What Is WordPress?
WordPress is software that allows you to manage the content on your website.
This type of software is referred to as a Content Management System or a CMS.
You know what a website looks like when you visit one on your computer or phone.
The site looks nice. You see the design. You see the text and images. All of those things are content.
Now, the way to manage (change, update, etc.) that content is with your CMS.
That’s where WordPress comes in.
The History Of WordPress
It looks like the original version of WordPress was released in 2003.
That makes them one of the veteran companies in the online world today.
Around that time, blogging had been around since the early days of the web in the ’90s. People had things to say and they would find ways to publish their thoughts online.
Rants, raves, helpful articles and all kinds of things found their way to blogs.
The tricky thing, however, was finding an easy way to do so. Computer whizzes could figure out how to create code so that text would render online so people could read it.
But unless you learned coding and the basics of creating a website it was somewhat difficult to create your own blog.
The WordPress founders, perhaps out of frustration, set out to create an easier way for people to create blogs and blog posts.
Thus, WordPress was born.
People could now use the software to type text like normal. And the software would take care of the coding and render blog posts on a blog so visitors could read it.
I wasn’t sure where to put this section in, but I think we should clarify things early.
There are two versions of WordPress.
The .com version is mostly a free version. It’s a little more limited. I think the main difference is that you’re sharing servers with others.
Maybe think of the .com version as a big community of bloggers. They all have their own blogs on sites like myblog.wordpress.com, but they’re all sharing one big platform.
Because there is a shared aspect to the .com version there are some restrictions. You don’t have as much control over the software as you otherwise would.
The .org version is one that you can download and use as you please. You are in charge of finding hosting, getting the site setup and updating the blog.
Not The Only Blogging Software
Okay, let’s get back on the timeline.
WordPress was not the only and probably not the first blogging software. Google purchased Blogspot or Blogger at one point, but that never seemed to catch on as much as WordPress.
There were many others as well. I know that Typepad was one.
And more come along each year, but WordPress is experiencing a bit of dominance today.
That’s an interesting case.
WordPress started as a blogging software and it remains that today. But somewhere in its history, people starting using WordPress to manage their entire websites.
Many companies don’t need complicated websites. They don’t need ecommerce functionality or things like that. They need a half dozen pages and a blog.
WordPress was easy to use so people started using it for their entire sites. And somewhere along the way WordPress realized this and started adding more functionality for those using it for the overall website and for blogging.
Plugins, Themes & More
One of the cool things with WordPress is that they didn’t want to control the entire experience.
The founders could have held things close and made sure that they had complete control over the entire experience.
But they instead allowed designers to create themes and developers to create plugins.
Themes are designs, usually full blog and website designs, that people can use for free or for fees. It’s a really neat way to get a quick and usually pretty solid design for your website or blog.
Instead of hiring a designer to create a design from scratch you can find a theme and use that to kick things off. You can customize some things with themes and when you’re in the right place you can hire that designer to create something entirely unique.
Also, developers could mess around with the coding of WordPress.
WordPress is great as is, but there are different things you can do with the code to make it even better or to fit what you want it to do.
Many websites only need the basics, but many also need different functionality.
Developers can dive directly into the code to change things. But many developers would do things and see demand for them so they would create plugins.
A WordPress plugin is something a blog or site owner can install to perform a specific function. It’s an add-on to what WordPress does on the base.
One note with Plugins is that it’s easy to get a little over-reliant on them. There can be issues when using more than a handful of plugins. Things can work just fine, but you increase your risk of things going wonky the more plugins you use.
Hopefully that’s a pretty good overview of what WordPress is. Let’s leave off with a few key takeaways.
WordPress.com: Use if you’re looking for a basic blog. You want a nice design, but not too custom. You don’t want to worry too much about hosting. Maybe you want your own domain (extra charge). You don’t need too much flexibility.
WordPress.org: Great if you want to control your website. You still need to find a host, pay for hosting, pay for a domain and you probably want a developer in your back pocket to help with a few things. You can still find free themes or paid themes and you can also get a customer designer.
Blog or Website: WordPress is now great if you’re just looking to blog and it’s great if you’re looking to setup a website. We would of course recommend that if you are setting up a website that it’s great to also setup a blog.
“Done”: One final takeaway with any website or blog is to never think of it as “done”. This means the design, the development, the content (images, text, video, etc.) and more. It’s never really done. It might be done for now, but you always want to look for ways to improve. You want to add more great content (with a blog). You want to improve the design and the sales copy.