What is WordPress and why is it so popular?
WordPress is a very widely used tool that allows you to create websites and blogs of various kinds. In the technical sense, WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that is free and open source. It is based on PHP and requires a MySQL database. But don’t worry: you don’t need to be a tech geek to use WordPress. Quite the opposite. Here you get an overview of everything important about WordPress.
What is WordPress?
By definition, WordPress is an open-source software that ideally should make it much easier for you to manage or administer the content on your website. This is where the term Content Management System comes from, which is usually abbreviated as
- Content = content
- Management = Administration
- System = Software / Tool
Besides WordPress there are of course other such systems like Joomla, Typo3 and many others. Originally, the tool was developed in 2003 by Matthew Mullenweg and it aimed at the beginning mainly on weblogs (blogs).
In the meantime, however, WordPress has developed so much that you can also implement online stores, professional portfolio websites, news portals, forums, online courses, etc. with it. So it’s definitely not exclusively for bloggers anymore, which is still what some people think.
Among the core elements are the so-called themes and plugins, which allow you to equip your website with a certain design (=theme) as well as to extend it with additional functions (=plugins).
Difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
Besides the CMS WordPress there is also the pure blogging tool under the same name. Here, many first get a little confused and do not know what the exact difference between the two is.
- free CMS & open source
- Website is completely self-hosted & managed
- therefore hosting & domain is needed via providers like All-inkl, Ionos etc. starting at about 3€ / month
- hosting, security, back ups in own responsibility
- many freedoms regarding customizations and extensions through plugins
- blogging platform with free subdomain (e.g. deinblog.wordpress.com)
- website not self-hosted and located on WordPress.com servers
- you can start right away and don’t have to worry about any technical stuff
- quick upgrade to monthly subscription necessary for certain features
- significantly limited design possibilities
Usually, most people mean the WordPress CMS when only talking about “WordPress”. Nevertheless, it is always helpful to clarify this together at the beginning to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.
Also this article focuses on the self-hosted CMS WordPress that you can view and download in German language via de.wordpress.org. Usually, this step as well as the installation on the web server is already done by your hosting provider. One of the best solutions is VPS hosting for WordPress.
Why is WordPress so popular?
WordPress is currently the most popular CMS on the worldwide web. At least if we look at the statistical user numbers (as of February 2021). According to an analysis by W3Techs, just over 40% of all websites currently use WordPress. On the websites where a CMS is installed, the rate is even a little over 64% (not all websites use a CMS).
This popularity comes of course not without reason. Therefore, I would like to list here some of the points that can speak for the use of WordPress as a CMS. Of course this list is not final and also many other CMSe fulfill some of the listed reasons.
- user friendly and easy to learn
- WordPress as CMS is free and open source
- versatile and more than “just” a blog system
- customizable design through countless free & paid WordPress themes and other tools like page builder (e.g. Elementor,
- GenerateBlocks, Thrive Architect or Divi)
- flexible extensible through plugins (free & paid plugins)
- large community: almost every problem has already been discussed in a forum or blog
- search engine friendly through plugins like Yoast SEO or Rankmath
- due to the popularity new plugins are often preferentially developed for WordPress first
- WordPress was developed under the security aspect & can be made even more secure by plugins and other measures
- regular updates and further development since 2003
For whom is WordPress suitable?
In principle, you can use WordPress for many purposes. Therefore, the question of when WordPress is not suitable is almost more purposeful. In principle, you can use WordPress for many purposes. Therefore, the question of when WordPress is not suitable, is almost more purposeful.
Whenever you have very specific requirements and want to solve everything in a very specific way without compromise, then you are idR. not in the right place with WordPress.
If you’re a startup looking to create a new blockchain-based social media or other software, then you’ll most likely have to code that yourself. But even then, you could additionally use WordPress as a blog to report updates.
For example, the following well-known websites have been created with WordPress (as of February 2021, verified with Wappalyzer):
- Microsoft News
- The Walt Disney Company
- Facebook Newsroom
- BBC America
Many wishes for certain functions on a website are similar. That’s why there are plugins like WooCommerce, with which you can implement a complete online store based on WordPress.
Since this is also true for many other application areas, WordPress has become a real all-purpose tool among website tools.
Useful application areas for WordPress:
- Bloggers who want to report on various topics
- Smaller and larger online stores on their own server
- Business websites for presenting one’s own services and products
- Personal portfolio websites for one’s own online presence
- Creation of online courses
- Membership websites for the own community
- Forum with members
- Photographer websites for presentation of services and of course own photos
- Restaurant websites with menus and menus
- and many more
How do I create a WordPress website?
In general, installing WordPress is not difficult. Many hosters now offer installation in a few clicks, where you just need to enter some basic information. This includes a username, an email address and a password. In a few minutes, the installation is complete and then you can start right away.
However, as with any new tool, you first need to familiarize yourself with WordPress. In the beginning you have to master a certain learning curve. Not everything will work right away exactly the way you want it to. This is quite normal and perseverance at this point will pay off.
That’s why I recommend that you first watch an introductory tutorial, e.g. on YouTube. This will give you an overview of the setup and what you can and should adjust where and how. There is now a very large selection of helpful resources in German and English.
In addition, a website is usually never “finished”, because there is almost always something to improve. Especially if you also want to optimize your content for search engines (=SEO) or advertise on Google (=SEA), there are many new requirements.
Also the creation of new subpages with texts and images or writing blog articles costs time of course. Other factors such as user-friendliness, quality of the texts, structure, image optimization, etc. can also be decisive for the success of your website. But you can also learn all this over time or hand it over to other providers of these services.
The general steps to get started with WordPress at a glance:
1. choose webhoster and domain
2. install WordPress
3. log in to WordPress
4. install maintenance mode plugin
5. choose theme
6. write Hello World post
7. set up and customize WordPress
8. deactivate maintenance mode
9. register website with Google
10. regular updates and backups
11. maintain and cherish website with new content
Where can I learn WordPress?
By now, there are really many helpful resources to help you get started with WordPress. In addition to many blogs that address specific issues, some videos are especially useful for getting started. If you know English, I recommend the latest video by Tyler Moore on YouTube for getting started with WordPress. In addition, there are very helpful online courses (e.g. Udemy) and tutorials in many different places.
But the “learning by doing” approach will also get you there. At least if you have the time and patience to research specific problems yourself using Google. In my learning process, it was a problem at the beginning to know what the right search term is for case xyz. But that comes with time.
In the following overview I collected some helpful resources for WordPress beginners. If you have more tips about helpful resources, then I’m always happy about hints.