What Exactly is WordPress?
Are you a business owner, blogger or content creator? Maybe you just want to set up a new website but there are thousand and one questions racing in your head as to how you should about it.
Or maybe you’ve been searching heaps of articles on the best way to build a website and have often come across WordPress and other platforms. But what exactly is WordPress? Is it really such an amazing platform for website building?
35% of websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. That translates to millions of other users including individuals and large corporations that use it for their day to day activities. What’s more, the use of WordPress itself is absolutely FREE and it has numerous plugins and themes for customization or additional web features.
Still not convinced about WordPress? Let’s take a closer look at the specifics and you can have a clearer picture of how it fairs against other website content management systems like Wix, Shopify and Squarespace.
WordPress is a Content Management System.
WordPress is known as an open-source content management system (CMS). Open source means that it is publicly accessible – the software is opened to everyone who can easily use and modify it to suit their needs.
A CMS on the other hand simply refers to a software that allows you to add, delete and alter digital content. A web building CMS like WordPress makes website creation a lot more user friendly and accessible to the masses as it does not require you to have any programming knowledge to use.
In the case of WordPress CMS, all content for your website and and settings are stored in a database (usually MySQL) whilst string of code that influences how your website is displayed (the look and feel) is saved as separate files on the server. What this means is that you easily edit your content without worrying about the alteration affecting your page design, at the same time you can edit the design of your web pages without worry that the content will be affected. Simple right?
Why is WordPress so Popular? The Power of plugins.
The reason WordPress has gained such fame and popularity in the digital world is because of its customizability, free-to-use status and easy to use CMS layout. Note that there is a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
Usually when people use the term WordPress, we are referring to the open-source software found on WordPress.org which can be isntalled in your cpanel to create your website for free.
One of the major reasons that many opt WordPress over other CMS systems is because of the plethora of plugins and themes offered on WordPress. The WordPress engine was designed to be open-sourced so that developers could build customizable plugins that can be added to your site only when you need them.
Plugins are basically small programs that offer added functions to WordPress that could enhance the effectiveness of a website. Almost every WordPress site uses plugins of some form. It would be silly not utilize them since many useful plugins can be added for free!
Are All Plugins Safe to Use on WordPress?
If everyone can develop plugins then the logical question to ask would be: are all plugins safe to use since anyone can upload a piece of code and call it a plugin? The short answer is no, not all plugins are safe to use and unsupported ones may even harm your site if malicious code is installed.
Wow. That sounds really intimidating to prospective web owners, maybe you should just ditch the idea of blogging about your favorite snapchat filters? Well thankfully, the process is much safer than you think (if you follow the general guidelines).
WordPress.org maintains an approved list of plugins on its website. This list is maintained by the good people from the WordPress community who vet the plugins listed to ensure that the plugins do what they say they will, as well as scan for any security issues. If you download plugins only from WordPress.org, they are generally considered to be safe.
As a tip, always go for plugins that have been updated recently and have a high amount of reviews/downloads. If you want to find any free or paid WordPress plugins from elsewhere, you may want to be extra careful because you don’t know if they have been vetted or if they contain anything harmful that could damage your website.