What is WordPress and How Does it Work?
Are you considering to create a proper website for the first time?
Fed up with cluttered social networking “pages” or limited website builders? You want the real thing now?
Then you will ask yourself what this WordPress is and how it works behind the scenes. This article is for you!
You’ve Got the Words and Can Become the Press
WordPress empowers people to publish online. More specifically WordPress is a tool for creating websites. It allows you to write articles as if you write an email or an office document but instead of hitting “send” or “save” you hit “publish”. Then it appears online. WordPress publishes it without forcing you to send a file to a server manually.
In geek language WordPress is a so called CMS or content management system. You can also simply categorize it as online publishing software. You don’t need to work for a newspaper to publish on the Web these days.
In short you write or take photos and WordPress manages and publishes the outcome.
Now the whole world can potentially access your recipe, rant or poem. They just need to know your website address. Wait, isn’t Facebook online publishing as well? I’m already using it!
Unlike Facebook or Instagram WordPress publishes your text or images on your own site and Web space. That’s why it’s called “self-hosted WordPress”.
You own and control your content yourself by renting space from a web hosting company (hard-core geeks sometimes have a server in their basement but mere mortals don’t).
Of course Facebook and Instagram owner Mark Zuckerberg rather prefers to get your content and make money off it. He’s one of the richest men now along with the Amazon and Google billionaires! You can make money writing or making photos too. Why give it away?
Is it Magic? No. WordPress Provides a Base for Your Data
How does WordPress work? WordPress is based on a programming (or scripting) language called PHP. It’s also very popular and open source just like WordPress itself.
Open Source means that anybody can see the code and fix it. That’s why open source software is far less error prone than proprietary one that is owned by a single company. Someone will always spot an issue, report or repair it.
PHP communicates with the server your WordPress is installed on. Instead of saving your content on your computer locally WordPress sends it to the server. WordPress lets you save and/or publish it there.
Unlike on Microsoft Word you do not just save your document as a file but it gets saved to a database WordPress uses. Early CMS software also used text files but databases are much more versatile.
A database is basically like a closet with many compartments. WordPress looks them up and creates an online document where each item is matching the others. The hat matches the dress and the shoes.
For example a database can save
- the headline
- the post address
- the body text
Without a data base you would create a new file each time you’d change the post address. With a database you just edit the address independently of the rest.
When using WordPress you also do not have to code or design your website yourself. HTML is the code that underlies every website.
WordPress automatically creates HTML code behind the scenes. It uses so called themes – prefabricated designs – and the content from the database to create the HTML for you.
World Famous Designers Work for You for Free
Instead of designing yourself you have world famous designers create the so called themes you can use. Themes are templates or ready-made designs.
You can tweak them a bit if you want – add an image or change the name of the blog but the hard work is already done.
Are you interested in web development or even programming? Of course once you learn
or even PHP – the underlying technologies powering WordPress and most other websites you can create your own design and a unique theme nobody else uses.
Coding is only for power users though. Even web developers rather tend to use existing themes and plugins. There is no need to reinvent the wheel!
Add Features for Every Need Like a Geek
For the most common needs there are many plugins already. The same applies to themes. There are themes for
– many of them. The more common a problem or trade is the more solutions or designs there are.
WordPress has a huge community of people who contribute to the software itself or provide plugins and themes.
WordPress is not owned and controlled by a single person or company. Unlike on Facebook or Twitter you own your content and are responsible for it yourself.
Likewise you can add features and site elements to your WordPress website based on your own needs.
- Do you want to set up an online store? You can add Woocommerce.
- Do you want to add a contact form? You have plenty of options.
- Do you want to manage your comments with a third party tool? You can use Disqus. We do here on the blog!
- You want to measure the number of people who visit your site? You can add Google Analytics to it using a plugin.
These little tools solve most problems without having to touch the underlying code. You just literally “plug in” those tools to your WordPress. Once you learn web development you also can add themes and plugins yourself! You don’t have to though.
WordPress works without coding skills and you can even add advanced functionality without being a geek either! That makes WP the perhaps most powerful online publishing tool out there.
We simplified the publishing process with WordPress even more. When using EasyWP you do not need to take care of all the geeky tasks anymore. Installation and backups for instance are no hassle by now.