If you’ve been around the Internet for a while, chances are you’ve run across WordPress. It’s one of the oldest and by now probably the most widely used blogging software. Their open-source, self-hosted version is downloadable at WordPress.org, for a couple of years now they have been offering free hosted blogs at WordPress.com (which we will skip here, for obvious reasons, but it’s still one of the most solid and easy hosted-blogging services).
In a Nutshell
WordPress is probably the most used blogging software on the planet, mainly because it’s easy to set up and extensively extendable. It is open-source, free but there are also many premium themes and plugins to choose from.
WordPress has gone through many iterations through the years, and their current version is by far the easiest self-hosted software to install and maintain I know of. Installation works by uploading the files to your webhost after adding your database credentials to the config file. From there, it’s roughly five minutes until it’s all set up. In addition to that, many webhosts already come with pre-installed WordPress or installation scripts like Fantastico, which make it even easier to set up a blog. Check out this list of supported and recommended companies, but if you look around, you’ll see hundreds if not thousands more which also feature WordPress 1-click installs.
WordPress is very modular, so it’s so extendable that, if you are so inclined, you can use it not only for blogging, but as a full-fledged content management system.
Updates to WordPress are being handled very smoothly as well. If there’s new versions of the core system, plugins or themes out there, it usually just a matter of a few clicks to update.
WordPress is very much a community effort. Their forums are huge and if you run into trouble with your setup, chances are your problems have been addressed and solved before in the forums. To boot, their How-Tos are extensive but also concise enough for the every day user to grasp. As an example, check out their installation guide. It also comes in a multitude of languages, both for the back- and the front-end.
WordPress is free, but there are certain premium themes or plugins which come at a price. For the beginner, though, it’s usually not necessary to spend any money on those.