What Is WordPress?

You have heard the name WordPress from your web designer or networking group, but you are unsure of what it is or what it can do for your business. You have recently started a business, or you have owned one since before you even heard of the Internet. Perhaps you want a website to build your customer base. What is WordPress?

WordPress could be the tool that helps you achieve a web presence cost effectively and quickly. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS manages the creation and modification of digital content. WordPress is an extremely popular and easy to use CMS for blogging and website creation.

In 2018 it was estimated that WordPress ran over 30% of the entire Internet and has 50-60% share of the global CMS market. These figures are sure to grow over the next few years.

Before WordPress Content Management System

I remember green screen computers. I surfed the Internet using text-based tools such as Lynx. The Internet was mostly limited to academic institutions and I spent many late nights with the other geeks entering queries and searching through text documents looking for news gems or the latest game cheats. This was before Facebook, before Instagram, and a long time before the web as we now know it.

As technology improved and computers became more powerful, rich websites started to appear. Rudimentary graphical content was produced by hackers and software geeks and a new dimension was added to the Internet.

Additions were introduced into HTML (Hypertext Markup Language, the language of the web) that enabled rich output. Functionality was naive and data was small yet technology was making huge advances in a short amount of time.

When you open a browser on your desktop computer or mobile device today, you are flooded with data from thousands of sources, presented as an amazing array of rich graphics, fonts, images, audio, video and more. As data became more difficult to manage, so the tools to manage data advanced.

Enter the Content Management System

In the early 1990s AOL, IBM and others created basic CMS software. Michel Valdrighi launced b2 cafelog in 2001. Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little took the b2 cafelog codebase and created WordPress in 2003. Today WordPress is at version 4.9 and boasts superb functionality allowing anyone create a beautiful website.

WordPress is an open source project. Users and developers are free to use or modify the programming source code. Open source software is produced as a public collaboration and made freely available.

Of course, there are a myriad of ways to build websites. Developers can be hired to write code. You could use another CMS or even a cloud-based website builder. But WordPress is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to build a business website.

The Anatomy of WordPress

A WordPress website is made up of several elements. Content that is stored in a database is shown to a website visitor. Themes are the engine that present the data. Themes are wrappers around content and present a specific look and feel for the visitor. There are a huge number of themes to choose from. You might select a theme that is appropriate for your business type – lawyer, restaurant, e-commerce store.

WordPress functionality is rich out of the box, but software developers also write plugins to enable additional functionality. WooCommerce is an e-commerce plugin that works well with WooCommerce themes. You could install a Google Maps plugin, a typography plugin, a social share plugin. The choices are endless.

Pages are the static content of a WordPress website. You could create pages to describe your business services, an about us or contact us page. Pages are a fundamental element of website structure that exist for its lifetime and often don’t change.

Posts are the most interesting aspect of WordPress from a ‘being found on the Internet’ point of view. Think journaling. You add an entry to your journal every day. In WordPress-speak, each of these entries is a Post. A good strategy is to use posts to give readers useful information related to your business or industry.

By creating content that is compelling and informative to readers, a business may improve its findability (or ranking) in search engines and therefore hope to sway more readers to become customers. A whole industry has come from optimizing content for the web. Hundreds of new Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Internet marketing agencies pop up every day.

Themes, plugins, pages, posts and the ability to manipulate each of these to give the best web presence you can are the leading reasons to consider WordPress for your business website.

WordPress Agencies and Developers

As the business owner you may not wish to build a website yourself. There are many design agencies and freelance developers who will work with you to build the website of your dreams. Your due-diligence will allow you to find a good partner to work with.

Design agencies often provide content marketing and SEO services with the promise to take you from zero to hero as quickly as humanly possible. But be warned, there are no magic bullets. Reading Google’s guidelines for SEO will quickly show you that the best way to be found on the Internet is to generate valid and useful content consistently over a long period of time. WordPress allows you to do this easily.

But Beware of WordPress Ease of Use!

Hardware and software influence our lives every day. WordPress is simply software that runs on a hardware platform. WordPress itself is written in a language called PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) and its data is stored in a database called MySQL. WordPress feeds content to the browser through a web server called Apache. These three technologies are generally hosted in the cloud.

WordPress abstracts complexity away from the content creator. But building an effective business website is a serious undertaking. Branding and marketing considerations as well as a strategy and development plan for the project need to be discovered and thought through carefully.

A common question for a business to ask is how long it will take to build a WordPress website. Like a construction project, you can build quickly without much care for structure and safety. Or you could take your time and build with a solid foundation and take no shortcuts.

What is WordPress?

So, what is WordPress? WordPress is a technology that you should consider leveraging if your business needs a web presence.

WordPress makes it easier for non-technical users to create content that is of value to their readers. A business can gain readership, popularity and customers by generating valuable content.

WordPress can be used to provide another dimension to your business offering.