacing, including standard paragraph breaks. Users can avoid these problems by either transferring the Microsoft Word document in plain text before copy/pasting it into WordPress, or by using the handy “clear formatting” button in WordPress.
While Microsoft Word still serves its purpose in the world of print, WordPress is a remarkable and almost limitless tool for web designers to create unique, versatile, and user-friendly websites for any client.