You may have read elsewhere on this site that we build websites for our clients that use “WordPress“, but what does that actually mean?
What is WordPress
WordPress is what’s known as a “web content management system” (aka a “WCMS”), which is a piece of software designed to provide an easy, non-technical way to edit websites & their content.
What this means in layman’s terms is that anyone, without any knowledge of web development or programming, is fully empowered to add, edit & remove the pages and other content on a website without enlisting the involvement of a webmaster.
How It Works
A site running WordPress has what’s called a “back end“, also know as an “admin area” or “dashboard”. This is a password-protected section of the site that is inaccessible to the site’s visitors and is used by the site owner to manage its content.
When you want to update your website you begin by logging into the back end with your username & password, the same way you might login to Facebook or PayPal.
After logging in you can explore the dashboard, which offers a convenient and intuitive visual interface for controlling the various elements of your site, including navigation menus, page content, blog posts, images, and plugins.
Here you can see the visual editor used to modify the content of a page, which uses a Microsoft Word-style toolbar that allows for easy formatting of text, images & links.
Here you can see the menu section which allows for easily adding, removing & rearranging menu items via a convenient drag & drop interface.
Not Just for Blogs
If you’re already familiar with WordPress it’s likely you’ve heard it referred to as a “blogging platform” — which is partially true!
WordPress was originally designed as free & open source blogging software, but over the years has evolved and expanded into a robust CMS in its own right that is well-suited to many different kinds of websites.
Some websites like WordPress.com do use the software to power large-scale free blog hosting networks (similar to LiveJournal or BlogSpot), but this is just one of many potential applications for this highly versatile technology.
Fun fact: Nearly 20% of all self-hosted websites on the Internet run on WordPress!
Changing Your Site’s Appearance With Themes
When we talk about designing & developing “websites”, we’re actually talking about developing custom WordPress themes. A theme is a sort of stand-alone module that contains all the instructions for what the website should look like — what color, size & font the text should be, how the content should be arranged, what the navigation menu looks like, etc.
A great analogy I like to use to explain this concept is: if your website was a car, WordPress would be the engine and the theme would be the paint job. PennyWebs doesn’t build the car from scratch, but instead specializes in customizing the exterior.
The beauty of WordPress is that themes can easily be switched at any time to completely change the appearance of the site without affecting the underlying content structure. Thus, in the same way you can change the appearance of a car by getting a new paint job, you can also change the appearance of a WordPress website by getting a new theme — it’s still the same site, but with a whole new look!
What This Means For You
We choose to build websites with WordPress for many reasons, including:
- It’s a high quality, free & open source application
- It’s convenient & intuitive for you, the end user
- It provides excellent results in terms of speed, reliability & security
- It has a large community of developers & users surrounding it, maximizing the options for your website long-term
So, even if you don’t expect to take a hands-on approach to updating your website you will still enjoy the myriad other features & benefits that WordPress provides. And if you do, you’ll find the software easy to learn & use, and with a large support community ready and willing to help you along. Either way, you can rest assured that you’re getting a high quality product that is guaranteed to remain relevant in the fast-moving Internet milieu for years to come.
We hope that this article has clarified your understanding of the WordPress CMS and the benefits in can impart for both the individual and small business website owner.
If you or your organization could benefit from a WordPress-powered website then check out our affordable web design packages!