What is WordPress? How it works

Introduction

WordPress is a free and open-source content management system that allows users to easily create and manage websites and blogs. With over 60 million websites, WordPress is the world’s most popular platform for building an online presence and handles everything from site architecture to content creation tools

Since its launch in 2003, WordPress has grown to become the most popular CMS globally, now powering over 40% of all websites. This blog post provides a beginner’s guide to understanding WordPress.

Table of content

  • What is a CMS
  • History and Market Share of WordPress
  • Key Features of WordPress
  • How WordPress Works
  • WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
  • Reasons to Use WordPress
  • Conclusion
wordpress image

What is a CMS

A content management system is web software that helps users create, edit, organize and publish content on websites without needing to know how to code. A CMS provides tools and interfaces to easily add content like blog posts, pages, images and more. Popular examples beyond WordPress include Drupal and Joomla.

History and Market Share of WordPress

WordPress was created in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little as a fork of an existing CMS called b2/cafelog. The name WordPress was suggested by Christine Selleck. Since launching, WordPress has seen incredible growth. As per W3Techs, as of 2023:

  • WordPress now powers 43.2% of all websites globally
  • 57.6% of all CMS-based websites run on WordPress
  • 65.8 million websites use WordPress overall

No other CMS comes close in terms of market share or adoption. WordPress has achieved dominant status globally on the web.

Key Features of WordPress :

Here are some of the main features that make WordPress a popular CMS platform:

1. Easy to Use Interface

The WordPress dashboard provides an intuitive graphical interface for managing websites. Users can create content and modify site settings without coding expertise.

2. Extensive Plugin System

There are over 55,000 free and paid WordPress plugins that extend functionality. Plugins exist for everything from SEO to security to marketing and more.

3. Open Source with Large Community

WordPress is open source allowing contribution from a global community of volunteer developers. The ample resources online help users troubleshoot sites.

4. Search Engine Friendly

WordPress sites are easily indexed and optimized for search engines out of the box allowing good web presence.

5. Highly Customizable Design

There are thousands of custom WordPress themes available to customize the visual design and layout of sites according to needs.

6. Multi-User and Role Management

Multi-author sites are supported with controls provided to define user roles and permissions for improved collaboration and workflow.

7. Scalable and Secure Code

As an open source platform, WordPress benefits from continuous security enhancements from its developer community. It scales easily from low traffic personal blogs to high traffic media websites.

How WordPress Works

At a high level, WordPress works on the concept of a template system separating content from presentation. Here is a technical overview:

  • The core software is written in PHP and relies on a MySQL database to store site data
  • Templating system uses PHP, HTML, CSS to define site presentation and layout
  • Plugins extend functionality ranging from basic utilities to complex applications
  • New posts and pages are stored as entries in MySQL when created/edited from admin dashboard
  • The wp-admin area allows site management via a graphical user interface

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

It helps to clarify the difference between self-hosted open source WordPress.org software and the free blogs from WordPress.com:

WordPress.org

  • Open source CMS software downloaded and self-hosted by users
  • Requires website hosting and domain registration
  • Provides full flexibility over features, plugins and design

WordPress.com

  • Free blogs hosted by Automattic (creators of WordPress)
  • Limited built-in templates and no ability to upload plugins
  • Suitable if basic blog site with less control needed

Most major sites run on fully customizable self-hosted WordPress open source software.

Reasons to Use WordPress

Here are the top reasons why WordPress is likely the best CMS platform for most website building needs:

  • It’s completely free and open source software
  • Does not require any coding or technical skills
  • Provided maximum flexibility to customize sites
  • Enables building anything from simple blogs to complex business websites
  • Over 55,000 plugins providing every feature imaginable
  • Intuitive graphical user interface via WordPress dashboard
  • Vast supporting resources and community forums

Conclusion

As this beginner’s guide outlines, WordPress offers an immensely flexible and user friendly CMS platform to build feature rich websites. Its open source nature, depth of extensions via plugins and simplicity of the admin user interface has led WordPress to dominate the web as the content management system of choice.

For any KIND of website, WordPress likely provides everything needed to build, manage and expand it with ease over time

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