WordPress – what is it and what are the benefits

WordPress is free

WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) that enables you to add, alter and update the content within your website. The software is free and is available via www.wordpress.org however it is also available via numerous website hosting services. If you install WordPress within a hosting service, you will own your own website.

WordPress is used by approximately 30% of the world’s active websites. It is Open Source software and it is licensed under GPLv2. This allows WordPress to be updated on a continual basis by a substantial global community.

WordPress was created in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg, an American web developer. The software is now managed by The WordPress Foundation, a charitable organisation. Users include Sony Music, The New Yorker, The Rolling Stones, Sweden’s official website and The White House. The Marketing Compass website uses WordPress.

Think of a website in terms of a human being. The skeleton equates to WordPress (inner structure), themes provide the clothing (look and feel), whilst plugins provide skills (i.e. Yoast’s ability to enhance SEO performance).

WordPress themes

WordPress themes (free and paid for) provide the look and feel of a website. WordPress Twenty Nineteen, for example, is a free theme that works well with the Gutenberg content block editor which became available with WordPress Version 5.0. There are thousands of themes including industry-specific ones.

WordPress plugins

There are tens of thousands of plugins available for WordPress and most of them are free. Each plugin delivers specific functionality. There are plugins to help you to create contact forms within your website; improve SEO; protect you from spammers; and enhance the way in which you can use widgets. Note that some plugins have free and paid for versions, whilst others are paid for (one-off payment, monthly or annual fee).

WordPress widgets

Widgets can be used in website sidebars and footer areas to enhance the structure and functionality of a website. They can be found within WordPress (i.e. when you are logged into your website) via Appearance / Widgets. A number of widgets come pre-installed within WordPress including Categories, Calendar, Navigation menu, Search, Recent posts, and Tag cloud. As you add plugins to your website, you may find that some of them come with their own Widgets i.e. certain contact forms.

Mobile friendly

WordPress websites work well on smartphones and other mobile devices (assuming that the theme is setup correctly).

Search engines

Search engines like WordPress websites as they have a clean permalink structure. It is easy to add a Sitemap link (Yoast can be used to generate the Sitemap itself) and other SEO functionality.

WordPress help

Because it is so popular, there are many WordPress developers and well as online support forums.

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