An introduction to WordPress

wordpress-logoWordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world.

Starting out in 2003 as a simple blogging platform based on the weblog software called b2/cafelog, it has since grown into a content management system capable of running some extremely complex websites.

This article will introduce you to WordPress and some of the benefits of the system.

An open source system

Open source software means that the code behind the system is freely available. You can grab a copy of the WordPress CMS absolutely free from the wordpress.org website.

WordPress has been released under the GNU public license (GPL). The GPL not only means that WordPress is free to download and use, but that developers can add and remove features as they see fit, so the functionality and design can be completely customised.

As WordPress has been developed by thousands of developers, its core code is extremely extendable and easy to manipulate. This means that WordPress is a suitable solution for all types of website from a small portfolio style website, to a large e-commerce system. It also means that it gets updated regularly with security fixes and new features.

WordPress is extremely popular

WordPress holds 53.8% of the market share for Content Management Systems powering an estimate of 60 million websites (in 2012).

WordPress’s popularity is due to its ease of use, both for content editors and for developers creating new features within the code.

These huge numbers means that support can always be found. There are thousands of tutorials over the internet and the code is extremely well documented.

The WordPress support forum is extremely active with developers of all levels. If you ever have a problem with the default WordPress functionality, or are looking at expanding your system with some new functionality, then this is a great place to stop by for some help.

As WordPress is extremely popular with both developers and website owners, you are not tied in to one developer/agency for updates. If you were to fall out with your current developers for example, it can easily be taken over by another, unlike bespoke CMSs.

Extensive selection of themes and plugins

Thanks to the large developer base, thousands of themes and plugins have been developed to help you extend the functionality of your website extremely quickly.

The plugins are specifically designed to add more functionality, such as adding search engine optimisation options, or the ability to put different items in the sidebars on specific pages.

Themes are for your website’s look and layout. These can completely change the look of your website without removing any of the content. You can easily switch from one theme to another without having to completely remove the previous layout.

The limitations of WordPress

Because WordPress is open source, there are very few limitations to what the system can achieve. However there are some features that might take a little longer to develop as they aren’t built in.

One feature not built in is advanced workflow. You can save a page as a draft, but once it is published, it is difficult to go through an approval process with further revisions.

Similarly, setting up complex user permissions can be time consuming. For example if you wanted one administrator to be able to access one part of the website and make updates (like a resources section) but not be able to make changes to a different part of the site.

All these features can be developed, although the development time needed for the project is likely to go up significantly.

Summary

WordPress is a robust and extendable content management system with an easy to use administration screen and an extensive user base.

Long gone are the days where it is just a blogging platform. It can now cater for websites of any size and scale and is without a doubt one of the content management systems you should be considering to use with your next website.


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