What Is WordPress? A Complete Beginner’s Guide

What is WordPress

Are you planning to build a website? Confused with the several platforms and options in the market? Wondering what is WordPress and if it could be a good fit?

I get you. A search on Google for ‘website builders’ and you’ll be served with a range of platforms on which you can create a website.

From Wix and Weebly to Squarespace, Zyro, Shopify, Joomla, and a whole lot more, the options are pretty overwhelming.

Want a website builder that powers nearly 50% of the websites globally? Want a builder that makes the entire website development process, a piece of cake. Well, almost!

Introducing WordPress!

A simple blog platform that soon developed into a full-fledged content management system, allowing you to easily build just about any kind of website without writing any code.

While there is a slight learning curve, the customization, and flexibility that WordPress offers are second to none.

So, what is WordPress? Why is it so popular? And is WordPress the best fit for you?

Let’s find out!

What is WordPress?

WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that’s written in PHP and uses a MySQL database. WordPress is the most powerful website builder for a variety of websites. From blogs and portfolio websites to eCommerce, corporate, eLearning, and more, WordPress is the most popular choice for all kinds of websites.

WordPress Dashboard

All your website content, such as blog posts, pages and including website settings are stored in a MySQL database.

With WordPress, you can build amazing websites and blogs without any coding experience.

About WordPress

WordPress was created in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. They forked an existing blogging tool known as B2/cafelog. The need for a better blogging platform with more robust, elegant, and well-architected features led to the launch of WordPress.

WordPress 1.0 was released to the public in 2004. Similar to the platform today, WordPress 1.0 included multiple categories to group website content.

Since its inception, the default classic editor was powered by the open-source TinyMCE editor.

Classic WordPress Editor, What is WordPress

As shown above, the classic editor is similar to writing content on Google Docs or MS Word. Add all your content and images within the space provided. Pretty straightforward.

In 2018, WordPress 5.0 was launched with a new block-based editor called Gutenberg.

Gutenberg Block Based WordPress Editor

This brought in a much improved and modular approach to building content pages. Every element of your page is now a block.

Want to add a heading to your page? Simply add the heading block.

Want to include an image? Add the image block.

Want to add text? Yes, add the paragraph block.

It’s that simple!

The latest version is WordPress 5.9. (as of April 2022)

Latest WordPress Version in 5.9

(Source: WordPress)

Today, WordPress is a huge community of developers, content creators, and bloggers that have monthly meetups across 817 cities globally.

Want to be part of a meetup community? Go ahead and find a local WordPress community.

WordPress Usage Statistics

Here are some statistics to show you how popular WordPress is.

WordPress download statistics

(Source: WordPress – as of 10 AM IST on 10th April 2022)

  • WordPress powers over 43% of the websites globally
  • Out of all the websites built using a CMS, 65.2% are built using WordPress
  • For 12 years in a row, WordPress has been the fastest growing CMS
  • The official WordPress plugin directory has nearly 60,000 free plugins
  • Nearly 9,500 free themes are available in the official WordPress theme repository
  • In the first half of 2021, Wordfence (WordPress security plugin) blocked 18.5 billion password attack requests on WordPress websites.

(Source: Hubspot)

Based on the latest report from W3Techs, WordPress has a market share of 43%.

WordPress Market Share

(Source: W3Techs)

Shopify and Wix are the next best at 4.4% and 2.2% respectively.

Close competition? I guess not!

WordPress Features and why you Should use WordPress

So, what makes WordPress so popular?

Here are some features that I feel make WordPress the most popular website builder platform.

  • Free of cost: WordPress is open-source and can be downloaded for free from the WordPress.org site. Download, install and tweak the code, just the way you want. While the WordPress software is free, you will need to invest in a domain and web hosting. There are also service providers, such as Bluehost, Cloudways, Godaddy, Hostgator, WPX, and more than offer managed WordPress hosting. This way, you needn’t worry about installing WordPress. It’s all done for you.
  • Customization: WordPress is licensed under the GPL which allows you to use WordPress just the way you choose. Install it, modify the code, customize it to suit your website requirements, distribute it, or just about anything. You have complete control and freedom over the software.
  • Flexibility: WordPress offers you unmatched flexibility. From creating stand-alone websites and personal blogs to full-fledged online stores, online course platforms, classifieds, online magazines, and newspapers, there’s a lot you can do with WordPress.
  • Speed: While several factors, such as web hosting, theme, and more impact the speed of your website, out-of-the-box WordPress installation loads fast. The lean website framework removes much of the bloated code that slows down your website loading speed. Use tools, such as GTmetrix and Pingdom to test your website speed.
  • SEO: WordPress comes optimized for search engines. That being said, you will need to further optimize your website content for relevant keywords to ensure your content gets found via popular search engines, such as Google and Bing.
  • Responsive: Traffic coming from mobile devices accounts for more than 50% when compared to desktop devices. Additionally, search engines boost your website ranking if you’ve optimized a site for mobile devices. The good news is that WordPress and most WordPress themes are optimized for mobile devices and are responsive out-of-the-box.
  • Easy-to-use: When you get started with WordPress, there is a slight learning curve. However, it’s pretty straightforward and before you know it, you’ll be creating awesome and professional-looking websites in no time.
  • Gutenberg Page Editor: With the advent of popular page builders, such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Brizy, Thrive Themes, and more, the classic WordPress editor left you wanting more when it came to creating content pages. WordPress 5.0 introduced the new block-based editor, Gutenberg. With Gutenberg, you can simply drag and drop a block, such as heading, image, paragraph, shortcode, and more to design your pages. Want additional Gutenberg blocks? Try the Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg.
  • Multi-lingual: With more than 70 languages, you can easily build a WordPress website in any language other than English.
  • Support: WordPress has a very vibrant community. In addition to the huge knowledge base you’ll find on the WordPress Support page, you can go ahead and post a question on the support forums. You are sure to get help from the community.

Want more features and functionality?

Simply install a WordPress plugin. You have nearly 60,000 free plugins to choose from in the WordPress repository.

Types of Websites you can Build With WordPress

With thousands of free WordPress themes and plugins, you can create just about any kind of website with WordPress.

Here are a few.

  • Blog: You could be building a personal website to share thoughts, reviews, and photos or you could be creating educational content to generate leads for your business. Whatever be the case, a blog is a great way to connect with your audience. With WordPress, starting a blog is made super easy. Simply create a few posts and your blog will be up and running.
  • Corporate Website: Today, I guess it goes without saying that all businesses must have a website. It’s after all your way of being open for business round the clock. By having an online presence, your customers can contact you, schedule an appointment, and do much more. With thousands of free WordPress themes available, creating a corporate website using WordPress is going to be pretty straightforward.
  • eCommerce Website: Selling products and services online and collecting payments couldn’t get any simpler. Simply install a WordPress eCommerce plugin, such as WooCommerce or Cartflows, and transform your standalone website into a selling machine.
  • Portfolio Website: Are you a photographer, an architect, an interior designer, an artist, or just want to show off your design skills with a portfolio website? Extend your WordPress website’s possibilities with plugins, such as WP Portfolio, and create an awesome portfolio website in WordPress.
  • Online Course Platform: Whether you are an individual coach, a coaching academy, a school, or even a college, having your courses online is made simple with WordPress. By installing a WordPress LMS (Learning Management System) plugin, you can take your courses online, sell them, track student progress, include quizzes, assignments, tests, downloadable resources, and a lot more. Some popular WordPress LMS plugins include LearnDash, LifterLMS, and LearnPress.
  • Membership Website: Want to provide access to your content only to registered members? Create a membership site. WordPress membership plugins, such as MemberPress, Buddyboss, and Paid Memberships Pro, allow you to put your content behind a login. Membership sites are a great way to generate income from your website, as long as you have regular and relevant content updated.
  • Forum Website: Want to create a forum website? You know, a platform where users post questions and get their queries answered. Your forum could also be a discussion board, space for sharing knowledge, or even a support zone. Use popular WordPress forum plugins, such as bbPress and BuddyPress to convert your WordPress site into an online forum website.
  • Job Website: Creating a job portal is pretty easy with WordPress. You can provide a platform for both job seekers and recruiters by installing job board plugins, such as WP Job Manager, and WPJobBoard, among several others.
  • Real Estate Website: Whether you are creating a real estate website for yourself or a client, you can easily add MLS listings and do more on your WordPress site. With features, such as MLS search, map tools, and more, your visitors can quickly find a property they’re looking for. Some popular WordPress real estate plugins include dsIDXpress, and Easy Property Listings, among several others. You could also consider various real estate themes that come preinstalled with MLS listing plugins.
  • News and Online Magazine Website: There are some amazing themes that you can consider to building a news and online magazine website. Newspaper theme is one that I highly recommend. Check out my own website – ‘The City 24/7’ using the same theme.

The possibilities with WordPress are endless. You truly can build just about any kind of website.

Who Uses WordPress?

WordPress is not just used by individuals to create a website. It’s used by businesses of all sizes. Here are some of the well-known names that use WordPress.

Microsoft News Center

Microsoft News Center

Microsoft news. Your view from the inside.

New York Post

New York Post

An American daily newspaper, primarily distributed in New York City and its surrounding area.

Flickr

Flickr Blog

The companion blog to Flickr, arguably the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.

The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company is one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.

The Obama Foundation

The Obama Foundation

The Obama Foundation was established to carry on the great, unfinished project of renewal and global progress.

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

American rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor, Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr., aka Snoop Doggy Dogg, Snoop Dogg, and Snoop Lion has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

Check the entire list of websites on the WordPress showcase.

What is WordPress.com?

Go ahead and search Google for ‘WordPress.

Search Google for WordPress

You’ll notice two different WordPress links.

One that has a ‘.com’ extension and the other a ‘.org’. Which one should you go with?

We’ve already covered what is WordPress (that’s wordpress.org).

What is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a hosted SAAS (software as a service) solution of WordPress, where you can create a free account for yourself and make a website or a blog. By default, the website’s URL will include ‘wordpress.com’. For instance, if you’ve named your blog ‘digitalmarketing’, the URL will be digitalmarketing.wordpress.com.

WordPress.com, What is WordPress

You can always have a domain that doesn’t include ‘wordpress.com’. For this, you will need to get behind a payment plan.

Other benefits of the paid upgrades include Google Analytics integration, additional storage space of up to 50GB, the ability to add plugins and themes, remove ads, and do more.

WordPress.com is owned by Automattic.

Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

While I do have a detailed article on WordPress.com vs WordPress.org, here are the key difference between the two.

What is WordPress? WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

(Want to use this infographic? Go ahead! Simply copy this code and include it on your website. <a href=”https://bloggersbloom.com/what-is-wordpress/” target=”_blank”><img src=”https://bloggersbloom.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/wordpress-org-wordpress-com.png”></a>)

Still, confused between the two? Here’s my recommendation.

Go ahead with WordPress.org!

If you are serious about your blog or even creating a website for just about any niche or industry, I suggest you go ahead with WordPress.org. It gives you complete flexibility and freedom.

How do I Start Using WordPress?

I guess we are clear on what is WordPress, the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, and which of the two to go ahead with.

Now it’s time to start using WordPress. And the easiest way is by installing WordPress on a live server. Of course, you’ll need to purchase a domain and hosting for this.

I’ve got a detailed step-by-step article on how to create a website using WordPress.

That being said, here at the steps you can follow.

Step #1: Book a domain name

A domain name is your website address. It’s how people find you on the internet.

For instance, www.bloggersbloom.com is my website URL. Similarly, google.com, amazon.com, and ebay.com are examples of domain names.

Domain names can be booked from Namecheap, Godaddy, and Domain, among several others.

Domain.com

You can purchase a ‘.com’ extension starting from $9.99 per year.

You will need to renew this as long as you want the domain to be yours.

Step #2: Buy Hosting

The next step is to buy hosting.

Hosting is required to store all your files. And the good news is that hosting service providers, such as Bluehost, offer you a free domain too, at least for the first year.

Bluehost WordPress Hosting

Hosting service providers that I highly recommend are

Other popular options include Hostgator, Hostinger, Kinsta, Bigrock, GreenGeeks, DreamHost, Liquid Web, and Inmotion Hosting, among several others.

Select a hosting plan of your choice and complete the registration process.

Step #3: Install WordPress

Once you’ve completed the registration process and purchased the hosting, you’ll be directed to your hosting control panel.

This is where you’ll need to install WordPress. And before you start fretting, installing WordPress is pretty straightforward.

In fact, most hosting providers have a one-click auto installer that allows you to install WordPress just like that. Simply click the auto-installer, key in the credentials you want, and you are done.

For instance, Bluehost installs WordPress for you and adds the site in your control panel, under ‘My Sites’, as shown below.

Bluehost Control Panel

Once you’ve got WordPress installed, you can use the credentials you just created to log into your WordPress dashboard.

You can access your WordPress dashboard by including ‘/wp-admin’ to your URL.

For instance, if your domain name is itsabloggerslife.com, to access your dashboard, you’ll need to go to itsabloggerslife.com/wp-admin.

WordPress wp-admin login screen

On successful login, you’ll land on your dashboard.

WordPress dashboard

If you see the above screen, you’ve successfully installed WordPress and are ready to start your website development journey.

If you look at the front end, you’ll notice your site looks like the image below.

WordPress 2022 theme

This is where you start customizing your website’s look and feel. You install a WordPress theme and then a few must-have WordPress plugins.

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme constitutes the look and feel of your website. This includes the colors, the typography, the page layout structure, and more. Currently, there are well over 9400 free themes available in the WordPress repository.

WordPress Themes

When you install a theme, it doesn’t affect the content on the pages. Instead, it only impacts the way the content is displayed on your pages.

While the look and feel of the theme are important, when it comes to selecting a theme, there’s more to it than just the design.

After all, the theme impacts your site’s page load speed. A good theme must load fast, be customizable, have demo templates, be responsive, and have awesome support and security.

I made this easy for you and listed some of the best WordPress themes below.

Before that, how do you install a WordPress theme?

Installing a WordPress theme is pretty straightforward. From your WordPress dashboard, head over to Appearance > Themes and click on Add New.

You can then search for a theme of your choice and install/ activate it.

Check this step-by-step article on how to install a WordPress theme in 3 easy to follow steps.

Best WordPress Themes

Astra

Astra WordPress Theme

Kadence

Kadence WordPress Theme

GeneratePress

GeneratePress WordPress Theme

Neve

Neve WordPress Theme

OceanWP

OceanWP WordPress Theme

Athemes

Athemes WordPress Theme

Debutify

Debutify WordPress Theme

Thrive Themes

Thrive Themes WordPress Theme

What is a WordPress Plugin?

A WordPress plugin is a piece of software that enhances the functionality of your WordPress website. As the name suggests, a plugin is a bit of code that “plugs in” to your WordPress site. By installing a plugin, you can extend the functionality of your site.

For instance, if you’d like to convert your standalone website into an online store, you can install a WordPress eCommerce plugin, such as WooCommerce or CartFlows.

Similarly, if you’d like to add online courses to your website, you can use a WordPress LMS (learning management system) plugin, such as LearnDash or LearnPress.

Currently, there are close to 60,000 free plugins in the WordPress ecosystem.

WordPress.org Free Plugins

And how do you install a WordPress plugin?

Installing a WordPress plugin is similar to installing a WordPress theme. You head over to Plugins > Add New on your WordPress dashboard and install a plugin of your choice.

Check out my detailed step-by-step article on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Your Site

While you can install just about any plugin, there are a few that you must have on your site. These include plugins for website security, backups, SEO, anti-spam, analytics, and more.

Here’s a list of some must-have WordPress plugins.

Akismet Spam Protection

Akismet Spam Protection

The Akismet plugin checks your comments against a global database of spam thereby preventing your site from publishing malicious content. Review comments on your blog’s admin screen before approving them.

Get Akismet Spam Protection

UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

UpdraftPlus is a WordPress backup plugin that simplifies the entire website backup process. With over three million active installations, UpdraftPlus is a hugely popular and powerful plugin, that backs up your files and database into the cloud and restores them with a single click!

Get UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin

Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan Plugin

Wordfence Security - Firewall & Malware Scan Plugin

When it comes to website security, you are in safe hands with Wordfence. The Threat Defense Feed arms the plugin with the latest firewall rules, malware signatures, and malicious IP addresses needed to keep your website safe. An added 2FA and a suite of additional features make Wordfence the most comprehensive WordPress security solution available.

Get Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan Plugin

Rank Math SEO WordPress Plugin

Rank Math SEO WordPress Plugin

Rank Math is my personal recommendation too. It is by far the best SEO plugin for your WordPress site. It’s also the first to use AI (Artificial Intelligence). Rank Math is the SEO tool that every website owner requires to help boost their website traffic.

Get Rank Math SEO WordPress Plugin

Monsterinsights Website Analytics and Tracking Plugin

Monsterinsights Website Analytics and Tracking Plugin

MonsterInsights is a very popular Google Analytics plugin for WordPress, with over 3 million active installations. With in-depth analytics and statistics, MonsterInsights is all that you require to grow your business with confidence.

Get Monsterinsights Website Analytics and Tracking Plugin

Site Kit by Google – Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, Speed

Site Kit by Google - Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, Speed

Google’s official WordPress plugin for insights on how people use and find your site is Site Kit. The plugin offers a one-stop solution to deploy, manage, and get insights from critical Google tools to make the site successful on the web.

Get Site Kit by Google – Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, Speed

Schema PRO – Schema Markup WordPress Plugin

Schema PRO - Schema Markup WordPress Plugin

Boost your WordPress website’s SEO in a few clicks with absolutely no coding experience using Schema Pro. It is by far the simplest method to implement schema markup. By enhancing your website’s ranking on the search engine results page, you increase the click-through rate and drive in more website traffic.

Get Schema PRO – Schema Markup WordPress Plugin

NitroPack – Performance and Caching WordPress Plugin

NitroPack - Performance and Caching WordPress Plugin

Another one of my personal favorites is NitroPack. It is an all-in-one performance optimization service that combines everything needed for a lightning-fast website. From image optimization and code minification to caching, CDN, and lazy loading, NitroPack has it all.

Get NitroPack – Performance and Caching WordPress Plugin

Conclusion: So What Is WordPress?

When it comes to creating a website, you indeed have several options.

From SAAS-based platforms such as Shopify, Squarespace, WordPress.com, Zyro, Wix, and Weebly, among several others, you truly have a lot of options.

That being said, when it comes to a platform that offers you complete flexibility and customization options, WordPress (wordpress.org) is second to none and offers you unmatched possibilities.

This is also the reason why nearly 44% of the websites globally are powered by WordPress.

WordPress is surely my preferred platform. But, what is your preferred website builder? Is it WordPress or do you use some other platform?

Let me know in the comments below.

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