What is WordPress and how do you get started?

If you publish anything online, you need a platform to do so, and WordPress ranks #1 for the job!

What is WordPress – really?

Websites were always in Disarray

Our journey with WordPress goes a long way back to days when WordPress was no more than a blogging platform and people were still coding custom content management systems (CMS) to power websites for their clients.

The general idea was, if you need a website and want to add to or update the content you had, your web developer would code a CMS that would go along with your website – so somewhere you’d login and update content. This was extremely lucrative to customers since they saw this as actually “buying” something and that they could justify the purchase – like they would justify the purchase of anything else within their business.

Would you like to have it Static?

The idea was simple for web developers to sell too, websites were either static or dynamic. Static simply meant the site would be coded in HTML and stay the way it was, i.e. “static” for the rest of it’s life! The site could be updated of course, but no one saw these brochure style websites any worth updating, unless there was updated product information, or the company was rebranding and needed a more modern look and feel years down the line.

Dynamic websites – a terrible, terrible term to use!

On the other hand “dynamic” websites and so the name went, were database driven websites that could be updated by the customer themselves. Given that any such feat was still an arduous task, since most web developers weren’t experts in programming full fledged content management systems, nor that they saw this as their main task on a project. The website was simply a business’s “page” on the web, and for some that was just enough – no one was wondering or imagining any form of organized content production yet (and some still aren’t today)!

Then there was Blogging

When blogging took off, there were a couple of websites where you could go and publish your thoughts and ideas, and WordPress was one of them, it still is and hundreds of thousands of users simply blog on the platform at WordPress.com – it’s the simplest place to create a blog or website on your own and WordPress have everything you need from linking a domain name to your blog to offering some excellent features like backups and security.

WordPress is 100% DIY and FREE for Life

Given that, WordPress also comes in a DIY flavor so to speak and that’s the bit of WordPress your web developer is referring to in the context of your web design project. So WordPress is published as a downloadable application that can be swiftly installed on your web server (one that you host or rent) and it’s ideal for publishing everything from a simple blog to a relatively advanced website with e-commerce and other bells and whistles.

The traditional method of installing WordPress is to download and upload the program to your website’s root folder and then setup the database within your website control panel to run the application. The latest version of WordPress is always available at WordPress.org and the entire setup takes less than five minutes – so much so that WordPress have always called it the famous five minute install – that is, for someone who does understand where to place files and how to setup the database and it’s privileges. Still it’s a breeze to get WordPress running using the traditional method.

cPanel and Plesk offer WordPress Toolkit

These days cPanel and Plesk (popular web hosting control panels) both offer easy mechanisms to install WordPress and are bundled with WordPress Toolkit which enables easy installation, management and updates to WordPress and everything under the hood.

If you’re opting to self-host your website, your web hosting provider must offer you WordPress Toolkit or a quick and easy way to get WordPress up and running.

Publish anything with WordPress – there are a gazillion and one ideas to work on!

Whichever way you use, eventually you’ll end up with a login page where you enter your admin username and password. Beyond this, lies the mystery of figuring out what the different components of WordPress are and for that matter, as a whole what is WordPress today?

The simplest answer is – if you’re wanting to publish anything online, you need a platform to do that, simply because no blogging engine comes with all the bells and whistles you’ll need to choose your style and layout, write your blog, add pages to your website, link your site to Google, add code snippets or to search engine optimize posts and pages – WordPress does this all, some out-of-the-box and some with the help of themes, plugins and page builders.

Yasser Masood
Yasser Masood is a partner at Spiderz. He co-founded Spiderz in 2002 in Dubai, some twenty years ago. His area of expertise is Brand development and Web technology. His other companies are CloudWeb, Zuzaz, Dyrk and 1stAccount. You can reach him by writing to yasser@spiderz.com – he’ll be happy to hear from you!
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