WordPress is a Content Management System. In the beginning WordPress was built exclusively for blogging. That means that it is really really good at organizing and managing blog-style websites. Over the years WordPress has evolved to be more than just a blogging platform. You can now use it to host complex websites packed full of features. WordPress is used to power a huge number of websites, an estimated 60 million distinct websites¹, that’s almost 25% of sites on the internet today. WP is probably most known for personal blogging, but it is also used by big name companies like: InStyle Magazine, Charity Water, CNN, and Ted Talks.
A content management system (CMS) allows you to create content for your website without having to type a single line of code. Tech Terms defines CMS as: “…a software tool that allows you to create, edit, and publish content.” Below you can see a screenshot of the WordPress Admin which allows you to edit everything from pages, menus, posts and more.
When adding new pages or posts you login to the WordPress admin and click “Add New”. After writing and editing your content to perfection you publish your new post to your website. The code running in the background takes your new post and makes it look awesome. Below you can see an example of the same post in the admin and on the live site.
WordPress is not the only content management system out there, but it is definitely on the top of most developer’s lists due to it’s large support network and market of plugins and themes.
The benefits of using a CMS go beyond editing content, it allows you to stay organized, secure and current. WordPress is updated frequently to stay ahead of security flaws. That does not excuse basics security measures such as, secure passwords, but it does means that you have a massive community of other users that have your back.
WordPress can allow you to go live as fast as you can write content. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. With WordPress can you leverage themes and plugins to create a beautiful site without spending weeks on end in development. Even if you need a totally custom website, the core software of WP means that the basic functionality is already worked out.
If you are confused or have a problem there are lots of articles and forums to help you quickly work through any issue. Most likely someone else will have had the exact same issue and there will be a step by step answer on how to fix it. Beyond problems there are all kinds of tutorials so you can become a WordPress admin expert and leverage all the features available to you.
One of my favorite features about WordPress is the ability to pull content across the website. For example, if you have a sidebar on your blog page you can have it display your five most recent posts automatically. Some themes will get really fancy with this and pull testimonials, featured products, or related content.
“There’s a plugin for that”, you name it and there is probably a plugin. Need a mailing list form? Event calendar? Twitter feed? Payment portal? There are tons of plugins to add extra features to your website from the most mundane to silly functionality. Check out the WP plugin directory to see all the things you can add to your site.
Yes, WordPress has some limitations. Probably the most frustrating thing about WordPress is that you are really limited by your theme. Sometimes all the plugins and shortcodes in the world will not give you the result you want. That does not mean that WordPress is incapable, it just means that you will probably need to dig into the code. And when that happens you will probably need to call up a developer.
That being said, if you have a basic “brochure” style website there is probably a solution already out there for you in another theme, it’ll just take time to find it.
The nature of WordPress also means that there is a tendency for code bloat (having lots of extra code that you don’t actually need), which can slow down your site. You can cut down on this by removing unnecessary plugins and unused themes.
All in all, even with the drawbacks, WordPress is awesome. It allows you to manage your website, edit content and publish pages without knowledge of code.
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