What is WordPress?

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what is wordpress

In this Blog post you will learn the very basics about WordPress. I want to give you important background information about the CMS so you can decide by yourself if you want to use WordPress for your website project. This means this article is dedicated to WordPress beginners with barely no knowledge about WordPress. In case you already work with the CMS you would rather read one of my other posts on the topic of WordPress in my WordPress category.

As you already have seen, WordPress is a CMS. But what does this actually mean? Before I explain you the basics of WordPress you need to understand what a CMS is. Therefore the next paragraph is about CMS basics.

What is a CMS?

CMS stands for Content Management System. So a Content Management System is software that helps you to administrate content. The point is that it is only about the content, not about structure or technical stuff.

The content is saved in a database. In the case of WordPress this is a MySQL database and the pages your visitors will see are generated dynamically with the content from the database. Another great functionality if CMS is that it is possible to handle more than one users. Especially when you have several authors working on articles on your site, this features makes work a lot easier.

The following points will show you the benefits of a CMS:

  • Content can be added, changed and deleted easily
  • You do not need any programming skills
  • Content can be optimized for several mediums
  • Extensions (Plugins)
  • User roles
  • Already designed (Themes)
  • Frontend and Backend

These are only a few benefits of CMS. The list actually is very long but I think you can get an idea of why you should work with a Content Management System rather than static websites.

After we discussed the very basic background information of Content Management Systems I will now show you the world of WordPress

What is WordPress?

WordPress is with Joomla! the most used CMS in the world wide web. Actually more than 25% of all websites out there are based on WordPress. The whole WordPress code is Open Source. This means once downloaded everyone can edit the code, implement new functionalities, plugins or themes. Therefore the community is gigantic.

WordPress – technical background

In case you are interested in the technical background of WordPress (maybe you want to code your own Theme or Plugin) I want to provide you with the basic background. If not you might just skip this section.

On the server side WordPress is based on PHP. This means the backend is coded with PHP. Like I already mentioned before the database for WordPress is MySQL. Themes and Plugins for the view are made with HTML, CSS and in some cases JavaScript. So if you are already familiar with this kind of stuff go on and code your very own WordPress Theme or Plugin.

WordPress history

The history of WordPress starts in the years 2001/2002. Michel Valdrighi published an Open Source CMS called b2ncafelog. Even if the CMS was no real success, Matthew Mullenweg and Mike Little used the CMS to code their own Weblog-Software. Later on Michel Valdrighi even joined them.

The first version of this CMS was published on January 4th 2004. They named it WordPress. At the moment WordPress runs with version 4.X.

So what do we know until now?

  • WordPress is a CMS
  • WordPress is based on PHP and MySQL
  • The first version of WordPress was released on 2004
  • Extensions in WordPress are called Themes and Plugins

Why WordPress?

Do the next thing I want to point out is the advantage of WordPress as CMS for your website. This list definitely is not complete but I hope it will give you some kind of an overview of the CMS. The aim is to make your decision easier.

  • Easy installation
  • Open Source
  • Individual designs via Themes
  • Extensions via Plugins
  • Huge community
  • More than 60 billion users
  • Responsive Design

In case I convinced you with this short list of advantages, I want to show you now how to install WordPress and how you can easily set up your first website.

How to install WordPress

The very first thing you need to run your own website is a webserver. You can web space, this is a partition on a webserver, from one of the various WordPress hostings. I run my websites in WPEngine. It`s a great web hosting company and they offer good prices for beginners. In case you want to try WordPress rather before buying web space you can install a local server on your laptop. I recommend you XAMPP for that. The installation is very easy, it is free and even the setup of WordPress is made within minutes.

Let`s get back to the WordPress installation. After you decided where to host your website (web hoster or on your local machine) you should download the WordPress software from the WordPress website. In case you use XAMPP for the installation, unzip the downloaded file in the htdocs folder in your XAMPP directory. After that you have to set up the database. The great thing about XAMPP is that it is not only a local webserver but also includes a MySQL database.

To set up the database start XAMPP and type localhost into your browser. Search for the PHP MyAdmin and click the link. Welcome to the MySQL admin panel. Now you can set up a database for your WordPress website.

Once you created the database you can start the installation of WordPress. Therefore you have to type in localhost/directory where WordPress is unzipped. So in case you put the WordPress folder in xampp/htdocs/wordpress you type localhost/wordpress. And that’s it. The installation of WordPress can begin. The great thing from now is that every step is explained in the installation process. One tricky thing to come is you have to provide WordPress with your database information. This means you need to know the database name, user and password. In case you did not set up a specific user you can type in root for user and leave the field for password empty.

That`s it, congratulations for your very first WordPress installation.


What is WordPress?
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