Even if you’ve never dealt with WordPress, I’m sure you’ve heard of this Content Management System (CMS). Since its launch in 2003, WordPress has gained momentum and popularity, becoming the best and most useful software solution when it comes to building websites and managing content.
Today, WordPress is used by a very wide range of people and can help you develop a specific hobby, build a prestigious career, or something in between. But what is WordPress exactly?
WordPress is a free website building platform that provides a Content Management System (CMS) written in PHP and open-source code. The system is under the GPLv2 license, which states that anyone can use or modify it as they see fit.
CMS (Content Management System) is a tool that allows easy management of various aspects of the website, primarily content, without the need to know code or programming to change and edit this content.
If we simplify things for those who are not tech-savvy, WordPress is probably the easiest and most powerful system for creating various types of blogs and websites that you can have today, which is probably the reason why so many websites use this robust system.
Websites Built on WordPress
Many have chosen to work with WordPress. The most serious blogs on the web, news sites, music sites, and even many Fortune 500 companies’ websites have chosen to work with WordPress.
Sites like The New York Times, BBC America, MTV News, TechCrunch, and many others use this system to manage their content. The Culture Trip is a website that contains thousands of articles and it also uses WordPress as its content management system.
But before you decide to build your first WordPress site, it’s important to understand the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org.
In this article, we will focus on the self-hosted version of WordPress (wordpress.org). nevertheless, let’s briefly talk about the differences between the two versions, but not before we get excited about the cool graphs that Infogram allows you to create.
In our case, the graph describes WordPress usage as of November 2022 compared to other leading content management systems in the market.
You can see from the graph that 45.6% of websites do not use any content management system at all. In contrast, about 32.2% of all websites use WordPress, which holds 59.5% of the overall content management system usage on websites.
Differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
Let’s take a look at the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. When we start, it’s important to note that one of the main differences between the two platforms is where your site is hosted (and all the implications that come with it).
If you are using wordpress.org, it means you are the one who hosts your blog or site on your own server with one of the various hosting companies.
This is in contrast to wordpress.com, which takes care of hosting for you so you don’t have to download software, pay for hosting, or manage a server yourself.
Both platforms have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on your needs. You can get a glimpse of the differences between the two versions in the following partial table:
|Themes & Plugins||Install what you want||Limited options|
|Technical knowledge||Required||Not required|
|Price||Hosting and domain cost||Free|
Note that there are several plans for wordpress.com, some of which are paid and offer much greater flexibility for your site.
The initial impression might be confusing, but there are indeed significant differences between the two platforms.
Most bloggers (myself included) recommend using the self-hosted version, namely wordpress.org.
With this version, you’ll have complete freedom and control over your site. However, this doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. Consider the differences and choose the version that best serves your needs.
So, it’s definitely safe to say that choosing wordpress.org is the right decision for any serious site. The flexibility it offers when it comes to installing plugins, making functional changes, design freedom, and branding options make it superior to wordpress.com.
While you’ll need to pay attention to site security and updates, they’re not overly complicated, especially with the help of plugins.
But… at the same time, wordpress.com has its own merits. If you’re simply looking for a place to express yourself in words, want a hobby site, and are willing to sacrifice flexibility for it, wordpress.com is a strong and likely correct option.
WordPress Themes & Plugins
One of the cool features of WordPress is the ability to completely change the design of your blog by activating a different theme.
The WordPress community has developed and designed thousands of free (and paid) themes that you can use on your site. Some are more quality than others, but there are many options available for you.
WordPress itself, while a very powerful content management system, doesn’t allow you to do everything out of the box.
Thankfully, it can be extended with plugins. These plugins are like modular “programs” that allow you to expand the functionality of your site or blog.
There’s a vast repository of plugins at your disposal, such as spam prevention plugins, site speed optimization plugins, plugins that help turn your site into a digital store, and more. You can find explanations about many of these in the blog’s archives.
As noted, if you’re using wordpress.com, you can’t install any WordPress theme or plugin you choose; you’re limited to specific plugins and themes.
WordPress – A Brief History
In its early days, the software developers saw WordPress as a tool for PHP-based blogs that helps people easily create a blog by choosing a design theme, adding some widgets for displaying text, uploading images, and adding content.
WordPress was designed to provide a user-friendly environment for writing big ideas or articles about cats (more likely). Over time, it attracted a larger audience and gained popularity.
Version after version, a group of volunteers, initially saw WordPress as a blogging tool, but expanded it significantly with each release. From a simple blogging tool, it developed into a full-fledged and fantastic content management system (CMS).
While it started out as a tool just for blogging, it quickly grew into a platform supporting E-Commerce and online stores, news sites, portfolio sites, and nearly any other type of site you can think of.
The number of users, sites, posts, and other content on WordPress reaches tens and hundreds of millions, truly impressive numbers. Personally, I’m very glad I got to know this system just as it started to mature about nine years ago, and it’s been faithfully with me since.
But why is WordPress such a popular content management system? Let’s take a look at some of the features that make WordPress the most popular and powerful content management system on the market.
The Power of Open Source
It’s reasonable to assume that WordPress wouldn’t have achieved this level of popularity if it weren’t free. Being an open-source platform, WordPress created an opportunity to attract far more users than it would have as a paid product.
Additionally, with the existence of hundreds of talented developers working to improve and add features to the system (for free), everyone could benefit from continuous support and frequent updates to the system.
There are companies in the world making millions by providing managed hosting services for WordPress, as well as selling themes and plugins specific to WordPress. But there’s no company in the world that sells WordPress itself.
Being an open-source system is also the reason why WordPress is available in over 50 languages! However, there are still many translations that require work.
If you’re interested, you can help translate this content management system into your language, and in our case, into Hebrew…
The Power of Numbers
In a social media-driven world, a community’s strength lies in its membership. This aspect certainly sets WordPress apart and makes it stand out against its competitors.
Right from the start, WordPress was very user-friendly, connecting many individuals who worked on similar projects, and it always had a strong community orientation.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced user, you’ll always feel at home with WordPress thanks to its numerous blogs and an immense number of social network groups dedicated solely to it.
There are also a plethora of forums (in addition to WordPress’s support forum) where you can learn new things about the system, meet new people, and receive assistance from them to help your site grow.
WordPress also helps people get out of their comfort zone; there is a large number of WordCamp gatherings – organized events that connect people interested in this content management system. No matter where you live, there’s likely an annual WordPress-related event near you.
Take a look at some WordPress statistics that you shouldn’t ignore…
You Can Build a WordPress Site Without Knowing Code Using Page Builders
All those developers we mentioned earlier made sure that users wouldn’t have to write a single line of code if they didn’t want to.
So, if you’re just getting into web development, want to build a site or a blog, or simply want to learn something new, WordPress is a great place to start.
Today, there are plugins and tools for WordPress (Page Builders) that allow you to design and build pages in WordPress.
You can achieve visually appealing and functional results with them without having to write a single line of code. These plugins make it easier for you to achieve results in many cases without the need for coding.
Though at some point, you may be limited in terms of design and functionality without code, you can still build relatively quick WordPress sites, and many clients are looking for sites built with these Page Builders that are based on templates.
Either way, what I’m trying to convey is that WordPress can be an excellent entry point to the WEB world, which might seem a bit intimidating or complex at first glance.
And if you’re still looking for a WordPress developer, how do you find one and what do you need to know?
As mentioned, even though there’s an option to build a site without writing code using Page Builders, there are many situations where you’ll need to work with code to achieve specific functionality or design that you simply can’t implement without coding or without the help of a professional web developer experienced with integrating with WordPress as a content management system.
In case you’re looking for a “WordPress developer,” my recommendations are to pay attention to the following points:
- Ask to see or hear testimonials from clients who worked with that developer in the past.
- Ask to see at least two sites that the potential developer has built. Have them show you the two they’re most proud of.
- Don’t fall for and hire developers who demand a low hourly rate or charge too little in general.
- Demand effective communication from the developer.
Here’s a more comprehensive post I wrote about what you need to know when looking for web developers or professional WordPress developers.
Do You Have to Build a Website in WordPress?
You’ve probably heard friends telling you at least once that “you must use WordPress” or “WordPress is the best platform.” Their opinions are reasonable, one might assume – the choice should be based on your content management system requirements and the type of website you want to create.
However, regardless of the type of website you’re building, you definitely should consider using and learning WordPress to some extent.
It’s a rather simple process to get into WordPress and start creating something, but I assure you that after you learn a bit, you’ll discover that the possibilities are endless, and you (and it) are here to stay.
By the way, WordPress is still gaining momentum and experiencing a rise in the number of users every day. If you’re considering a career in development, you should also take WordPress into account.
No, you don’t have to be a programmer. Writing, translation, management, and design are several fields that can be based on and around WordPress, and in these cases, you only need to learn the basics.
WordPress – What’s in the Future?
Beyond support for additional languages and continuous improvements in this management system, there are two central things that will impact WordPress and maintain its status as the most popular content management system.
One will arrive in the near future and is named Gutenberg, and the other already exists, opening the door to numerous innovations, known as REST API.
The Gutenberg Project
A revolution is about to happen in WordPress, and its name is Gutenberg. The initial plan is to improve the editing and writing experience for all users through a new editor.
Gutenberg will adopt the concept of blocks and provide many new design and layout options for your content. These are not available in the classic editor without external help and add-ons.
The new editor is just the first stage in the strategy and will arrive with WordPress version 5.0. The ultimate goal of the Gutenberg project is to create an option to edit almost every part of a website in a simple and consistent way.
Integration of REST API
The integration of REST API at the core of WordPress has opened the door to countless possibilities.
At its core, REST API is a code that can be used to retrieve information from WordPress for applications. Today, the same REST API can be used to add and manage content in WordPress from any web application.
Developers can now build WordPress-based applications using the REST API and there is the possibility to develop iPhone and Android applications based on WordPress using this code.
WordPress has become the most popular content management system for creating blogs and websites.
There are many reasons for this, and we’ve mentioned just a few in this article. If you’ve decided to enter this world as developers, I believe you’ll find an intriguing and versatile system.
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