What is WordPress?

by: Seth Alvo

This is an attempt to concisely explain what WordPress is, to someone who has never heard of it before. I’m basing the explanation on the most common questions I receive regarding WordPress.

WordPress is a content management system

If you are in retail, you probably use a point of sale system. If you are in the restaurant industry, you probably use an order management system. If you are running a website, you should be using a content management system. It allows you to easily add and remove pictures, articles, videos, or whatever else you might be displaying to your users. That is what WordPress is.

Can I use WordPress to edit my current site?

Probably not. A website needs to be built on WordPress from the very beginning in order for it to work. Most websites have features like user accounts, contact forms, menus, blogs, and recurring layouts. WordPress provides all of these basic features out of the box, and web developers can modify and build on it to suit their specific needs.

Where is WordPress and where does it come from?

WordPress is software. Just like Quickbooks, Microsoft Office, or your favorite card game. Unlike these programs, WordPress runs on a server or hosting environment. WordPress can be downloaded for free from WordPress.com and installed on most hosting accounts. A web developer will install WordPress, and integrate it with whatever design they want. Once a website is built on WordPress, it really doesn’t look any different from other websites, but the elements are changeable from a control panel.

Why is this necessary? How else would you manage a website?

A well built website will include a menu, page titles, and styling elements that a recurring throughout the site. Almost every page will include the same header, menu, footer, and sidebar, while the only content that is different will be text and pictures.

Wordrpess gives you a control panel, which can be customized to display things like “Add new blog post” or “Add new service”. If your website is for movie reviews, there could be a button that says “Add new review”. From there, you can simply type our your review and choose pictures for it. WordPress will automatically add a date, categorize it, and make it easy for users to find. Once the web developer has finished doing their job, almost anyone can manage the site from this simple control panel.

Unless you are in the web development business, you should be able to manage your website without knowing computer code. Even if your site displays simple things like operating hours, or services you offer, it’s helpful for someone at the office to have access to the site.

What if I want to sell online?

WordPress is not a good idea for selling online. Although there are ways to incorporate ecommerce features into WordPress, they are generally limited, and difficult to operate. There are tons of shopping CMS’s out there that are designed to make it easy for you to sell online.

How much does it cost to build a WordPress site?

Some web hosts will set up a WordPress site for you, practically for free. Other developers charge only a few hundred dollars, while others demand only a monthly fee to host it for you.

Generally, these solutions are okay for a personal site, or a place to get information about your business. That said, a really good WordPress site with a custom design and control panel will be in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $20,000, or more depending on the features.

This may seem like a lot of money, but consider the cost of a custom CMS, which can easily run over $100,000. WordPress is a bargain!

Why WordPress? Aren’t there other options?

There are tons of other CMS’s, many of them arguably better than WordPress. That said, WordPress is the most popular for the following reasons:

  • It’s free, and readily available
  • Because of its popularity, there are many developers who are well versed in WordPress. Because of that, it’s less expensive to build.
  • There are robust resources online about WordPress, so any issues you may have are easily solved with a quick Google search.
  • A vast library of “plugins” allows you to add small features to WordPress without custom programming. A good example would be a Facebook feed.
  • WordPress is very flexible, as it can be used for a blog site, a news site, or just about any other application out there
  • WordPress scales fairly well, which means it’s great for small time websites, as well as larger high traffic websites.

Is WordPress right for me?

Tell us what kind of project you’re interested in, and we’ll let you know! There’s a perfect CMS for every project.