What is WordPress?
Almost everyone has read a blog, either professional or personal. We’ve all seen myname.wordpress.com and because of this, many people assume WordPress is for bloggers. While WordPress makes it easy to blog, WordPress is really a Content Management System (CMS). This means it’s a software that manages your content. It can be used to build a professional website, personal blog, or anything in between.
The WordPress software runs on a MySQL database. Before WordPress can be activated on your site’s hosting, a database must be created and along with it, a database user. Then WordPress’ config.php file is updated with this information and the WordPress software is uploaded to the correct directory on your host’s server. However, many hosting companies have simplified this process with built in installers. These point and click installers enable a user to install WordPress in a matter of minutes without any knowledge of databases or php.
What’s a Theme?
WordPress themes are design packs or templates that can usually be installed on your WordPress site with one or two clicks. There are many places to find these templates (themes), both free and premium (paid for) that you can use on any WordPress site. Many themes can be modified by someone who knows some basic CSS and PHP. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, there are lots of people on the internet who will charge a small fee to modify a theme to meet your needs. If you want something entirely unique, or something professional for your company, a designer can be hired to build you a custom theme.
Because WordPress is free, and so popular, many people have developed plugins or add-ons to give WordPress users additional functionality. There are thousands to choose from! Anything from plugins that will give you social buttons at the bottom of each of your posts, to those that will block certain posts from the front page, to image rotators. If you can think of something you’d like your site to do, chances are, there’s a plugin to meet your need. Again, many of these are free, but there are some really advanced tools built by professionals that you may end up paying for. Personally, I have yet to pay for a plugin.
After WordPress has been installed, you will be given a login screen with your own unique username and password. When entered, WordPress will present you with an administrator’s dashboard. This is the back-end of the WordPress software. Here you can change themes, install plugins, change settings, and create and edit posts and pages. You can also edit your site’s sidebars, add links and banners, and moderate comments.
Pages vs. Posts
Unlike some other blogging platforms, WordPress allows a user to create both pages and posts. What this means is, one can create pages that, tho easily editable, remain the same and generally appear in their own navigation. Posts are dynamic sections of content, grouped together to form a blog. You will generally see several posts on one page, most likely with the newest post at the top of the page. Post can be assigned to categories, making your content easy for readers to find. For example, this site has a page navigation at top right: About, My Gear, Contact, etc. These Pages contain general information about me and my site. The Post/Category navigation is found just below the header and right above the content. Clicking any of these Category names will bring you results for posts in that category.