What is WordPress? A Summary for the Uninitiated


By PIERS EDE …..

For many people, WordPress means merely a free blog platform, a simple way to put some thoughts on the web with a minimum of hassle. But this is far from the whole picture.

WordPress is a CMS, a website builder and the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, now used by Fortune 500 companies, Mashable and Tech Crunch.

The simple version

WordPress is web software you can use to create your own website or blog, without having to learn “code” like HTML. Since its release in 2003, it’s become the most popular web publishing platform in the world, used by more than 75 million sites.
self-hosted-wordpress
There are 2 ways to run WordPress.
1.If your blogging just for fun then WordPress.com is the way to go (but you cannot earn income on a free WordPress.com site).
2. If you’re serious about creating a professional-grade blog or website that you can customize any way you want, then WordPress Hosting is your solution.

 

Not Just a Blogging Tool

WP is a highly flexible CMS, a program which allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. It’s open source, which means anyone can edit it and improve upon it. This has resulted in many thousands of themes and plugins which take WordPress in more directions than any other CMS in the world. Imagine if Ford had created an engine which they gave away for free to all other car manufacturers, encouraging them to refine it, soup it up, and use it in the most imaginative ways possible. That’s what’s happened with WordPress. Because it’s based on industry standard PHP and MSQL it can run on just about any server in the world.

Benefits of WordPress

  • Constantly Evolving
  • User Friendly: No web design skills need
  • Flexible and Extensible: Themes and Plugins allow amazing customizations
  • WordPress Forum. WP Questions, WordPress Stack Exchange offers great resources for help
  • Search Engine Optimization Friendly
  • You’re in Control of Your Own Content: import your data from other systems

What are WordPress Themes?

Themes are basically stylistic and functional skins for your site, made of images and cascading style sheet (CSS) webpage layouts. WordPress itself is an engine which offers functionality and a user-friendly interface. Themes are the vehicle’s body and hubcaps, the interior fittings and sound system. And some of these themes are getting very good indeed: giving you the ability to create a truly professional looking site in minutes!

Tell me about Plugins?

Everyone has different requirements for their site. To continue with the car analogy, some people need off-road tyres, others need state of the art GPS systems or leather seat covers. Plugins, generally developed by third-parties, offer any kind of customisation you can imagine: enhanced SEO functionality, shopping cart capabilities, security protection and much more. Many of them are free but the state of the art ones generally come at a cost.

How do Widgets fit in?

Often tying in with plugins, widgets allow you to add content and features to your Sidebar. Say you want some recent posts showing up on your right sidebar, to inspire your readers to dig deeper into your site. Go to plugins and type ‘related posts’ into the search box, and you’ll bring up several free options to add that functionality. Then you go to Appearance/Widgets on your CMS and you’ll see the plugin you’ve just added is available to drag and drop into the sidebar. It’s so easy, anyone can do it!

If I’m buying a hosting package what requirements do I need to use WordPress?

Ensure your host offers the following:

  • PHP version 5.2.4 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.0 or greater

Piers Ede writes about design and search for a number of industry publications, as well as on his own site. You can connect with him on Google Plus here.

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