Before we get into how and where it is used, let’s start by answering the question – What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source (free) content management system. It allows you to build a website pretty easily and is extremely popular.
This is backed up with impressive stats:
- Around 35% of ALL websites are powered by WordPress. That is an unbelievable 500 million websites.
- Other very good content management systems are available, such as Drupal and Joomla, but WordPress has over 60% share of the CMS market.
- At the time of writing this article, it has been downloaded over 40 million times.
- WordPress is popular Worldwide with content published in over 100 languages.
So, it’s easy to see that this free CMS is a massively used tool for building websites. Its popularity is down to how quick it is to install, easy to use and it’s vast library of add-ons (plugins) and designs (themes). That basically covers what WordPress is, but what is WordPress actually used for and who is using it?
What is WordPress used for?
WordPress started out in 2003 as a blogging platform, and it’s coding roots still lie deeply with blogging. However, it didn’t take long for users to realise it had the potential to do much bigger things. Since the first version was released, it has grown into a platform with add-ons that can build any type of website.
Over 50,000 plugins are available to download free and thousands more are available to buy. Popular types of plugins include security, SEO, social media integration, site speed, page building and e-commerce. In fact, over 1.5 million online stores are built with WordPress.
If you want your website to look as good as it works, then you won’t be left disappointed. You can select from over 3,500 free themes and countless more commercial themes.
A recent trend for website builders is the use of page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder. This makes building websites in WordPress even easier. Page builders are plugins that offer pre-made templates, drag-and-drop page elements and tonnes of design features. This really is a game changer as it tries to stay ahead of competitors such as Wix and Squarespace.
How does WordPress work?
When people ask, “What is WordPress?” they are more than likely referring to WordPress.org. However, there are two versions of WordPress that you can use – WordPress.org (the version we are discussing in this article) and WordPress.com.
WordPress.org is the free, open-source version that you can download from WordPress.org. This can be downloaded and set up locally for testing. If you have hosting it can be installed on your web host’s server, eg WP Bolt or Domain Name Sanity. Most hosting companies now have the option to have WordPress installed for you. So to get a website up and running all you need is a domain name and hosting. Using WordPress.org for your website gives you complete control of your site.
Once installed, it is very simple to use. After logging in, you can install themes and plugins right from your admin area. You can then add pages, posts, images, layouts and navigation. You can literally have a fully functioning, beautiful website set up after a few minutes, especially with the ever-evolving page builders that are now available.
The great thing about WordPress.org being open source is the massive community on hand to offer support. From installation to customization, thousands of it’s users and experts are on hand to offer help via the official support forums. WordPress.org also offers in-depth support documentation.
WordPress.com is the commercial version of WordPress, which is hosted on their server space. It does have a very basic free version, but to have a decent website using your own domain name, you will have to pay between $3 to $36 per month. They also have an enterprise plan starting at $1700 per month.
This version of WordPress is good for those who don’t need the flexibility or overall control that WordPress.org offers. It’s very simple to set up and a good choice if you want a personal blog for your hobby.
What is WordPress (or any website) without functionality? To get the most out of your WordPress website, you are going to have to install some plugins. Here are some of the most popular you can download for free:
Yoast SEO – Getting visitors is obviously essential for any website. Yoast SEO is a brilliant plugin that helps optimize your content for search engines. Add your keyword, and Yoast will analyze your page and advise you how to improve it.
ShortPixel – This plugin will compress your images. If you want your pages to load faster, then you need to use this plugin. The great thing about ShortPixel is that it can compress your images in bulk, which is great for when you’ve just added it to your existing site.
Elementor – Page builders are a huge part of website creation now. Elementor is one of the best, with an excellent interface, pre-made templates, drag-and-drop elements and lots of design features. This plugin really does make building nice web pages a breeze.
WooCommerce – If you are looking to sell your products online, then WooCommerce is the most comprehensive solution available. This eCommerce plugin works seamlessly with most themes and has tonnes of options. WooCommerce actually powers over 30% of all online stores!
MonsterInsights – Nothing beats Google Analytics for keeping an eye on what your website visitors are up to. MonsterInsights lets you check out your site stats right in your dashboard. It’s not as comprehensive as the full thing, but great for a quick overview of the important data.
WordPress Tutorials and Help
Being open source, WordPress has a huge online community filled with helpful people and resources. Here are some of the best places to find help:
WordPress.org – the home of WordPress is where you go to download the program, plugins and themes. It also has a big section for support where you can access documentation and forums. Basic set-up, customization, security and much more is covered on the site.
WP Beginner – this is a great resource for easy-to-follow tutorials covering all aspects of using WordPress.
CodeinWP – CodeinWP has lots of good information on the latest WordPress themes and plugins.
WP Tavern – if you want to keep up to date with the latest WordPress news, then WP Tavern is a well-established source worth checking out.
Should you use WordPress?
WordPress is obviously an excellent option if you want a professional website for little cost. In fact, it is actually free to use. To get your website online, all you need to pay for is hosting and a domain name. Companies such as WP Bolt and Domain Name Sanity offer very affordable packages, and they even set up your WordPress installation for you.
You also don’t have to be a programmer or even a designer to use WordPress. There is a world of help out there if you do run into problems so you should never feel overwhelmed.
Website building is a huge market, and WordPress continues to stay the number one option. This is mainly due to the amount of people developing solutions that keep up with market trends. Most of us want to have complete control of our websites, and that is something WordPress offers better than its competitors.
Keep checking out the WPCake blog, as we will be adding regular articles to help you reach success with WordPress and your websites in general.
That’s it for our quick overview of what is WordPress?, so now it is over to you. If you are not one of the millions already using this CMS, download it and give it a go – it’s free, after all! We would love to hear how you get on.