Great Blogging Tool and a CMS
WordPress began in 2003 as free, open-source blogging software, and has only improved its features as time's gone on. Thanks to thousands of free plugins and widgets, and both free and paid downloadable themes, it's easy to extend WordPress beyond its base features and into a full-featured website.
WordPress is one of the best blogging tools around, without even considering its price (free). Built-in features let users quickly and easily publish articles, allow for user comments, and publish a RSS feed. Additional plugins allow users to Retweet and share blog posts across a range of social media. Mailing lists subscription tools allow for users to receive content straight to their email box.
Advanced features include BuddyPress, which helps turn your WordPress installation into a custom social networking site, similar to Ning.com, but free (except for whatever your hosting costs run). You can build a Facebook-style site just for your group, be it a church, sports team, volunteer group, etc.
Multi-User WordPress allows you to run multiple WordPress-powered sites off one WordPress install. This is a bit more demanding on the web server and for the administrator to run, but for some users, this can be a real advantage.
WordPress as a CMS
Given its ease of use and user-friendly features, as well as support for pages, it was only a matter of time before users started using WordPress for running entire sites. For users with basic site needs, creating an About Us page, Home, and Contact is a snap. WordPress' blogging features can be used to power a Recent News about a company or organization. And the online text-editors (WYSIWYG) mean that anyone with a basic understanding of Word can edit text, add links, and upload images to their content, right within their browsers.
Pros and Cons
WordPress installs easily, as do the various plugins, and updating can take place directly within the web browser. Users can be up and running quickly, adding content to the site, writing posts, adding pages, and so on, without a lot of technical knowledge.
So where does an experienced web design and developer come in to the picture? First of all, knowing which plugins to choose from out of the thousands to choose from is a challenge, and picking the wrong one can easily take down a site. And having a site running off a default design template doesn't suit the message that many businesses and organizations are trying to portray. Often some custom PHP and CSS work is required to turn a WordPress installation into a site you'd find in a WordPress showcase.
WordPress Versus Drupal
With all its features and user-friendly design, I still find Drupal to be a more powerful and capable content management system. Drupal's ability to add custom content types, tools for custom database queries, and powers of scalability and security make it my first choice when building a new site. But I think there's room for both, and it's often a matter of deciding what tools best the users needs.
Major new releases of WordPress and Drupal in 2010, WordPress 3 and Drupal 7 respectively, mean this will have to revisited as time goes on.