The Ins and Outs of WordPress

What exactly is WordPress? Why should I use it?

By

Harry Wilkinson

Read Time

8 minutes

Publish Date

26th November 2019

Before we get into what WordPress is, I think it’s worth me putting into context the different types of websites.

Generally speaking, the most basic sites are static sites. They have fixed content and are used as an online brochure for a business. They can only be changed by editing the code, making it tough for “non-coders” to change bits of text or to add sections of content.

Next we have websites operating with a Content Management System (CMS). The front end (what we see when using websites) of these websites are connected to a database. They have dynamic content which can be easily changed by CMS.

Finally when we add the ability to make purchases of goods or services through an online portal, we have an eCommerce website. As before, a CMS can be used to edit the content of the site, like products or services.

As the complexity of the site increases by adding a CMS or a the ability to take online payments the time and knowledge required to build the website also increases, as well as the cost. If you’re unsure exactly what type of website you need for your business get in touch and I’ll advise you on what I think is best.

WordPress Introduction

Now that the we know the different levels of websites available, I can introduce WordPress and explain why it is such a useful tool for web developers.

WordPress

WordPress (.org, not to be confused with WordPress.com, which is a for-profit business) is an open source CMS. It powers 54% of all the websites whose content management system is known [1]. Considering that Apples mobile vendor market share worldwide[2] is 22%, it’s obvious to see that WordPress dominates its market.

WordPress originated as a blogging platform and evolved into a full CMS. It basically works by taking content, created in the admin section, and then displaying this on the front end through a theme. You can use free themes, buy them or make them. There are pros and cons to all theme options, which I plan to cover in another blog.

WordPress websites are edited in the wp-admin section which can be a little daunting at first, but has been made to be simple and accessible for all.

WordPress Admin Dashboard

Themes and Plugins

As open source software, WordPress has been driven in part by a massive community of developers creating different themes and plugins allowing other website designers and developers to build incredible sites.

Themes are essentially detailed instructions of how to arrange and display the content created in the CMS. With different themes, you can display exactly the same content but in a variety of completely different ways. I prefer to build bespoke themes for each different website. This means that once a client and I decide on a vision we don’t have to compromise at all. With the library of free and purchasable themes, whilst they are editable to an extent, there are still constraints on what one can do to change the look and feel of a website.

Wordpress Themes

The other element that has made WordPress so universally regarded as the best CMS is plugins. Plugins are sets of instructions that can be added to enable the website additional features and functions. An example of a commonly used plugin is WooCommerce, which introduces an eCommerce element to the website. Other plugins are useful for contact forms, SEO purposes, website loading speed, analytics, and much, much more.

Pages and Posts

To explain what pages and posts are and the difference between them, consider a site with sections including:

  • Home
  • About
  • Services
  • Blog
  • Contact

In this example “Home”, “About”, “Services” and “Contact” are all pages. They are created and edited in the Pages section of the website. If you wanted to add specific services this would be done via the pages function. Then the “Service” page would be the parent to the services, which are child pages.

“Blog” is a category of post and has been added to the main menu. Posts are added and edited in the Posts section (duh) and when published, a new page is created for this post. Posts can have categories and tags, so in this case “Blog” is the category and the tags would be how you’d like to differentiate one type of post from another. Additionally posts have an author and publish date, whereas pages do not.

The differences between Pages and Posts are as follows:

  • Posts are timely vs. Pages are timeless
  • Posts are social vs. Pages are NOT
  • Posts are organized using categories and tags vs. Pages are hierarchical and can be organized as child and parent pages
  • Posts are included in RSS feed vs. Pages are not.
  • Posts have author and published date vs Pages do not.

eCommerce

eCommerce websites are online portals that facilitate online transactions of goods and services through means of the transfer of information and funds over the Internet. The most popular way to add eCommerce functionality to WordPress is through a plugin called WooCommerce.

WooCommerce and WordPress

When the WooCommerce plugin is installed and activated in the wp-admin section, it enables any user to add, edit and delete products. The process is simple and easy to understand whilst also being incredibly thorough meaning that any additional details you require for your products can be added via WooCommerce. Once a structure for the products has been created, a developer can then create sections on the website and style them. However if you use a template theme, you may once again have to work within some constraints.

WordPress Examples

If the term WordPress is new to you, I can assure you that the platform itself isn’t. With the internet being so heavily populated with its CMS system, it’s incredibly unlikely you’ve never used a website powered by WordPress.

Examples of websites built with WordPress include:

Conclusion

WordPress is a full CMS where with the use of themes and plugins you can add, edit and delete your own content which is transformed into a stylized website.

Over 54% of all the websites whose content management system is known are powered by WordPress.

Editable content is split into Pages and Posts. Though with plugins such as WooCommerce, eCommerce functionality is added and the ability to add products and to take online payments are included.

There are many free and purchasable themes out there. If you decide that you’d like to work with me I normally build bespoke themes, however I’m happy to edit themes and work within your framework.

If you’d like to have a chat about working together please get in touch and we can see what we can achieve together!

[1] WordPress information source: https://trends.builtwith.com/cms/traffic/Entire-Internet
[2] Apple information source: https://gs.statcounter.com/vendor-market-share/mobile

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