What difference does WordPress make, compared to a University’s own blogging platform?

When I worked at the University of Warwick, I used their proprietary blogging tool. This was largely because we could set permissions for blog entries to be visible only to Uni members, or a particular department or course, etc.

Now that I’ve left, I’m finally exploring WordPress. So, how is it different? Here are some things that I’ve noticed, so far:

1) It is (naturally) a place with a bigger and world-wide community. In theory, any blog could reach anyone online, but the “home” platform of a blog promotes it in its own ways, to its own community. Using WordPress helps a blogger to reach more people: if maximum audience is your goal, then this seems good. But it could be that you want to target your your audience and invest more time interacting with them. At first, on WordPress, I started to look at who was following me or who had “liked” my post. This has not been such a fruitful use of my time as it was when I used Warwick’s blog platform. Incidentally, it is not so fruitful as when I look at Twitter likes and follows, either:  more evidence of the value of tweeting from your blog.

Using WordPress has taught me that if I want to get to know someone through their blog, the best way is to comment there in a meaningful and intelligent way.

2) The obvious point: it looks different and has slightly different ways to create and edit a post, and to manage the blog. This is not a big deal as I blog in quite simple ways, and can do what I want on either platform. But there is also a lot more power and possibility with WordPress, that interests me and that might even be inspiring when I convince myself that it’s not at all daunting!

3) WordPress comes with its own blog reader tool: one of the ways it makes your blog available to others to read, and with it you can follow others’ WordPress blogs, too. This could be handy in the wake of Google Reader’s demise: I do need to investigate more, though.

4) WordPress gives me a Gravatar, which Wikipedia gives basic information about. I’m not sure how useful this will be, outside of Worpress’s own environment, however.

With more investment of time, I’m sure that I would discover more differences, but that’s what I have noticed fairly quickly.


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