What is WordPress used for? A Guide for Beginners

What is WordPress used for? A Guide for Beginners

If you’ve been on the internet long enough, you’ve inevitably heard of WordPress. Even outside of technical circles, it’s a fairly well-known term. After all, WordPress is head and shoulders above its competition when it comes to popularity. It’s pretty common to see a site that claims to be ‘powered by WordPress’. If hearing about it piqued your interest and you want to know what it is capable of, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to try and answer the question, what is WordPress used for?

We’re going to showcase how WordPress can be used to create a wide variety of websites and what sets it apart from its competition. Hopefully, you’ll know the things you can do using WordPress by the end and decide whether or not it is for you. Before we start getting into what WordPress is capable of, let’s first go over what it actually is. Don’t worry, we won’t take long. If you feel like you know enough, you can just skip straight to the part where we talk about what it is used for.

What is WordPress?

wordpress.org

To put it simply, WordPress is a software that allows people to create and run a website on the internet. It is a free and open-source Content Management System (CMS) that was licensed under the GNU General Public License. The great thing about it is that anyone can use or modify the WordPress software without any restrictions whatsoever. This, coupled with a large community of talented people has caused WordPress to become the juggernaut it is today. While it initially began as a blogging system, WordPress has grown to become an all-purpose platform that currently powers 35.7% of the internet.

Something that confused many people is the existence of WordPress.com, which is different from WordPress (also known as WordPress.org) despite sharing the name. Whereas WordPress is a completely free software that allows you to create a website, WordPress.com is an online platform that can host a website for you. While WordPress.com is an okay platform for amateur bloggers and likes, it can’t match the power and flexibility of WordPress.

For additional information, you can check out our article on WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.

Now that we’ve talked about what WordPress is, let’s move onto the main topic. 

What is WordPress used for?

Essentially, WordPress is used for creating and running a wide range of websites. As stated above, one of the main draws of WordPress is the flexibility it provides. With a bit of tinkering, you can build a website that fits a wide variety of niches. All you need to do is get past the hurdle of setting up WordPress, then its smooth sailing from there. It has a ton of themes and plugins, both free and premium, that you can add to fit your niche. Don’t believe me? Well, let me show you some examples of WordPress is capable of.

1) Blogs

playstation blog uses wordpress
The Official Playstation Blog uses WordPress

One of the easiest types of sites that you can build using WordPress is a blog. It’s only natural since WordPress initially began as a system for blogging. As a result, almost everything that you might need for blogging comes in-built with WordPress. In fact, the default theme that comes with WordPress is a perfectly serviceable theme for a simple blog. Of course, you don’t have to keep things simple if you don’t want to. It’s easy to add all sorts of bells and whistles to your blog due to the flexible nature of WordPress.

You can create a fully functional blog in WordPress with just the following:

  • The Fundamental Plugins: The SEO Framework has features to improve your blog’s performance on search engine results put together in a lightweight package. Akismet Anti-Spam is a great plugin that will protect your blog from spam. Jetpack is another amazing plugin that will do wonders for site performance and security. Speaking of performance, W3 Total Cache can reduce your loading times by quite a bit. Finally, UpdraftPlus is a solid option when it comes to backup for your site.
These basic plugins should be used for all types of WordPress sites, blogs or otherwise.
  • Blogging Theme: A clean and simple theme with good design like Cenote is a good choice.
  • Social Media Plugin: Easy Social Sharing allows you to easily include social media share buttons on your blog.

2) Magazine/News Sites

The New Yorker
The New Yorker uses WordPress

News and Magazine sites are another common type of WordPress sites and are fairly easy to create. While not as simple as a blog, it is still fairly easy to create a fully functional magazine or news site using WordPress.

An important thing that sets magazines and news sites apart from blogs is the layout. While the details might differ depending on the exact type of news or magazine you’re going for, it’s important to go with a look that compliments your content without taking the focus away. There are a ton of themes that can help you achieve just that. The requirements for a basic magazine/news site are as follows:

  • Magazine Theme: As stated before, a magazine-style theme is absolutely necessary and the most popular option out there is ColorMag.
  • Newsletter Plugin: With a plugin like Newsletter, you can reach out to your users for improved engagement.

3) Business Sites

The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company’s official site uses WordPress

If you think that WordPress might not allow you to present your brand professionally then think again. It is surprisingly easy to create a professional-looking website using WordPress and many famous companies have even done so. Besides, there is a certain feel of professionalism to having a self-hosted WordPress site rather than using a platform.

With a business site, you will have to ensure that you can clearly showcase your brand, build brand loyalty in clients, provide support, and market your brand. That seems like a lot but WordPress has a large collection of helpful resources:

  • Business Theme: Using a business theme like Spacious can make things much easier. It even comes with useful Widgets to help showcase different aspects of your business.
  • Marketing Plugin: The WP WooCommerce Mailchimp plugin is a great tool that allows you to run an email marketing campaign.
  • Analytics Plugin: Using MonsterInsights, you will easily be able to integrate Google Analytics
  • Contact Form Plugin: With a plugin like Everest Forms, you can easily create an engaging form that allows interested visitors to get in touch with you.
  • Pricing Table Plugin: You can create an informative as well as visually impressive pricing table for your site using Pricing Table for Supsystic.

4) Online Stores

Home Official All Blacks Shop
The Official All Blacks Store uses WordPress

WordPress isn’t simply a blogging platform. If you want to use your WordPress site as an online store then it is super easy as well. With a large collection of useful plugins, making an eCommerce site has become a piece of cake. If you aren’t convinced, then you can just take a look at this large number of professional websites that use WordPress for their store.

Unlike blogs, WordPress doesn’t come with inbuilt eCommerce features. As a result, you will need to install plugins to enable that. With that, you will be able to create an online store that is engaging, functional, and most of all, secure. To do so, you can use the following items which can be available for free:

  • eCommerce Theme: An eCommerce theme like eStore is ground up to support useful plugins while allowing you to create a beautiful site.
  • WooCommerce Plugin: No online store made using WordPress is complete without WooCommerce. This free theme contains just about all the features that an online store needs. On top of that, it has 400+ extensions to expand the functionality of your site.
  • Support Plugin: The official Messenger Customer Chat plugin by Facebook will enable you to interact with your potential customers for better engagement.
  • Business Plugins: In addition to these, it is also recommended to use the marketing, Contact Form, and analytics plugins suggested for Business sites.

Of course, this is just the beginning. There are many more amazing plugins that you can add to your store. If you are willing to make additional investments, you can even go for premium plugins which come with even greater functionality. To make things even better, you can easily find a ton of resources online on running a WooCommerce store to help you along the way. To get started, check out our article on how to set up WooCommerce.

5) Portfolio

Yabloko ideas studio
Yabloko ideas studio’s interactive Portfolio site uses WordPress

If you want to put yourself out there on the internet and showcase your professional skills then there’s no better way to do so than through a portfolio site. For a professional, it is very important that your portfolio is well designed and accurate or it will reflect poorly on you. Fortunately, WordPress also allows you to create a beautiful looking site that will leave your visitors with a positive impression of your abilities. Whether it is an interactive website with a complex design or a clean and professional looking website, you can achieve that using WordPress if you put the work in.

Like with an online store, you will need the right theme and plugins to build your portfolio. A simple site can be achieved easily with free themes and plugins but if you want something that is highly complex, with animations and such, then you will need to invest in premium ones. The basics needed for a portfolio are explained below:

  • Portfolio Theme: Illdy comes with a professional-looking design, along with features such as About section, Testimonials, Services section, etc which makes things much easier for you. For something more feature-rich and eye-catching, you can look at premium portfolio themes.
  • Portfolio Plugin: Displaying your work in an attractive manner can be the difference between a good portfolio and a great portfolio. Visual Portfolio is a great plugin that can help you do just that.
  • Pricing Table Plugin: As with Business sites, you can include a pricing table using Pricing Table for Supsystic.
  • Contact Form Plugin: It is also necessary to have a way for visitors to easily contact you. To do that, you can use a plugin like Everest Forms.

6) Photography Sites

Les Forrester
Les Forresters’s Photography Site uses WordPress

When it comes to showing off beautiful photographs and pictures, WordPress is definitely not going to let you down. There are a ton of themes and plugins created specifically to cater to the needs of photographers and designers. It might take some fiddling around to find the perfect look for your WordPress site but it’s going to be rewarding in the end.

While WordPress allows you to show images by default, it could definitely use a lot of improvement. You will need to install a theme and plugins designed to present images beautifully. Furthermore, it’s also important to keep it lightweight otherwise your visitors might get bogged down by the loading time due to all the images. In order to create a fully functional site for photographers, you can use the following:

  • Photography Theme: For photographers, a lightweight and beautiful theme like Pixgraphy is a good choice.
  • Gallery Plugin: Envira Gallery is an easy to use plugin with a drag-and-drop builder. Moreover, it comes with fantastic premium add-ons for features like Watermark, Lightroom integration, Slideshow, and more.
  • Image Optimization Plugin: To prevent the storage space taken by images from getting out of hand, a plugin like Imsanity can be quite useful.
  • Lazy Load Plugin: A lazy load plugin stops the webpage from loading images that aren’t currently visible on the screen, resulting in much higher loading times. If speed is a concern for you, then a plugin like Rocket Lazy Load can be a great help.

7) Directory Sites

Merchantcircle
The MerchantCircle Website uses WordPress

In case you weren’t aware, Directory sites are basically organized collections of useful links divided into different categories. While it might seem complex to create and run at first glance, WordPress has everything to make the whole thing super easy.

The important features that you might want for such a site includes front-end submission, search and filter, and monetization support. Moreover, the features need to be robust and work well with each other. In this situation, it is preferable to go for a premium quality theme. With that, the whole thing becomes super easy.

  • Directory Plugin: If you want a single plugin that can enable all the important directory features for your site in one go, then you can’t go wrong with GeoDirectory. It even has free and premium add-ons available, in case you wanted additional features.
  • Directory Theme: For a simple directory site, you can use Directory Starter, a theme created specifically to work with the GeoDirectory Plugin.
  • Submission Form: A simple front-end submission form created using a plugin like Everest Forms will allow users to contribute to your site.

Wrapping it Up:

So this was our article that tries to answer the question, ‘what is WordPress used for’. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list and there’s a ton more that you can do with WordPress. All we’re trying to do here is showing you how versatile WordPress can be using some examples. Hopefully, you now have a much clearer idea of what WordPress is used for. If you have any questions, feel free to leave one in the comment section below.

We also have more articles relating to WordPress that you might find interesting.

Sajjan Sharma

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