Back in the early days of creating websites in 2002, I would sit and write HTML code (learn more about HTML from this article) for hours. Things like page navigation, image placement and text formatting took a great amount of time to complete. Fast forward a few years, and WordPress practically changed the development landscape and timeline. Finally, the art of creating websites could be less time-consuming and more engaging! Hence the bike in the main image…a vehicle, going places, with WordPress wheels. Get it? Eh? Bit of a stretch? Ok, let’s move on!
So, What Exactly Is WordPress?
Simply put, WordPress is an open source, all-in-one website platform. The actual packaged files are all available to the general public at no charge. In more technical terms, it’s referred to as a CMS (Content Management System). This basically means that content such as pages, images and text (among other things) can be created, edited and deleted at the discretion of the owner. An administrative dashboard is supplied to allow the owner to manage all content. Not a code developer? No problem! Wordpress uses an extensive amount of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interfacing, which means you can make changes in the administrative dashboard area that look similar to what a visitor would see on the front end of the website.
Anyone can open a free WordPress.com account. This allows you to start showcasing your ideas and talents without spending a dime, although you’ll eventually want to subscribe to one of the available plans for more functionality. This option is great for those who are new to web development and need training wheels to get started. Once more familiar with how it all works, you may want to look at a hosted option. Let’s continue…
A hosted WordPress platform involves purchasing a domain name and web hosting account from a company like SiteGround, GoDaddy, 1&1 IONOS, and others. Once purchased, the user can install the WordPress platform and begin customizing the files as they see fit. This option is intended for those who want more flexibility in how their site looks, without virtually any limitation. A hosted WordPress install is what I use for all of my clients, and as you’ll see, themes and plugins are necessary to ensure a successful end-product.
WordPress uses themes to give pages and content you create a common “look” throughout your website. No one wants to navigate between pages and wonder if they’re still even on the same website…this is a BIG “no no.” There are many free themes available, although extended functionality and “gee whiz” features like cool animations are typically found in premium themes. You can still download a free theme and customize it with cool features, but it just might take more time to complete. Also, expert premium theme authors are keen on ensuring their programming code interacts seamlessly with other elements, and often provide ongoing support in the event of future problems.
If you can think of WordPress as the main hub of a bicycle wheel, imagine the plugins as being the spokes. Plugins are packaged code which perform specific tasks. For example, one plugin may display your business hours while another plugin may allow visitors to enter their email address for a contest. There are literally thousands of plugins to download and use on a WordPress site, with free and paid versions available depending on your needs. Much like the philosophy behind themes, a plugin developer will include more robust features in the paid versions of their plugins.
For more information regarding WordPress, check out WordPress.com. You can learn more about each of these elements described above. I highly recommend SiteGround as a hosting company and domain name registrar; they have an excellent support system and offer a multitude of features that other companies make you pay extra for. Thanks for reading, and happy website creating! Oh, and remember to take the training wheels off!