What is WordPress?

If you’re new to blogging then you know there are a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a blog platform. In this article we’re going to look at the world’s most popular blogging platform in a simple Q&A format.

What is a blogging platform?

A blogging platform is a piece of software that lets you publish blog posts for the world to see. Each platform has its own set of features, but WordPress is easily one of the most powerful.

Who uses WordPress?

27% of the entire Internet uses WordPress, so lots of different sized organizations use it. People with personal blogs use WordPress as do big media outlets like The New York Times and corporations like Mercedes Benz.

How much does WordPress cost?

The core WordPress software itself is free, but then you have to host it on the internet. Additionally, you might choose to pay for themes, plugins, images, or more if it’s important to you.

Where do I get WordPress?

There are two different ways to start using WordPress.

1. Download the software and install it yourself

If you want to go this route, you’ll need to go to WordPress.org (notice the .org) to download the software.

2. Have your web host install it for you

If you don’t want to install WordPress yourself you have a ton of options. One option is to go to WordPress.com (notice the .com, not .org) and pay them to host your blog. Another option is to go to a different web host (I recommend Dreamhost) and have them install it for you.

What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

We have an article dedicated to explaining this. You can read it by clicking the link below:


What’s the Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

What features does WordPress have?

There area ton of features to talk about! We’ll list them out here and address them after:

  • blog posts
  • comments
  • custom urls
  • menu builders
  • multi-user support
  • pages
  • plugins
  • themes
  • widgets
  • WYSIWYG editor

Blog posts

A blog post is a piece of content that you publish on a regular basis. There are a bunch of different types of posts, you can create. The only difference between them is the layout they use. The different types of posts are:

  • Standard posts (a mix of text and media, like the post you’re reading now)
  • Asides (looks like a Facebook status update)
  • Image (an image with a description)
  • Video (a video you can watch)
  • Quotes (a styled quotation)
  • Links (a link to a different web page)
  • Gallery (a gallery of images)
  • Audio (a piece of audio you can listen to)

The best (and most fun) way to understand the different types of blog posts is to experiment!

Comments

When someone visits your blog and reads an article they might have a question or a comment. Unless you disable it, WordPress let’s people leave comments on your blog posts.

Custom URLs

WordPress lets you decide what your URLs should look like. By default they look like this:

https://example.com/?p=10

That’s pretty ugly so most people change it to look something like this:

https://example.com/2012/12/30/post-name

I usually change mine to look like:

http://example.com/blog/post-name

Menu Builders

It’s important to have your content organized to make it easier for people to make sense of. WordPress has a “menu builder” feature that lets you create menus for different areas on your blog. This is a nice feature especially for people that don’t know how to write code.

Multi-user support

Want to let your friend write an article for your blog? You can create a separate account for them so they can do just that. Even better: you can control what they are and are not allowed to do on your blog by setting account permissions. This way you won’t have to worry about them changing things they shouldn’t be.

Pages

WordPress pages are static web pages that that do not change often. For example, you might want your blog’s homepage to be a static page that displays:

  • an intro image
  • some text explaining what your blog is about
  • the 5 newest blog posts
  • an email signup form so people can stay up to date

Once that page is built and published, it wouldn’t change until you updated it. Pages have more intricacies like how they affect the order of blog posts, but we’ll talk about that another time.

Plugins

A plugin is a piece of software you install into your blog to make it do something new. A plugin can enhance existing functionality or it can introduce new functionality. Plugins are what make WordPress so powerful because they can make it do anything.

One example of a common plugin people use is a page builder. There are a bunch available, but in general a page builder lets you design a page without writing code.

Themes

This is WordPress’ most fun aspect. Themes are what make your blog look the way it does; they are like your blog’s skin.

In slightly more technical terms, a theme is a collection of code that displays the content in your blog using theme files (written in PHP) and stylesheets (written in CSS).

Themes can be free, but the really good ones aren’t. The best part about themes is that they can be changed with the click of a button. Not all themes are created equally, but we’ll talk about that another time.

Widgets

A widget is an area in a theme that lets you specify the content that should be displayed. Usually widgets are found in a theme’s sidebar, but that can change depending on the theme. Plugins might come with a widget that you can then have your blog display.

WYSIWYG editor

“WYSIWYG” (pronounced whizz-ee-wig) is an acronym for “What You See Is What You Get”. This means a WYSIWYG editor is a visual text editor.

Have you ever used Microsoft Word? When you press the “bold” button your text looks bold, and you didn’t have to write any code to make it do that. Same thing with WordPress’ WYSIWYG editor.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, WordPress can do almost anything you want it to. It’s used by small “mom and pops” bloggers and it’s also used by huge media companies and corporations. WordPress has a ton of features and a large community. Best of all, WordPress is free!

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