Exploring How WordPress Works

WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder, powering nearly a third of the world’s websites. This open source content management system was designed to make online publishing available to anyone, from new users with no web design experience to seasoned developers able to work directly with source code. WordPress is completely free to download and use, and it comes with access to thousands of themes and plugins to customize and add new functions to any WordPress website. 

Continue reading below to learn how WordPress works and how you can create a WordPress website yourself!

What Is WordPress?

WordPress was created in 2003 as a piece of software for blogging by developers Mike Little and Mike Mullenweg. In the years since, millions of users around the globe have adopted WordPress for creating and managing websites ranging from personal blogs to multifaceted corporate sites run by companies including Sony Music, the Disney Company, and Time, Inc. 

WordPress is open source software under General Public License, which means that it can be used, shared, and modified by anyone at any time. WordPress can be downloaded from WordPress.org, which oversees the many WordPress communities and developer teams from around the world who work to upgrade WordPress, add new features and keep the source code stable and accessible to anyone who wants to create a website and publish content.

How to Get WordPress

WordPress can be downloaded directly from WordPress.org as a set of code files. Users can then upload these WordPress files to a web hosting provider in order to begin building a website. Most hosting providers also offer WordPress as a site building option in hosting packages of all kinds, so that a user who buys a domain name and creates a hosting account can simply select WordPress from the menu of available options and install it with one click. The new install is then ready to customize with options for colors, fonts, headers, and more.

Working with WordPress

Once WordPress is installed on a new site, an admin WordPress dashboard is immediately available to allow users to manage the site and add content. From the WordPress Admin dashboard, users can select a theme from the WordPress theme directory and customize it with headers, taglines, colors, template options, and more. The dashboard also provides access to the content editors for pages and blog posts, the two kinds of content that populate a WordPress site.

Users without website design experience can manage their site entirely from the dashboard and the WordPress theme and plugin directories without needing to access the source code at all, but experienced developers can also customize WordPress and extend its functionality by working directly with its code. Because WordPress is open source software, it can be changed to suit any user’s individual needs at any time.

WordPress Themes and Plugins

The basic WordPress install includes all the essential functions of a website, but any WordPress site can be customized with a free or premium theme and site-specific functions can be added with plugins and widgets.

Themes give each WordPress site a unique look, with theme-specific color schemes, layouts, and styles. Individual elements of a theme can be customized even further. Every WordPress install comes with access to the theme directory, which contains hundreds of themes that can be previewed live with a site’s existing content and installed with the click of a mouse. Users can also buy custom WordPress themes sold by designers and developers from around the world and upload them to any WordPress site.

Plugins can also extend the functionality of WordPress. These add-on pieces of code can provide additional features to meet a site’s specific needs. A multitude of plugins can be installed directly from the WordPress plugin directory that’s available with every WordPress install, and additional plugins can be purchased from third-party developers and installed on any compatible WordPress site. Plugins can add functions such as e-commerce shopping carts, image galleries, social sharing icons, and mailing lists to just about any WordPress theme.

Widgets are small blocks that add a variety of handy functions to a WordPress site, including calendars, menus, or post archives. Blank text widgets can also be used not only to add text but also to embed external links or insert videos or images. Widgets appear on every page and can be managed from the dashboard and added to areas such as the sidebar, header, or footer.

Adding Content to a WordPress Site

WordPress was conceived as a content management system. It includes robust tools for creating, editing, and posting both timeless page content that remains largely static and timely, short posts designed for giving quick updates, posting news, and sharing images. Both the Page and Post edit options on the dashboard feature a content editor that allows users to work either in the View mode, a “what you see is what you get” interface that requires no coding, or the Text mode, a code-based editing tool that shows not only text but also the associated HTML code that defines it for a web browser. 

The WordPress content editor allows users to create and save drafts for a blog post, update posts and pages at any time, and schedule the publication of posts for a later time. Content creators can also install a number of plugins for managing text and images on posts and pages.

When creating content for your blog, ensure that it is optimized for search engines using SEO best practices​ and link to social media. It is also important to set up ​google analytics​ to be able to track users coming to the site.

The WordPress Community

Because WordPress is so widely used, a sizable community of users and developers has grown around it. The worldwide WordPress community is dedicated to supporting WordPress users and educating everyone about WordPress, as well as keeping WordPress itself updated and stable. Members of the WordPress community work to create conferences and camps to help people learn how to use WordPress and to develop tutorials, guides, and general support for using WordPress. 

Anyone is welcome to join the community or to volunteer skills such as coding or web development experience, and users of all levels of experience can get help for any problems they may have with installing and running a WordPress site.

WordPress is a versatile and scalable site builder that comes with an intuitive, easy to use set of tools for designing websites for business and personal use. Whether you’re a new and inexperienced user or a seasoned developer comfortable with tweaking the source code, WordPress puts online publishing within just about anyone’s reach. We hope this blog post has given you an idea of how WordPress works and how it can benefit you. If you have any more questions about WordPress or WordPress hosting, please visit Bluehost.com today!

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Desiree Johnson
Desiree Johnson | Content Specialist
Desiree Johnson is a Content Specialist at Bluehost where she writes helpful guides and articles, teaches webinars and assists with other marketing and WordPress community work.

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