What is WordPress, Hype or Fact?
A Free, Open Source Blogging Platform
What is WordPress and what is a WordPress site? Well WordPress is a free, open source blogging platform and a dynamic Content Management System (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL. Put simply, it lets you create a web page for an online website, in fact as many web pages as you require for as many online websites as you require using either a plain text or WYSIWYG editing environment. It has many features including a plug-in architecture and a template system. WordPress has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day. At the time of writing, WordPress is currently the most popular CMS in use on the Internet.
- It was first released on May 27, 2003, by Matt Mullenweg as a fork of b2/cafelog. As of December 2011, version 3.0 had been downloaded over 65 million times (wikipedia).
To date, WordPress has grown far beyond its original concept of a blogging platform, with the constant contributions of widgets, plugins and scripts, WordPress is now a powerful platform for creating feature rich websites and e-Commerce sites. The possibilities for personal or professional use seem to be never-ending as new applications are added on a daily basis.
- The nice thing everyone likes about WordPress is its ease of use. The combination of its quick (and famous) 5 minute install combined with a one hour tutorial will get most internet aware people up and creating with WordPress.
I started using WordPress with very limited knowledge on creating websites. I’d played with Microsoft FrontPage (discontinued) and Adobe Dreamweaver (Macromedia Dreamweaver as it was then) but was amazed how easy it was to pick one of the many free themes from either the WordPress theme depository or from premium theme designers such as WooThemes.
The ease of changing themes, customising the look and feel of the website, adding pages, categories, uploading images, adding media, adding products and creating an e-commerce site with the help of plugins, in other words to create a fully functional, feature rich website, in just a few days was simply amazing.
WordPress.org and WordPress.com
Just a quick clarification before we continue. The distinctions between WordPress.com and WordPress.org can cause some confusion, so let’s clear that up. WordPress.com is brought to you by the same folks who work on WordPress.org, the open source blogging software which this article is about.
- With WordPress.com, the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of by the team at Automattic [http://automattic.com/about/] so it is much easier to use. The downside is the restrictions imposed. You cannot customise your own themes, plugins, etc.
- With WordPress.org, you need to install it on your own server or a 3rd party hosting provider. The downside is the added complexity of needing a hosting provider. The upside? You can do anything your heart and imagination desires!
What is a WordPress Site?
A WordPress site is nothing more than a website or blog using either the WordPress.com or WordPress.org CMS platform (software). I’ve outlined the differences above, if you need greater detail of the differences, just visit WordPress.
What are WordPress Plugins?
What is a WordPress Plugin? WordPress has a huge arsenal of plugins which allow you to add things like events calendars, become search engine optimized (SEO), create polls, monitor your website or blog Stats, connect with Twitter and other Social Groups, add interactive maps, have multiple emails, have a multilingual website or blog, add games, create slide shows, display images with a light box effect, add a BMI calculator, use real estate tools, add Captcha, integrate PayPal payments, create a social community, add news feeds, add contact forms, view your blog or website with your i-phone, add SMS texting and so much more, really giving you the opportunity to do so much with your website, all you really have to do is decided what it is you want your website to do, and WordPress can make that happen.
What are WordPress Themes?
What is a WordPress theme? Well, as I hinted at earlier, WordPress users can install and switch between themes with ease. Themes allow you to change the look and functionality of your WordPress website without altering the informational content. The easiest way to install themes is by using the WordPress “Dashboard” administration tool, but you can uploading theme folders directly via FTP if you want. The are many thousands of themes available (spoilt for choice really applies here) with free themes being downloadable from the WordPress repository or premium theme providers such as WooThemes (who also supply free themes and plugins). Also, as you have the source code, the PHP and HTML code in themes can also be edited for more advanced customizations if it’s not quite what you want.
What are WordPress Widgets?
What is a WordPress widget? To enhance your theme you can add a Widget. Widgets are small modules that offer users drag-and-drop sidebar content placement and extended both plugin and theme abilities. These small PHP based programmes can be used to add functionality such as a slide show, Facebook like box, news slider etc.
WordPress and Your Website
So you have a website or you are thinking about getting one. Whether you are paying for a webmaster or going to create it yourself, most of these question are sure to come up:
- What do I need my website to do?
- What is my product?
- Do I need an e-commerce solution? If your going to sell products online, then you need to find an e-Commerce solution that meets your needs with disk space, bandwidth and monthly fees.
- What photos do I need to display?
- Do I need a contact form?
- Do I need a location map?
- Do I need to have a newsletter? (You will need an autoresponder from the likes of AWeber or GetResponse).
- Do I have events I would like my visitors to be aware of?
- Am I going to have Video on the website?
- Am I going to offer communication via live chat?
- Am I going to offer link exchange to other relevant sites?
- Am I going to use Audio?
- What Hosting package do I need?
- Do I need a web developer?
- Do I need an author?
- How much am I willing to pay to get what I need? WordPress may be free but hosting isn’t!
If you’re planning to develop the site and write the content yourself then WordPress combined with a good theme, a few plugins and widgets and a good web hosting platform has everything you need.
WordPress Support Forums
What are WordPress support forums? WordPress also offers fantastic support forums in case you have any issues. They can be a little convoluted sometimes, but with the combination of forum and search engine you can usually find the answer to your questions. If you are still cannot to find the answer you’re looking for, you can always contact the theme, plugin, source code author directly.
The Hype, True or False?
Over all WordPress lives up to the hype and I would recommend it not only for personal use, but for anyone starting a home based, small business. If you want to see what WordPress can really do, take a look at some of the websites of the worlds Fortune 500 companies which use WordPress as a development platform [ http://WordPress.org/showcase/tag/fortune-500/ ].
So, what is WordPress? It’s a sophisticated, yet simple CMS and blogging platform. It’s also FREE.
- Well, I hope you found something useful and enjoyed this article, please don’t forget to let me have your thoughts in the comment box below. See you soon.