From small personal blogs to websites of major corporations including Disney, Bloomberg, and BBC America, WordPress is the site building platform of choice for nearly a third of the world’s websites. WordPress is a free and open-source software that can be completely customized from the code up to give users complete control over the look and functions of a website. But WordPress is also flexible, simple to set up, and easy to use by anyone. Even new users with no experience in website development and design can use WordPress and create a beautiful website. If you want to start your own website, continue reading our WordPress guide below for more information on this popular content management system.

How WordPress Works

WordPress is a complete software package for setting up and running websites of all kinds and sizes, thanks to its virtually endless capacity for scaling and modification. Initially intended as a tool for bloggers and other small Internet publishers, WordPress was created in 2003 to give anyone an avenue for sharing their message and establishing a presence online. Because developers Mike Mullenweg and Mike Little wanted to “democratize,” online publishing by making it accessible to everyone, WordPress was designed so that experienced developers can work directly with the program’s PHP code, but new users with no web design expertise can also get a site up and running in less than an hour.

WordPress can be downloaded for free from its parent site, WordPress.org and installed on any hosting platform. To make it even easier for users to set up a WordPress site, most hosting providers even include WordPress as a “one-click” install at no additional cost. WordPress is licensed under the General Public License, which means that it can be modified by anyone at any time and shared in any way a user desires. WordPress comes with an extensive gallery of free themes and plugins, and hundreds more can be purchased from third-party designers all over the world and installed on any WordPress site.

Install With Just a Click

A WordPress site can be set up in minutes. All you need is a hosting service and a domain name. Advanced users can manually install WordPress to the web hosting provider of their choice using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client that places the downloaded WordPress files in the root domain or subdomain folders for the new site. For users without that kind of experience, most web hosting providers include WordPress in their hosting plans, so that it can be auto-installed on a user’s new domain with the well-known single click to start the process.

Once the installation is complete, WordPress can be customized from the site’s dashboard with any of the many themes available in the accompanying theme directory. To add more specialized functions to a basic WordPress site, users can also browse a long list of plugins that add features like shopping carts, gallery options, and contact forms—also with just a single click.

Add and Manage Content Quickly

WordPress was originally designed as a blogging platform and its basic interface is text-based, so it is easy to create a new page or post and add content, text, or video. The main text editor in WordPress allows users to input text directly, paste from elsewhere, and format it in a variety of styles and colors.

Media of all types can also be added to blog posts and pages instantly from the site’s media gallery and resized, repositioned and edited for titles and metadata right in the content window. Content from other sites, such as an online magazine or storefront, can also be embedded in any WordPress page or post.

For artists, authors and other creatives, the WordPress software also offers several gallery and magazine plugins for showcasing images, photographs, published clips, and art of all kinds. Once installed, these can be managed easily from the site’s dashboard, so that users can configure the gallery and its contents to meet specific needs. Other plugins allow users to quickly and easily create marketing campaigns, manage email lists, and cross-post content to social media and other sites.

Customize With Themes and Plugins

Experienced designers may choose different customization options to change the look and style of a WordPress site directly, by working with its code and style sheets to add the needed touches to an existing theme, but anyone can change the look of a site in minutes simply by selecting a different theme from the WordPress theme directory, or by purchasing a new theme from a third-party WordPress theme designer. Themes can be uploaded and installed from the theme gallery, and are ready to use, but various features such as colors, font styles, and header configuration options can be quickly modified from the site’s WordPress dashboard.

Like themes, WordPress plugins can be installed with a click from the plugin directory, and new ones can be purchased and installed immediately. Plugins can also be customized and managed from the site’s dashboard, or deleted if no longer needed.

A Community for Support

WordPress users can find support from their hosting provider and from the large and growing WordPress community of users and developers. Leading web hosting providers offer customer support for resolving issues and questions related to WordPress. Dedicated WordPress hosting is also available from some providers, with customer support tailored specifically to WordPress issues.

The WordPress community spans the globe—a network of people who know and love the WordPress software, and who are working to update and improve it. Because WordPress is an open-source software, anyone can modify and share it—and the WordPress community has members who do just that. The community also sponsors groups and “WordPress camps” to help users learn more about WordPress and meet others for support and troubleshooting.

WordPress owes its popularity partly to the fact that it is accessible to all users, regardless of their level of expertise. This flexible, versatile content management system has plenty of features that appeal to experienced users, but with an array of “one-click” features, it’s also easy for even the newest of beginners to install and set up the perfect site.

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