What is WordPress? Free Beginner Guide 2021

Last Updated on July 31, 2021 by Steve

I have been using WordPress for over 10 years, half as long as I have been in Information Technology. I have used many content management systems and even designed many websites using a text editor/ browser, in the early days! lol. Nothing I have used so far compares to WordPress, its power, its features, its strong community backing etc. A lot of people whoever don’t know what WordPress is and what its used for. In this post I will shed some light on this topic and provide insight to those interested on how to get started with WordPress as well.

WordPress is a free, open-source website creation platform. On a more technical level, WordPress is a content management system (CMS) written in PHP that uses a MySQL database. In non-geek speak, WordPress is the easiest and most powerful blogging and website builder in existence today.

WordPress is an excellent website platform for a variety of websites. From blogging to e-commerce to business and portfolio websites, WordPress is a versatile CMS. Designed with usability and flexibility in mind, WordPress is a great solution for both large and small websites.

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WordPress Dashboard

WordPress Website Explained

A WordPress website is any website that uses WordPress as its content management system (CMS). WordPress powers both the backend of the website (the interface where a user logs in to make changes or add new content) and the frontend (the visible part of the website that your visitors see on the web).

Here are just a few examples of the types of websites you can build with WordPress:

  • Blog – A blog is a special type of website devoted to sharing thoughts, photos, reviews, tutorials, recipes and so much more. Blogs usually display the most recently-published content first.
  • E-commerce website – An e-commerce website allows you to sell goods or services online and collect payment via an online payment system. You can download and install a WordPress e-commerce plugin to extend the default functionality of WordPress so you can have an online store on your website.
  • Business website – Many businesses will benefit from having an online presence in the form of their own website. If your business needs a website for customers to learn about your company and what you have to offer, WordPress is an excellent option. Customers can contact you, ask for a quote, schedule an appointment and much more.
  • Membership website – A membership website allows you to put content behind a paywall or an account login. To access pages or posts, users must login or pay for the content. WordPress can also handle membership websites with additional plugins.
  • Portfolio website – Show off your artwork, design skills and more with a portfolio website built on WordPress.
  • Forum website – A forum website can be a helpful place for users to ask questions or share advice. Believe it or not, many forum websites run on WordPress.
  • Event website – Hosting an event? WordPress makes it easy for you to share your event details and sell tickets.
  • E-learning website – Students can take online courses, track their progress, download resources and much more from an e-learning website. With a special kind of plugin called a WordPress LMS plugin, you can offer online courses from a WordPress website.
  • Wedding website – Share the details of your big day with a wedding website built on WordPress. With an array of WordPress wedding themes, you can get a website up quickly and easily.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to customizing a WordPress website. WordPress themes and plugins can add new design options and added functionality. Check out WordPress.org for free themes and plugins.

WordPress Architecture

Is WordPress The Tool For You ?

If you’re wondering why WordPress is such a widely used website content management system, here are some of the benefits of WordPress as a website platform:

  • Simplicity: WordPress allows you to publish and build your website content quickly. Even as a beginner, you can easily use WordPress.
  • The cost is free – The actual WordPress software available on WordPress.org is free to download and use. You will, however, need to pay for web hosting and a domain name.
  • Flexibility: WordPress allows you to create many types of websites from personal blogs and online stores to online magazines and newspapers.
  • Easy to use – If you can use a word processing software like Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress to build and manage a website.
  • Open-source software – WordPress is open-source software that is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), meaning it isn’t owned by a single company or entity. Hundreds of developers and users collaborate and contribute to the software to make it better. The spirit of open-source means constant improvements, accountability and free usage for everyone.
  • No need to know code – WordPress removes the requirement of needing to know how to code in order to build a website. While WordPress utilizes a variety of coding languages, there’s no need to know any of them to use WordPress.
  • Extendable with WordPress plugins – The core WordPress software can be extended with WordPress plugins. WordPress plugins are bits of software that you can upload to your website to add more features (such as e-commerce, SEO, backups, contact forms and more). There are thousands of free WordPress plugins available on the WordPress.org plugin directory and a thriving premium (paid) plugins industry.
  • Highly customizable with WordPress themes – WordPress themes provide the design and layout of your website. With a click of a button, you can change the entire look of your website by applying a new WordPress theme. More advanced WordPress themes are more like WordPress page builders, giving you even more control of your layouts.
  • Website security – While no website platform is 100% secure, WordPress security continues to improve with a vigilant security team of core developers and users. Common WordPress security issues are usually due to user error, rather than the software itself.
  • A thriving community of users and developers – When you have a WordPress website, you can also get involved in the greater WordPress community through your local WordPress MeetupWordCamps and more. The WordPress community has a reputation of being incredibly welcoming, helpful and innovative.
  • A premium plugin and theme industry – While there are loads of free plugins and themes, most serious WordPress website owners invest in premium (paid) plugins or themes. Why? Your purchase of a reputable premium plugin or theme helps pay for the ongoing development and support of the plugin or theme, including new features, security patches and more.

WordPress Features

As a website building platform and CMS, WordPress boasts an impressive feature set. Here are just a few of the many features of WordPress.

  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) begins at a technical level and WordPress delivers an exceptional code base for SEO. SEO allows your website’s content to be found via common search engines such as Google or Bing.
  • Speed – WordPress is a lean website framework that is constantly striving to remove code “bloat” that slows down the loading speed of a website.
  • Mobile-friendly – Most WordPress themes are now mobile-friendly or responsive out-of-the-box.
  • Media file library – WordPress includes a built-in media library where you can upload and embed media files such as images or videos into your pages or posts. You can even perform basic edits to your images within WordPress.
  • Easy-to-use user interface – WordPress is very easy to use with no complicated settings. If you can use a WordPress processor, you can use WordPress. WordPress also has a focus on accessibility.
  • Custom menus – WordPress makes it easy to create navigation menus with links to your pages or custom links.
  • Built-in blog – Adding a blog to your website is as simple as publishing a post.
  • New in WordPress 5.0: The WordPress Block Editor – WordPress 5.0 introduced the new Block Editor, also known as the Gutenberg WordPress Editor. The new editor transforms the way you edit WordPress pages and posts. Now you can design and arrange your content with a more flexible “drag and drop” approach.

WordPress Origins

WordPress began in 2003 when Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg forked a little-known blogging tool known as B2/cafelog. Little and Mullenweg sought to create a better blogging platform, built on the original B2 code base, but with more robust features and more consistent development.

The result is WordPress. First a tool for blogging, WordPress quickly grew to be an extensive content management system (CMS) able to handle a variety of websites.

WordPress Usage Statistics Across the Web

According to usage statistics of content management systems now report that WordPress powers over 60 million websites, or 36% of all websites on the internet and over 60% of all websites whose content management systems are known.

WordPress Usage Statistics

Because WordPress is free and so easy to use, it has been widely adopted as the gold standard for website builders.

The Biggest Companies in The World Use WordPress

Rest easy, knowing you’re in good company if you use WordPress to publish on the web. Many famous blogs, news outlets, music sites, Fortune 500 companies and celebrities are using WordPress, including NBC, CBS, USA Today, Time, Disney, Airbnb, Spotify, TechCrunch and even the Pioneer Woman.

If you’re ever curious about who uses WordPress, head on over to the WordPress site showcase and you’ll be impressed by the number of well-known sites and famous people using WordPress to power their websites.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

If you’re just getting started with WordPress, there are a few important things to know. First up, you’ll need to know the difference between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.

The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org can be a little confusing if you are new to using WordPress.

  • WordPress.com is the hosted version of WordPress, where you can create a WordPress.com account to make a blog or website.
    • By default, your website’s URL or domain will include the word “WordPress,” like myblog.wordpress.com.
    • Paid upgrades include a custom domain, Google Analytics integration, more storage space, the ability to add your own plugins and themes and more.
    • WordPress.com is owned by Automattic, a company founded by one of the original WordPress creators, Matt Mullenweg.
  • WordPress.org is where you can download the WordPress software to install on your own server or web hosting account.
    • The WordPress software is open-source, so it is free to download and use.
    • To use the WordPress.org version of WordPress, you’ll need to have a domain name and web hosting, purchased from another reputable company like Best WordPress Solutions.
    • Most web hosts offer a WordPress “quick install” or done-for-you installations of WordPress to help you get started if you don’t want to install WordPress yourself.
    • WordPress.org is the non-profit foundation of Automattic.

What Do I Need To Do To Start Using WordPress?

Now you’re probably asking, “how do I start WordPress?”

Again, WordPress is free. Yep, that’s right – it’s 100% free. You can get started today with a WordPress website in just a few steps.

You’ll just need a few things to get started with WordPress:

If you’d rather use the hosted version of WordPress available on WordPress.com, you’ll simply need to create a WordPress.com account to get started. Although I advise against this route due to limited features in comparison.

What’s A Plugin?

A WordPress plugin is a package of additional code that you can upload to your website to add new features, functionality or integrations.

  • Plugins can be added via the Plugins menu in your WordPress dashboard.
  • Using the built-in search function, you can find a free plugin available on the WordPress.org Plugin directory.
  • Plugins can also be packaged as zip files that you upload through the Plugins menu uploader in your WordPress dashboard.

Add Plugins

Recommended WordPress Plugins

All WordPress websites will benefit from these must-have WordPress plugins.

  • WordPress backup plugin – WordPress doesn’t have a built-in backup function, so having a WordPress backup solution in place will save you a ton of headaches should you lose any data on your website. Having a backup plan is also crucial to mitigate a security breach or hack. UpdraftPlus is my favorite WordPress backup plugin to backup, restore or even move a WordPress website to a new host or domain.
  • WordPress security plugin – A WordPress security plugin such as iThemes Security works to fix common security holes and harden your website against attacks.
  • WordPress SEO plugin – A WordPress SEO plugin like SEOPress can help you add additional SEO (Search Engine Optimization) features and functionality.
  • WordPress form plugin – Add robust forms to your website such as contact forms, surveys, upload files, accept donations and more with a form builder plugin like Ninja Forms.
  • WordPress e-commerce plugin – If you want to sell goods or services on your website through an online store, a WordPress e-commerce plugin such as WooCommerce is a must-have.
  • UpdraftPlus, SEOPress and Ninja Forms is just one of the many plugins included with a WordPress Hosting Package from Best WordPress Solutions at no additional charge! Visit our store for plans and pricing.

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme provides the design “framework” of your website. Most WordPress themes provide:

  • The overall design (the look, feel and style) of your site
  • Site-wide font styles
  • Color scheme
  • Styles for blog posts and blog archives
  • Page layouts (or templates)
  • Widget locations
  • Additional stylistic details

Themes Add New

Free WordPress Tutorials

If you are a WordPress beginner, there are helpful WordPress tutorials to help you get started and learn WordPress. From how to access your WordPress login screen to how to add a WordPress post or page, our tutorials cover all the basics. Visit our knowledgebase today.

Money Making Opportunities Using WordPress

New industries have sprouted from WordPress. Today, the possibilities of making money with WordPress range from running an online store to building websites for clients to WordPress consulting.

  • Build WordPress websites for clients – If you are a web developer or designer, you can specialize in WordPress websites. Since WordPress is so easy to use, training clients to use their websites is a bonus of specializing in WordPress.
  • WordPress maintenance – Often, WordPress site owners don’t have time to maintain their websites. WordPress maintenance includes important website tasks such as software updates, backups, security, SEO and more.
  • WordPress SEO – WordPress SEO services can be useful to many businesses hoping to generate more organic search traffic and outrank their competitors. You can specialize in WordPress SEO by providing web site audits, keyword research, content writing and more.
  • WordPress consulting – Some businesses need guidance on how to design, build, grow or improve their website. WordPress consultants know all the ins and outs of WordPress optimization, functionality, tools and features.
  • Content writing – Knowing how to use WordPress makes you an appealing candidate to many businesses that need content marketing services.

To Summarize What is WordPress

WordPress is a free, open-source website creation platform. On a more technical level, WordPress is a content management system (CMS) written in PHP that uses a MySQL database. In non-geek speak, WordPress is the easiest and most powerful blogging and website builder in existence today.

WordPress is an excellent website platform for a variety of websites. From blogging to e-commerce to business and portfolio websites, WordPress is a versatile CMS. Designed with usability and flexibility in mind, WordPress is a great solution for both large and small websites.

You can enhance WordPress features and capabilities by adding plugins, which are basically additional WordPress code. Themes can be used to change the appearance of WordPress.

You have the option of getting a WordPress site from WordPress.com or download WordPress from WordPress.org for do it yourselfers. I recommend getting a WordPress website from us. We offer competitive prices, domain name services, free premium plugins and themes with every hosting package. Getting WordPress hosting from us also gives you the most freedom with no restrictions to do with your WordPress site what you wish. Visit our store for plans and pricing.

Author

  • I have been in the information technology field since I left the United States Army over twenty years ago. Skills and experience include a Bachelor's degree in Computer Information Systems with a Specialization in Databases and a Master's in Computer Information Systems Management.

    I fell in love with WordPress over 10 years ago and spend most of my time designing, building and administering WordPress based sites. I am fluent in multiple programming languages including Python, PHP, SQL, Java and C#.

    Have a problem with your site? Do you need a reliable host and a reliable systems administrator to help with your site? I can have your site up, running and simply hand you the keys. No job is too big or too small.  Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. Visit online store for latest pricing and offerings!

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