Over the last few years, I’ve recommended and used WordPress as a great solution for websites. WordPress is no longer just for blogs, it’s a great solution for churches and small businesses as well. You can get started with WordPress.com which is the entry level version that is hosted for you. However, if you really want to explore the power and flexibility of WordPress, you need to try out WordPress.org, which is the self-hosted version. The self-hosted version allows you to use custom themes and plugins to extend the functionality of your website, but you will need to pay for web hosting.
If you want to experiment with WordPress, but if you don’t have your own web hosting, then here is a neat solution for you. The hosting company FlyWheel offers a local development system appropriately called Local. This turns your own computer into a web hosting system so that you can play around with WordPress and develop sites locally without having to use a web host.
Website designers use systems like these to design new websites. Once the sites are designed, they can be uploaded to a server. A great use for churches is to copy over your existing WordPress site to try out new themes. It’s also a good way to try out updates without affecting your live site.
NOTE: this still takes some skill and experience, but this is the easiest local development system I have ever used. I’ve used MAMP before, but this is really much more simple to use. It’s available on Mac currently, with a Windows version available in BETA. If you want to get involved in website design or learn more about WordPress, here’s your chance.
Local is really great. Free doesn’t hurt either. 🙂