What is WordPress?

When talking about what WordPress is, we can say many things:

  • WordPress is software that displays a website
  • WordPress runs on a server or host on the internet instead of being installed on your home or office computer
  • WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that saves all of the information about your website to a database
  • WordPress makes it easier to edit the content already on your website, add new content and delete old content without paying for a web designer.
If you navigate to any website on the internet, let’s say my own website at www.beyond-paper.com, the information that you see resides on computers called servers located all over the world.  The companies who own and manage those servers are called hosts or hosting companies.  The majority of people who have websites buy a hosting package from a hosting company which will hold all of the information needed to display their website.
WordPress itself is just a software program that is installed in your hosting account.  When someone types in a URL for your site, WordPress builds the page from the information in the database.  If you want to change the content on one of the pages in your website you will type an admin URL into your browser and login to an administrative control panel that allows you to make all kinds of changes to your site.
Above all, WordPress is a content management system (CMS).  What this means is that your pages built from a bunch of parts which are stored in different places.  Take a look at a page from my own website:

Click to Enlarge

My site has three main content parts:
The header, which is the same on all pages.
Header Area - Same All Pages

Header Area – Same All Pages

The footer, which is the same on all pages.
Footer - Same All Pages

Footer – Same All Pages

The page content, which is differs according to the page:
Content - Each Page is Different

Content – Each Page is Different

Because the header and footer are the same on all pages, WordPress keeps one copy of each of them.  That way, when a change is made to the header, the change occurs on ALL of the pages – I don’t have to manually make that change to all of the pages!  The same with the footer.
Meanwhile, the content, which does change from page to page, is kept in a separate spot.  WordPress uses the URL of a page to figure out what content to pull out and match with the header and footer.
All of this information about content management systems and parts of a web page are important, because you are going to be able to edit parts of this page yourself.  Notice I said “parts of this page”.  There are some things that you will need a web designer, or a WordPress-savvy friend to change for you, but if your site is set up correctly you should be able to change most of the text and images in your site yourself.
So what is WordPress?  WordPress is a content management system that lets you make content changes to your site yourself, without the intervention of a designer.

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Category: WordPress - Beginner
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Diane Ensey
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Diane Ensey

Programming Diva and CEO at Beyond Paper
For more than 10 years I've been making websites work for clients world-wide using WordPress, Google Maps, forms and custom applications. You can see my work portfolio and case studies at Beyond Paper.
Diane Ensey
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