What is WordPress?

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WordPress is a free open source blogging platform powered by MySQL and PHP, though it’s often used as a content management system (CMS). It has a robust set of features including a template system for your WordPress web design and a plug-in architecture that enables you to extend WordPress beyond the default functionality offered in the core. WordPress is used by over 14.7% of Alexa Internet’s “top 1 million” websites and as of August 2011 powers 22% of all new websites. WordPress is currently THE webs most popular Content Management System (CMS).

At first glance, WordPress may seem to simply be a blog platform. But beneath the surface lies a powerful, versatile tool that can be used for everything from personal blogging to full eCommerce website management. As a content management system, this open source platform offers a variety of options for individuals and businesses alike.

WordPress Features

Whether you need a website development with only static pages or want to focus on fresh, new content, a few basic features make it all possible. These features are easy to use and can be employed immediately upon installation even by those who are unfamiliar with the platform.

WordPress Pages

Pages are just what they sound like: static content that can be created to stand on their own or in a descending hierarchy depending on your needs. Any page may be used as the homepage for a website or blog, so visitors will see the face of your site or business as you want them to see it. Creating pages as “parents” of other pages will allow for easy setup of navigation menus once your site is complete.

WordPress Posts

Posts let you create dynamic content any time, be it for a blog, news site or periodic business updates. Comments may be allowed as in a traditional blog format or turned off if you don’t wish the content to be interactive. Using Posts to update your site on a regular basis will keep search engine robots crawling your content, which is essential when it comes to improving page rank in search results.

WordPress Themes

Themes dictate the overall appearance of your blog or site. Being one of the most widely supported of all CMS platforms, getting a quality Austin WordPress web design is a breeze. Many themes are offered for free, a must for any individual or business on a budget. Quick and easy to install, Themes often have a built-in control panel for user-friendly customization of everything from layout to text color. Advanced users can edit the CSS behind themes to tweak site appearance even more.

Advanced WordPress Features & Plugins

With a little work and planning, it’s possible to build an entire site using the tools available from WordPress. This gives you the convenience of managing all of your content from one user-friendly platform. A main “dashboard” lets you access posts, pages, comments and themes as well as advanced features like widgets and plugins.

WordPress Widgets

Widgets are handy tools that are easy to install and include things like a search box, custom link list, recent posts and an RSS feed so that visitors can subscribe to your dynamic content. More intuitive than plugins, Widgets are designed in a simple drag-and-drop format that lets you arrange and re-arrange the layout until you have exactly the look and functionality you want. Some plugins add widgets of their own, making it easier to incorporate extra features into the design of your website.

WordPress Plugins

Plugins allow for further customization and integration of content. If there’s something you need your website to do, chances are someone has built a plugin for it. Browsing the plugin selection reveals open source tools that allow for social media integration, easy management of site statistics, eCommerce functionality and more.

Since plugins must be installed and managed individually, it’s important to choose only the ones that you’re sure you’re going to need. Basic sites may only require things like a plugin for social media integration and one to track site statistics. For businesses, you may wish to look into adding a shopping cart plugin that allows customers a secure way to purchase products from your website.

WordPress Mutli-User Functionality

Another useful feature is the ability to allow many users to access and update a site. Depending on what type of website you have, this can be an invaluable resource. Being able to give multiple people access to post creation and other site management tools is especially useful for businesses. Each user can have his or her own login information, and specific permissions may be set so that only certain functions of the platform may be utilized. This way, people from many departments can create dynamic content, fix problems with static pages or manage comments anywhere, any time, even when the site administrator is unavailable. This functionality can be extended with plugins like BuddyPress to create a social network style community website like facebook or myspace.

The Pros

The extensive functionality gives this platform many pros as a content management system:

  • Free, open source software with many customization options.
  • Quick and easy setup and site building tools.
  • All site content can be managed from a single place.
  • Highly customizable by users of all skill levels.
  • Can be accessed and updated from any computer, anywhere, any time.
  • Easily handles many users at different permission levels.

The Cons

The biggest con of using these features as a CMS is the learning curve. Managing Austin WordPress web design themes and plugins is not always intuitive and can sometimes take longer than anticipated. Some users may not have the necessary knowledge to update the site, making it necessary to always have an administrator on hand until everyone has been trained.

The other potential drawback is the risk of getting bogged down with plugins. The draw of a good CMS is simplicity, but if you need a large amount of plugins to make a site work, you may find yourself spending more time managing plugins than content. Striking a balance between minimalism and functionality requires knowledge beyond basic features. But with a little time and effort, you can make WordPress work for you no matter how much content you need to keep track of.