In this article, we'll take a look at the most common questions, related to WordPress.
If you have a business or you’re an entrepreneur, and you’ve looked into the topic of building a website, chances are you’ve heard of WordPress. The platform steadily conquered the internet in the past decade, and as of 2019, WordPress seems to be powering about ⅓ of all sites.
Pretty impressive, right?
In case you’re about to launch your own site and talked to someone about it, it’s very likely that you have been offered WordPress, and that would be quite normal - a big chunk of the small digital agencies or freelance web developers work with the popular CMS.
While there is a high probability of the platform being recommended, many times, customers don’t get very detailed explanations over what WordPress is. If you find out about the platform yourself, then it could be even harder to get all of your questions answered, because there is nobody to ask.
This is the moment where people start Googling “WordPress” and try to find as much information as they can, in order to understand what they’re dealing with.
Over the years, I read and replied to a huge amount of questions in this regard, and of course, I started to notice some of them repeat quite often. In fact, I heard and explained the same thing over and over because, like many other things, there are obvious questions that pop up in the mind of most people.
So based on my experience and of course, the Google suggestions, which hinted what the most burning question about my favorite CMS are, I compiled an article where I’ll try to answer these questions.
Of course, a disclaimer is due; the text you’re about to read is based on my personal opinion and experience and is not to be considered an absolute truth, nor 100% exhaustive.
What is WordPress?
Let’s start with the most basic things - what is, indeed, WordPress? The briefest explanation would be - WordPress is a content management system (you may have seen the abbreviation CMS).
Years ago, people started creating websites - in fact, the first-ever website is still online; it originated from the labs of CERN (unsurprisingly) and it was created by a guy namedTim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist, who was later knighted for his accomplishments in the field.
In order to create a website, you needed to be somewhat skilled at web development, which of course, many people were not. In fact, you needed to use HTML — a programming language that is later “translated” by your web browser, allowing it to understand how you wanted your website to look and function and then display the content as indicated.
In 2003, two developers - Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little - released WordPress as sort of a copy of a project they were working on. In fact, the source code belonged to another project, called b2/cafelog, which was supposed to be an easy answer to people who wanted to blog but were not big techies. Of course, you still needed skills to install WordPress, though the main point here was that you could change the content of your site (once created) easily and by yourself.
So in May of that year, WordPress was firstly released and in the next 16 years, developed in one of the most popular CMS in the entire world. Long gone are the days in which the platform was just a blogging instrument; today, WordPress proudly powers absolutely all kinds of sites and is the center of thousands upon thousands of businesses.
So, to sum it up, WordPress is a tool that will allow you to manage your own content (therefore the term Content Management System) without the need of a developer changing things for you.
Is WordPress free?
That’s a bit of a complicated question. The system itself is free and accessible to all, indeed. WordPress was released under the GNU license, and it’s considered open-source, which means that the software is free to use and modify. You can access its website www.wordpress.org (not to be confused with www.wordpress.com, which we’ll discuss later), and download it anytime, absolutely free of charge. You can install it, modify it, use it, and no one will ask you for any money.
That being said, here comes the tricky part - you still need to know how to use it. WordPress is pretty intuitive, and there are a lot of people who learned how to create their own website with it, but it will take time and effort to do so. Moreover, unless you’re considering a web development course, you will still be quite limited at what you can do even if you learn how to install and use it.
In other words, the first thing you may end up spending money on is a professional developer/agency, who will create your website using WordPress. People get a bit confused sometimes why they have to pay since the platform is free, but of course, in this case, you’re paying for the skills, not the software. Facebook is also free to use, but if you want to market your business through it, you may spend a significant amount of money hiring a professional marketing expert.
Aside from the skills, other things that are related to WordPress usage and cost money may include:
- Premium themes
- Premium plugins
The first two things you will need either way if you’re getting a website. The hosting is where your site will actually be stored - there are companies, like ours, that sell storage space, specifically adapted to the CMS, and its called WordPress hosting
The domain is the name of your site so that it can be distinguished from all other sites online. There are no two sites with the exact same domain name (it’s technically impossible), and unless you’re using a service that lets you use a version of their own domain - like yoursite.wordpress.com - you’ll need to buy one.
RECOMMENDED READ: Everything You Need to Know to Register Your First Domain name
Themes and plugins refer to additional features used with WordPress -if you don’t know what they are, read ahead, I’ll go over this topic too. In simple words, the themes are actually templates, i.e. they determine how your site will look, while the plugins allow the site to have functions that by default are not available; for example, a booking system or a shopping functionality.
Of course, a lot of free themes and plugins exist; however, as with most things in life, the premium ones are usually better. We’ve developed a pretty detailed guide on how to choose a WordPress theme if you’re at that stage of your journey, but overall, what you need to remember is that the word premium is there for a reason.
To conclude, we can say this; WordPress itself is free, but it’s safe to assume that unless you are a developing web agency, getting a WordPress site will cost you money.
What is the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com?
This seems to be something that confuses many people - and rightly so if you’re not familiar with the project. The only thing that differentiates the two domains is the extension at the end (.com and .org), but actually, they are two very different things.
WordPress.org is the home of the project WordPress, where you can download the CMS and all of the free themes and plugins available. This is also the place where news on WordPress are first released (in the blog section), meaning new versions, important notices, community content etc.
There is a section as well where you can get support from the community and get involved in the community. If you don’t know the WordPress forums and you’re working on your site yourself, I highly recommend that you keep them in mind for whatever problems may pop up.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a project where you can get (free) hosting for your WordPress site. The site was launched by Matt Mullenweg (this is the guy who wrote and co-founded WordPress), and it’s part of his company portfolio.
Many people who are just starting rely on WordPress.com as you can host your blog for free. There is also an option to ugrade gradually and get to a point where you can have a rather large and fully-functional site there but that is also quite costly.
Is there WordPress support and can I contact them?
Unfortunately, because WordPress is free there is no official support. You have, however, several options if you need help with your WordPress site:
- You can go to the WordPress FAQ (https://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page), where you can see a lot of resources related to the main platform. Their tutorial are pretty detailed, however, issues with third-party plugins (and themes) will not be available there;
- You can contact the forum, which is find in the same spot as the section above. The WordPress community is very active and very helpful, so whatever your issue is
- If you have an identified issue with a specific theme/plugin and the theme/plugin in question is paid, you can contact their support directly. Keep in mind though sometimes these companies require an addtional subscription in order to provide support.
- You can use Google and search your issue (it's obvious, but honestly, sometimes people just get so stressed that they forget about obvious options). I would recommend using the " " operator - if you put anything in quotes it will search in Google for exactly that phrase, so for example, if you have issues with Woocommerce, say, you can search for "WooCommerce doesn't work" and you'll get results listing this phrase.
- Finally, if none of these methods have produced results for you, you can search in Google for WordPress Premium SUpport and contact one of the companies that offer premium services for WordPress like standard support, malware removal, development etc.
Can I create a site that isn't a blog with WordPress?
Yes! Absolutely! WordPress is wonderfully flexible and the past ten years have developed into one of the most adaptable platforms. While it started as a blogging project, today you can literally build anything on it - a shop, a booking platform, a forum, a job board, a directory, a podcast, a wiki, a portfolio, and many, many other options.
What allows you to adapt your WordPress into the kind of site you want are usually plugins, and sometimes themes with specific possibilities. For example, say you have a hiring agency - you may find a theme that contains a built-in feature that allows you to post jobs and/or resumes.
Of course, it's very possible that what you want doesn't exist already, so in this case you can talk to an agency that specializes in WordPress development and ask for a quote. Usually, this kind of services aren't cheap, but if you are ready to invest in your idea, this is definitely the right path to take.
What is a WordPress theme / plugin?
WordPress themes and plugins have two different functions, although they are often mentioned in the subject of WordPress.
WordPress themes refers to the files you use for your WP site in order to define its appearence. Basically, the design of your site will be defined by your theme, although depending on the theme you will be able to modify it partially or entirely. This includes things like position of the elements, colors, fonts, menus, etc.
A WordPress plugin on the other hand is something that will add a specific functionality to your WordPress site. An example of a popular plugin is WooCommerce, which allows you to transfrom your simple CMS into a fully developed e-commerce project.