Last updated on June 24th, 2022 at 12:18 pm
It’s no secret that WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) out there. I love it, and there are hundreds of thousands of other people who rate WordPress as the best way to build and manage a website. There are definitely more benefits to using WordPress than there are disadvantages. In this WordPress beginner’s guide, I’ll take you through some of the reasons why WordPress is so popular with web designers and clients alike. We’ll also look at some of the ways you can make the most out of WordPress’ immense features
What is WordPress?
WordPress has been around for a couple of decades (well, almost) – and boy has it changed since then. It is one of several available Content Management Systems (CMS) and is free and open-source. Easier to use than the other CMS option such as Drupal and Joomla, WordPress has so many features it would be impossible to document them all in a blog post like this. Books – big, fat books with hundreds of pages – have been written about it, and I only have 1500 words for my WordPress beginner’s guide!
WordPress comes in two flavours – wordpress.com, which is a completely free means of trying out blogging for the first time; and wordpress.org. Both are free – but wordpress.org has many more features and requires you have a web hosting provider who offers the ability to install WordPress. So, technically, wordpress.org isn’t without cost – but you can get hosting for the same price as a coffee at Starbucks these days, so it’s still the best option.
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is limited and not really suited for a business website. You can purchase add-ons that increase the functionality, but in all honesty, you’re better off going for the .org option. For the remainder of this blog, I’ll be discussing the .org version when I talk about the features and benefits.
How Does WordPress Work?
The inner-workings of WordPress is something that developers understand, and I don’t, so I’ll tell you in layman’s terms instead. This is a WordPress beginner’s guide, after all! Once the CMS is installed on your domain, there are two aspects – the frontend (which is what your visitors see when they visit your website) and the backend (the admin area). Previously, all of the work of building was done in the backend, and to an extent this is still true. However, in the last few years there have been plugins developed that allow you to use a front-end editor, so you can see exactly how your site looks with every change you make.
Themes are what control the look of your website, and there are a wide range of free and premium themes available. Thousands of them, in fact, meaning that there’s always going to be the perfect theme for you out there.
Plugins are tools that you can install within WordPress to add additional features and functions. There are over 50 thousand plugins available – and I’ll be giving you a list of my favourite plugins later on. With so many plugins available, the options for what you can do with WordPress are seemingly limitless.
Who Uses WordPress?
With the functionality of WP, and the unlimited possibilities for use, it’s not surprising to find that web designers love using the CMS. Some designers will create completely bespoke themes and plugins for their clients, whilst others tweak and adapt existing themes to match your brand and requirements. It’s easy to use and makes managing content simple and stress free.
There are also a lot of people who use WP to build their own websites. The great thing about WordPress is that you don’t need to know how to code in order to create an exceptional site. With so many gorgeous themes available, it’s certainly possible to go down the DIY route with WordPress.
WordPress’s dashboard may not immediately seem beginner-friendly, but there are plugins that can turn it into a drag-and-drop page builder that’s as easy to use as website builders like Wix and Weebly.
Key Benefits of WordPress
The benefits of WordPress apply whether you’re working with a web designer or going down the road of DIY. Here is just a selection of benefits that can be gained by using WordPress to power your website.
1) Ease of Use
2) Endless Possibilities
With the number of themes and plugins available increasing on a regular basis, you really do have endless possibilities. Want a membership site? WordPress can do that. Need to provide courses on your website? There’s a plugin for that! Want to start an online shop? WordPress has everything you need
As your business grows and expands into new areas, WordPress is able to adapt and grow with you. The option to change your theme, update your branding, and much more is just a couple of clicks away. With WP, you never have to fear that your website is going to become outdated, because everything is customisable. Colours, fonts, images, layouts…you name it, you can change it with WordPress.
In terms of keeping up with web standards, WP has plugins that help you have a responsive, mobile-first ready site that is virtually future-proof.
3) Content Control
Since regular content is important for SEO and ranking, being able to easily add blog posts, resources and new pages is vital. WP makes adding new content intuitive and stress-free. For years the WYSIWYG editor has been hugely popular with users. 2018 marked the launch of Gutenberg in WordPress, a new editor that will incorporate drag-and-drop functionality, so that your content is visually appealing and totally customisable. In 2022, Full Site Editing (FSE) was launched, meaning you have the possibility to edit every part of your website (including headers, footers, etc) without touching the theme files and risking breaking your site.
What’s more, with WordPress you have the option to schedule blog posts days and weeks in advance. That means you can upload a batch of fresh content and sit back in the confidence that your content will be automatically published according to the schedule you set.
4) Multiple Monitoring Options
WordPress can integrate with Google Analytics and other analytics options so that you can get a clear look at visitor behaviour on your site. What’s more, there are plugins that allow you to see those analytics right on your dashboard, without ever having to navigate away. This makes understanding the impact of any changes you make really easy. A/B testing content is a breeze with WordPress’ options.
In the past, spam comments used to be a problem, but WordPress has a variety of options for controlling and filtering out spam. With a plugin to handle your spam monitoring, you can relax and get on with running your business.
5) SEO Friendly
Search Engine Optimisation is something that can’t be ignored if you want your business to succeed online. Thankfully, WordPress makes SEO easy. There are plugins that can analyze your site and give you SEO recommendations. These plugins also allow you to ensure that your content is easy to understand and has appropriate meta descriptions. Other plugins can improve the responsiveness of your site, page loading speed, and more.
Should You Use WordPress For Your Website?
More than 39% of all websites are built on the WordPress platform. That’s an impressive percentage – and it looks set to increase year on year, in the future. That percentage equates to somewhere in the region of 75 million websites that are powered by WP. Customization options abound, and WP is always being updated and developed. It really is the easiest and most functional CMS out there and is perfect for pretty much any kind of website.
More and more website hosting companies are offering specialized WordPress hosting, and at really reasonable prices, too. With specialized hosting you tend to get bonus features like optimization plugins and expert support – often at a similar cost to what you’d pay for regular shared web hosting. That makes it a great choice when you’re just starting out.
Although there are website builder platforms like Wix and Weebly that are available (and marketed as being more beginner friendly), WP remains my top choice (and that’s after trying every website builder on the market! Give it a try – and if you need help you can reach out for a no-obligation free consultation.
Updates to this WordPress Beginner’s Guide: New features and Critical updates
As new features are added to the world’s most popular Content Management System, I’ll be updating this WordPress beginner’s companion frequently with all the latest features to help you get the most out of WP. If there’s something you’d like me to cover, you can reach out and request a topic.