For anyone looking to succeed in the instant information culture created by the internet today, having a website is essential. While most of us are familiar with websites when it comes to web browsing and finding content, the process of creating and managing your own site is very daunting and means delving into a world dominated by code and complicated jargon. In the early days of the internet, developing and running a website was something only achievable by a select band of people; however, this is the 21st century and we now have WordPress.
Just what is WordPress?
When talking to clients about website creation, I am keen to recommend WordPress – there are many reasons for this. WordPress is many things, but fundamentally, it is web software that can be used to create a website or blog.
In 2003, the internet was hit by a new phenomenon that involved people wanting to keep “web logs” and share thoughts with others that could read and comment on them – this was known as blogging. Developer Matt Mullenweg originally created WordPress as a platform solely for blogging, and today, WordPress.com is the most widely used and popular blogging engine on the Web.
However, blogging is just one of the things that make WordPress great. Over the years, the site has evolved from being a platform to share thoughts, into a fully functional, full-featured, and fully customisable tool for website creation, used by millions of businesses, organisations and individuals across the globe. WordPress is now so popular as a content management system (CMS) that it powers almost a quarter of all new websites, and is used as the tool of choice by more than two thirds of the top one million sites on the internet! Some of the sites that use WordPress for content publishing include The New York Times, CNN, Reuters, and eBay.
Aside from its usability, the biggest factor in WordPress becoming the most used blogging platform and CMS in the world stems from the fact that it is “open source” – meaning that all code and files are free to use by anyone, anywhere. The community of WordPress users constantly work to evolve and improve the service, developing themes, plugins, and widgets that can be used to customise a website to the specifications of the individual user.
So, how does it work?
People these days want up-to-date information fast. Content publishing needs to be fluid and easy – WordPress ensures this is the case.
In the early days of the internet, creating a website was something completely beyond the mere mortal, requiring the skills of a highly trained website design team or developer to create pages using HTML (HyperText Markup Language), a complicated and intricate computer programming language that uses “tags” to create the theme of a page. This sort of painstaking process means it can often take hours to create a single webpage – not exactly ideal when you need to update content fast.
In a world of blogging where getting information out fast is essential, HTML was too cumbersome to use, so WordPress instead opted for a scripting language known as PHP (Hypertext Processor) and a database management tool called MySQL. What this does is enable the user to work with the WordPress template, manipulating and customising the look and content of the site, without needing to know anything about editing HTML or PHP. Essentially, what WordPress does is make managing a website possible for non-developers.
You can simply download the WordPress software to your web server and begin creating a website in minutes, customising your website based on one of the thousands of free themes that are available. Structural elements of the site can be added, changed, and customised without these ever affecting the content you have created. This allows you to develop a site that is as elaborate or as simple as you want.
For a complete free blogging service that is powered by WordPress (no web hosting required), there is also WordPress.org, which lets you set up a blog and start publishing content instantly.
Why choose WordPress?
So, why would you want to choose WordPress over the option of, say, making a website made from scratch? Well, first of all it is open source, making it completely free to use for both private and commercial purposes, meaning that there is no need for expensive software or web designers. The fact that the service is designed in this way also means that it has a large and active community that is always working to improve and further the functionality of the site.
Secondly, it is user-friendly. For someone unfamiliar with computer language and coding (which to be fair is most of us), WordPress offers an easy way for you to manage your own site. Once you have your site set up, you will be free to publish new content as regularly as you need to. If you have ever used a word processing program such as Microsoft Word or Google Drive, you will easily be able to navigate your way around the WordPress dashboard.
WordPress is also the most flexible content management system on the market when it comes to customising the look of your site. There are literally hundreds of thousands of different themes and plugins that can be installed at the click of a button and that can add a new dimension to the site.
The popularity of WordPress means that it can be used on almost all web servers and is familiar to people like myself that can help, should you ever wish to add highly creative and customisable features to your site. By its very nature, the service is also set-up to be search engine optimisation (SEO) friendly, and with a bit of know-how, you can easily find your content featuring prominently on the first page of Google.
WordPress is a site that works for you – no complicated jargon, no editing of HTML or PHP, and no limitations of what can and cannot be done on your site.
To put it simply – if you are looking to create a website, you need WordPress in your life!