WordPress for Genealogical Societies

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WordPress is a free software that can be used to create a website or a blog (or, a website with a blog included).  WordPress currently powers about 20% of all online websites [1] and is a powerful system for creating online content using a What You See is What You Get interface.  It is currently the market leader among content managment systems [2]

How to Get WordPress

To use WordPress you have two options:

  • Wordpress.com -- have your pages hosted on their website for free. The site's address will be yoursite.wordpress.com (or, you can pay to have your own domain name point to your WordPress blog).   If you have your site hosted by wordpress.com, then you will have limits on how much "extra" functionality you can add.  Extras can be obtained through purchases. 
  • Wordpress.org -- you can also download the software for free. You will need to have your own webhost to run it and make sure whichever host you choose meets the technical requirements.  Also, many webhosts have systems in place that let you install WordPress without needing to download and upload yourself using a 1-click installation process. Be sure to ask your webhost about it!  

For more information on deciding between the two options, visit this WordPress support page.

Advantages of WordPress

WordPress offers numerous advantages and compelling reasons to use it. Some of the benefits of using WordPress include:

Emphasis on Content

WordPress has a specific content on helping you focus on your content and making sure your content is discoverable. 

  • Your WordPress content is easily located by major search engines
  • Adding content is as easy as writing in Microsoft Word. WordPress uses a "What You See is What You Get" platform so you type and click buttons to enhance your text.  Of course, if you know HTML, you can do more with your conent, but it's not required. WordPress is meant to be easy-to-use. 
  • Web-based administration - log into your administration panel, called the "Dashboard," and work on your website from any computer/device with an internet connection. From desktop, to tablet, to mobile - you can add to your conent from many different avenues. 

Power of Plugins

The WordPress "core" files are meant to keep the software lean and running fast.  "Plugins" can be downloaded which allow you to have many more options.  The benefit is that each site owner can tailor the site to meet their specific needs. Plugins allow you to create the site that is limited only by your purpose and vision!  Thousands of plugins are available in the WordPress Plugin Directory.  If there is something you want to accomplish, there is probably a plugin for it. 

For example, there are many genealogy plugins available. The Rootspersona plugin allows you to upload a GEDCOM file and it will create pages for all your ancestors in the tree.


A beautiful website is only a click away with WordPress. Thousands of themes can be downloaded and activated on your site with the click of a button.  WordPress.org contains hundreds of free templates that you can use; alternatively you can join a theme club for access to premium themes.  Premium themes, which usually come at a cost, usually have more options for customization.  Want to do a website redesign? It's as simple as ju

Social Interactivity 

Social Networking is a must-have component to any website it today's digital enviroment. Interactivity is fundamental part of the WordPress core.

  • Through the commenting system, site visitors can interact with you directly through your site, alleviating the step of creating an email to send to you. 
  • Comments become searchable as content - and also are available for search engines to crawl
  • Comments allow your users to expand upon the information you share. Posting obituaries? How cool would it be if one of the descendants found it and added additional information to your post. Here is an example
  • WordPress also has a built-in mechanism to automatically alert you when someone else on the internet links back to your page. These are called Trackbacks

Each of these features helps users add value to the information you share!

Multiple Users 

WordPress has the built-in capability to allow multiple users to have rights to post content on your website. As a genealogy group, this comes in handy because different members can all log on with their unique usernames and passwords and contribute. 

Permissions can be set too - some users can be set up to add material but not have the rights to make it "live;" others can have full rights to do everything on your site. For more informatiion, visit the WordPress Roles and Capabilties page. 

WordPress User Community  

There is a very large community of WordPress aficianados that you can rely upon when you need help.  If you have a problem - someone in the community can help you! From the WordPress Forums to the WordCamp events held around the world, you're sure to be able to find assistance when you need it.

Additionally, you can consult WordPress.tv, and YouTube  for videos about WordPress and all that it offers. 

Using WordPress for Genealogy


  1. Mullenweg, Matt. "State of the Word." [Blog post]. 19 Aug. 2011.
  2. "2011 Open Source CMS Market Share Report." Water and Stone, Nov. 2011. Web.