WordPress: The Internet’s Largest CMS | All You Need To Know
So you want to learn more about WordPress? You’re not the first.
Not only is WordPress the most used website management platform in the world, it’s 10x more popular than the second most used platform in the world. It is an internet titan.
But to the uninitiated it can seem daunting. We’re here to fix that. This page will provide an overview of WordPress’s history, what it can do, and whether it’s for you.
What is WordPress?
WordPress.org is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world. A CMS is software that allows you to organize, edit, and publish online content easier.
WordPress.org is different to WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a dedicated blogging platform — an offshoot of WordPress.org. From here on out, when we talk about ‘WordPress’ we’re talking about the CMS.
A third of all websites use WordPress. That’s tens of millions of sites, and likely billions of pages. Its combination of power and ease of use (by CMS standards) makes it an ideal fit for large and small websites alike.
But if you don’t think WordPress is for you, why not check out our article on the best alternatives to WordPress.
A Brief History of WordPress
WordPress was released in May, 2003, by founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. From the beginning it has been free and open-source software (FOSS), which means everyone is licenced to use it, edit it, and add to it as they see fit.
As a result, WordPress has a huge and vibrant community around it. There are over 55,000 WordPress plugins and counting. The amount of passion, talent, and money orbiting this free piece of software is nothing short of remarkable. And it’s only growing in popularity.
Looking forward, Matt Mullenweg sees WordPress’s future as ‘simpler’. Responsiveness, flexibility, and ease of use are the focus right now. The Gutenberg update — an unprecedented step towards a drag and drop WordPress experience — speaks to a renewed focus on accessibility.
How Does WordPress Work?
WordPress works by being installed on a web server. You can set up a web server yourself or through a web hosting provider. Most opt for the latter. A web server is your plot of internet land, the place where your website’s files and data can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, at any time.
WordPress structures that data in a way that’s easy to manage. It’s a mediator between you and the tangled, code-heavy world of web development. It provides templates for appearances, and a structured backend framework for managing content.
You’d do well to use WordPress without having to use any code, but you’d be surprised (quite possibly elated) by how much it removes from the equation. You don’t get tens of millions of users by being difficult to use.
Who is WordPress For?
Everyone, in short. Out of the box WordPress isn’t that far removed from the cuddly, supportive world of website builders. To add a page you click ‘Add Page’. To add a post you click ‘Add Post’. You can keep things simple on WordPress if you want to.
The beauty of WordPress is that it’s open-source foundation means the sky’s the limit where scalability is concerned. If you can code it, you can do it.
Humble blogs and personal sites use WordPress. The White House and Vogue also use WordPress. It’s an incredibly flexible platform.
Do We Recommend WordPress?
It depends on your technical skill and priorities. WordPress, evidently, is right for a lot of people. If you’re comfortable dabbling in a bit of code, value complete creative control, and want to join one of the most vibrant communities on the web, we recommend it unreservedly. And it’s free! You’ll have to dish out a few bucks for hosting and domain registration, but WordPress remains one of the cheapest ways to get a site live.
That said, if you want a more supportive website building experience it may be worth considering website builders as an alternative. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace take care of tech-heavy stuff so you can focus on content and growth.
Which Hosting Providers Do We Recommend for WordPress?
Let’s put it this way: WordPress itself recommends Bluehost, DreamHost, and SiteGround for web hosting. Of those three we think Bluehost is the standout option. It’s affordable, and the one-click setup is as simple as it sounds.
The trick to great WordPress hosting is that you barely notice it’s there. Bluehost provides that. Read our guide to WordPress setup on Bluehost to get a sense of how easy it is, or check out our web hosting comparison chart if you want to see what else is out there.
How much does it cost to run a WordPress website?
WordPress itself is free, so the only costs that go into setting a site up are web hosting and domain registration. Domain names cost around $12 a year, and basic hosting plans cost as little as $2 per month. You can have a fully-fledged WordPress site up and running for around $3 a month.
Is WordPress a reliable platform?
It wouldn’t be as popular as it is if it wasn’t. WordPress is a super reliable CMS with a devoted user base. Reliability issues tend to stem from shoddy hosting rather than WordPress itself.
Is WordPress better than website builders like Wix and Squarespace?
They’re different. WordPress is stronger for front-to back user control and long-term affordability. Website builders make it possible for people with zero technical skill to build and maintain professional looking websites. The real question is, Which is better for you?
Who Are We?
Website Builder Expert (WBE) is the leading resource for those looking to get online and build their digital presence. The internet is more accessible than ever, but with that comes an overwhelming number of options. We’ve built plenty of website in our time and know what goes into it.
We conduct independent research and user testing to get a birds-eye view of the website builder industry. Everything from website builder software to content management systems and web hosting is within our remit. We want to connect you with the right services for your needs.