What is WordPress? An Introduction to the Beginner-Friendly CMS
WordPress is a beginner-friendly platform for building any type of website. From an ecommerce store to a personal blog to a photography portfolio, there are countless uses of WordPress. Not only is it a straightforward tool, but there’s also a large community of users to turn to for support.
Last Updated September 2020
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This guide is for anyone getting started with WordPress. We’ll cover the service’s benefits, security best practices, popular templates, and more.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) known for its simplicity. Sites built on WordPress make up an astounding 35% of all blogs and websites available today. The intent of a CMS is to alleviate many of the technical pain points of building and operating a website. The WordPress dashboard and editor window let users build websites without prior programming knowledge. Its interface makes it an ideal CMS for beginner blogs, while the customization possibilities make it useful for professional websites as well.
WordPress debuted in 2003 when the creator of a popular blogging platform, b2/cafelog, suddenly stopped updating the tool. To fill the blogging void, two b2 users Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, designed and built a new tool called WordPress using the same features and source code as b2/cafelog.
6 Benefits of WordPress
Why is WordPress popular enough to account for 35% of the websites on the internet? There are (at least!) six benefits for building a site with WordPress.
- Open-source: Because WordPress is open-source software, users have free access to the source code. Savvy users can study, change, and redistribute the code as they wish. This results in lower hardware and software costs, regular updates, and no vendor lock-in.
- Versatility: Consider WordPress if you want to create a website that’s easy-to-use with the flexibility to grow with your needs. Users are in full control of all aspects of their WordPress projects. This includes how you use fonts, layouts, images, and on-page interactions. Because coding isn’t required for WordPress, most people make changes to their site through simple clicks of a mouse on the dashboard.
- Themes and plugins: There are over 11,000 customizable WordPress themes. Customization can go deeper with plugins, which add interactions to a website. Interactions can be things like online polls, questionnaires, comments, forms, and chat. Some popular plugins include Yoast SEO, Contact Form 7, Google Analytics for WordPress, Akismet, and All in One WP Security and Firewall. There are over 55,000 plugins available, which can be found on the WordPress dashboard. Plugin installation is a quick process, usually taking a few minutes maximum to download, install, and activate.
- Cross-browser and cross-device compatibility: WordPress works across all browser types and with all smart devices. There’s no guesswork needed for non-technical users to ensure their site renders correctly. WordPress takes care of the back-end programming that enables a site to render properly regardless of the browser or device.
- Search engine friendly: Google and other search engines love WordPress websites and blogs. Why? Lightweight site themes, search engine optimized plugins, and cross-browser compatibility are prioritized in search algorithms. Projects built on this platform see web pages indexed in seconds and enjoy high search engine rankings.
- Security: WordPress is a stable and secure platform. However, many prospective users hear reports of its vulnerabilities. The security issues are actually seen on the user’s end when website admins use weak passwords or fail to update plugins. How to make the most of the secure WordPress foundation? Use strong passwords and turn on auto-updates where possible.
Differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress.com pros and cons
WordPress.com offers a free web hosting service. This may sound ideal, but there are some downsides:
- WordPress.com can remove a website at any time, without warning
- Users can’t implement ads or monetize the site in any way
- Third-party plugins and customizable themes aren’t allowed
- Users do not own their website’s domain name
The upside to WordPress.com’s service is that users don’t need to buy a domain name or pay for hosting. You simply register for a site, log in, and begin crafting the page using the available tools. It’s a straightforward process, but does it offer the flexibility, control, features, and functions you need?
WordPress.org pros and cons
WordPress.org has none of the above restrictions. Users sync their site to a preferred hosting provider and have full control of it. Here are the benefits of self-hosting your WP project:
- WordPress.org can not remove a website unless there’s a legal violation
- Users are free to monetize their site in any way
- Access to tens of thousands of plugins and customizable themes
- Users own their website’s domain name
The downside to WordPress.org is that it isn’t a free service. However, hosting services and domain names aren’t typically expensive.
Now that you know what WordPress is and why millions use it to build websites and blogs, are you ready to learn how to use it? A WordPress course will help you unleash the full potential of the platform.
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