Are you wondering what WordPress is and what it’s used for? If so, we’ve got you covered with this complete beginner’s guide to WordPress.
As of 2021, WordPress has powered 43% of the world’s websites. Given how popular WordPress is, you might also be interested in learning more about this platform. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide explaining WordPress, the reasons to use it, and more.
So, let’s start without any delay.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a free, open-source website-building platform that allows you to build any type of website you wish. Most importantly, it’s easy to create a website on WordPress.
You can build an authentic website by installing WordPress with ease, even if you don’t have any coding or technical background.
Started in 2003, WordPress has become a widely popular platform within two decades of its establishment.
It’s interesting to note that WordPress started specifically for blogging websites. However, over the years, it has become a full-blown Content Management System (CMS).
Although WordPress itself is free to use, you’ll still need to buy a domain name and web hosting to make your website live on the world wide web.
We’ll discuss web hosting and domain briefly later. But before that, let’s learn about the two critical components of a functional WordPress website: a WordPress theme and a WordPress plugin.
What is a WordPress Theme?
In simple terms, a WordPress theme is a collection of files that gives your website its front-end design. We use a theme as the website’s foundation to customize layouts and design elements to create a unique appearance.
You can customize a theme’s typography, colors, layouts, and more to reflect your brand through your website.
Fortunately, there are countless themes designed for specific niches like photography, travel blogs, finance companies, and so on. Also, these themes lessen the load of heavy customization on your part.
To test the water, you can use free WordPress themes from the official WordPress.org site and learn how to create a site with its minimum functionalities.
Since a theme can make or break your site, we insist you give yourself a bit of time to choose the best WordPress theme for your website.
All in all, a website’s appearance is what initially catches a visitor’s eye. So, as long as you select a suitable theme and customize it well, the end result will surely be an elegant, appealing, and engaging website.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
Plugins are a crucial part of the WordPress ecosystem that adds new features to your website. Instead of coding every feature from scratch, you can use these plugins to add any function to your site. On top of that, it’s easy to install plugins and they’re super user-friendly.
There are several plugins to make your website professional, but make sure to use only those which your website actually needs to grow.
Remember that every plugin has its own purpose. For example, to improve the ranking of your content on search engines, there are SEO plugins like Yoast SEO. Likewise, to make your site more appealing, there are slider plugins.
Just make yourself comfortable with free plugins first, and after understanding their function and needs, you could switch to the premium ones.
To sum up, plugins are add-on software used to build a fully functional website.
With the basics down, now it’s time we move our topic of discussion to the two types of WordPress platforms available for you.
Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
You might have heard of WordPress.com and WordPress.org in passing. They’re entirely different platforms despite how similar they sound.
The websites you create on WordPress.org are self-hosted, meaning you have to buy a hosting space yourself and host your site there. Contrary to that, WordPress.com handles the hosting for you. It provides users with a 3GB space to host a website.
If you’re unsure about which platform is better for you, we’ve listed out some pros and cons for both of them below:
Pros of WordPress.com
- Takes care of your website and helps you manage it effectively
- Simple to use
- Internal hosting service
- Perfect for blogging
Cons of WordPress.com
- No option to choose third party hosting company
- There is limited option for designing and customization
- Not suitable for many niches like online store, e-Learning websites, forum website, etc.
Pros of WordPress.org
- Lets you earn money by running your own ads
- Enables you to upload third party add-ons like plugins and themes
- Gives you full control over your website
- Open source and free to use
Cons of WordPress.org
- You need to pay to host your website
- Need to create and customize your website on your own
- Comes with no default website backups
Note: As we discussed, WordPress.com usually doesn’t allow you to upload plugins. However, with a paid plan, you’ll be able to use extra plugins as well. But why bother when WordPress.org already lets you do that for free!
So, consider each of these points for WordPress.org and WordPress.com before making a decision. Still, we do recommend WordPress.org since you get more flexibility and customization options.
For a more detailed comparison, check out our article on the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Reasons to Choose WordPress
It’s evident that WordPress is the current king of the website-building platforms, with its community having grown immensely with time. And all the credit goes to its flexibility, user-friendliness, and accessibility.
So, let’s elaborate on that a bit to make you understand why one should use WordPress to create a website.
The highlight of this CMS platform has to be how easy it is to set up on your device and start building a website. Thanks to its user-friendly dashboard, tools, customization options, and overall interface.
Thus, creating a site, publishing content on it, and managing it, in the long run, should be a breeze even for rookies. The best thing about this is that you won’t have to rely on developers to get your site up and running.
2. Extensive Features and Functionality
There are specific vital features and functionality for every niche to create, manage, and run a fantastic website that stands above the rest. You can add any functionality you need for your website through themes and plugins.
Likewise, you can also use security plugins to protect your site from malware, hackers, and spammers. As simple as that.
You know by now that this platform is free for anyone to use. That alone is a huge plus point.
Sure, you’ll need to purchase domain names, hosting plans, premium themes, plugins, and other services to maintain your site.
But with so many options available for your website, you’re bound to find budget-friendly solutions that don’t compromise on quality.
4. Search Engine Friendly
It comes with an in-built search engine-friendly system that helps to rank your site high. Utilizing the permalinks, meta description, structured content, and image optimization correctly, you can improve your site’s SEO without much hassle.
Better yet, you get to use SEO-friendly themes and SEO optimization plugins to boost your site’s chances of ranking high on search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
As you can see, these aspects of this CMS platform quickly set it apart from the rest of the crowd.
Well, there are quite a few ways you can use this excellent CMS for yourself as well. We’ll explore them all in the following section.
What is WordPress Used For?
Another noteworthy thing about this platform is its versatility. Corporate agencies, small business owners, artists – anyone can use this platform for any nature and size of business.
Therefore, let’s look at some of the popular ways WordPress has been used so far:
1. Personal Blog/Blogging Website:
It’s no surprise that people use WordPress to publish their personal blogs. After all, it was started as a blogging platform at first.
The Gutenberg editor makes creating, publishing, and managing content seamless. And the in-built SEO optimization helps these blogs reach a wider audience.
On top of that, you’ll find plenty of WordPress themes and plugins catered to enhancing the appearance and functionalities of blog websites.
2. Online Stores/ E-Commerce Sites
WordPress is entirely compatible with major eCommerce plugins like WooCommerce and BigCommerce. So, starting an online store is just a matter of a few clicks.
Even better, you get to use eCommerce themes and add-ons that extend the core eCommerce plugin’s functionalities. So, it may not be an exaggeration to call WordPress an ideal platform for online stores.
3. Building a Personal Portfolio Website
Like always, there are WordPress portfolio themes to get you started.
From there, you can personalize the portfolio with different styles and layouts and customize it with various options.
4. Interactive Forum Websites
Another widespread use of WordPress is for interactive forum sites. Take Angry Birds Nest, for example. It’s a forum website dedicated to the popular game Angry Birds.
Like these websites, you can also create a professional forum that facilitates meaningful discussion among its members. Just select the best WordPress forum theme and start your journey right away.
5. Building an e-Learning Websites
The WordPress Learning Management system (LMS) has made it quite simple to launch an e-learning website.
So, you can create a school, add lessons, create quizzes, and more with tools like Masteriyo, a free LMS plugin.
At the same time, you’ll be able to promote your online classes and courses through various marketing efforts.
These are just a few examples that we’ve presented here. But it’s pretty clear by now how widespread the use of this platform is and why.
Things to Consider Before Using WordPress to Create a Website
Have you made up your mind about using WordPress to create a website? If so, there are two essential things you need to consider before you get started: a domain representing your niche and web hosting to host your website.
Don’t get confused; domain and hosting are different things entirely. Here’s a glimpse into both of these topics to clear things up:
1. Domain Name
In the vague realm of the web, the domain works as the name and address for your website. For example, Google is a giant tech company, and its web address or domain name is google.com.
Think of a domain like your house number or name, enabling your traffic or visitors to track down your website’s exact location. And they do so by searching your domain name on the web.
Keep in mind that you must select a unique, brandable name that carries the essence of your business. Also, avoid using long sentences, numbers, and hyphens for your domain name. A good domain name is always short and easy to remember.
2. Web Hosting
Hosting your website with a web hosting provider makes it accessible throughout the internet. You’re basically renting a space on a webserver to display your site to your users.
Similar to domain names, you need to get web hosting from the best web hosting service providers. Some crowd-favorites are:
These hosting providers offer various hosting plans. So, you must choose a hosting plan based on the type of your website.
Suppose your niche is personal blogging then, perhaps you don’t need ample server space. In this case, you can opt for a shared hosting plan.
However, if your niche is e-commerce or a news website that cannot compromise on the speed, security, and downtime, you need to buy a dedicated hosting plan.
Since your website’s long-term growth hugely depends on the hosting plans and service provider you decide on, make sure you choose them wisely.
That wraps up this article on what is WordPress and what is WordPress used for. If you’re a beginner, we hope our guide was a comprehensive introduction to this platform.
To summarize, WordPress is a free website-building platform suitable for even the non-tech savvy. Its customization flexibility and cost-effectiveness are just the cherries on top. Moreover, it’s so versatile that you can use it to create any type of website, from personal blogs to eCommerce sites.
Considering all the benefits WordPress offers to its users, it’s definitely a wise decision to choose this platform to build your website.
However, this was just a tiny look into the vast subject of WordPress. If you’d like to dive deeper and better understand, we suggest going through our blog for more WordPress-related articles.