What is WordPress: A Basic Guide to the Most Popular CMS
Published on January 27, 2022 by Kevin Graham
Table of Contents
What is WordPress and How Does it Work?
Simply put, WordPress is the most popular way to make your very own blog or website. In fact, about one in three websites is powered by WordPress. It’s a favorite content management system (CMS) amongst amateurs, professionals, individuals, and businesses, since it’s free and easy to use! You don’t need to be a developer to self-publish your own website using WordPress.
As WordPress is an open-source CMS, it allows everyone to modify and use the software. This means that you’ll be able to create custom content and themes for your website without prior knowledge of coding or web design.
To help you get better familiarized with WordPress, we’ll go over how it got started, how it works, and why it’s so popular. Pretty soon you’ll realize you’re ready to use it, too!
A Brief History of WordPress
Today, there are over 60 million websites using WordPress around the world. But WordPress originally started off as a humble blogging platform. In 2003, creators Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little designed WordPress as an upgrade of their previous project, b2/cafelog.
WordPress started gaining in popularity in 2004 with the launch of version 1.2. This new version allowed users to share their custom plugins with the blogging community, so the possibilities of website functionality started to grow.
In 2005, WordPress version 1.5 introduced a versatile theme system (which we will get into soon enough). Fast forward to the present, thanks to a large community of theme creators, the WordPress theme library grew to host the biggest CMS selection of themes out there, and it has only added to this platform’s appeal.
The same year, version 2.0 came in with a new user interface which increased the control of the web admin (you!) over the look and functionality of the website. At the same time, it made editing even easier than before.
After a research that tested user-friendliness, 2008 yielded version 2.7, which offered a customizable user interface.
In 2010, version 3.0 came in strong, featuring custom post types. In 2011, version 3.3 made WordPress the ideal CMS for beginners.
By 2013, WordPress reached worldwide popularity as the leading CMS software. Version 3.8 made WordPress more responsive to smartphones, and increased the number of available themes.
WordPress 5.0 was released in December 2018, with the new Gutenberg block editor that makes it even easier to use WordPress with its drag and drop features and modular design.
All of these developments marked the platform’s steady rise as a CMS giant, renowned for its accessibility and user-friendliness.
Is WordPress Easy to Use for a Beginner?
Absolutely! As we mentioned, you won’t need to know anything about programming to create a beautiful website with your very own content. WordPress also offers multiple extensions that will allow you to customize the look and design of your website. (We’ll get to that in a bit!)
So as frightened as you may have been of embarking on the journey of building your own website, WordPress takes all the scary out of it!
Plus, the WordPress community is huge and hugely helpful. Should you run into any problems or difficulties, there’s a plethora of video tutorials, blogs, and forums that you can turn to for an easy fix.
Downloading WordPress is just as simple, and you can do it right off their website. With WP Bolt, we’ll automatically install it for you when you add a site to one of your servers.
But WordPress isn’t just great for beginners. In fact, let’s look at…
Who Uses WordPress?
According to recent statistics by W3Techs, WordPress now powers 43.3% of websites on the Internet as of January 2022. This means that about one in two websites that you visit is likely to be powered by WordPress!
WordPress can be used to build any kind of website, including blogs, magazines, government sites, eCommerce stores, social networks, business websites, and much, much more!
So let’s look at some of the most popular websites that use WordPress.
Newspapers and News Blogs
The Reuters Blog, the Herald Sun, the New York Post, and Microsoft News are only a few examples of newspaper websites that use WordPress.
It’s very likely that your favorite online magazines are also powered by WordPress. A few examples are Variety, TechCrunch, and Rolling Stone Magazine.
That’s right, governments use WordPress for their websites, too! This includes the White House website and the official website of Sweden.
Universities, Businesses, Entertainment…
Pretty much any type of website can be built using WordPress. Universities use it, like the City University of New York. Businesses use it, like the Mercedes-Benz International website. Some of the top entertainment sites use it as well, like BBC America or the TED blog.
…and hopefully, soon, you!
As you can see, there’s a lot of variety in how you can use WordPress. With a tiny bit of patience, you can soon be creating your own website using WordPress. Which brings us to the question:
What are the Benefits of Using WordPress?
There’re a lot of benefits when it comes to using WordPress – it’s no accident that it’s so popular and widely used! Let’s not leave it at that though – here are some specific benefits that make WordPress a go-to tool for individuals and businesses.
1. WordPress is Easy to Install and Easy to Use
A short visit to WordPress.org will allow you to download it to host on any web server, or you can install it with one click on your WordPress VPS server at WP Bolt.
You don’t need to know anything about coding – like PHP, HTML, or CSS – in order to get started on your own website. Have you edited a Word document? If the answer is yes – and it very likely is – you can edit your own WordPress website, too. That’s how user-friendly it is!
Technically, you could set up your own website in about a day using WordPress. Just bring in your own content (text) and images – and voila! Of course, it will take a bit longer to make the website look its best.
Plus, you can pick and choose from the available templates on WordPress to create a beautiful design for your website. Alternatively, you can bring in your own custom template if you have a specific design in mind. Which brings us to the next point:
2. WordPress is Easy to Customize
WordPress allows you to easily customize your website to your liking. In fact, WordPress offers thousands of different themes and plugins that you can use to alter how your website looks and functions.
The combined effort by WordPress and the helpful WordPress community has yielded about 5,000 free WordPress themes and about 54,000 free WordPress plugins! You can use plugins to do a bunch of different stuff, too, from making an eCommerce store to adding an online chat option to your website.
While getting plugins to work is a bit harder with other CMS options, with WordPress tracking down the plugin you need and adding it to your site will only take a minute. The different themes and plugins also have reviews that you can check out before settling on a choice.
If that’s not enough, you can access some premium, paid options to achieve the exact function or look that you have in mind. You can also work with a web developer if you feel like you need to!
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Simplified, At Last!
You need good SEO if you want your website to reach more users and WordPress makes SEO a breeze.
It offers simplified use of H1, H2, and H3 tags, so you can basically just copy-paste a text right out of your GoogleDocs. Plus, it simplifies the use of keywords in the website URL!
If that’s not enough, you can always add a number of SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO and SEO Ultimate to help you optimize your website content. These plugins offer recommendations on what aspects of your content you can work to improve, and they guide you through the process of SEO optimization.
4. Dependable and Always Moving Forward
WordPress has two advantages when it comes to staying current.
Firstly, it gets frequent updates. As it’s an open-source platform, both the folks at WordPress and users from the community help in fine-tuning the code. This usually means that if any bugs should occur, they won’t last very long before someone gets around to fixing them. It’s open to modifications by developers across the globe, so there’s always someone improving the code!
The other way in which WordPress is always moving forward are the updated features and plugins. WordPress is a platform that stays competitive by making it their focus to meet new market demands and to tailor their services to the needs of the ever-growing number of new website owners.
That also goes for WordPress plugin and theme developers The constant influx of new plugins offers new functionality that you can add to your site and improve your website design or the functionality of the site itself.
Before installing a plugin, however, make sure that it works with the version of WordPress that you’re using.
5. Clean Design
Gone are the days of overcrowded, difficult-to-manage websites. A growing trend for websites are clean, user-friendly designs. WordPress is made to do just that – allowing you to create a clean and efficient design for your blog. This sort of structure also helps WordPress websites load faster, so your visitors won’t get frustrated waiting for it to load.
6. Help & Support
As we already mentioned, getting help on any issue with WordPress is very easy. The innumerable blogs, forums, and help pages offer solutions to any problems or uncertainties you may face. And if you can’t find the answer to your question, just ask on any WordPress forum, and you’ll receive an answer in no time.
Do I Need A Host for WordPress?
In short, yes. WordPress allows for self-hosting, but you do need to purchase web hosting (like one of our WordPress servers) and a domain name to have your website up and running.
On the subject of web hosting, one thing you should keep in mind is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
What’s the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
WordPress.com is a paid-for, hosted version of WordPress. Basically, if you chose WordPress.com as your host, your website would run using their official servers. However, the issue with WordPress.com is that it lacks the flexibility of WordPress.org. You won’t have access to the countless themes and plugins that are available on WordPress.org. Due to these limitations, many people choose to self-host.
WordPress.org is the free, self-hosted CMS that we’ve been raving about. Using WordPress.org gives you full control over how your website looks and functions. It’s quite simple to get your web host elsewhere and use this flexible software to create your desired website. WordPress.org gives you a true sense of ownership.
In the end, WordPress is the best way to create your very own website. You can make a blog, an online magazine, eCommerce store, a business, or a forum! You can use WordPress to easily make and customize any type of website you desire.
As it’s self-hosted, using WordPress.org really puts you in control of getting the optimal look and functionality out of your website. The user-friendly features will allow you to publish content without having an inkling of complicated coding or programming.
In fact, WordPress is as good a choice for beginners as it is for professionals. For beginners, it’s easy to use and does a lot of the work for you. This means improved SEO and readily available themes and plugins. For professionals, the clean structure of the code ensures fast loading speed and returning visitors!
The WordPress community is a large part of why you’ll love WordPress. You can get help on any issues and questions on blogs and forums. You can also access tutorials that will provide you with detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to go about making your own website.
Before You Go…
We hope that this article helped you get a better idea of what WordPress is and who it’s made for – everyone. With a bit of research and a bit of work, you, too, can soon be the owner and creator of your very own website.