What is WordPress? The basics.

I’ve been a WordPress fan since the early days and after extensive research, decided use this CMS (content management system) website/blogging tool for all my websites.  

Firstly let’s start with some background and basic terms, then move onto the main benefits of WordPress in another post (which I’ll link to later).

WordPress brief background

WordPress launched in 2003 as a blogging platform, but has grown to be a very powerful tool behind not only blogs but around a third of the world’s websites.  There are two options, which can be confusing to a new user:



Which is most relevant to you depends on your situation and needs.  If you’re an individual after a free blog – then WP.com is your easy option.  Your blog/website will then have .wordpress.com in the title, and you have free access to an excellent, robust tech tool to share your ideas with the world.  It can take a little time to learn at first, but you really don’t need any IT skills to get started.  Once you learn the basic building blocks of posts, pages, and widgets you’re good to go!  If you’re creative, it can be a lot of fun learning how to display your thoughts, photos, or portfolio using and customising the hundreds of free themes available.  

If you’re a small business, in the past WP.org was the best fit and may still be, depending on your budget, IT skills or access to IT professionals. However WP.com has some competitive upgrade plans which may suit you if you would like to manage your own website. 

More information on these and other relevant terms are described below.

WordPress basic terms

Blogging: short for “weblog” a blog began as an online journal or diary shared publicly.  Initially this was usually an individual sharing information on various topics of interest to them.  Others would follow the blog and comment.  WordPress has been one of the leaders in this field for more than a decade, though there are other options including Blogger and Medium.  Originally blogs were quite different to the format of a website – for example, blogs didn’t usually have the ability to offer menus and pages (like websites) in the past, but do now.  In the past, blogs were mostly run by individuals but now businesses often “blog” so it’s become difficult to distinguish between the two. In general if someone talks about “blogging” they mean that they are writing regular updates, information or observation around a particular topic with a more personal angle – either as part of a larger website, or the blog can look like a website in itself.  
More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

Website: in the past was quite different to a blog, in that it was usually a static source of information on the internet.  Mainly due to the fact that being able to build a website required knowledge of coding and a significant investment to set up, host and manage, websites were usually only available to/used by companies.  However WordPress have been a leading force in making it much easier to build your own free or affordable website, that requires limited IT skills to set up and manage.  This means that now, anyone who has an internet connection and computer and is willing to invest a little time in learning how can have a website.  It’s also become best practice that websites are updated regularly both for customers and SEO, so what used to be called blogging has now become common either within a website, or as the actual website.  
More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Website

WordPress: a CMS (content management system) and blogging tool.  It is free and open source, meaning anyone can use, change and copy the software.  It was quite unique at the time of launch to offer free software, though this has now become much more common.  WordPress has always operated on a Freemium model, where a basic version is available to users for free, but with upgrade options for more options and functionality. 
More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WordPress

WordPress.org: This is the actual software which you then need to install on a hosting platform to use.  Until fairly recently, if you wanted to build your own website or blog with a custom domain name, and wished to use plugins and more themes, you needed to choose this option – and also needed some level of IT experience of help to do so, along with a budget of at least $50 a year or more (to buy hosting and domain name)

WordPress.com:  This is WordPress’s own “home base”.  In the past, the only way you could have a blog/website here was to have a free one with .wordpress.com in the URL/domain name.  However recently, they now also offer hosting and domain name upgrades, meaning WP.com has now also grown to essentially become a viable alternative to WP.org if you want a more “professional” look.

Automattic: the company behind WordPress. The “matt” part comes from the name of founder, Matt Mullenweg, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Leiden at a WordCamp.  Automattic now also own a number of other brands including Jetpack and WooCommerce.
More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automattic

Post:  these are like news items or articles on your website.  They need to be organised with at least one category, and you can also add tags.  

Page: these are more static places for information on your website.  For example, most individuals/businesses will have pages such as welcome, about, contact and perhaps products/services.  Usually you will also have a “blog” page, which will then display the “blog roll” (links to all your posts, usually in reverse chronological order, showing the most recent first).  Page information doesn’t change that regularly and is usually displayed in a menu.   

Widget:a widget is a small section that you select to add to a sidebar or along with bottom of your website.  Widget options include things like drop down lists of categories or dates of your posts.   

WordPress have their own extensive help section on their own website:

Have any questions or other terms to add?  Please contact me.

Renee 🙂

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