What is WordPress?

Before we go any further with any tips, tricks, installing wordpress, or anything else we first need to explain to those who are just starting out exactly what is WordPress!

WordPress is a free, Web-based software program that anyone can use to build and maintain a website or blog. It was originally intended as an easy way to set up a blog. But, thanks to the efforts of a large “open source” community of WordPress programmers working to extend and improve its capabilities, WordPress has become much more than just a tool for bloggers.  Today’s WordPress is really a “content management system” (CMS), which means that it can be used to run full-sized, social media-rich websites.

So my analogy for what is wordpress would more be like in comparison of a car.  In any car you have the main components of the car; the engine, seats, doors, etc. Then you can paint the car to look how every you want it to look, and you can even add on some fancy things to make it run or look different like leather seats or an iPod input for your stereo etc.  In this analogy WordPress is the main functioning car.  It’s already built and can run as it is.  It even comes with a default paint job.  So WordPress right out of the gate can run and runs great.  Then you can purchase (or create your own) themes which is like the car’s paint job.  We do this so it looks different than the default paint job, and sometimes just to have the look or the branding of our business or type of website that we are creating. Then there have what we call Plugins, which can extend wordpress to do extra things.  In our analogy it would be adding leather seats, turbo, On-Star, etc.  Plugins do things to add great new functionality to WordPress such as making it easy to add forms to our site, or fancy photo galleries, or Twitter and Facebook integration, etc.  So to sum it up, WordPress is the complete package to have a very powerful website that comes equipped with almost everything you need to have a great website.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

The distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org can cause some confusion for people. Let’s clear it up.  WordPress.com is brought to you by some of the same folks who work on WordPress, the Open Source blogging software.  WordPress.com utilizes the same WordPress software which you can download at WordPress.org.  With WordPress.com the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of by the team at Automattic.  With WordPress.org you need to install the software on your own server or with a 3rd party provider which is what this website focuses on.

WordPress.com would more be if you just wanted a simple blog and didn’t really need a whole lot of extendibility.  But even then I’d probably still suggest to put it on your own server.

There is a great support article that shows the pros and cons of the WordPress.org features and the WordPress.com features which you can see by going here.

Also, here’s a great infographic from Blogging enthusiast Mike Wallagher that shows the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. You can see the full infographic at the end of this article.

Who is WordPress for?

So now that you have a basic idea of what WordPress is the question then comes in, who is wordpress for.  In my opinion WordPress is for anyone who wants a great website.  Your wordpress site can be as small or as large as you’d like it to be, so no matter if you just want to make a cooking website, or you need a professional looking site to represent your business or brand, WordPress does it incredibly!  Plus you’ll always have a backend that you can modify all the content of your site.  So to answer the questions plainly…

“WordPress is for anyone who wants a professional website.”

There are many other platforms for having a powerful website such as drupal, joomla, etc.  But WordPress has become such an easy powerful way to get a website and it’s so extendable with plugins and themes it makes it the best platform to create a website on.  Not to mention the great community that surrounds it.  With all these things you just can’t go wrong with building a site with WordPress.

Where do I start?

OK, so now you understand what wordpress is, and now you understand that “yes, I want to build my website with WordPress”.  What are the next steps for doing so?  Well WordPress is (as we’ve mentioned) free on WordPress.org to download and install on your site.  So let’s walk you through the steps you need to get things rolling: (Keep in mind that this is just a simple outline.  We’ll walk you through these steps in the detail on other posts)

  1. Purchase a domain name.  You can’t have a website without a domain name.  A “www.somename.com” (or .org, .net, .co, .me, etc).  Picking out a domain name can be difficult, but there are a number of domain registrars out there that you can purchase a domain name from.
  2. Purchase hosting with a 3rd Party Provider.  Now that you have a domain name you’ll need a server to put the wordpress install on and to connect to your domain name so when someone types in yourdomainname.com it will show whatever website is on the server.  We’ve provided a list of recommended hosting providers by going here.
  3. Download WordPress from WordPress.org (It’s Free!)
  4. Upload WordPress to your server.
  5. In your hosting provider you need to setup a database.  “Psha! What?! A database I know nothing of databases!”.  Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as you think.
  6. Now you just simply visit your site and WordPress will do the rest to install WordPress and connected to your database.

This of course is just a simple outline so you can get the gist of what it takes to get wordpress running.  For the full report check out our full How to Install WordPress post to see exactly how to install wordpress.


Infographic from startbloggingonline.com


  • LG

    I’m trying to convert an existing iweb website (hosted on godaddy) to a wordpress site – is there a way to recreate the current site and then upload it to godaddy (so the existing site isn’t down while we’re building the site)?

  • Jan

    I have the very same issue, right down to the hosting company. I’m looking forward to the answer from Jason.

  • iJason

    Yes there is. Here’s what I suggest:
    1) Put your iWeb site in a subfolder on the server. Something like “old_site”.
    2) Then get your WordPress install on the root of the server.
    3) Get this plugin and install it in your wordpress: WordPress Under Construction Plugin
    4) Then within that plugin settings you’ll see a box for you to add your own html and add this code:

    [script type="text/javascript"]

    (replace the [ ] brackets with < > )
    Of course change the url to go to your folder you made.
    5) Save and done.
    Now all users who visit your site will be redirected to the old site, and you can still get to your wordpress site to work on by logging in at your site.com/wp-admin

  • Kathleen

    Having hard time figuring out the “Shopping cart /e-commerce” on my blog that is connected to my site from iWeb.
    The folks at Apple ( one-2-one) cannot help because word press is not an apple product.

    Do you guys know anyone (recommend) that does free-lance work to set this up? ( in Los Angeles) Please let me know… I need help.

    Regards, Kathleen Kroner

  • linda

    i’ve just started looking through learn2wordpress, and just wanted to thank you. it’s clear, easy to follow, and what i like most is that you give the reasons for doing things. thanks for taking the time to help people. cheers!