WordPress started out as a platform designed for blogging and was never associated with creating stunning, functional, and flexible business websites, but today something like 57% of Enterprises use WordPress to manage their websites.
WordPress is coming close to making up a third of the internet. With over 70 million websites, it must be doing something right to be the CMS of choice for so many businesses.
What is a CMS?
A Content Management System does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a system that manages your content.
Put simply, it’s a website that is manageable through a backend dashboard or control panel. This allows you to add/remove content, install add-ons, change theme settings and manage your users, be they customers or your own admins. It’s all organised and managed by the same core.
So how does it work?
First up, it needs somewhere to live – i.e. hosting.
Your website hosting is comprised of these 3 parts:
- A Web Server – the actual physical server running the software, the ‘computing power’, if you will.
- A Database – to store your written content and configuration.
- Disk Space – storage space for your website system files and for any media files such as images and video.
WordPress reads the PHP (the language WordPress is written in) from the files , slots in the configuration data from the database and grinds the gears to render the HTML that your browser can display.
For example, when composing a blog post, WordPress will already have all the information it needs to style and structure the page’s layout meaning you only need concern yourself with the actual content.
So, that is how WordPress creates content dynamically. And don’t worry, that’s about as technical as this post is going to get.. I think.
There are plenty of CMSs to choose from, but WordPress is the most popular for some very good reasons.
For one, it’s open source, which means you’re not tied in to a particular brand or vendor, and its developments and improvements are made for the user, not to meet corporate goals. At least that’s the theory!
It’s highly customisable
- With the combination of WordPress and a solid design framework like Divi (which is essentially a blank theme), for developers, the customization possibilities are endless
- For content creators, its interface is straightforward and agile which makes it easy to use and reduces the need to outsource.
- It’s simple to make changes, all from within a user-friendly interface. The sort of changes that would take ages to code manually, without a developer’s help.
- Several users can work in your website at once. After all, regular fresh content is one of the keys to a successful website!
The sheer popularity of WordPress means you can easily go to another developer to get changes made, should you wish.
The flexibility of modular or pluggable functionality, means that WordPress is highly (and quickly) extendable.
I like this analogy:
If your website was a house, WordPress would be the foundations and walls. The plugins would be the plumbing and your theme would be the paint and decor. Want to redecorate without having to rebuild the house? Easy! Need bigger radiators or want to knock in the fireplace? … well, you get where I’m going.
Due to it being open source and very popular, a vast array of add-ons, known as plugins are available to install.
A plugin is a piece of code that can be installed and enabled by the user in the back-end.
There’s a huge array of plugins out there, some of which are free, others at a premium. What’s more, if you have a really unique requirement you can have your own bespoke functionality created specifically for you, in the form of a plugin.
It’s great for quickly reflecting changes to your business. Say you started selling tickets and you wanted to add that functionality to your website, this could be bolted onto the existing site with ease – something that would take significant time and money to develop on a ‘hard-coded’ site.
This also means additional speed of development and ease when transferring from the development stage to live.
It’s easy to outsource different parts of a WordPress development project given its widespread knowledge and its ability to be broken down into individual components.
Because all the fancy features are available in as add-ons, WordPress is basic at its very core, making it stable, reliable, and fast.
It works with the latest version of PHP 7 meaning a powerful engine under the bonnet. If you’re not running WordPress on PHP 7, you should be! There are some huge performance upgrades since v5. (Don’t ask about PHP 6. It’s complicated).
It’s stable and secure
WordPress is secure by design. There’s a very active community and regular updates means any bugs or security holes are quickly plugged.
The developers of WordPress are constantly working to keep their software safe and secure.
It’s this separation of responsibilities that means someone else is already taking care of updates and bug fixes for the core, the plugins and the themes.
The guys/gals at WordPress are working on keeping the CMS free of bugs, the plugin developers are supporting their software and the theme authors are (or should be) making sure their themes continue to work with any changes to WordPress. Everyone is focussing on their little piece of the puzzle.
It should be noted that security updates are only effective if they are actually applied. It’s the period between the vulnerability being discovered and being patched when you’re at risk. And once hackers learn of a new vulnerability, they’ll try to exploit it. So stay on top of your WordPress maintenance!
It’s good for SEO
Already designed to be search engine friendly, but with the addition of Yoast (an awesome SEO plugin) it does all the onsite SEO work for you in in real-time, as you’re writing! I include Yoast with all my websites as standard. Read about the importance of on-site SEO for your website.
Again, the ease of configuring anything in WordPress makes adding and changing even meta data easy.
So, what’s the alternative?
Sure, there are a lot of naysayers out there who loathe anything that hasn’t been written in raw code, from scratch. That’s fine but they’re forgetting the business aspects of building and operating a business website and the impact it can have.
A custom coded website is more difficult to alter when your business needs change. Will you have to find the original developer to unravel their code? Unfortunately, yes, there are many ways of coding the same functionality in any language. Even if their code was well documented and heavily commented, it would take another developer time to figure out how to integrate the new functionality.
Will the code still work following changes like updates to popular browsers (i.e. Chrome, Firefox) and upgrades to the PHP server (the platform the website runs on)? In essence you’re going to need another programmer every time a change is needed, even if it’s not a desired change!
The simplicity and functionality of WordPress results in the above not being an issue.
If you’re still thinking ‘So What?! Why should I care, as long as my website gets built and performs well?’
The answer boils down to time and money – yours.
The modular flexibility of WordPress means development time is significantly shorter, which in turn lowers costs, meaning you can react and pivot your business’s website with market changes much more efficiently and for fewer pennies.
And while these are the benefits of any good CMS… WordPress executes them especially well.
And that’s why I love WordPress!