If you’re thinking about using WordPress for your website, you’ve got lots of company. Today, there are about 75 million WordPress websites of all sizes. While it was originally designed for bloggers, its capabilities have expanded so much that in addition to countless bloggers and small businesses, it’s the choice of many corporations, institutions and celebrities, such as BBC America, Sony Music, the Walt Disney Company, the New York Times, the nation of Sweden, Beyonce and the Rolling Stones.
What is WordPress?
WordPress (WP) is a free content management system (CMS) for publishing and managing the content on your website, including media (sounds, images, pictures and movies). Actually, its capabilities extend far beyond that. A big reason for its popularity is that it fills the gap between a basic cookie-cutter website and a completely custom (read very expensive) site. WordPress is affordable and gives you the best of both worlds.
The software is open-source, meaning that it’s created and maintained by developers worldwide. Unlike most software, there’s no license so anyone can use it.
5 Key WordPress Terms to Understand
If you plan on using WordPress for your next website, or for a client, you should understand the basics of how it works and what the different functionality is called. Check out our list below for the five WordPress terms that we think are essential to get a solid grasp of what WordPress is all about.
A Page in WordPress displays static (unchanging) content such as contact information, legal disclosures, an “about us” page, a shopping cart and other uses. As WordPress became more popular with business owners, instead of being used primarily by bloggers, the need for more flexibility became apparent. Pages are typically what you see in the main navigation of a website, and you can even add subpages under these (comprised of pages that are subordinate to a main page) that will appear in a dropdown menu.
Posts are dynamic, as opposed to static pages, meaning they can be fed into different parts of a website and put in a list (check out our Blog page). What you’re looking at right now is a post. A subscriber to your RSS feed would receive your posts. Posts are also associated with categories and tags, which help with organization and navigation. Tags can be keywords which a visitor might use in a search and which would lead them to the article they’re interested in.
More recently, posts have also become highly editable thanks to plugins (more on those below) and can be transformed into everything from ecommerce products to bio pages for attorneys at a law firm. Using posts for these applications is ideal because they are already meant to be categorized. For example, you could create attorney bio pages and categorize them “Partner”, “Manager”, “Associate”, or “Paralegal” for easy search.
In the Dashboard sidebar, you’ll see a “Media” option. In the menu, there are two options.
The first one is “Library” with a list of all the media library’s files. You can edit or delete these files. The media library is vast, organized chronologically, and searchable, and plugins can be used to organize media files by the use of tags.
The second is “Add New”, used for uploading files, useful for adding videos or images to your content. However, you can also upload files for future use without attaching them to a specific page or post.
With the exception of embedding YouTube video links (which is recommended over uploading raw video to your site), it’s best practice to host all your media you need for the site in your Media Library.
Technically, a theme refers to a collection of files that modify the appearance of your website, giving you a great deal of control over colors, fonts and much more, everything that contributes to the overall look of what your visitor sees. There are many, many themes to choose from, from free to paid premium themes from sites like ThemeForest.
This collection of files, or WordPress theme, form a template or graphical interface. The underlying design carries through to all pages of your site and can be customized to better display your unique business. Think of it like a skin; you can change themes without changing the content you’ve added to your site. That said, customization is common and typically requires some programming skill to execute effectively.
You’re going to love plugins, although once in a while you’ll have an unexpected result which might drive you crazy. This is the double-edged sword of free, open-source software.
A plugin is software that adds extra features and functionality to your website. Usually, they work seamlessly, but sometimes a glitch will appear which requires technical assistance. Occasionally a plugin that isn’t configured correctly or has a compatibility issue will break your site.
There are many thousands available, probably one for anything you’d like. There are many amazing ones free to download, plus others available from commercial developers and third parties.
You can download plugins to your heart’s content, but that’s not always a good idea. Best practice when building a WordPress site is to use as few plugins as possible to get the result you want. Small, one-feature plugins are better than sprawling, massive ones, unless you think you really need all the functionality it offers. Less is more in this case, and it will cause fewer headaches for you down the road if something does go wrong.
Some things to keep in mind when looking for plugins:
- Most plugins don’t come with tech support.
- One might not work well with another you’ve already installed.
- You need to check on how long it’s been since the last update.
- Not all plugins are created equal. Some developers are not as skilled as others.
- Is this plugin compatible with your version of WordPress?
- What rating is it given by other users?
The team at BXP Creative wear a lot of hats, including web design and development. We’re WordPress experts. When you’re asking a lot from your site, we know how to make it work the way you expect and can give you the training you’ll need. Take a look at how we work and contact us today to learn more.