“What is WordPress?” is a great question to ask when you’re learning about the internet. It’s also a great question if you’re an experienced webmaster who has never had the opportunity to use WordPress.
Very simply, WordPress is a free software tool that helps people build websites. And the best way to fully appreciate this simple answer is to understand the primary purpose of WordPress software.
WordPress is designed to allow people (and organizations) to publish content, mostly in the form of blog posts, which are automatically organized in chronological fashion. The platform is extensible using plugins, and customizable using themes, which we’ll get into in more detail momentarily.
The content can include text, audio, video and graphics or images. Because the amount of content can become quite large (i.e., dozens or hundreds of articles), WordPress also provides features and functionality for “managing content.”
So, within the technical community, WordPress software is commonly classified as a “Content Management System” (CMS).
Content Management System Definition
A system designed to manage the content of a website or other electronic resource that is used collaboratively by a number of people – Oxford Dictionary
A CMS has the following core features and functions:
- Content creation and editing, including revision history to track changes.
- Version control to show the publication status of content (ex., “draft,” “approved,” “published”).
- Security controls for writing content so you can assign certain author privileges if you allow other people to submit content (articles) to your WordPress site.
- Automatic notifications – you can be sent emails when other people comment on your articles, submit content, follow your content, etc.
- Supports multiple types of content publishing – text, graphics, video, audio.
- User-controlled design and functionality.
The WordPress platform is the most popular CMS available on the market. It’s designed and built as a “framework” comprising of software (code) that’s “open source” – code that’s available and fully documented to allow other developers to support and extend WordPress.
When you start using WordPress, you will be exposed to some commonly used terms:
Dashboard – This is the main administration area of your WordPress site. It has links to the various components and settings of your WordPress site. It’s also known as the admin area or back end.
Theme – A theme offers basic design and functionality to your WordPress site. You must choose a theme as part of your WordPress site setup. Three themes are included for free (i.e. in the Dashboard, click on Appearance), thousands more are available free from the WordPress Repository, and many more are available for purchase (i.e., from a theme developer or theme directory). Click here to learn how to choose a theme.
Plugin – Your WordPress site can include additional features and functionality offered as “add-ons.” These add-ons (plugins) are “modular,” meaning they can be easily installed and activated without the need to re-install your underlying WordPress software or theme. It is possible, however, that installing a plugin will cause problems for your site, due to conflicts with other plugins or the theme you’re using. If that’s the case, you’ll have to deactivate and then delete the plugin.
Post – Your WordPress content can be published as a “post.” Essentially, a post is an article of content containing any combination of text, graphics, video and audio. A WordPress post also has certain publishing information attached to it – this information is called “metadata,” which is used by WordPress to help classify or categorize the content.
There are other terms that you’ll encounter as you get more involved in the WordPress platform, but understanding the above will help you get started quickly.
Thanks to the success of WordPress in the market, there’s increasing demand from publishers (website owners) to expand WordPress’s core capabilities. And with an ever-growing developer community, new themes and plugins offer a rich choice of design and function elements that make each WordPress site truly unique.
Nowadays, because of the enriched features and functionality offered by the development community, WordPress is generally considered to be a website development platform, moving beyond its traditional “blog” heritage.
If you’d like to use WordPress to build a profitable online business, check out SBI! for WP. You’ll get a step-by-step Action Guide, keyword and niche research tools and hundreds of business focused resources.