WordPress Explained: What Is WordPress?, How It Works and Why You Need It


As an entrepreneur or business owner, you need an effective way to build an online presence and connect with your audience. WordPress is one of the world’s most popular website and content management systems, used by over 35% of the top 10 million websites. Whether you’re launching a personal blog or an ecommerce store, WordPress provides an easy yet powerful way to create a professional site.

In this article, you’ll learn what WordPress is, how it works, and why you need it to establish your digital footprint. You’ll discover the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com to determine which solution suits your needs. By the end, you’ll understand how to leverage the flexibility and scalability of WordPress to build a site that forms the foundation of your online success. The only question that remains is: are you ready to unlock the potential of WordPress?

What Exactly Is WordPress?

What Exactly Is WordPress?

What Is WordPress?

WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL. Simply, it is software that allows you to create and manage digital content like blog posts, web pages, and media galleries.

WordPress started as a blogging platform but has evolved into a full CMS that powers millions of websites. At its core, WordPress is:

  • Free to download and use
  • Customizable through themes and plugins
  • Easy to set up and update
  • Search engine friendly with built-in optimization
  • Scalable from small blogs to large enterprise websites

There are two main WordPress options: WordPress.org (self-hosted) and WordPress.com (hosted). With WordPress.org, you download and install the software on your hosting. This provides full control and customization. Automattic hosts WordPress.com, so you don’t need your hosting but have limited customization.

Overall, WordPress’ biggest strength is its flexibility and extensibility. No matter your needs, you can find a WordPress solution, from simple blogs to online stores, forums, news websites, and more. With some web hosting, WordPress software, and a theme to determine your site’s look and layout, you have everything you need to get started.

WordPress does have something for everyone. That is why it has become the world’s most popular CMS, powering over 35% of all websites. WordPress is an excellent choice, whether just starting or migrating an existing site.

The History and Growth of WordPress

WordPress began 2003 as a blogging platform and content management system (CMS). It has since evolved into a powerful and versatile CMS used by millions of websites.

The Early Days

WordPress started as a fork of an existing blogging CMS called b2. The founders, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, wanted to create a more intuitive and user-friendly platform. They launched WordPress in May 2003, and it quickly gained popularity.

Open Source and Community-Driven

A key part of WordPress’ success is that it’s open source and community-driven. Anyone can contribute to core software development and build plugins and themes. This has allowed WordPress to become highly customizable and extendable. The open-source community has created over 55,000 WordPress plugins and thousands of themes.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

WordPress comes in two forms: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the self-hosted, open-source version. You download the software, install it on your hosting, and have full control and ownership over your site and data. WordPress.com is a hosted version by Automattic, the company behind WordPress. It’s easy to set up but offers less flexibility and control.

Used by Millions

Today, WordPress powers over 35% of all websites, from personal blogs to major media organizations. Notable users include TechCrunch, CNN, Forbes, and Microsoft News. Its ease of use and scalability have made WordPress the CMS for people and businesses worldwide.

WordPress has come a long way from its blogging roots. It has proven to be a stable, secure, and flexible foundation for all types of websites. With its large ecosystem of themes, plugins, and developers, WordPress offers endless possibilities for building a professional online presence.

What Is WordPress Used For?

WordPress is a versatile platform used for a variety of purposes. Primarily, it is used to build professional websites and blogs. However, its open-source nature and extensibility allow it to be customized for many other uses.

WordPress powers over 35% of all websites on the Internet. It is a popular choice for bloggers, media organizations, businesses, schools, and governments to build an online presence. The software is free, open-source, and relatively easy to use, so people with little to no coding experience can create attractive, functional websites.

WordPress is also a capable CMS (content management system) that allows you to publish and organize content. You can create posts, pages, media galleries, contact forms, online stores, and more. The platform has a simple yet customizable editor to format your content with headings, lists, images, videos and embed media from other websites.

Developers and designers leverage WordPress to build custom solutions for their clients. They can tap into over 50,000 plugins and thousands of themes to enhance websites with e-commerce, membership, learning management and other capabilities. WordPress’s open API and documentation also allow developers to create custom plugins, themes and applications.

In summary, WordPress can be used for:

  • Professional business websites and blogs
  • E-commerce stores and marketplaces
  • Membership sites and online courses
  • Portfolios and CVs
  • News websites and magazines
  • Intranets and project management tools
  • Mobile applications
  • And much more

The possibilities are endless. WordPress provides a flexible, open foundation to build solutions for personal and business use. With some creativity, you can use it to power almost any type of website.

Explaining the Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com

WordPress comes in two forms: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. While they share some similarities, there are key differences you need to understand before choosing which platform is right for you.

WordPress.org, also known as self-hosted WordPress, is open-source software that allows you to download, install and customize your WordPress site. You have full control and ownership over your site and data. However, you are also responsible for maintenance, security, and server space. You will need to pay for web hosting and a domain name. If you want maximum control and flexibility over your site, WordPress.org is the way to go.

In contrast, WordPress.com is a hosted service provided by Automattic, the company behind WordPress. With WordPress.com, your site and data are hosted on WordPress.com servers. It is easy to set up, but you have limited customization options and no control over plugins or themes. WordPress.com is free, but you cannot add your advertising or monetize your site. WordPress.com is ideal for an easy, free blog or website with simple customization needs.

In summary, the main differences are:

•Ownership and control: You own your site and have full control with WordPress.org. WordPress.com owns and maintains your site.

•Hosting: You must pay for web hosting with WordPress.org. WordPress.com provides free hosting.

•Plugins and themes: You can install any plugins or themes with WordPress.org. Plugin and theme options are limited with WordPress.com.

• Monetization: You can run ads and monetize your site with WordPress.org. Monetization options are very limited with the free WordPress.com plan.

•Cost: WordPress.org is free, but you pay for hosting and domains. WordPress.com is free but has paid plan options for more advanced features.

In the end, the choice comes down to how much control and flexibility you need for your site. WordPress.org offers ultimate control, while WordPress.com provides an easy, hands-off option. Both are great solutions; you must determine which features and responsibilities suit your needs.

Pros and Cons of Using WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

When deciding whether to use WordPress.org or WordPress.com, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each platform.

WordPress.org Pros

WordPress.org is an open-source content management system (CMS) that offers more customization and control.

  • Free to download and use. You have full control and ownership over your site and data.
  • Thousands of free themes and plugins to choose from. You can customize the look and functionality.
  • Ability to monetize your site through ads, sponsorships, and affiliate links. You keep all the revenue.

WordPress.org Cons

  • Requires web hosting typically costs between $5 to $20 per month. You’re responsible for all setup, security, and maintenance.
  • Steeper learning curve. You must be comfortable installing WordPress, managing plugins/themes, and troubleshooting issues.
  • Susceptible to hacking if not properly secured. You must frequently update WordPress, plugins, and themes to patch vulnerabilities.

WordPress.com Pros

WordPress.com is a hosted version of WordPress. It’s easy to set up but offers less customization.

  • Free, simple to use. WordPress handles all setup, security, and updates for you.
  • Large selection of free themes to choose from. Easy to change themes to refresh your site’s look.
  • Built-in community features like forums, readers, and notifications. Makes it easy to build an audience.

WordPress.com Cons

  • Limited customization. You can only use WordPress.com’s themes and plugins. You can’t add custom code or fully monetize your site.
  • WordPress.com owns your domain and content. If you cancel, you lose your site and data.
  • Paid plans are required to remove WordPress.com ads and branding. Plans start at $4 per month.
  • No access to website files. You can’t transfer your site to another host if desired. You’re locked into the WordPress.com platform.

In summary, the choice between WordPress.org and WordPress.com comes down to how much control and customization you need for your site. For ultimate flexibility, WordPress.org is the way to go. If you want an easy, no-hassle option, WordPress.com fits the bill. Both are great solutions, so consider your priorities and capabilities to determine the best fit.

How to Get Started With WordPress as a Beginner

To start with WordPress as a beginner, there are a few key steps.

Choose a Hosting Provider


The first step is to choose a web hosting provider to host your WordPress site. Two of the most popular options for WordPress hosting are Bluehost and Hostinger. They offer plans optimized specifically for WordPress, including pre-installed WordPress software, automatic updates, and caching tools to help improve your site’s performance.

Sign Up for a Domain Name

Domain Name

Next, you’ll need to register a domain name for your site. You can register a domain name through companies like Namecheap GoDaddy or your hosting provider. Your domain name will be the web address for your site, for example, mywebsite.com. Choose a domain name that’s easy to remember and relevant to your site’s topic or brand.

Install WordPress

You can install WordPress on your site once you have hosting and a domain. Most hosting providers offer an auto-installer tool that will install WordPress for you with just a few clicks. If not, download WordPress.org and manually install it on your site by following the installation tutorial.

Choose a Theme

Next, select a WordPress theme to determine your site’s overall design and layout. There are thousands of free and paid themes to choose from. For beginners, a simple and user-friendly theme is best. You can browse themes on the official WordPress theme directory or sites like ThemeForest and Elegant Themes. Install the theme you choose and customize it to match your brand.

Add Content

Now, you’re ready to start adding content to your site! Create posts and pages, add images and videos, and build out your site navigation and menus. The content you add will depend on your site’s specific purpose and topic. Need help getting started? Check out the WordPress Codex for useful tutorials and documentation.

With time and practice, you’ll quickly use WordPress and build a great website! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Key WordPress Features and Functionality

WordPress offers several key features as an open-source content management system (CMS), making it a popular choice for websites and blogs.

Flexibility and Customization

WordPress is highly flexible and customizable. You have full control over your site’s design and functionality. You can choose from thousands of free and paid themes to change the look and layout of your site. Thousands of plugins can extend your site’s features, from contact forms to ecommerce stores. This allows you to create a unique site tailored to your needs.


WordPress was designed to be search engine friendly. It generates clean code and site structures that search engines can easily crawl. It also has built-in features like customizable page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs that help optimize your content for search rankings. With the right configurations and content, WordPress can help you achieve high search rankings in Google and other search engines.

Media Management

WordPress has strong media management capabilities. You can easily upload and insert photos, videos, audio files, and documents into your content. It generates thumbnail previews of images you can use in your posts and pages. It also allows you to create image galleries to showcase your visual content.

Community Support

WordPress benefits from a large community of users and developers. If you get stuck, you can get help from the WordPress community forums and support sites. There are also many tutorials and guides on how to use WordPress. WordPress’s open-source nature also means constant updates and improvements to the software, with security patches released regularly.

Additional Functionality

The core WordPress software provides basic blogging functionality. However, there are thousands of plugins available that can extend your site’s features. You can add ecommerce stores, forums, social networks, and more. No matter what type of website you want to build, there is likely a WordPress plugin to help you achieve it. With the right configurations and plugins, WordPress can power any site—not just blogs.

WordPress Plugins and Themes – What You Need to Know

WordPress plugins and themes allow you to extend the functionality and customize the appearance of your WordPress site. There are thousands of free and paid options to choose from.


Plugins are software that can be installed to add specific features to your WordPress site. There are plugins for everything from contact forms to social sharing buttons to SEO optimization.

To install a plugin, log in to your WordPress admin dashboard, click “Plugins,” then “Add New.” You can browse the official WordPress Plugin Directory to find free plugins or search for a specific plugin. Once you find one you like, click “Install Now” and “Activate.” Many plugins also have paid “pro” versions with additional features.

Some popular, useful free plugins include:

  • Rank Math SEO: Helps optimize your content for search engines
  • WP Forms: Provides an easy way to add contact forms to your site
  • WP Rocket: Speeds up your site by caching pages
  • Social Sharing Buttons: Make it easy for visitors to share your content on social media.


Themes control the look and layout of your WordPress site. Free and paid theme options have a wide range of styles and features.

To install a theme, log in to your WordPress admin dashboard, click “Appearance,” then “Themes.” You can browse and search for themes to preview and install. Once you install a theme, you can activate it to apply the theme to your site.

Some highly-rated free themes include:

  • Astra – Fast, lightweight and customizable
  • GeneratePress – Minimal and SEO-friendly
  • OceanWP – Stylish and multi-purpose
  • Neve – Fast, lightweight and highly customizable

Plugins and themes, whether free or paid, are essential for customizing your WordPress site to suit your needs. With some experimenting, you can achieve just the right design and functionality to please you and your visitors.

WordPress FAQs: Answering Common Questions for Beginners

What is WordPress?

WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that allows you to create beautiful websites and blogs. It powers over 35% of the web, from personal blogs to Fortune 500 company websites.

Created as just a blogging platform, WordPress has evolved into a full-fledged CMS used to build all types of websites. At its core, WordPress enables you to create content easily, customize the design and layout, and keep the site up-to-date with regular maintenance, all without knowing how to code.

What’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two different platforms.

•WordPress.org is the open-source software you can download and use to create your own self-hosted WordPress site. You have full control and ownership over your site and content. However, you are responsible for maintenance, security, and updates.

•WordPress.com is a hosted service where WordPress hosts your site for you. It’s easy to set up, but you have limited customization options, and WordPress.com owns your domain and content. For most businesses and professional sites, WordPress.org is the better choice.

•With either platform, your site will have the familiar WordPress interface, and you can use WordPress themes and plugins to customize your site. The main differences come down to ownership, control, and flexibility.

Why should I use WordPress?

Here are some of the main benefits of using WordPress:

•It’s open source and free. You can download, use, and modify WordPress at no cost.

•Easy to use. You don’t need to know how to code to build a great-looking site. WordPress is intuitive and easy to navigate.

•Highly customizable. You can customize your WordPress site with thousands of themes and plugins to suit your needs.

•Great support community. If you get stuck, you can find help from the large WordPress community of users and developers.

• Optimized for SEO. WordPress creates clean code and SEO-friendly URLs, meta titles, and meta descriptions to help improve your site’s search rankings.

•Secure and regularly updated. The WordPress core software is continually monitored and updated to patch any vulnerabilities, keep your site secure, and ensure compatibility with the latest technologies.

•Scalable. WordPress can be used for both simple and complex websites. It powers over 35% of the web, from personal blogs to major media sites. As your needs grow, WordPress will scale with you.

•Mobile-friendly. WordPress themes are responsive, so your site will automatically adapt to mobile devices, giving visitors the best experience no matter how


As you have learned, WordPress is an extremely versatile and useful tool for building a professional website or blog. Whether you choose the self-hosted WordPress.org or the easy-to-use WordPress.com, you know how to get started. With some time and practice, you’ll be designing beautiful, functional sites in no time. The options and capabilities are nearly limitless. WordPress provides an open platform to create anything from a personal blog to a full-scale ecommerce store. The only limit is your imagination. Now that you understand what WordPress is, how it works, and why you need it, you’re ready to join millions of others using this powerful tool to spread ideas, share stories, and transform your online presence. The next step is to dive in and start creating. You’ve got this!

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4 thoughts on “WordPress Explained: What Is WordPress?, How It Works and Why You Need It”

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