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I want to start a website, but have no experience in this field. I've heard of Wordpress being a simple way to do things.

However, it seems that Wordpress is mostly for blogs, without the ability to completely control where things go on the page. Is this true? I need to be able to build pages from scratch. Can I do that with Wordpress? Can I add text, graphics, videos where I want? Can I add room for advertisers? Can I link to PayPal, for payments if needed (with my site getting feedback so it can act accordingly)?

If not, what are my alternatives for doing this by myself?

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Simply put, yes. You can create a wide range of websites using WordPress. For example shops, affiliate systems, etc. – Hamed Momeni Mar 25 '13 at 8:09
up vote 7 down vote accepted

You can indeed create a page based website using only WordPress. I do this for my clients every week. WordPress has a pages panel that lets you create hierarchical pages. In order to place graphics, videos etc in any location you can do this for the most part. As far as the design of the site goes you would need to learn how to create a WordPress theme. Doing this would enable you to move content items be it videos, graphics or text in any place you would like using CSS.

You can purchase a premium WordPress theme or you can create your own theme. WordPress provides a powerful API and Theme API that allows for unlimited customization which would allow you to build a website.

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Thanks. But it looks like these links are referring to blogs on the Wordpress blog site (and the video – for a fee). About the API – it looks like I would have to learn some web programming for that. Am I right? – Startup1 Jan 26 '12 at 20:25
@Virgil +1 for an incredibly useful answer. Bookmarked for reference. – ef2011 Jan 31 '12 at 19:02
@Startup1 Yes they are help references to WordPress.com but they apply to the self hosted version as well. Yes you would need to learn PHP, XHTML and CSS. – Virgil Shelton Feb 1 '12 at 23:04

I've built several "normal" websites using WordPress and whole-heartedly recommend it. There are tons of great professional-looking themes out there that can speed up development time, not to mentions the fabulous plug-in architecture of WordPress.

You can have as much control over element placement as you'd like. You can do so with templates, or add PHP/HTML code via widgets or directly in the page with a plug-in. There are also plug-ins that allow ads, rotating ads, ad networks, etc. And there are a number of free and premium ecommerce systems that work with PayPal, or you can use PayPal's merchant tools to create the buttons and related code.

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Thanks. Are the plug-ins you mentioned, made by Wordpress, or are they by 3rd parties? And do you mean I could do all of that without learning how to program? – Startup1 Jan 26 '12 at 21:39
There are several places to find third party WordPress plugins, but the best place to start is wordpress.org/extend/plugins. And yes, you can create a nice WordPress site without programming. – WebDevKev Feb 7 '12 at 23:06

Having used WordPress purely as a blogging platform, I was indeed surprised to see that it can be put to very effective use in a wide range of scenarios.

Take a look at the WordPress Showcase and see what people are doing with it:

  1. Network Solutions
  2. Bungobox

To name a few.

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Thanks. But can I do that without learning web programming? – Startup1 Jan 26 '12 at 20:26
Can't see sites, only designes – Lazy Badger Jan 26 '12 at 20:41
@LazyBadger I don't follow. The WordPress Showcase isn't a theme repository, if that's what you mean: clicking the "View Site" button next to the page thumbnail brings you to a site. Or am I missing something? – msanford Jan 26 '12 at 20:46
@msanford - on sites I don't see sites of 201* years. Yes, they exist and work, but they functionality equal to "Gefrierpunkt" – Lazy Badger Jan 26 '12 at 20:53

I've heard of Wordpress being a simple way to do things.

Lie. WP was blog, is blog and die as blog (low-medium quality for now already). It's less better than "terrible" in the area of general-purpose CMS.

More reasonable way from any side will be find and learn fast, designed and developed as common-CMS system and use normal CMS for site-builds

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Thanks for your answer. – Startup1 Jan 26 '12 at 21:41
Perhaps you could recommend a better alternative to WP for a general-purpose CMS. I don't like the fact that WP isn't based on MVC architecture, but in terms of user-friendliness and robustness of standard features as well as plugin and developer support, I've yet to find any FOSS or commercial alternatives that are better than WP3, which established WordPress as an excellent general-purpose CMS. I'd also like to hear some reasons why you think WordPress is terrible. – Lèse majesté Jan 26 '12 at 22:22
@lese-majeste - Good general-purpose CMSes (IMNSHO) (and with "easy start for beginner") I'll count (not in written order): Xaraya, ImpressCMS, SilverStripe, maybe TextPattern in some degree. WP is terrible, because it have all symptoms of "age-related diseases" - pieces of spaghetti-code, resource-hog (I saw top on a lot of servers with WP), poor scalability without "gold" servers. It's not a Best Choice even as pure single-user blog – Lazy Badger Jan 26 '12 at 22:58
SilverStripe and TextPattern are good CMSes, but Xaraya and ImpressCMS? Those projects are not nearly mature enough or remotely as featureful as WP3. And, IMO, ImpressCMS's codebase is much uglier than WP3 (e.g. huge long pages of unstructured spaghetti code, even with bits of HTML embedded into it using echo statements). I would seriously hate to see what ImpressCMS would look like by the time it reaches the level of functionality of WP3. I haven't looked at Xaraya's code, but it looks even less polished than Impress. – Lèse majesté Jan 27 '12 at 0:17
Comparing WP3 to either Xaraya or ImpressCMS is like comparing Magento to osCommerce or OpenCart. Sure, osCommerce/OpenCart is easier to delve into and leaner, but they're also offering a fraction of the functionality of Magento. If you wanna compare against WP, at least pick something that has equal or superior functionality, such as SilverStripe, Concrete5 or ExpressionEngine. But as a general-purpose web publishing platform, WP3 still compares very favorably against most of those true competitors. – Lèse majesté Jan 27 '12 at 0:22

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