First steps with WordPress: Part 1

Before you delve into the depths of web development with the WordPress framework, it’s good to have a general idea of what WordPress is, and most importantly why does it even exist.

So what is WordPress?

WordPress is what you call web software. It was first started in 2003 and it’s currently the most used web site platform in the world. Currently there are more than 75 million sites using WordPress globally. You can see realtime WP activity around the world here wordpress.com/activity.

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You can actually summarise WordPress as a powerful content management system (CMS), not just a blogging platform. What made WordPress really appealing is the fact that there are no requirements to purchase specialised software. All you need to author your website is an internet browser (and connection obviously). Another great thing about WordPress is that it’s completely free, and it’s also open-source. The last one means that the source code of the whole platform is available for anyone to download, review, study, amend, extend and use however they deem fit. This means that over the years a vast community of developers has gathered, who support and extend the WP project via contributions to main features, bug fixes and additional plug-ins.

In order to fully appreciate the power of WordPress, we need to further understand a bit more about how the web works. Since the dawn of the internet web pages have been written in HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language). Nowadays to develop a dynamic web site you need to not only understand HTML, but also CSS, PHP, MySQL, Javascript and/or others. In HTML we use the so called tags that are read by the internet browser, which then interprets them into visual elements, while loading their visual characteristics from CSS. Also, the information that’s displayed is gathered through the PHP, which interacts and loads it from the database, usually MySQL or similar.

And why should we use WordPress?

First of all, WP is absolutely free. It’s open source, so there’s a whole dedicated community of developers that constantly contribute to the project. The software is easy to set-up and use and it eliminates the need of a webmaster to get involved for every little change.

Web developers prefer using it also because it gives their clients the freedom to make changes on their own, which makes it easier for the developer, as well as clients.

WordPress also gave a way to people with no programming knowledge to easily create web sites and share content.

Over the years WP has grown to be the most used web solution, because it’s flexible and highly customisable. There are thousands of plug-ins and themes that extend the functionality of WordPress, make it much easier to personalise and add new functions with just a few clicks. Also, being so popular also means that whenever you need a specific feature developed for you, you can easily get support from one of many developers available. The high supply also brings down the prices.

Also, for the SEO maniacs out there, I should quote Matt Cutts from Google, who said about WordPress that it’s ‘made to do SEO well’. WordPress ships SEO-ready, and there are many plug-ins that can extend the SEO capabilities of your web site. WordPress is written following W3C standards, which provides for a clean code, optimised for search engines’ interpretation.

I think that’s enough to light the spark for now. I am planning to write more on WordPress, maybe present it as a multi-part tutorial. For now I’d suggest you go ahead and register at wordpress.com, take a look around, maybe start a small blog on a matter you’re interested in. Next time we are going to look at the differences between wordpres.com and wordpress.org and discuss how to make a choice. We are then going to talk about authoring and maintaining a .com, as well as installing and developing on a .org version.

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If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me via the site section, or drop me a line on i@brotherlemon.com, or comment below.

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