Anyone who’s dabbled in website building has heard of WordPress—after all, nearly a third of the internet runs on it. But why is it so popular? Simply put, WordPress vastly simplifies the process of building and running a website—making it cheaper and easier for anyone to put their business online.
The WordPress platform is free, and once installed, can be customized in any manner. In other words, there are no downsides to installing it on a new website. The upsides, on the other hand, are considerable. WordPress handles a huge amount of website functionality automatically, and you can save dozens of hours of development time just by installing it.
So, what exactly does WordPress do? Here’s an overview of what WordPress does so that we don’t have to.
Core WordPress Functionality
Think of your website like a house. Each page is a room, and all the elements displayed on the page are the furniture and decorations in that room. In this metaphor, your web server host would be the foundation of the house. Web servers store all the files and code needed to run your website. When a web browser connects to the site, the server uses its stored code to decide what it should display on the browser. But when you first boot up a new site on a web server, there’s no code to tell it what to display. Anyone trying to connect will just see a blank page, because the foundation doesn’t yet have a house built upon it.
Now, there are two ways you could go about building your website-house. The first would be building it manually, without WordPress. If you wanted to keep unwanted visitors out of certain rooms (pages), you’d probably start by hiring someone to build walls, or in website terms, implement a username/password login system. Then, you’d hire more people to paint the house (design the website’s overall look) and build furniture for the rooms (create individual pages). In this example, you’d have to pay whenever you wanted something done—and changes could take weeks or even months to complete.
Your second, free option is to install WordPress. Right away, you’ll notice something different—this house comes with walls and a roof, because WordPress has user logins built-in. You no longer have to hire someone to design the look of the house, because WordPress comes with thousands of themes that you can customize to match your individual needs. Instead of having to build a frame for every new room, you can simply click the “Add Page” button. And instead of paying experts to custom build and place every piece of furniture for you, WordPress’s block page editor functions like a furniture store. You pick the elements you want on a page and drag them to the correct places. By installing WordPress, you just saved a massive amount of time and money. You downloaded most of the code required to run a website instead of paying someone to write it all for you.
It should be noted that building a website is difficult, even with WordPress. If you’re unfamiliar with the programming languages behind web design, it’s still a good idea to hire a developer to handle the technical details for you. However, by starting with WordPress, you’re eliminating a huge chunk of the work. Consequently, the total price and completion time will be much lower. And there’s more to WordPress than just taking some time off the website build. WordPress’s core feature—the admin panel—gives you far more control than you might have otherwise.
Administrating Your Website with WordPress
Think about all the automated systems in your home. You can flip a switch to turn on your lights without being an electrician. You can adjust your thermostat without being an HVAC technician. Experts created all of these systems so that you could perform basic tasks without needing their help. The same principle applies to websites. You don’t want to call your local plumber every time you need to flush the toilet. Likewise, calling your web designer every time you want to post something to your blog would get quite annoying.
To solve this problem, you might instead pay your web designer to build an interface for you to create blog posts. This will cost quite a bit—the designer has to blueprint a layout for the interface, write the code to make the interface work, then hook it all up with the rest of the website so that your changes apply to whatever you’re editing. With WordPress, this problem becomes irrelevant. The admin panel gives you a huge amount of control over your website, without needing any expertise in web design.
Without needing any additional customization, WordPress gives you access to a variety of settings and tools to help you administrate your website. You control user accounts and permissions. You can use WordPress’s page and post editor to add content to your blog or edit one of your pages simply by typing and dragging blocks around. With WordPress, editing a page is as easy as repositioning furniture in a room. Without WordPress, it’s like all the furniture has been nailed down—and you have to call your web developer whenever you want a minor change made.
The best features of WordPress, however, aren’t included in the core WordPress package. They’re called plugins, and with no knowledge of coding, you can use them to turn a basic blogging platform into (literally) any type of business website you want.
Expanding Your Online Business with Plugins
Plugins play a key role in customizing WordPress sites. Whether free or not, plugins allow you to add features to your site for much cheaper than the cost of paying a developer to write the code for you. After all, why reinvent the wheel when you can buy one (or download it for free)?
Plugins add key features to your site—like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which helps your business appear higher in search results. Some WordPress plugins even allow you to change the purpose of your site completely. For example, the WooCommerce plugin allows users to create products and purchase them from one another. At the time of writing, there are 56,507 plugins for WordPress, each of which offers a myriad of additional features. If you want to add a feature to your site, there’s probably already a plugin for it.
WordPress vastly simplifies the process of building a website by saving you time and money, giving you greater control without knowing code, and allowing unlimited expansion through plugins. For all these reasons, Made Right Media works exclusively with WordPress-—it’s the best platform for any site. Despite all its upsides, WordPress can still be confusing, especially when you have a business to run. If you’re looking for an economical, functional website that you have control over, let’s talk.