WordPress guide is to help aspiring users understand what WordPress is, how WordPress works, and what it can be used for.
If you are looking for a WordPress manual with the aim of understanding what it is for and what its potential is, you are in the right place. You will find many in-depth links that will also guide you towards a study path if you decide to continue with your WordPress project.
What is WordPress?
If you search the web for what WordPress is, you will almost certainly find explanations along the lines of:
WordPress is a completely open-source and highly functional content management system.
If you're just starting out, terms like “ open source ” and “content management system” won't mean much to you.
So here's a much more beginner-friendly review of what WordPress is and how it works.
WordPress: a brief history
The WordPress journey began in 2003 when two developers, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, began building a new blogging platform using discontinued software called b2 / cafe blog. Shortly after abandoning the project, they decided to take it back and continue development on their own terms.
The first version, WordPress 1.0, was released in January 2004. It looked quite different from the content management system we know today. However, it already had most of the basic features we still use today, such as the WordPress editor, a simple installation process, custom permalinks, a user management system, and comment moderation features.
Since 2004, WordPress has undergone an incredible transformation. Today the open-source project is developed, controlled, and managed by a dedicated community of thousands of members around the world.
WordPress is a fast-growing CMS and a new version is released every 2 or 3 months. Each version adds new features and security updates to the CMS platform.
What is a content management system?
As already mentioned, WordPress is a content management system ( content management system or CMS, for short). To explain what this means, we must first explain what websites are and how they work.
When you type a website address (for example, doveworldnews.com) into a web browser (such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari), the computer connects (via the Internet) to another computer (called a server) and asks to view the code stored on that computer in the location (i.e. web address) you specified. The browser then loads this code and displays the corresponding web page.
What's important is how this code was stored in a particular location on the server: someone - or something - put it there. There are two ways to do this:
- someone wrote the code by hand and manually uploaded it to the server
- it was done using a Content Management System (CMS).
A CMS, therefore, is software that runs in your browser and allows non-professional users to easily archive, organize and publish new web content. without having any programming knowledge.
This allows the CMS to present itself as a solution to differentiate themselves from the site's web with static pages.
As a CMS, WordPress will write into its database - and manage - all this complicated code for you, thus allowing you to publish any content you want without worrying about what's happening in the background (i.e. on the server).
WordPress, therefore, is an application (aka software) that allows people to create, edit, and manage their websites via an easy-to-use (some might even say intuitive) interface.
How to use WordPress
But how do you use WordPress? The goal of WordPress is to allow people, regardless of where or who they are, to post content online in any form they want and in real-time.
Do you want a simple website that displays a collection of blog posts alongside a sidebar that displays a bio of the author and some images from your Instagram feed? No problem!
Or maybe you need a state-of-the-art eCommerce store that sells handcrafted bags, with a payment solution that allows people to purchase your products from anywhere in the world? No problem!
Or maybe you want to create a website for a service-based business, with a way for customers to make online hotel or restaurant reservations? Again, no problem!
With WordPress, you can put together any kind of website, and most importantly, it gives you the means to do it yourself, without having to hire a professional - and potentially very expensive - web designer.
WordPress: who uses it
Believe it or not, you've almost certainly come across WordPress many times before. How can I be so sure? Because it is currently used to create and manage over 36% of all websites in the world.
WordPress not only powers one in four websites worldwide but is also used by famous brands like Microsoft, Rolling Stone, Sony, Il Fatto Quotidiano - and many, many others.
WordPress isn't just for DIY, far from it. Websites based on this CMS span a wide range of formats, from personal blogs that only get a few hundred visitors a week to multinationals that boast tens of millions of visits a week.
Difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
WordPress is the most popular way to create a blog or website. But despite its popularity, there is one question many new users debate on a daily basis: What's the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
If you search for WordPress on Google, the two respective websites are ranked first and second. And if you're new to WordPress, you may not know which one to use.
While common sense would suggest that both sites should be the same, they are not.
Simply put, the main thing to know when talking about WordPress.org vs WordPress.com is this:
- WordPress.org is a product.
- WordPress.com is a service.
While they both give you the ability to build a website, each does it in a fundamentally different way.
Think of it this way (and sorry for the simplification): choosing WordPress.org is like buying a car, choosing WordPress.com is like renting a long-term car.
When you buy a car, you have all the responsibilities that come with it as an owner.
For example, you will need to take care of maintenance, make sure it works properly, change the oil, make sure it is safe to drive, and so on.
When you rent a car, you continue to drive it every day, but all maintenance is handled by the rental company. It looks nice at first, but that also means you can't change it in any way unless approved by the rental company itself. Basically, you just have to drive it.
So, in short, if:
- Do you want to have full control of your website ...
- You need the site for any commercial purpose (very important!) ...
- Do you want to use a custom design (or have it done by a web designer ) ...
- Words like hosting and domain names don't sound scary to you ...
- Do you want to be able to freely customize your website ...
… Choose WordPress.org. Click here
- You want to have a website quickly and you don't care about other aspects ...
- You are a beginner, but you still want to create a website without anyone's help ...
- Do you need a website for a personal project ...
- You don't mind not having full control of your site ...
… Then choose WordPress.com. Click here
WordPress: usability and expandability
The popularity of WordPress comes, in part, from its ease of use.
Once installed (something which, in itself, is very easy to do), you will have access to a control panel (dashboard) which is not only very well designed but also very simple to use. However, the real power of WordPress isn't its ease of use - in fact, its real power isn't actually within it.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the real power of WordPress is in its incredible expandability. You see, WordPress is not something that is limited and locked in its basic functionality but it is a system that was built to have all kinds of additional features via themes and plugins.
WordPress: main features
Here are the main features of WP:
- Extension of functionality through plugins
- Availability of thousands of themes to customize the layout and the graphic aspect of the site
- Use of SEO optimized slugs (URLs) via permalinks
- Creating pages
- Writing articles
- Management of categories and tags
- Functions of Trackback and Pingback
- Gutenberg block editor for text formatting and layout creation
- System update automatically
- Management of roles and users
- Multi-site support
- Possibility of creating e-commerce with special plugins for WordPress
- Possibility of SEO optimization thanks to specific SEO plugins
These are just some of the potential of the WordPress platform.
WordPress Themes and Plugins
As a CMS, WordPress will allow you to add or edit your website content whenever you want. However, without detailed instructions on how to organize this content on a web page, you will not be able to view it. A WordPress theme, therefore, is a set of absolutely necessary instructions.
When you install it, a default theme is activated on WordPress - a very simple set of instructions for viewing the content that allows you to immediately see a version of your website.
This is just the beginning because by separating your site's content from instructions on how to display it (i.e. the specific theme you are using), WordPress tells you that it doesn't matter how you choose to display the content you are using. As long as the theme meets a number of necessary conditions, you can use whichever one you prefer.
Of course, you can create your own theme (or commission a web agency to make one for you), but the great thing is that there are already tens of thousands of WordPress themes to choose from.
Themes are all about displaying content, but what if you want more functionality than what WordPress has by default?
Whether you're looking for a slider, a contact form, or something more complicated, like adding e-commerce features, WordPress opens the door for you via plugins.
Plugins are sets of instructions that define additional features and functions.
They are essentially coded files that can be uploaded to the server via the admin dashboard, but, like themes, they can be used to make WP do anything. And, as with themes, there are thousands available.
To give you an idea of everything you can do, check out our post on the best WordPress plugins. As you'll see, the possibilities are nearly endless, limited only by what others have already created (and made available for use).
As mentioned earlier in this WordPress manual when it was created in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, WordPress was a simple platform, focused almost entirely on just one type of website: blogging. Everything has to start somewhere, but not. it was a long time before his horizons began to broaden.
Today it is far from being just a blogging platform. Combined with the added power of plugins, it is now extremely flexible software that can power almost any type of website.
Due to the ease with which it can be extended, many argue that it has become one of the most flexible content management systems ever created.
WordPress: more than just software
Widespread use of WordPress has led to a huge user base, which, in turn, has led to an abundance of developers focused on this CMS eager to make their mark.
This thriving community is very welcoming and always willing to lend a hand around the world (did we mention WordPress available in more than 50 different languages?).
There are Facebook groups, forums, meet-ups, and more than 100 WordPress- centric conferences called ' WordCamps ' - not to mention the several WordPress- centric blogs. All of this means that it's easy to get the support you need, which is a real plus for new users.
WordPress is Open Source
You may be wondering who makes WordPress? To explain this, we must first understand the term open source.
When it comes to software, open-source refers to a type of license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, modify and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.
This means that no one really 'owns' WordPress - which, instead, is developed and maintained by a number of volunteers, many of whom are sponsored to work on WordPress by companies with vested interests in seeing it continue to grow.
Plus, thanks to its open-source nature, thousands of people contribute to it every day, in all ways.
Its open-source nature and having so many people working to make it better not only increases the user experience across the board but also makes it a high-quality software.
Here are some of the benefits of having such a large and active community:
- There are thousands (if not more) of free themes to choose from.
- There are tens of thousands of free plugins available.
- There is an ever-increasing number of high-quality premium themes and plugins that boast all kinds of
- features and great support.
- New versions are constantly being released
- It has a particularly active community forum.
- It is available in all major languages.
How much does WordPress cost?
Due to its open-source nature, WordPress is free.
However, there are other costs associated with setting up a website to consider before starting. That server we mentioned earlier, for example, has to be paid for (not everything, of course, but you'll have to buy some space).
The services that provide this web space are called "hosting providers":...
Likewise, the address for your website, known as a domain (such as doveworldnews.com), will also have to be paid, at a cost that is usually around € 10 per year.
The best domain providers include Namecheap and OVH, or better yet, whatever WordPress hosting service you choose should be able to provide you with the server space you need.
You can also choose to purchase a premium theme, which will cost between $ 50 and $ 70 (usually a one-time cost).
Pros and cons of WordPress
Using WordPress has several advantages and is one of the most popular platforms for anyone who wants to run a website without any programming knowledge. Furthermore, it is a good choice for programmers, as it is a highly customizable tool.
Here is a list of some highlights to keep in mind.
- Low cost - you just have to pay for the domain and web hosting service. WP and many plugins and themes are free.
- Easy installation and update process - Unlike other CMS, it does not need configurations and you can update it with just one click.
- Simple to manage: No programming knowledge is required to perform everyday tasks such as writing and editing pages and articles, uploading and editing images, managing users, adding menus, and installing plugins and themes.
- Custom Design - With thousands of ready-to-use themes, you can easily create a custom design that fits your niche. For example, you can find specific themes for restaurants, doctors' offices, small businesses, food bloggers, etc.
- Custom Features: You can add new plugins to extend the default WordPress features. You can find a plugin for every specific activity from search engine optimization to event booking.
- Community - WordPress has a very active worldwide community and support forum. If you don't know something or are having problems, you can find help right away.
- Open-source - You don't have to and never have to pay for WordPress software.
- Security Issues: Because WordPress powers over 36% of the web, it is often targeted by hackers. However, if you stick to basic safety-related maintenance activities you can reduce this risk.
- Third-Party Content: Since most plugins and themes are created by third-party developers, they are sometimes flawed. Before installing a new plugin or theme, always read the description and reviews. If you're still unsure, ask the community for support.
- Page Load Time: If you have too many plugins installed, your WordPress site may slow down. However, installing a cache plugin can usually solve this problem.
Is WordPress the right solution for you?
WordPress is a versatile solution that has deservedly established itself as the most popular CMS on the internet. It is the content management system that I use for most of the websites that I develop and the platform that I recommend to friends and obviously my clients, but it is not perfect. No solution is.
It's up to you to determine which platform is right for you and your project. There are many factors to consider, including your experience, your budget, and what you are trying to create.
There are also many great hosted blogging solutions that you should consider.
In addition to WordPress.com, you should check out Tumblr and the versatile Squarespace. Medium, created by Blogger and Twitter founder Evan Williams, is another well-known solution that many people turn to.
My personal recommendation for bloggers is Ghost, a platform that is less heavy than WordPress as it has removed all non-essential features.
WooCommerce isn't just the most popular eCommerce plugin. It is also the most popular eCommerce platform on the internet that powers multiple online stores in spite of workarounds like Shopify.
Keep in mind, however, that WordPress shouldn't be your first choice for a project just because it supports such features.
Take discussion boards, for example.
By activating a plugin like bbPress or wpForo Forum, you can easily add a discussion forum (bulletin board) to your WordPress website.
While these plugins are fine for a small forum, there are better solutions on the market like MyBB, phpBB, vBulletin, XenForo, Flarum, Vanilla Forums, and more.
In other words, WordPress themes and plugins mean that WordPress can do almost anything, but that doesn't mean it's always the best solution.
Then evaluate all the options in order to choose the right platform for your new web project.
It is no exaggeration to say that WordPress is an extremely powerful platform for launching almost any website. It can be used to build small and large websites, is easy to use, and with the added power of themes and plugins, it is certainly one of the most flexible CMSs available. Plus, it has a thriving community and is both free and open source.
Your options are countless, it's easy to get started, you can learn quickly and get help from different sources.
This comprehensive WordPress guide introduced you to the main features of the popular website builder tool. Now you can carry out your project in a totally autonomous way.