Thankfully, there’re many beginner-friendly website platforms like WordPress available nowadays. They allow you to create websites easily and at a much affordable price. For example, to create a site in WordPress.com platform, all you have to do is to sign up, choose a beautiful theme, and add content. WordPress.com is a fully hosted platform where you can make a free website. If you want to learn, see our step-by-step guide on how to make a website in WordPress.com.
1. Getting into WordPress
WordPress is an open-source CMS. Open source means that the source code of the system is made available with a license whereby the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose (as Wikipedia defines it). CMS means a software application that can run a website (for example, a blog) and allows you to publish, edit, and modify the content. It’s a piece of software that lives on the web server (more on what a web server is later on) and makes it easy for you to add and edit posts, themes, comments, and all of your other content. The following is the logo of WordPress:
Even though WordPress was originally a blog engine—used primarily to run blogs—it’s now a popular solution among some of the biggest brands on the web and runs their entire websites. Brands such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Reuters, WIRED.com, Sony, Toyota, plus some of the most prominent artists (such as Beyoncé or the Rolling Stones) all use WordPress as the base of their web platforms and outlets.
Undoubtedly, WordPress has evolved a lot over the years, and even though a large number of new functionalities have been introduced, WordPress remains one of the easiest-to-use web publishing platforms out there. Originally, it was a fork of an older piece of software named b2/cafelog.
WordPress was developed by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, but is now maintained and developed by a team of developers that includes Mullenweg.
2. What WordPress is good for?
There are generally three popular types of websites for which WordPress is meant to be used:
- A typical website with relatively static content, pages, subpages, and so on
- A blog website, chronologically organized, and frequently updated, categorized, tagged, and archived
- An e-commerce website: a fully functional online store that allows people to buy goods or services, and the website owner to manage orders and fulfill them
However, as experience shows, WordPress is also successfully used to run a wide variety of other sites, such as:
- Corporate business sites
- One-page profile sites
- Portfolio sites
- Membership sites
- Video blogs
- Photo blogs
- Product sites
- Education sites (e-courses) and more …
3. Why choose WordPress?
WordPress is not the only publishing platform out there, but it has an awful lot to offer. In the following sections, I’ve called attention to WordPress’s most outstanding features.
The main benefits of WordPress summarized are:
- WordPress gives you full control over your website. You can change/adjust/modify/customize everything, and I mean everything, about your site.
- There are thousands of themes and plugins to choose from, enabling you to make your website look and work however you wish. WordPress is extremely extendable. Basically, any additional functionality that you can dream of can be added utilizing a plugin that you or your programmer friends can write.
- The day-to-day work with the platform is very easy to grasp. Tasks such as editing content, publishing new articles/posts, or interacting with the audience through comments have no learning curve.
- WordPress is open source. There’s no price tag on the platform; you can get it for free. This also means that learning how the platform works under the hood, and how to extend it even further, doesn’t require anyone’s permission.
4. The two worlds of WordPress – the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
This aspect of the WordPress ecosystem is a bit confusing, but there are basically two versions of WordPress available out there. To make this simpler, let me just use the website addresses where you can find them:
- com (https://wordpress.com/)
- org (https://wordpress.org/)
Surprisingly, those two websites don’t lead to the same place. In fact, they lead to two completely different places:
- com is a commercial website-building solution. You can go there, sign up for an account, and then configure your website based on the available settings and designs.
- org is an open-source website software. To use it, you first need to get access to a web server – either rent it out from a hosting company or set up a server on a local machine – and then you can install WordPress on it.
Even though WordPress.org is the topic of this book, there are still valid reasons why some users might be interested in WordPress.com. The main advantage of using WordPress.com (https://wordpress.com/) is that, it’s them who take care of all the technical details for you. You’re not responsible for anything else but the management of your content. A major disadvantage is that you don’t have full control over your website. The other advantages and disadvantages are as follows:
- com will not let you upload or edit your own theme, though it will let you (for a fee) edit the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) of the themes that are already there.
- com will not let you upload or manage plugins at all. Some plugins are installed by default (most notably Akismet, for spam blocking, and also plugins supporting Google Sitemaps, caching, carousel slideshows, image galleries, polls, site stats, and some social media buttons), but you can neither uninstall them nor install others. Additional features are available for a fee.
- A major advantage of working with the software from WordPress.org is that you have control over everything. You can add and edit themes, add and remove plugins, and even edit the WordPress application files yourself if you wish to (however, don’t do this unless you’re confident about your WordPress skills).
- The disadvantage of WordPress.org is that you’ll have to keep the WordPress software up to date on your own, and in some cases install it by yourself as well, but that’s relatively simple, and we’ll cover it in this book.