What is WordPress?
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to create and maintain a blog or another type of website.
With almost 10 years of existence and more than a thousand themes (templates) available on its official website, it is not only a simple and intuitive system to create a personal blog, but it also allows you to create all kinds of more complex websites.
WordPress is an ideal system for a website that is regularly updated. If the content is written with a certain frequency, when someone accesses the website, they can find all that content in chronological order (the most recent first and last the oldest).
It is the ideal system for beginners, or for those who do not have much technical knowledge.
WordPress has a system of plugins, which allow extending the capabilities of WordPress, thus achieving a more flexible CMS.
What is WordPress exactly?
The simplest definition of WordPress is that it is a software application for creating and managing websites (creating their content, etc.).
There are many applications of this type, which are also known as CMS (“Content Management System”).
WordPress also has the peculiarity of being a free and open-source software project that depends on the WordPress Foundation, a non-profit foundation, chaired by, the creator of WordPress.
This means that its code is created and maintained by a community of thousands of volunteer developers (which guarantees its continuity) and that you can have the application completely free.
How to install WordPress?
The ease of use of WordPress is not only limited to content management, but the installation process is also very simple, and it will only take a few minutes to complete.
First of all, we must have a place to install our WordPress. We can do it on our local computer if we have a web server installed (for example, Apache) or do it on a hosting service. Only with this last option, we can make the web visible to other users. The server where we host the web has to be capable of running PHP and supporting MySQL databases. In addition, other minimum requirements must be met for everything to work properly.
Once we have a place to host our WordPress, we must download the WordPress installer and unzip it in the path where the web will be loaded. Next, we will have to create a MySQL database and a user with access to that database.
Now we must open the page where we have uploaded the WordPress files. An installation wizard will be shown in several steps, where we will have to enter the connection data to the database, the name of our website, and the administrator user data. After this wizard, we will have the web ready to start adding content and customizing it.
If you have a WordPress hosting account, the installation process will be easier.
From the same account control panel, you will have an option where you can choose between different WordPress designs (company, blog, store, etc.)
The installation process will be done automatically, without more than entering a few data: installation path, website name, username, and password. It will not be necessary to upload the files or create the database.
What can I do with WordPress?
On many occasions, WordPress is associated with a tool that only serves to make blogs. This is not correct: with WordPress, we can create a blog and much more: business websites, online stores, digital newspapers, reservation centers, etc.
What is WordPress used for and who is it used for?
The reason for using this type of application ( CMS ) is very simple: they allow you to create websites and their contents visually, without having to program, in a way similar to how you work in a modern text editor such as Microsoft Word, for example.
This was not always the case. In the early days of the web, web pages had to be coded in a language called HTML (a kind of programming language).
Programming in HTML by hand to create content was tedious, inefficient, and limited.
Creating a web page became “breaking stone” and, above all, things with a bit of functionality and logic, such as a simple comment section, for example, required considerable effort and were only available to programmers.
That is why CMS was born: they are web applications that allow the user to create content with a visual interface, in a simple and fast way and without programming knowledge, something that allows practically anyone to handle them.
Then, it is the CMS that generates the HTML “from behind” without the user having to intervene.
In addition, CMS already includes the typical functionalities that are repeated in almost all websites, such as the example of the comments section that I mentioned before, contact forms, etc.
What websites can be created with WordPress? – Examples
Everyone knows that WordPress is used a lot for creating personal blogs.
What is much less known is the fact that WordPress allows you to create practically any type of website: not only personal sites and blogs but also corporate websites, magazines, online stores … Even for digital newspapers, WordPress is a frequent option
It is its best-known function. WordPress incorporates, in its default installation, all the typical functionalities of a blog: displaying articles in blog format, the option to add comments to entries, the possibility of organizing articles by categories or tags, etc.
In addition, various modules, called widgets, common to blogs, can be added to the web: blog category list, tag list, search engine, list of most-read articles, list of last comments, etc.
With all this, it can be said that WordPress is possibly the best tool to create a blog, all the more reason if we take into account its simplicity of use.
WordPress can be used perfectly to create a business website, understanding as such a page where we can inform about everything that concerns our company or business: who we are, services, clients, etc.
Thanks to the multitude of templates available for WordPress we will be able to get very varied designs for our website, which could range from a website with a minimalist design that shows little information, to complete websites that load a lot of data on each page.
We can create different sections on our website to organize the content. These are not limited to static pages or a blog page, but thanks to the thousands of plugins available we can add more functionalities such as contact forms, forums, directories, etc.
Although there are other specific content managers to create online stores (PrestaShop, Magento, etc.), WordPress can be a completely valid option, since it has several plugins that will allow us to incorporate an online store on our website. Of all of them, WooCommerce would be the most recommended option, although we can choose another plugin.
Thanks to WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin we will be able to have an online store with all the typical functionalities that we hope to find in an application of this type: unlimited product creation, organization of products by category, possibility of adding attributes to products, various systems of checkout, advanced order management, etc.
The functionalities of our store will not end with those that WooCommerce itself incorporates, but we will be able to add hundreds of new options thanks to the specific plugins for it: mass import of products, shipping costs by postal code, payment gateways with credit card credit, product prices by quantity, invoice generation, etc.
And much more… As we mentioned before, the thousands of plugins available for WordPress will allow us to extend the possibilities of our website in WordPress, to be able to achieve almost anything: support forum, reservation management website, business directory, video channel, etc. If we add to this the thousands of themes (templates) available, the possibilities to get any type of website are almost endless.
What is usually surprising is the number of websites of world-known brands that are based on WordPress.
In the “WordPress Website Showcase” of WordPress.org, you can find a list of websites of companies that belong to the Fortune 500, which is the list published annually by Fortune magazine with 500 US companies with the highest stock market price.
Here you will find the websites of companies and brands such as Walt Disney, Time Magazine, Sony Music, etc.
I recommend that you take a look at the tag cloud page of the “showcase” because here you will find hundreds of websites, organized by the niche to which they belong.
Also, if you want to create a new website, taking a look at the websites of your niche or related niches first is a very good source of inspiration for yours.
What are WordPress plugins?
The fact of being free and open-source software has been one of the essential factors in the success of WordPress.
Another of the great factors has been its architecture, which, thanks to the themes and plugins, is tremendously flexible, which has allowed WordPress to be adjusted to practically any need that a user may have.
Let’s start with plugins: ” plugin ” is a term widely used to refer to a software component (code) with very specific functionality that is very easily added to an existing application to extend it with this new functionality.
This idea is also used, for example, in web browsers where many of them allow the use of plugins which are also called “extensions”, “add-ons”, etc.
In the repository of WordPress.org plugins, you will find more than 50,000 free plugins for WordPress to add all kinds of functionalities to the WordPress comes “from the factory” and that is relatively basic.
In addition, you also have a huge number of payment plugins from different brands.
An example of a very simple and very useful plugin that we use on this blog is NextScripts Auto-poster (in its paid version).
This plugin, after the publication of a post or page, spreads it automatically in all those accounts and/or social network groups that we have configured, which saves us a lot of time.
To this are added other very useful functionalities such as, for example, being able to create a round of publications, that is, periodically republish existing content.
Another example of a plugin, in this case, much broader in functionality, would be WooCommerce, the most popular plugin for creating online stores for WordPress and, in general, one of the most popular solutions for creating online stores.
Both plugins are also examples of “freemium” products, which are those products for which the manufacturer creates, together with the commercial paid version, a limited free version that allows you to know the product before buying it.
What are WordPress templates?
WordPress templates (or “themes” ) are a concept very similar to plugins, but they are specifically designed for web design, the appearance of WordPress, although many times they also include certain functionality.
The templates work like “pre-made” designs, with their layout style, fonts, font sizes, set and color combinations, and so on.
Here you can see a few examples among the thousands of themes on WordPress.org :
The grace of this is that the templates are 100% independent of the content and that allows changing the design of a WordPress site almost as easy as someone who changes their suit.
It’s choosing a new template, activating it, making some minor adjustments (configuring the logo, selecting header images, etc.) and you’ve already completely changed the design of your site.
The downside is that the vast majority of templates, especially free ones, tend to be quite limited in terms of customization possibilities.
All the templates can indeed be customized with the WordPress CSS editor, which gives a lot of play, but this already requires the help of a web designer or you acquire certain CSS knowledge that, by the way, you can acquire in this post :
If you already want a “no more” theme, an extremely customizable theme and without the need for programming knowledge, today, you will have to go to paid themes with advanced visual editors such as Divi.
These types of templates, in a way, precisely because they are 100% open, lose the idea of a template with a predefined design that the user only customizes a little.
This also makes them somewhat more complex to use (you have to learn to use their design tools), but, in return, you can create any design with them, to the point of exactly replicating the design of other websites.
Check out our wordpress theme comparison here
How is content created in WordPress?
And as the last point in this section, let’s see how the contents of your website are created in WordPress.
What is WordPress.org and how does it work?
If you have read this post carefully up to here, perhaps it has caught your attention that, sometimes I have talked about WordPress dry and other times about “WordPress.org”.
This has to do with the fact that there are two very different ways to create a WordPress site: with WordPress.org and with WordPress.com.
Let’s start with WordPress.org: this is the site of the open-source project, that is, the “headquarters” of the community that develops WordPress and where you as a user can also download the current version of the WordPress application (in the button blue top right):
If you look at the menu on the page, you will see here are also accessible to the repository of free themes and plugins for WordPress.
In addition, you will find a support forum, information about events, information on how to collaborate in the project if you want to participate, etc.
How to install WordPress.org on a hosting
Now that you know where to get the application, the question is: how to turn this into a website?
Note that, as with any other application, for this, you have to install WordPress on a computer, like when you install programs on your PC or new apps on your mobile.
But since we are talking about a program to create a web visible to the public, we also need a computer connected to the Internet and an IP address linked to a domain name and that this computer is working 24 hours a day.
Although you could set up all this at home, it does not seem very practical: preparing the computer so that WordPress can be installed requires serious technical knowledge and the idea of having a computer connected 24 hours a day for this is not very attractive either.
And this is where the concept of web hosting comes in.
In a web hosting service (or just hosting) you can rent a computer in a computer farm (called “data centers” ) already prepared for all this where you would only have to install WordPress (which is very easy for anyone, like you’ll see).
It would be something like renting a house (your computer) in a building (the data center). Now you will also understand why the term “accommodation” is used in this …
You must know that this type of installation does not speak of computers, but of “servers”, a very powerful type of computer specially designed for these environments.
What’s more, 99.9% of people just rent a “piece” of a server. This “piece” is perfectly isolated from the other customers and you, as a user, will have the feeling as if it were a machine for you alone.
Returning to our simile, it would be renting a single room with your private and shared space inside the house, which is known as shared hosting, and, thanks to the power of current servers, it allows you to have dozens of websites on the same server.
This has been a real revolution because it has allowed everyone to create a professional-level website (which is what WordPress allows) at very low prices (around $ 5 / month there are already good hostings).
How to create a website with an attractive design in WordPress
And in this mega-tutorial an entire website is created in WordPress, with a blog included, with a professional and responsive design, that is, it is adapted for mobile devices :
What is WordPress.com and how does it work?
Now that I have explained what hosting is, it will be much easier for you to understand what the other way of creating a website with WordPress, WordPress.com, is and why it exists.
Its most important service is WordPress.com, a service that allows you to create a WordPress site without having to hire a hosting or install the WordPress application yourself.
Here servers are also necessary, but the difference is that they already put them, you do not have to worry about hiring a hosting.
You simply have to create a user account on WordPress.com, just like you would on other services “in the cloud” like Gmail, for example.
The advantage of this concept is that it simplifies the technical part of WordPress for the user: the initial process of creating the blog is easier and maintenance is also somewhat simplified.
But it has the counterpart with the limitations of WordPress.com compared to a WordPress installation on hosting, especially in the cheapest plans.
As you can see on the WordPress.com plans and pricing page, these plans have different features :
You have from a very limited free plan to a very complete “Business” plan.
The idea is to adapt these plans to different user needs, although they themselves come to recognize that as soon as you go a little “seriously” with your blog, it will be necessary to use one of the payment plans.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – Key Differences to Choose
Now you will understand that one of the great doubts of people is what to choose for their website is:
WordPress.com or WordPress.org with its own hosting?
That question does not make sense to answer without talking about the differences between the plans of WordPress.com, so we first talk about the options that you have in WordPress.com, and then we return to the comparison with WordPress.org:
The key differences between WordPress.com plans
In my opinion, the essential points of the plans to take into account are the following:
This plan has the obvious advantage of being free, along with how simple and immediate it is to open an account at WordPress.com and have the blog created and up and running within 5 minutes.
However, it also has serious drawbacks: you cannot use your own domain name (it will always be of the type “loquesea.wordpress.com” ), you cannot install themes and plugins and Automattic will show ads on your website that you cannot disable.
With this plan you can now use your own domain name, ads are removed and support service is added. In addition, the disk space is increased to 6Gb, a pretty good figure.
This plan adds premium templates (about 200 at this time) to the free ones (about 300), it adds the possibility of integrating payments via PayPal and ads with WordAds (Automattic’s own online advertising system, similar to Google’s AdSense ).
Another very significant change is that, along with the premium templates, the possibility of advanced customization of the themes via CSS is also added, something very important because it will already allow a lot of “polishing” the look you want for your website.
The downside is that the way to do it (with CSS rules) is somewhat technical. Here you can better understand what exactly it consists of:
It should also be noted that here we are already paying about $ 100 per year (similar to what good hosting costs) and we still cannot freely upload themes and plugins.
This plan is, in my view, the only one that is a serious alternative to a WordPress site with its own hosting.
This is so because it allows, finally, to install themes and plugins and integrate Google Analytics.
All of these are tools that, sooner or later, you will want to have at your disposal as soon as your project goes beyond an initial development phase.
To this we must add that with this option, you have unlimited storage space. This in cases that require a lot of space can be a weighting factor in the decision.
The downside is that, with $ 300 / year, this plan is already substantially more expensive than the previous ones and also than the basic and advanced plans of good shared hosting.
WordPress.org or WordPress.com Which one suits you best?
As you can see, the plans below the Business Plan are much more limited than WordPress with its own hosting, except for the Business plan, but this is clearly more expensive than an option with hosting.
This can lead you to the conclusion of choosing WordPress.org with hosting, but remember that hosting also has its drawbacks that you have to consider in your decision.
So let’s go to the “final battle” between WordPress.com and WordPress.org by comparing the 7 criteria, in my opinion, most important in your decision of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org:
1. Difficulty of installation and maintenance
This is where WordPress.com scores strong. Its service consists precisely in taking away this technical work from the user.
That said, WordPress installation is a 5-10 minute max process and maintenance is basically automatic.
Therefore, the technical burden that hosting adds, even for non-technical people, is low. If, in addition, you go to a hosting plan with support for WordPress, they help you in everything and it will definitely be a service very similar to the one provided by WordPress.com.
The crux of the matter is much more the quality of your hosting, if you choose a good hosting (I especially recommend: Webempresa, SiteGround, and Raiola Networks ), you basically forget. If the hosting is bad, it will be a continuous stream of problems.
2. Performance/price ratio
If the only thing that worries you is that you have to pay, it is clear: your option is the free plan of WordPress.com.
In terms of pure performance, in terms of server speed, security, etc. the benefits will be very similar between WordPress.com and good hosting.
As for the performance/price ratio at the level of design and functionality, if you have read the post carefully, you already know that design and functionality, in WordPress, translates to themes and plugins.
Here, the situation is very simple: the hosting will always win because here there are simply no limitations.
In addition, the difference with WordPress.com plans other than the Business plan is very high. However, the Business plan does come very close in terms of design and functionality to WordPress.org with hosting.
But if we talk about the performance/price ratio, with this plan you are paying triple what good own hosting costs (about $ 100 / year).
3. Traffic and storage capacity
This is another clear strong point of WordPress.com since in the free plan you have 3Gb of storage space, which is gradually increasing reaching unlimited in the Business plan.
Also, there is no traffic limit. WordPress.com boasts even some websites with millions of page views per day.
If we go to hosting, the range of offers is very wide and there are hostings with unlimited storage from the most basic plans.
On the other hand, some hostings offer unlimited bandwidth (which, in theory, should translate into unlimited traffic) from their basic plans.
But the reality is that practically all hostings put a ceiling on supported traffic, but arguing on the side of the consumption of CPU resources.
In my personal experience, with the most basic plans from good hosting providers, you can handle several thousand visits a day with no problems.
Since these are already traffic figures that few people ever reach, in practice most people will never have a traffic limit problem.
The rest will have a time when they will have to level up their hosting plan.
Now, with the economic performance that a website that has already reached thousands of visits should give, paying € 5 more per month for a better plan should not be a big problem either.
In any case, in the traffic section, WordPress.com would win.
4. Security management
At WordPress.com they take care of security in a comprehensive way. You can basically just forget about it.
In WordPress.org it depends, on the one hand, on the hosting (the measures that they implement) and/or on your own security management.
Win WordPress.com for making it easier for you.
5. Monetization options
Here WordPress.org clearly wins because the monetization options of WordPress.com are very limited in the cheapest plans. They can only be compared to WordPress.org on the Business plan.
You can see the details in the plants themselves and, above all, on the WordPress monetization options page.
6. Create or integrate an online store
Maybe you want to create an online store based on WordPress (with WooCommerce, which is now also from Automattic) or integrate a section with an online store in a WordPress website (a blog, for example).
But what’s more, WooCommerce is the leading platform in the world, with which more online stores are made.
This on WordPress.org, again, you can do it without any problem and with no limitations. On the other hand, in WordPress.com you will need the Business plan to be able to do it.
7. Branding and additional functionality
Here I would highlight, above all, three things :
- Being able to have your own email (that is, with “@yourdomain”).
- Being able to upload and download files with FTP / SFTP.
- Being able to install complementary applications such as Prestashop (an alternative to WooCommerce for very popular online stores), phpBB for forums, etc.
When hiring a hosting, even in the basic plans, the three things usually come included.
The WordPress.com service, however, only allows the first and “half” since it only allows redirection.
The problem is that WordPress.com does not support it the other way around: sent from your own domain email. For this, you need to hire a separate service.
Having an email with your own domain is an issue that affects your brand image and your branding. So keep this in mind.
Therefore, at this point, the WordPress option with its own hosting wins by a landslide.
Read more: Best Hosting for wordpress
Why use WordPress? Here are 10 good reasons!
Here are 10 reasons to start using WordPress now:
1) Google loves WordPress
In the era of SEO where we all study positioning, indexing, and other laboratory madness, WordPress becomes more and more the King of the hill.
In fact, WP was born as a Blogging platform, only later did it evolve to manage a real website!
The point you need to take home is this: WordPress is coded to be indexed well by Google.
If you also apply the best SEO techniques, such as those I explain to you in my SEO course, you can get really good results.
2) More SEO, SEO, SEO
Another reason to forget about Drag & Drop sites or other forms of CMS that are too complicated for a mere mortal is that WordPress has a very clean code of its own and that you don’t need to put your hand to it to receive visits from search engines.
3) WordPress is extremely easy to use
If you already know a little about WP you will have noticed that the management areas are really intuitive, flexible, and easy to use.
In short, with a little goodwill, tenacity, and learning, WordPress is truly a solution for everyone.
4) Don’t forget: WordPress is free.
So you don’t have to spend money to use it, mount it, take it apart, modify it, fix it, or any other activity that involves using WordPress.
WordPress was created in Open Source which means that thousands of developers around the world are dedicated every day to its development and improvement.
Maybe you will ask yourself why to use WordPress and not any other free CMS since there are so many.
In reality, unlike other software, around WordPress, there is an extremely active community of users and developers, who are always available to help you in case of difficulty.
Furthermore, updates are always very frequent, both in terms of new features and to solve security-related problems.
5) WordPress themes are the most beautiful in the world
True. WordPress themes, especially those found on platforms such as ThemeForest, are engaging, SEO optimized, and customizable.
There are also many free themes, but I always recommend that you evaluate a paid theme, because they are constantly updated and enjoy dedicated support.
6) You can create pages indefinitely!
Your WordPress site can only have one page … or endless!
There is no limit to the number of pages and posts you can create once you’ve installed it.
The little programs to create sites easily sometimes have an additional cost for the number of pages you want to have.
If you are a verbose content creator… or you are a web marketer who works exclusively with targeted landing pages, WordPress is for you.
7) WordPress loves Google but HATES SPAM
Akismet, a genius agency has created a plugin that permeates your site protecting it from any form of SPAMMING that could attack your blogging area as well as your contact forms.
Protecting your site with Akismet is so easy that this plugin is installed by default, you just have to Activate it once you are operational.
And it really is a click.
8) WordPress also loves Social Networks and is loved in return
Integrating WP with Social Networks is really a breeze.
There are lots of plugins that allow this integration, which can be installed and used with a few clicks.
You can then make your content viral, and at the same time increase the traffic of your website, and also the conversions.
10) WordPress is flexible and customizable, even if you don’t know HTML and CSS code
I advise you to get yourself a smattering of HTML and CSS, because knowing and learning the language of the web always puts you in an advantageous position compared to those who know absolutely nothing about code.
In any case, WordPress is the ideal solution both for those who want to intervene directly on HTML and CSS and for those who do not want to interact with them but still want to activate changes independently.
The great flexibility of WordPress allows you to customize the layout of your website as you wish, even if you are not a webmaster.
This way, you can also save a lot of money by independently making changes and updates on your platform.
Final tips for choosing your WordPress option
Now that we have seen the details of the differences between the different versions of WordPress, I think you will agree that there is no point in talking about a “winner”.
There is no “better” version of WordPress, what there are options that are better or worse adapted to your specific situation and you have to be the one to make the final decision, with the help of the criteria set out here.
Now, having said this and generalizing a lot, we can isolate three specific scenarios that are repeated a lot and for them, I can give my opinion and advice:
What to choose in the “indecisive” phase
If you do not have a clear project in mind and you simply want a first with the world of blogging or webs in general, have a first experience of creating content and receive some feedback, etc. you don’t even need a domain of your own.
Therefore, in this case, I would clearly recommend the free WordPress.com plan.
What to choose for a personal project without major ambitions
This case is already more complicated. So let’s go in parts:
If you are clear that you want to have your own website, although without major professional and economic aspirations, but to which you are going to dedicate some time and effort, first of all, I highly recommend acquiring a domain.
The reason is that the image of your project changes a lot, your own domain, together with a wise choice of your theme, take away that “shabby” impression that many sites suffer and that you will not want for a site to which you are dedicating a good part of free time.
This leads us to choose between the paid plans of WordPress.com and a WordPress.org site with hosting.
If you are a person who is scared of the technical aspects, I would recommend the Personal or Premium plan of WordPress.com. They will likely be enough for you.
If the technical tasks do not put you back or you even like them, for the same money you will have the option of WordPress.org hosting which, in this case, I would recommend you to definitely get rid of any limitation of the WordPress.com plans that you have recommended and that could affect your project.
What to choose for a professional project
If your project is already “very serious”, that is, if we are talking, for example, of projects with professional, economic aspirations ( generating income with your website), etc., in my view, there are only two good options: the Business plan of WordPress.com or WordPress.org with its own hosting.
Remember that, without reaching 100% of the total freedom and flexibility that an installation with your own hosting gives, the Business Plan is very close and is a very interesting alternative to your own hosting.
In addition, if you foresee that your project is going to reach very high traffic quotas (tens of thousands of visits per day) and space (many tens of Gbytes), the unlimited resources of the WordPress.com Business plan are a very important added value for your case in favor of this option.
If, in addition, you dislike the (few) tasks that involve a WordPress.org site with hosting, I would definitely favor this option.
If it is not like that and you do not see a major inconvenience in the small additional technical load of hosting, I would lean towards WordPress.org, and if it is with hosting with WordPress support included, even better.
In this way you access 100% of the potential and options of WordPress and, in addition, you will pay half or a third of what the Business plan costs you per year.
That is also basically the reason why, in our specific case, all our sites are WordPress.org with hosting, including this one, Citizen 2.0.
For website maintenance service contact us.