WordPress is a hugely popular software solution for making websites. Tens of millions of websites are powered by WordPress. Because it is so widely used, there is a lot of information about it available. Some of this information can be confusing for someone who doesn’t work with internet technologies. This article will try to answer the question “What is WordPress?”, and also address what it is not.
It is a Content Management System (CMS)
A content management system, or CMS, allows users, owners, and authors to create and edit content for a website. In this case, content might be a web page, blog post, user profile, product, photo gallery, etc. Users can log in, and edit or create content without the need for complicated development tools or processes.
It is Open Source
Software that is open source means that the source code is made freely available, and can be modified and redistributed. Anybody with the inclination and know-how can download the software and change it as they see fit.
Open source software projects are often created by a team of loosely affiliated programmers, or contributors. This is the case with WordPress. Anyone can submit new code to be considered for inclusion in the project. This code is then reviewed by a core team that will judge if it should be included in the next release.
There are many, many talented individuals giving their time and expertise to the project. That is a powerful tool, and helps make WordPress a solid product that evolves over time.
You can download the WordPress source code here: https://en-ca.wordpress.org/download/
It is NOT Always Free
At this point, it is important to differentiate between free as in speech, and free as in beer. While anyone can download and distribute the software, there may be costs associated.
To setup a website, you will need a host. While you can run a website from your own computer, you really shouldn’t. A hosting company will likely charge you money to put host your website on their servers.
You may also need to buy a theme, or pay for the development of one. WordPress has basic functionality as a website “out of the box”, but it probably won’t suit the needs or look like you hoped. Many themes are free (as in beer, but not speech), and many are not.
It is Extensible
While themes will change the look and structure of your website, the functionality of it can be extended with Plugins. There are far too many kinds of plugins to list. Some functions that popular Plugins add are:
- E-commerce Store Front
- Contact forms
- Social Media Sharing
- Page Templates
Plugins too can be free or have a cost.
It is NOT equivalent to WordPress.com
Automattic is a web development business that manages the core contributors to the WordPress project. They also run WordPress.com which is a service that will host and support your WordPress website. Automattic and WordPress.com have many free services, but charge money for many as well. Again, the WordPress software is free as in speech, but not always free of charge.
So, What is WordPress?
It is an open source content management system that powers millions of websites. The software is free, but hosting, theme design, and plugins may cost you money. It is a project that Johannes Gutenberg himself would surely approve of, bringing modern publishing to the masses.
I hope you found this article informative. But maybe you still need, or want, some help navigating the seemingly infinite constellation of hosts, themes, and plugins. In that case, Cloudsmith Studio WordPress development might be what your looking for.