WordPress is a type of software that displays a website. WordPress allows websites to be set up so the average person can access and edit their own website without needing to understand code. Although it was originally designed for bloggers, WordPress is now used by millions of sites to manage their content.
Beyond it’s use as a content management system, WordPress is a way of adding heaps of functions to a website relatively easily, and again, without needing to know code. You can run a blog, sell things, add contact forms, slideshows, pretty much anything you can think of. While many of these things can be done with a ‘normal’ website, WordPress represents a far more user friendly and rapid way of achieving them.
How does WordPress work?
WordPress websites consist of WordPress software, your website theme, plugins (if using), and your website database. The files that make up all those components need to be uploaded to or set up within your host (the computer server where all your website stuff is stored). WordPress itself is free and available online or via your host.
What is a theme?
The theme is the part that your website designer will build for you (or you can use an existing theme). It controls how your website will look. The text based content of your website is all stored in a database separate to the theme and extra functions are controlled by Plugins. The cool thing about this is that if you decide you want to change the look of your website you can change your theme and you will not have to move or rewrite your content.
What are plugins?
Plugins are little bits of code that make your website do stuff. For example, you might install a plugin to run an image slideshow, display a contact form, or control your website security. Such code can be added to themes but it is far better to keep it separate; keeping your theme responsible for the visual design only. That way you can easily change themes later on without affecting your website function.