WordPress is probably the best known of all the blogging tools. Setting up a basic blog is free, and this includes taking advantage of the professionally designed templates and hosting. For $99 (£63.85) a year, you also get your own domain name, 10GB rather than 3GB of web space, the removal of ads, the ability to design a blog from scratch and the VideoPress video player.
There’s a fair selection of well-designed templates, although all are simple. Most things are customisable but, unlike the website services, there’s very little in-place editing. Nearly all operations take place on separate screens – when you edit text, for example, it appears in a separate text editor with simple formatting controls. You edit and republish the text to have it appear in your blog post.
This lack of WYSIWYG updating is more disconcerting than it may sound. It’s fine if you write all your text in one go and add all the necessary images before publication, but if you prefer to tweak your copy and photos as you go, it’s long-winded to have to keep previewing and applying changes.
At the top of a blog, the default pages are Home and About, although you can add others. Using this facility it’s easy to set up a website that isn’t a blog, although the one missing feature is e-commerce. You can add PayPal buttons, but there’s no payment cart facility.
WordPress provides links to Twitter and Facebook, and automatically lists recent posts, your archives and metadata down the right side of your blog page.
If you’re planning to set up a blog, WordPress is probably all you need. While it’s not as easy to use as a dedicated web-design service, it’s free and can be used to make sites that aren’t blogs as well.