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As a freelance WordPress developer from Sydney, I get a lot of questions from clients about what exactly WordPress is and why they should consider using it as the base for their website. So, here is a rundown of what WordPress is, how it works, what it can do for you and why it can often be a great technology for your business website.

WordPress is a hugely popular, free and open source blogging tool and a content-management system (CMS) that allows users to easily manage the content of their websites via the online admin area.

  • WordPress is used by more than 18.9% of the top 10 million websites as of August 2013.
  • WordPress is by far, the most popular blogging system in use on the Web with more than 60 million websites.
  • The current version (3.6) of WordPress has been downloaded more than 6 million times.
  • It was first released on May 27, 2003 as a blogging platform and has developed extensively to the fully fledged CMS it is today.

If you are wondering what a WordPress website looks like (or can look like), then keep looking here, as this blog and my whole website is built using WordPress as the base. WordPress is a great platform to use for your website if you want to be able to manage content via a CMS or run a blog. The ability to manage the content on your website means less reliance on your web designer and more freedom to keep the content on your website or blog fresh. Not every website will need a CMS so make sure you think about what your website actually needs to do for you and business. But for many, the solid structure and ease of use of WP means that it is perfect for the job.

What are WP themes?

A new installation of WP is rather basic, so WordPress themes are essentially a set of files that are used to overlay new functionality and design to this stock installation of WordPress. The core WordPress files that make things work and the content you create are left untouched and the theme just changes the way in which they are displayed in the browser.

There is an almost endless number of themes available for WordPress, so you have plenty of options right out of the box. Depending on your needs and budget you may choose anything from a totally free theme right up to a fully custom designed and built theme.

The free themes may be perfectly fine for a personal project and a fully custom built one for a large company with a big budget, but most SME’s prefer a compromise between the two. This usually means carefully selecting a premium theme that offers the desired functionality whilst also offering solid coding, reliable tech support and theme updates to fill code vulnerabilities. Once the theme is installed and activated,  it can then be further customised with a child theme to alter the design and give it a unique look and feel.

What are WP Plugins?

WordPress plugins allow you to extend the functionality of the website beyond what the core installation allows, and with a collection of over 26,000 plugins, there is a plug-in for almost anything you may need. There are plugins for site performance, user management, SEO, form builders, social media and a whole lot more. Plugins do slow your site down, so make sure you choose them wisely and only use what is actually needed.