Do you want to turn your ideas into a website? In this guide, we explain what WordPress is, how to use it in conjunction with a host and why it’s become one of the biggest publishing platforms in the world.
The History of WordPress
Like all online entities, WordPress started with a single line of code. However, before we dive into its history and how it became the library of options it is today, let’s quickly address a fundamental question.
What is WordPress Used For?
In simple terms, WordPress is a personal publishing platform. An even simpler way to describe it is that WordPress allows you to create your own websites and blogs. Importantly, it’s not a one-stop-solution. In other words, you can’t use WordPress for everything. Indeed, to have a functioning website that people can visit, you need someone to host it. That’s where we come in. Using one of our recommended WordPress hosting services, you can take your creation and make it live on the internet.
Basically, what WordPress does is give you the tools to turn your content into something that resembles a website. From there, you can get a domain name and a host before making it available to the world. This is a very basic overview of what WordPress is and how it can be used to create a website. To fully answer the question “what is WordPress used for”, we need to trace its roots back to the beginning.
2001: Blogging and Beyond
Before it became one of the lead publishing platforms, WordPress was known as b2/cafelog. Launched by Michael Valdrighi, b2/cafelog gave people a quick way to publish blogs online. Pages were created dynamically from a MySQL database, which meant someone without coding experience could input content and have the system turn it into a webpage. Two years later, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little forked b2 and created WordPress.
The offshoot featured a texturize engine, links manager and templates. Additionally, the developers added an administration interface that allowed users to carry out certain processes manually. At this point, the blogging platform was starting to resemble what we see today. By adding more features, the developers were making it possible for users to create, shape and edit their own webpages. In turn, WordPress was becoming a complete website publishing tool.
2004-2005: The Formative Years
Between 2004 and 2005, various plug-ins were introduced, as were themes and static pages. This gave users the chance to customize their blogs and, in turn, add features from third-party developers. WordPress was now a content management system (CMS), as well as a publishing platform. Over the next 15 years, the system has been refined, news ways of working introduced and more features added to the mix.
2005-2020: A Complete CMS
Today, users can build webpages packed with third-party plugins and publish them via WordPress. Users can be as hands-on or hands-off as they like. If they want an out-of-the-box solution, that’s ok. If they only want to use a bit of what WordPress has to offer and adapt it to suit, that’s also ok. In many ways, WordPress has become “the” solution for publishing web content.
What is WordPress Today?
As we’ve explained, WordPress is bigger and better than it used to be. According to the statistics, it powers 75 million websites. Because of that, there are almost 70 million posts/pages published each month and nearly 50 million comments.
The end result is that over 400 million people read 23 billion WordPress pages on a monthly basis. As the platform has grown in size and stature, it's evolved. Although it remains the go-to destination for publishing content online, it’s so much more than that. Naturally, this raises some questions.
What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
The answer to this question is simple: hosting. If you use WordPress.com, it’s not only your publishing medium and CMS, it’s your host. When you build websites using WordPress, everything is taken care of and the site/content/pages will be hosted on WordPress.com.
If you used WordPress.org, you host your own content. This is where we come in. Once you’re ready to publish your site, we come in with our tips for finding a host. Using our guides on how to host and how to choose a WordPress host, you’ll be able to get your message out to the world and keep it there. To put it another way, you can use WordPress.org to create, publish and manage your content. Then, you can use our recommended hosts to keep your blog/website online.
What is a WordPress staging site?
In order to accommodate a wide variety of users, WordPress has made it possible for you to test changes before making them live. If you’re a developer that’s customizing parts of an existing WordPress theme, creating a new theme, or tinkering with any of the backend mechanics, staging sites are crucial.
By installing WordPress locally on a Windows or Mac computer, you can clone your site and view it in an offline form. In other words, it’s identical to your website but not live on the internet. Using this, you can test changes before implementing them on your main (online) site.
What is WordPress Going to Look Like in the Future?
OK, so now we can answer the questions “what is WordPress” and “what is WordPress used for”, let’s look to the future. What will WordPress become? Predicting the future is tough but WordPress contributors like William Craig believe more plugins and features are on the way. He also believes WordPress mobile will become a thing.
As well as better ways to make web content suitable for mobiles, the platform will make it easier for users to develop app-based content. Will there be more? Of course. However, even in its current state, WordPress is equipped for the modern world. The main task in the immediate future is to simply refine what’s there and continue making it one of the most accessible CMS platforms in the world.
Why is WordPress So Popular?
Before we leave you to start your next project, let’s run through some reasons why WordPress is so popular. Even though everyone will have their own reasons, here are four things that WordPress does extremely well:
1. It’s Free – You don’t have to pay for WordPress. Simple!
2. It’s Versatile – If you want to use one of the 11,000+ WordPress themes to make your site look great, you can. If you want to customize a theme or create your own, that’s also possible.
3. It’s Easy to Use – As a CMS, WordPress has been built in such a way that it’s easy to use, regardless of whether you’re a novice or a pro. If you don’t want to dive into the code, you can simply use templates and plugins.
4. It’s Safe, Secure and SEO Friendly – Although you may have to add some additional layers of protection, WordPress itself is secure. This, in turn, provides a certain level of security for your site. What’s more, Google and other search engines like WordPress code. This means your site will always have a solid amount of SEO optimization.
Overall, if you want an easy way to publish content online, WordPress is ideal. Now you can answer the question “what is WordPress” with a degree of confidence, it’s time to find a host and get creating!