Updated: Jan 26
If you have ever had a website before or come into contact with the subject of web design at any level, then the chances are that you have heard about this thing called WordPress. But what is it exactly? Why do so many web designers use it? What can I do with it? Is it secure? We would like to answer as many of these questions as possible in this article for you. We will try to avoid as many of the more technical terms as possible in this article as this is really meant to be a simple explanation for the layman.
What is WordPress exactly?
WordPress is a free and open-source content management system. Open-source means that it’s code is available for everyone to see and it is continuously being contributed to by people who do not make any direct monetary gains from it’s sale or use. It also means it is free to use. A content management system is basically a piece of software that allows you to create and publish content for your website without needing to know any complex coding.
So in layman’s terms it is basically a piece of software that enables the web designer, owner, user etc. to easily manage the content of their website, without the need of having lots of technical know-how and skill in web design and development.
Why do so many web designers use it?
Why do we all use credit cards and online banking apps? Because they are easy. WordPress revolutionized the web design industry, because it simply made making and maintaining websites easier than it had been before. For the first time a web designer could hand over his creation to his client and have the client keep adding more content to it himself, without having to teach the client any coding skills.
Additionally, lots of web designers and programmers started creating add-on pieces of software for WordPress, called plugins. These plugins further extended the functionality of WordPress, and turned it into a truly revolutionary product. Not only could you now create a website without coding knowledge, but you could create more complex websites, by simply installing extra plugins, that were free as well.
This winning combination quickly spread like wild fire and now 30% of all websites on the Internet are running on WordPress. There are billions of websites on the internet so 30% is a big deal.
What can you do with WordPress?
The answer is anything really. Common things you can do are, create a brochure website, create an ecommerce(online shopping) website, create a blog, create a job board, create a property listing website, create a landing page or even create a system. Because it is built on a software language called PHP, you can create pretty much anything that you can create with PHP and plug it into WordPress. The real question is wether you should.
Just because you can build anything you want on it doesn’t mean you should, because although WordPress is very versatile, it was originally only meant to be a Blogging engine. It evolved and morphed into way more, but if you are looking to scale up and drive 1000’s of people to your site and turn it into a complex system with many bells and whistles, you will eventually reach a point where WordPress will give you more headaches than you anticipated. the functionality might not be limited, but it will become slow, and difficult to manage if you just keep adding many plugins to it and create all kinds of custom applications around it. Every plugin needs to be kept up to date by it’s creator and WordPress itself needs to be kept up to date too, which means that every time one plugin or WordPress updates, you might have another plugin or custom code you created break because of a conflict. So you can see, this can easily become a mess if you have many plugins each dependent on another.
Is it secure?
Although WordPress has come a long way in making their CMS more secure it is still quite vulnerable to attacks. This is simply because it is so popular. Hackers like to target easy targets, and if 30% of all websites run on WordPress then that is an easy target for them. The good news is that a simple addition of a free plugin or 2 will make your WordPress website quite secure with a very low risk of it ever being hacked. Unfortunately if it is your first time building a WordPress website you might not be aware of this and will have to learn that lesson the hard way.
Do we use WordPress?
Yes, we absolutely do, and have been using it for over 9 years now in most of our website designs. We have learned so much about it in this time and have got it down to an art really. We still think it is a great tool, but there are circumstances when we do not advise our clients to use it, and this is only if what they want to build is complex and what we consider would fall into the classification of a system and no longer simply a website. For 90% of all our web projects, WordPress is totally fine though and it’s continuing increase in popularity supports our case for using it.
If you need help with your existing WordPress website then feel free to give us a call. We would be happy to help however we can, as well as educate at the same time. WordPress is a great tool if you understand it and know how to use it correctly. We hope to hear from you soon.