What is WordPress?

What is WordPress

WordPress has a long history considering it is in a fast paced industry. Many products have come and gone but WordPress has evolved to become one of the most popular software products to run a website on the internet.

But what is WordPress?

WordPress is a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system (CMS) based on PHP (which is a programming language) and MySQL (which is a database). (Thanks Wikipedia).

WordPress.org VS WordPress.com

On WordPress.org, you can download and install the WordPress software on your own server (or on a Shared Hosting provider like SiteGround). This is the most flexible option.

On WordPress.com, the WordPress software is offered as a service on the WordPress.com website. You can sign up and start a WordPress.com website in seconds however there are many limitations compared to hosting WordPress yourself. You can easily sign up and see what WordPress is all about but for anyone remotely serious about starting a blog or a website I strongly advise against permanently using it. There are so many limitations it is best to use the self-hosted option.

For the rest of this discussion I’ll only be referring to the self-hosted option.

Benefits of WordPress

WordPress is easy to customize. You can do almost anything you want with WordPress because it is open-source and there are many different themes and plugins to change its behaviour. Countless developers have created a solid foundation in the WordPress software.

WordPress is extremely popular. Over 23% of the top 10 million websites run on WordPress. That didn’t happen by accident!

Tons of developers have created thousands of free WordPress themes and free WordPress plugins for you to add to your WordPress website.

Now that you know what WordPress is, you are probably wondering what is a WordPress theme and what is a WordPress plugin.

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme changes how your website or blog looks. By default WordPress comes with a few basic themes (which are ok, but somewhat boring). In the past, using other software to change the look of your website was a very difficult task. But with WordPress, you can easily switch between themes with the click of a button.

Once you switch to another theme all your content is still there, it’s now just formatted differently.

There are almost 2,000 free WordPress themes, in addition to many premium WordPress themes from companies like StudioPress. There are a few benefits to using a premium theme, but we’ll save that for another discussion.

What is a WordPress Plugin?

A WordPress plugin is software that you install into WordPress to perform a specific task. For example, the plugin Better WP Security provides some enhancement to the WordPress security (the name is pretty obvious!) offered by default from WordPress. Just don’t rely solely on plugins for security. (I’ll also save this for another discussion).

There are over 38,000 free WordPress plugins and numerous premium WordPress plugins. With so many plugins you can do anything you can think of. While plugins are extremely useful since they add additional functionality, be careful not to use too many because it can slow down your website and cause other issues.

Cost of using WordPress

Like I mentioned before, WordPress is free software to use for your website. However having a website on the internet means you need to have a hosting provider. Website hosting can be as little as $3.95/month from SiteGround, which also includes a free domain name.

To begin creating a WordPress website, check out my previous post on How to Start a Blog.


Hopefully this article has answered some basic questions around WordPress, and when someone asks “What is WordPress?” you’ll be able to tell them.

Contact me if you need any help installing WordPress or setting up your WordPress website.

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