What is WordPress? Simple explanation not only for beginners

You finally want to publish your own website? Then you’ve probably heard of WordPress. but what is wordpress actually? And what can the free CMS do? I will answer these questions for you in a moment.

What is WordPress exactly?

WordPress is now the most popular content management system (CMS) for creating websites and blogs. With it you can manage, organize and publish content such as text and images on the Internet without any programming knowledge.

The technical basis is provided by the programming language PHP. The data is stored in a MySQL or MariaDB database. But you usually don’t get much of that. As a website operator, you use the simple user interface.

Since WordPress a open-source software is, you can use it for free. And there is a large community that continues to develop the system.

What confuses many newbies: There is WordPress.com and WordPress.org. But what is the difference between the two? Isn’t that the same?

Here are the main differences:

  • WordPress.com

    The company Automattic offers a hosted WordPress platform, some of which is subject to a fee. You can register there and also start a free blog. Unfortunately, the possibilities are very limited. For example, you can only use very few plugins or themes. This is only possible with a paid account. This is not really recommended either.

  • WordPress.org

    wordpress.org screenshot

    Here you can download the WordPress software for free and then install it on your own server. This means that you are completely flexible and can fully exploit all possibilities.
    Of course, you have to look for a hoster before you can use it. This will give you a server with storage space and a domain.

If you are serious about running a website, I definitely recommend the 2nd option. So the self-hosted version. My services & WP services also refer exclusively to the self-hosted version of WP.

Who invented WP?

WordPress was developed by Matt Mullenweg back in 2003. And he is still the driving force behind the project today.
In 2005, Mullenweg founded Automattic. This is behind the commercial platform wordpress.com.
In the beginning, the website software was mainly used as a pure blogging system. However, over time it has become the most popular “operating system” for websites.
This is mainly due to the simple handling, the expandability and the constant further development.

For example, the old visual editor has been completely revised with the Gutenberg Editor. Since then, writing and designing websites has become even easier and more flexible.

WordPress is now the most popular content management system. In 2019, it has a 49% market share among the top 1 million websites. For comparison: Drupal has a market share of 4%….

WordPress as CMS 49% 49% of the top 1 million websites use WordPress as their CMS (Source: Builtwith.com)

Why you should use WordPress for your website

I’ve been working as a web worker for 20 years now and have seen and tried out a wide variety of CMS systems. From the website kit to Typo 3, Joomla to Wixx. And none of them can really compete with WP. Here are just a few advantages:

  1. Free use
    Since the software is open source, you can download and use it completely free of charge.
  2. easy installation
    Even without technical knowledge, you can easily install the popular CMS. The best way to do this is to use my instructions for installing WordPress.
  3. Simple operation
    Unlike many other editorial systems or website builders, WP is easy to use.
  4. Extensibility via plugins
    Do you need a specific function, such as a contact form? Then you can find about in the official plugin directory 55,000 free plugins. There are also many premium plugins. This allows you to add additional features to your website with just a few clicks. Of course, installing plugins is also very easy!
  5. Diverse designs with themes
    Do you want your website to be visually appealing? Even if you’re not a gifted designer, that’s no problem. Because there are countless free themes for WordPress. Premium themes are also available in abundance. With these design templates you can easily change the look and layout of your website.
  6. SEO
    In order for you to be found in Google, your website should of course be optimized for search engines. As a WP user, you can easily implement the SEO basics on your website. To do this, you simply install an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO or Rank Math. The tool then provides you with all the functions you need to optimize your articles and pages.
  7. support
    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can always contact the help forum. There are also endless WordPress tutorials on the web that will explain everything to you. And if you get stuck on certain topics, you can contact WP professionals like me.

What can you do with WP?

Until a few years ago, WP was mainly suitable for weblogs. But that has now completely changed. Since the open source software is very flexible, you can use it to create pretty much any type of website. Here are a few typical areas of application:

  • blog or magazine
    The classic! Since WP was originally started as a weblog, it is of course ideal for bloggers.
  • Business website
    Of course, WP can also be used as a company website.
  • affiliate sites
    Do you do affiliate marketing? Then there are ready-made affiliate themes and many affiliate plugins for you.
  • portfolio
    You can present your portfolio with little effort. You can use special portfolio themes, for example, or you can expand your website with a portfolio plugin.
  • Shop
    If you want to integrate a shop into your site, there are many options for this as well. The simplest and most well-known is WooCommerce.
  • Digital business card
  • E learning platform
  • landing pages
  • Forum

FAQ

I hope my explanation was also understandable for beginners. If not, here are the most frequently asked questions:

What is a CMS?

With a Content Management System (CMS) you can create, edit and manage the content of a website (e.g. text, images or videos).

Is WordPress free?

Yes. WordPress is open source and free to download.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – what’s the difference?

At WordPress.org you can download WordPress for free and install it with a host of your choice.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a hosted WordPress platform that also offers paid plans.

How can I install WordPress?

Once you’ve downloaded WordPress, you can install it with your hosting provider using these instructions.

Reading tips for beginners

When I created my first blog in 2010, I had no idea. I knew HTML and a little PHP, but WordPress was completely new territory for me.
I learned how to use WP mainly by reading specialist books and tutorials on the internet.

Here are a few books that will hopefully help you get started:

And a few more websites with information, tips & tricks: