I have previously written blog posts about WordPress – I’m a big fan.  The two most relevant posts if you’re reading this are as follows: a post on this blog, called “Why I use WordPress to Design Websites”, and one on The Fempreneur Collective’s blog called “Why we Always Recommend WordPress”.  In this post, I’m getting back to basics and discussing what is WordPress exactly.


What is WordPress?

WordPress is essentially software.  It’s a Content Management System (or CMS).  This is a fancy way of saying that this system gives you tools to help you manage the content that you are adding to your website.  “Content” is anything that’s added to your website, whether that’s text, images, shop products or plugins.

WordPress is free and open source.  This means that you can download a copy of the software from https://wordpress.org, and install it on your website.  (Technical side note: If you are hosting your website with a service provider that makes use of cPanel – I recommend 1-grid if you’re in South Africa – then you don’t even have to download WordPress as cPanel offers a simple installation method.)

You don’t “own” WordPress as such, but (if you own your domain name) you do own all the content that you put into it.  If you don’t have your own domain name, I’ve written a post about domain name ownership and what that means.


Some Tech Info about WordPress

WordPress is used by a large number of websites worldwide.  This is a good thing. It means it’s here to stay and that there is great interest in continuing to develop it.  There are huge conferences (called “WordCamp”) held annually for developers, designers, users and software companies.

There are passionate communities that are interested in ensuring the software’s sustainability and usefulness in the future.  There are developers who make a living by making software products exclusively for the platform. There are also developers who spend a large portion of their careers voluntarily collaborating on projects with other developers around the world to solve problems and test features before they are released to the public.

WordPress is very widely supported, which means that many independent software developers and software development companies take the system into account when building products for websites.  Oftentimes, software is built exclusively for WordPress and its users, as these companies know that their software will have a large target market and potentially tens of thousands of users.


What Can WordPress Do?

With the right combination of software, strategy and a bit of tech wizardry, you can create a custom solution for your website that will meet your business’ needs.

Inherently the platform gives you the functions to create pages, blog posts, menus and more, as well as to customise visual elements of your website.

But it merely forms the foundation for you to install software on top of it. Important things like security systems, a theme, search engine optimisation systems, and certain email marketing systems need to be added to WordPress to extend the features and functionality of the website.

These are called plugins, and I’ve written a blog post called “What are WordPress Plugins?” to explain this further.


In summary

I use WordPress not because I am an affiliate of certain products, and not because anybody pays me to use it.  I use WordPress and recommend it because it gives you the most flexible system to add features and functionality for very little, if any, cost.  This is ideal for small business owners and entrepreneurs at all stages of their business journeys.

I hope this has given you a succinct answer to the question, “What is WordPress?” – which is one that I’m often asked.

melissa de klerk

Melissa De Klerk

Writer, Web Designer, Digital Media Strategist, Typophile, Inspiration Junkie, Yogi

Melissa is the owner and creative brain behind Fox & Owl Media. She loves creating content strategies and has considerable experience with Website Design and Brand Management.

You can contact her here, and find her on social media by clicking the links below.

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