What is WordPress?

WordPress is a free, open-source content management system (CMS) that allows you to create websites without any programming knowledge. A WordPress site can be easily customised with plugins and themes to create unique website layouts. Large companies such as Sony Music, Time Magazine, and PlayStation Blog use WordPress.

What is the WordPress CMS?

To understand what WordPress is, you need to understand what content management systems (CMS) are. A CMS is a system which manages online content. It is a software that helps users create, edit, organise, and publish digital content. While a website builder usually provides ready-made building blocks from which you can create websites, a CMS offers more freedom, flexibility, and extensions in the form of plugins and themes. The backend interface is where your content is organised and managed, while the CMS frontend displays the published website.

The CMS comparison guide indicates that WordPress is the most successful CMS worldwide. About 40 percent of all websites worldwide are made with WordPress, while 60 percent of all CMS websites use it. WordPress is a free open-source CMS which private users, bloggers, businesses, and artists use to create and manage WordPress sites. Another great advantage is that it does not require any programming skills. However, webspace in the form of MySQL or MariaDB databases are necessary to save content, user accounts, themes, and plugins. FTP access and a domain are also required, as well as HTTPS and the server-side programming language PHP. However, many hosting providers will offer WordPress packages that fulfill all these requirements.


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What websites can be created with WordPress?

WordPress’ success began in the blogging community. Originally, the CMS made it possible to publish texts and articles online instantly. The scope of functions was subsequently extended. Today, there is very little that cannot be done with a website thanks to the open-source WordPress code, plugins, and add-ons. The most common WordPress sites include websites for businesses, blogs, e-commerce stores, and artist sites.

For example, the following website types can be created with WordPress:

  • Company/corporate pages
  • E-commerce stores
  • Blogs
  • Landing pages for marketing campaigns
  • Internet forums
  • Community pages
  • Portfolios/Work Overview/Curriculum Vitae
  • Artist pages
  • Online encyclopaedias
  • News pages
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What is the difference between WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org?

Anyone looking into WordPress will quickly come across the two “versions” of WordPress: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. The similarity of the two options causes confusion, even though they are essentially different things. The two differ as follows:

  • WordPress.org: WordPress ending in .org stands for the eponymous open-source software, which is offered for free download through wordpress.org by the WordPress Foundation. Users who already have their own domain and online storage or web hosting can use it as they wish. This option gives users a lot of flexibility, as it is not limited by ready-made software and hosting packages, however it requires some time for training.
  • WordPress.com: WordPress ending in .com stands for a for-profit company called Automattic, which was founded by WordPress developers led by Matt Mullenweg and offers WordPress hosting based on the software as a service principle. In the free version, the user domain is hosted with wordpress.com in the domain name, limited storage space, and advertisements. The paid version includes an individual domain without wordpress in the domain name and no advertisements. The SaaS version of WordPress is suitable for those who want a combination of creative freedom and straightforward website creation.

Both variants have their advantages and disadvantages. They both allow users to create high-quality, modern, and distinctive websites. Through hosting offers, WordPress.com is particularly practical and time efficient. On the other hand, WordPress.org has a large choice of plugins and themes, an active WordPress community, and flexible code changes which sets no limits in terms of website creation. It is recommended for users who have clear ideas, web hosting, and a domain name.

How did WordPress come into being?

WordPress’ history begins in 2001: At that time, a Frenchman called Michel Valdrighi designed an open-source weblog software known as b2/cafelog, which was created in PHP. After Valdrighi stopped developing b2/cafelog, Matthew Mullenweg and Mike Little developed another software which was based on it. This eventually evolved into WordPress in 2003, with the first “official” version appearing in 2004. The goal was to develop an even more flexible and user-friendly CMS for bloggers.

In 2005, Matt Mullenweg founded Automattic, a company that provides WordPress-related services and is known to most as WordPress.com. The non-profit WordPress Foundation was also founded by Matt Mullenweg in San Francisco with the aim to offer the free open-source software through wordpress.org, protect the WordPress trademark, and support WordPress’ development with the WP community.

What are the advantages of WordPress?

The fact that over 455 million websites are built with WordPress, and more than 43 percent of all websites use WordPress highlights the usefulness and success of the popular CMS. Its popularity is not surprising, as WordPress has so many advantages as a free software.

  • Free and open source: Users can create their own websites for free with WordPress. With the open-source code and basic programming knowledge, users can easily make changes, program plugins and themes, or alternatively, they can just use the free or paid extensions from WordPress. Although extra costs may arise from web hosting and plugins, the WordPress software itself is completely free.
  • Extensible in many ways: Currently, there are an estimated 50,000 free WordPress plugins and over 5,000 free WordPress themes available. There are also paid plugins and themes. WordPress themes create or change the layout and design of the website, while plugins provide additional website features.

The extensive range of plugins is one of the greatest strengths of this CMS. For example, you can set up online stores with WordPress, create contact forms with WordPress plugins, and establish RSS feeds.

  • Easy to install: The success of WordPress is not only attributable to the ease of website creation, but also the straightforward installation. What is needed is a domain, webspace, and a MySQL database. It is especially easy with web hosts that offer WordPress installation packages which already include domain, webspace, and other helpful tools for installation and management.
  • Flexible and versatile: One reason why every fourth website uses WordPress is the flexibility and versatility of the software. Almost any website idea can be implemented using WordPress’ large selection of plugins and themes. Anything is possible, whether you are creating your own WordPress blog, a corporate site, event pages, or forums and portfolios.
  • User-friendly: Whether you are self-hosted or using a WordPress package from a hosting provider, WordPress is easy to get the hang of after the initial learning curve of hosting and domain search, and it also requires no programming knowledge. It is particularly convenient to use through the SaaS version on wordpress.com.
  • Active developer community: Thanks to the active WordPress community, the software is constantly evolving and improving. Individual plugins and themes from passionate WP developers and web designers add to the feature set, while questions and issues can be resolved in quickly through WP forums.
  • Suitable for installation on own PC: Those who do not want to make changes to the website directly on the server can also install WordPress locally on their own PC with the appropriate tools and try out ideas for the website within the “four walls” of their own computer.

Which brands and companies use WordPress?

Known mainly for blogs in the past, WordPress has now become one of the first places to go when it comes to web design. Large companies, political institutions, and world stars rely on it. For example, the White House, Sweden’s online presence, and stars like Katy Perry and Usain Bolt use WordPress-based sites.

We’re highlighting five major brands and companies that use WordPress to give a sense of how successful and prevalent WordPress is:

  • New York Times: Since WordPress started as a publishing and blogging platform, it makes perfect sense that major news magazines and daily newspapers such as the New York Times use a WordPress foundation for their online presence. The New York Times WordPress site has the layout and news style of an analogue daily newspaper.
  • Microsoft News: News blogs are now a part of almost every major multimedia company website. WordPress is also used for the Microsoft Newsblog to display news from Microsoft’s development and research in a magazine format.
  • Sony Music: Sony Music is one of the “Big Three”, i.e., it is one of the three largest major labels in the music world. The company relies on promising artists, and on WordPress as a CMS. The website publishes information about Sony and its artists as well as news and careers.
  • The Walt Disney Company: The Disney empire, popular among children and adults alike, also uses WordPress software on the Disney corporate website. On the site, you can find information about new Disney productions, investors, careers, charitable activities, and background information about Disney itself.
  • The Mozilla Blog: Open source applies to the official blog of Mozilla. The blog presents news and info about Mozilla through WordPress.
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