Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little first released WordPress in 2003. It is actually a successor of the b2/cafelog, a tool developed to primarily aid blogging. Today, almost 15 years after its initial launch, this software has definitely evolved and come a long way from its grassroots. But what is WordPress and why should you use it, too?
Running alongside well-known names in the web development industry such as Joomla, Drupal, and the like, WordPress is a household name for website developers and even online users who are not so tech-savvy. Because of its popularity and widespread use, users who are interested in how to build a website from scratch flock toward the developer’s website to download this tool.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
Before we tackle the question of what is WordPress, let’s set something straight first.
When you first start learning about WordPress, you might get confused with two separate websites – WordPress.org and WordPress.com. If what you are looking for is a free website that includes free hosting services, then WordPress.com is what you need. You simply sign up for an account and you can immediately start posting and customizing your website or blog.
On the other hand, WordPress.org is where you may download the WordPress software that you can install on your own web hosting account. You will need to have a domain and a separate web hosting service. Don’t’ worry about installing it – many popular web hosting service offer one-click installation right from their own dashboards. We also have a great tutorial on how to do it yourself and it’s so easy, that anyone can do it!
If you want to build a versatile and fully customizable website, you’d want to host it on your own hosting account using WordPress and not on a WordPress.com account. WordPress.com only offers very basic functionality and does not allow plugin uploads, theme uploads, backend code, database access, and file access. In contrast, installing WordPress on your web hosting account gives you full control and flexibility in designing and managing your website.
This post is about the WordPress software from WordPress.org – not the WordPress.com hosting service.
What is WordPress?
To answer this would mean to breakdown WordPress’ famous definition.
First and foremost, it is open-source software. This means that you or anyone else interested in using WordPress is free to do so. You are given permission by its developers to download it, without having to pay a fee. You can subsequently use it to develop your own website of choice and publish that website online. That is how much belief WordPress has on the open source initiative. And because it is open-source, you can expect that there are thousands of contributors and software engineers who are constantly sending feedback regarding WordPress’ points for improvement. This helps WordPress run better, as time goes by.
Second, it is the leading content management system. As the foremost choice for website creation, WordPress ranks high especially on the ease of use category. This is because WordPress allows you to build your own website without requiring you to have highly technical skills such as coding. Before, having zero coding language skills meant you would have to hire a pro to do all the website building stuff for you. With WordPress, you can create, store, modify, and even remove your own content within the WordPress platform without having to deal with the codes behind each action. Typically, content management systems such as WordPress are advantageous especially for sites that make use of collaborative authoring.
And if you search for the numbers and compare websites, then you will find that roughly 30 percent of the sites that you view today is powered by WordPress. In terms of market share, this is a whopping 59.9 percent sweeping share of this popular platform. And that is more than half of the CMS market being dominated by this PHP-written web creation tool. It is no wonder why the WordPress website boasts of Fortune 500 (like GM, UPS, Sony) and several other top companies that make use of this platform.
Third, WordPress takes pride in its versatility. Imagine creating a website in the old days. Your basic HTML coding knowledge can probably only take you as far as changing the font size and background image on your website. And that would have taken several keyboard clicks and edits before you even find the perfect look. Fast forward to the WordPress era where themes can be browsed and previewed in mere seconds. And yes, you do not need to type any form of code at all. Drag and drop capability is a reality. You can even have the option to choose from the free ones or get the premium and best paid themes of your preference.
The same is true when it comes to plugins. WordPress allows you to include these app-like add-ons to your website, so you can tweak its function. Bloggers, for example, can benefit from important WordPress plugins such as Editorial Calendar, to better organize and handle their online published content. Installing some of the best WordPress plugins can make your website very easy and powerful to use.
Now, because WordPress is free, popular due to ease of use, and is highly customizable, many developers and companies have found several ways to take advantage of this web creation tool.
Here are some of its most popular uses:
As a platform for your personal blog.
Whether it is WordPress-hosted ones (WordPress.com) or through a web hosting service of your choice (using the software via WordPress.org), the fact is WordPress in itself is very popular among bloggers. If you want a place online where you can simply type your thoughts to your heart’s content, then WordPress is your best bet. What’s more, you can tweak the font, background image, and almost everything in your blog, so that it reflects your personality. WordPress makes everything so simple that even a non-tech-savvy individual can set up a personal blog in a matter of minutes. Fire away and type whatever comes to your mind. Who knows, WordPress-powered blog might even end up in Forbes’ cream of the crop, just like Jennifer Lawson’s famed thebloggess.com.
As a space to launch your ecommerce business.
Say for example you want to create an online store to sell your chosen products. With a WordPress-powered ecommerce business, your goal of reaching your target market is made possible. You can choose from several easy-to-setup plugins and themes that exist to cater to e-commerce solutions. And, at the end of the day, translate that mass market reach into sales revenue.
As an interactive photo wall.
Ever wanted a spot solely dedicated to your best camera shots and stills? Then you need to look no further. WordPress makes it possible for you to create an online photo gallery. Whether you choose to do it using the built-in “create gallery” feature of the platform, or you want feature rich plugins such as Modula, Jetpack, or Envira, WordPress allows you to showcase your photographic eye for angle and detail online.
As a channel for your podcasts and videos.
If you are into creating digital audio recordings, then your podcasts episodes are very much welcome into any WordPress site. Simply upload your latest sound recording into the media uploader, and you’re good to go. If, on the other hand, you prefer to embed your pre-uploaded audio and even video recording on sites like Soundcloud or Youtube, WordPress still makes it easy for you to do this because of it oEmbed-support capability.
As a base for your magazine or news site.
Publish your own lifestyle magazine using a WordPress-enabled site and grow your readership online. Make your site the next Hypebeast. The same goes if you want to take on a more serious note and run a reputable site that reports the news. Some well-known and credible news sites that use WordPress as their platform include The New York Times, CNN, Reuters, and Forbes, to name a few. Both forms of media which you can normally find on print are now capable of existing right in front of your computer screens, many thanks to WordPress.
As a commonplace for jobseekers and businesses.
With powerful and easy-to-activate plugins, you can turn any WordPress site into a job board or a business directory listing. Allow site visitors to post job or business listings, depending on the plugin you include in your WordPress site.
As a forum and membership site.
WordPress also supports the creation of online communities. The most common ones include forums for Q&A exchanges, non-profit organization sites that raise donations for a cause, polling sites, and other similar online groups and connection you can think of.
As a tool to earn commissions online.
These days, you can still earn online even without a digital store. For example, if you are a coupon lover, then you can earn affiliate commissions by simply setting up a coupon site. Or if you fancy niche-affiliate marketing gigs, you can refer users to certain products and services through your WordPress site. All you have to do is choose the plugin and you’re all set.
As a resume and portfolio site.
WordPress does not only support your lifestyle and entrepreneurial goals, but it can also be designed to fit into your career-growth plans. Whether you are a graphic artist who wants a place to stock and to show your latest logo and media creations, or you simply want a digital version of your CV, WordPress brings home the bacon for you.
As an event countdown and/or promo page.
Set up a countdown online using your WordPress site and watch your upcoming event date come closer right before your eyes. You can even take it up a notch by using the site to promote your event or host a related contest.
As a sales and customer service portal.
With the right plugin, you can turn your WordPress site into a landing page to feature your latest products. You can also add CRM-specialized plugins to help you manage your relationship with your buyers and prospective customers. This way, you can track and monitor customer projects online. You can even turn the site into an online helpdesk for further support.
As an online brochure.
Schools, institutions, and businesses have one thing in common: thrive to make their presence known online to attract more clients. To add credibility to your social media posts and online listing, having a WordPress-powered page to display relevant and outstanding information about your company.
As a gateway for online courses.
With the growing fondness of internet users for everything digital, it comes with no surprise that learning comes in many forms online. If you are into teaching, you can tap on unexplored niches and display your latest educational course offerings through a WordPress-powered site.
As a marketing tool.
Reaching your target market through a site dedicated to proliferating your email marketing campaigns is possible with WordPress. Simply set up your newsletter plugin of choice and generate more subscriber connections online.
As a means to manage a team.
If you rely on team collaboration to execute tasks or you want to build a team to handle a specific project, WordPress is a contender for big names like Trello and Asana. Themes and plugins have been brainstormed and generated by WordPress developers to transform this platform into a team-friendly one.
As a source of smart forms.
Forms these days have now been digitally-transformed. Now, you no longer need so much paperworks if you want your customers to fill out a feedback form. Just add a tab that will facilitate the means for your customer to contact you and send their feedback. Nor would you have to stack dozens of forms to get guests to sign up for events. Just add an interactive form that guests can fill out and tick off, and your event is ready to go. A WordPress site that you equip with smart forms plugins can do all these jobs for you, right to the dot.
As a handy mobile app.
Creating webpages using WordPress is not limited to your PC and desktop screens. WordPress has now taken the form of a mobile-friendly app that allows you to control your website using your smartphone.
As receiving end for user-generated media and forms.
Websites thrive on interaction. And your site visitors may no longer just settle for merely consuming content that you display in your page’s feed. Lucky for you, WordPress-made sites also allow users to upload media (such as photos, music, and videos) that they want to share. The same goes for forms submitted by job seekers, in case your website hosts job listings. You can use your WordPress-powered site to take in applications only by setting up the page to receive submitted resumes and documents.
What started out as a simple blogging tool has now become a powerful web-creation software. And while many users still prefer to use WordPress to publish their blog content online, do note that there are several more ways to maximize this open-source platform.
From business goals, literary pursuits, career, and social connections, to building your company’s reputation, WordPress shows just how flexible it can be. All you need is to sign up and be connected to the internet, and you can all these and more from anywhere in the world. And with its various themes and plugins, plus ever-increasing popularity, WordPress is indeed poised to continue to make your creative ideas flourish and your plans a reality.
How do I start my own WordPress site?
If you wish to learn more about how to create your own site with WordPress, head to our homepage and get started.