What is WordPress

If you’re thinking about creating a website for your business, you’ve probably heard of WordPress — one of the world’s most popular website development platforms. But, you may also wonder what exactly WordPress is and, more importantly, if it’s right for your business. Read on to learn why the Etsy, NFL, CBS, Whitehouse.gov, TED, and Reuters websites, among others, all use WordPress.


WordPress 101

WordPress.org is a content management system (CMS) that many businesses and individuals use to create and manage websites.

A CMS allows users to build and manage their websites without needing specific technical skills like coding. In fact, many people can successfully create dynamic websites without having to learn to code at all. WordPress creates the infrastructure users need to build a website and provides a moderately simple interface to help users add content and modify pages.

Because WordPress is one of the most flexible CMS available today, everyone from individual bloggers to large, multinational corporations use WordPress. Here are some examples of the types of websites people can use WordPress to create:

  • Blogs
  • Ecommerce Stores
  • Business Websites
  • Job Boards
  • Local Business Directories
  • Nonprofit Websites
  • Religious Websites
  • Q&A Websites
  • Online Portfolios
  • Forums
  • Social Media Websites
  • Online Auctions

What’s the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

As you begin researching WordPress and trying to determine if it’s the right tool for you, you’ll inevitably come across WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Despite their similar names, these are two very different platforms.

What Is WordPress.org?

WordPress.org is an open-source CMS that provides the infrastructure needed to successfully build many different kinds of websites. Businesses that use WordPress.org must purchase their domain name and website hosting through a provider, such as Bluehost or GoDaddy. Businesses can then install a copy of WordPress.org and all the files related to their website on their hosting provider’s platform.

Because WordPress.org is an open-source CMS, users can install a number of different themes and plug-ins as well as modify their website’s underlying code. This makes WordPress.org websites infinitely customizable.

With WordPress.org, you pay for your domain name and your web hosting package and then you’re free to modify your site in any way you wish.

What Is WordPress.com?

WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a CMS that offers free hosting for its users. It also offers a number of paid subscriptions that unlock additional features. With the free plan, you can’t install external themes or plug-ins, WordPress.com will place ads on your website wherever it chooses, and your site’s URL will include “wordpress.com.”

While WordPress.com gives you a basic domain name and limited website hosting for free, the platform has some significant limitations. If you want access to more features, you must purchase a subscription to one of WordPress.com’s plans.

The vast majority of our readers will find WordPress.org provides the best platform for their business. When we refer to WordPress throughout the rest of this article — and on other pages on our website — we’re referring to WordPress.org.

WordPress Statistics

  • According to WordPress.org, 39 percent of all websites in the world use WordPress.
  • WordPress version 5.6 has had more than 12.5 million downloads (as of 01/06/21) and this figure is rapidly increasing.
  • WordPress version 4.9 had close to 160 million downloads before the release of version 5.0.
  • There are nearly 58,000 plug-ins available for WordPress sites.
  • In the CMS market, WordPress holds more than a 60 percent market share.
  • Users can download more than 8,000 themes from WordPress.org’s website and find many thousands more available through third-party vendors.
  • WordPress is available in more than 70 languages.

WordPress Benefits

When it comes time to build a website for your business, you can choose from a variety of website builders and CMS software. While sites like Wix.com and more advanced CMS like Drupal™ and Joomla! provide healthy competition, WordPress remains the world’s most popular CMS. WordPress provides a number of distinct features and benefits that can make it a great fit for large and small businesses alike.

WordPress Is Free

First and foremost, WordPress is free. Once you purchase your domain name and web hosting package, you can install WordPress free of charge on your hosting provider’s platform.

WordPress Is an Open-Source Platform

Because WordPress is an open-source platform, users can access and modify the source code used to create WordPress. This also means programmers and users can freely share their code with others. As a result, WordPress boasts a robust community that’s committed to sharing code to implement major and minor changes to WordPress sites.

WordPress Is Easy To Install

It’s easy to install and upgrade WordPress. Many web hosts will allow you to install WordPress on your site with a click of a button. More advanced users can easily download and install WordPress using their own file transfer protocol (FTP) server.

WordPress Is Easy To Use and Modify

After you install WordPress, it’s relatively easy to use and modify. While it might not be as intuitive as a website builder, you don’t need coding expertise to learn how to use WordPress. In addition, frequent updates to WordPress continue to enhance its usability. Toward the end of 2018, WordPress released version 5.0 that included a drag-and-drop page editor called Gutenberg. This editing tool makes it even easier to design pages and posts with WordPress.

WordPress Is Mobile-Responsive

All businesses need a mobile-friendly website to improve both the user experience and their SEO. The majority of WordPress themes already come with a mobile-responsive design so you won’t have to do a lot of extra work to ensure your website looks good on mobile devices.

WordPress Has Thousands of Themes and Plug-Ins

Currently, you can find nearly 58,000 plug-ins and more than 8,000 themes available for WordPress. This means you’ll have thousands of free (and paid) tools available to help you build a great website for your business.

WordPress Plug-Ins

One of the biggest advantages of using WordPress is that you can find thousands of plug-ins (or add-ons) to help you add functionality to your website without needing to learn how to code. Some plug-ins will help you improve your SEO while others can help you create forms or combat spam.

WordPress Themes

WordPress automatically includes a number of default themes. When you activate a default theme on your website, it’ll provide a template from which you can build and refine your pages. If you aren’t satisfied with the default themes, you can search the WordPress theme database or download one from a third-party vendor. The thousands of free and paid themes available often can provide a great way for new users to start building their websites.

WordPress Has a Massive Knowledge Bank

Because WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS, it has a vast support community. WordPress.org has its own support page where both beginners and advanced users can find a variety of helpful resources. In addition, a number of websites, blogs, forums, and social media groups focus on helping all WordPress users get the most out of their websites.

WordPress Drawbacks

As previously noted, you can find a wide range of tools to help you build your business website. As you try to decide if you want to use a website builder or WordPress, it’s important to consider the benefits and the drawbacks of both options. While WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS, it isn’t for everyone. Using WordPress comes with three main drawbacks.

Customization Limits

Although WordPress is highly customizable, it does have some limits — especially if you’re new to the web design and development world. If you try to modify WordPress’ core code or the style sheets used to create your web pages, for example, you can actually break portions (or all) of your website and make it unusable. New users should avoid making major changes to their website’s code without the guidance of a seasoned developer.

Security Vulnerabilities

As an open-source CMS, WordPress is more vulnerable to hacking and other security issues. Almost all WordPress websites use some sort of security plug-in to provide added protection. In addition, website owners and developers should always choose themes and plug-ins from reputable sources.

Frequent Updates

WordPress users must ensure they install all WordPress, theme, and plug-in updates in a timely fashion. But, in certain cases, these updates can cause compatibility issues. For example, developers will sometimes abandon their themes and plug-ins or fall behind on updating them. This can render them incompatible with your current version of WordPress, which could mean you'll have to remove them.

Who Made WordPress?

Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little founded WordPress in 2003. As users of the b2/cafelog blogging platform, they wanted to build a new platform after support for b2/cafelog ceased. In 2006, Automattic, a company founded by Matt Mullenweg, registered a trademark for WordPress and its logo. In 2010, Matt Mullenweg transferred the WordPress trademark ownership to the WordPress Foundation — a nonprofit organization focused on supporting WordPress.org as a free, open-source platform

WordPress FAQ

Is WordPress really free?

Yes, you can download and use WordPress.org for free.

What is WordPress hosting?

Web hosting providers that offer WordPress hosting have dedicated resources and servers optimized for use with WordPress websites. Some businesses would benefit from choosing a WordPress hosting package while others can do just fine with a simple website hosting package.

With dedicated WordPress hosting, providers often will perform updates and backups, ensure your site remains secure, and make sure it loads quickly.

Is WordPress good for beginners?

Depending on their level of technical expertise and willingness to learn a new platform, beginners can certainly do well using WordPress. But, you may want to use a website builder if you have difficulty with new technology and don’t have the time (or interest) in learning a complex platform.

How do I start using WordPress?

To get started with WordPress, you must first purchase your domain name and website hosting package. Most website hosting providers will then provide you with the steps you need to take to activate WordPress on your domain.

Where can I find the WordPress download?

Because most website hosting providers already have the latest version of WordPress installed on their servers, you most likely don’t need to download anything. If you’re a more advanced user and want to build your WordPress website using your own servers, simply go here to download the latest version.

What is a WordPress plug-in?

A WordPress plug-in, or add-on, is a bit of prepackaged website code you can install on your WordPress site to add additional functionality. Some plug-ins will help you improve your SEO or resize your images while some can help you integrate with other business platforms like Mailchimp or MailerLite. There are nearly 58,000 WordPress plug-ins available today.

What is a WordPress theme?

A WordPress theme is a set of page templates you can install on your WordPress website. Themes provide a great way to easily install a rough outline of what you’d like your website to look like. After installing a theme, you can then customize it to meet your specific business needs, website goals, and design preferences.

What is the WordPress login address?

For the majority of websites, you can find the WordPress log-in URL by adding “/admin/,” “/login/,” or “/wp-login.php” at the end of your website’s URL. For example, you could type in “yourwebsite.com/admin/,” “yourwebsite.com/login/,” or “yourwebsite.com/wp-login.php/.”

Is WordPress or Wix better?

WordPress and Wix.com take two entirely different approaches to building websites. Read our comparison of the two to determine which is better for you.

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