What is WordPress?
WordPress began, years ago, as a blogging platform. It has since grown to become a full-fledged content management system (CMS) capable of running all manner of websites. It has become the most popular CMS platform for business in the world, with many major companies using it to build their websites.
The result is that it has become incredibly popular with Australian users as well: it is the sixth most popular platform after Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat with 5.8 million active users.
The software is open-source, meaning that anyone can add to it and modify it. This means that anyone with web development or coding skills can modify their website to do what they need it to. The result is a large number of readily available plugins and themes to modify the look and function of a website.
Does WordPress have any competitors?
There are several content management systems available but WordPress is by far the most popular. In 2021 35% world’s websites were made on WordPress and in 2023 this figure increased to 43%. Although it is the clear champion, it is not the only CMS out there. Other options include Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Shopify, and others.
Wix is aimed at people who need a website but who don’t necessarily have the web design skills required to make a custom website. The modular, drag-and-drop style of Wix makes it easy to create a website that looks the way you want. Wix is one of several companies offering a complete web package so that you don’t need to deal with a web host or arrange for a domain.
Shopify is aimed at people who want an eCommerce website. Like Wix, they aim to make it as easy as possible to create a website. They take care of web hosting and domain registration duties so that small businesses can focus on selling instead of dealing with website details like uploading to a web host.
Joomla and Drupal are both content management systems that function similarly to WordPress, in that they need to be installed on a web host service with your own domain. They all provide a similar function, with the difference being how they go about doing it.
Is WordPress free?
The WordPress software package is free to download and install from wordpress.org. It’s also free in the sense of being open source—you’re free to modify it to suit your needs as long as you follow the terms of the General Public License (GPL).
WordPress is owned by the nonprofit WordPress Foundation, which has committed to keeping WordPress free to download, install, and use. This commitment means you won’t have to worry about being charged for using WordPress sometime in the future. WordPress also provides free website hosting through wordpress.com but there are limitations. The truly free aspects of WordPress include:
- Core software
In a practical sense, there are costs associated with a WordPress website that runs on your own domain name (like yourwebsite.com). You’ll need to pay for several other things to have a properly functioning website. These include:
- A website domain
- Website hosting
- Premium plugins
- Premium themes
In general, if you want your WordPress site to look better than your competitors, you will most likely have to use paid plugins. In other words, WordPress is a free base that you have to add a lot of paid solutions to make it look as good as your competitors. From this we can draw two conclusions:
- If you need a very simple website, you can make it on WordPress with minimal costs
- If you want a high-quality site, then it’s like Lego, where you have to pay separately for each piece.
The main advantage of other CMS is that they offer a ready-made solution out of the box. But the advantage of WordPress is that there is any Lego detail for your business, and WordPress has more such “details” than any other CMS in the world.
What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
WordPress.com is a hosting platform for your website or blog. It has limited functionality compared to a standalone WordPress website, such as the inability to use plugins. The benefit is the free option and it removes the need to deal with web hosting services.
WordPress.org is the online home of the nonprofit foundation and also the place to download the full WordPress software package to create your own WordPress website on a hosting service. This is a good option for a self-managed WordPress website.
If you’re completely new to hosting and using websites, WordPress.com is a good place to start. It’s also a good place to become familiar with the WordPress website builder options.
What are WordPress plugins?
What is a plugin in WordPress? It’s a piece of software that works with your WordPress files to add specific functions to your website. Plug-ins can do a wide range of things, like a contact form, an online shopping section, or a comment section spam filter.
These plug-ins are easy to install, similar to the ease of installing a browser plug-in or add-on.
Within the WordPress community, there is a common phrase of “there’s a plug-in for that,” meaning that whatever you need your website to do, someone has probably already built a plug-in that will work. You can think of plug-ins like building blocks that help you to build the ideal website for your needs.
Once you install the core WordPress files on your web host, you will have access to what’s known as the WordPress backend or admin section. This area is not visible to the public and is where you control how your website looks and functions. It’s also where you install and control plugins. You can search for new plugins right from your website’s backend, then install them.
When looking for WordPress plugins, it’s a good idea to spend some time researching the options. Because anyone can make a plugin, there is a wide range of quality and support among plugin creators. At one end, you have professional web development companies that release plugins they’ve developed with extensive testing and debugging. These are often revised and updated, with good tech support if you run into problems. On the other end, you have independent developers who may or may not offer support, with plugins that don’t offer as many options as others.
Reading reviews of plugins and checking how many people have downloaded it can help gauge the quality of the plugin.
Can I use WordPress plugins for free?
Yes, WordPress plug-ins are free. You can download, install, and use them without a fee. However, some plug-ins come with a purchase fee. These are known as premium plug-ins. But even premium plug-ins often have a free option, with limited options when compared to the paid version. All available plug-ins can be found in the WordPress plug-in directory. There are currently more than 48,000 plug-ins available.
Where to start to get my free WordPress website?
To get started with a WordPress free plan website you can go to WordPress.com and register for an account. This free version will get you started with WordPress, but there are limitations. You have a limited range of themes to choose from, and you can’t use plugins. There are ads on the website that you won’t be able to control, as well. If you need help getting started with setting up your new website, you can search Google for terms like “how to create a WordPress website for beginners”.