WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder. It allows you to easily create websites, blogs, eCommerce stores, and more.
If you have been wondering what is WordPress, how does it work, and what you can use it for, then you are in the right place.
In this beginner’s guide, we will explain what WordPress is, how you can use it, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about WordPress.
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is a website builder and content management system. It is an open source software that anyone can use to make any kind of website imaginable.
Founded by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little in 2003, it was a fork of an existing blogging tool called ‘b2/cafelog’.
WordPress soon transformed into a CMS and later a full-fledged website-building platform. According to our WordPress market share report, it powers more than 43% of all websites on the internet.
To learn more about its evolution, you can see our complete guide on the history of WordPress and how it has changed over time.
In simpler words, WordPress is a software that you can use to build blogs, websites, and stores to sell products online.
If you’d prefer written instructions, keep reading.
How Is WordPress Different From WordPress.com?
In this article, when we say WordPress, we are talking about WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is a separate website that offers a website and blog hosting service. It was launched by WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg.
Most beginners often confuse the two due to their similar names.
WordPress.org is the open-source software used by millions of websites (including WPBeginner). On the other hand, WordPress.com is a website and blog hosting platform.
For more details, see our guide on the difference between WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com.
What Do You Need to Use WordPress?
You need a web hosting account and a domain name to start using WordPress.
All websites need web hosting. It is the place where all your website files are stored so that others on the internet can access your content.
A domain name is your website’s address on the internet (for example, wpbeginner.com).
If your website were a house, then web hosting will be the building you live in, and the domain name would be your street address. For more on this topic, you can see our beginner’s guide on the difference between web hosting and a domain name.
To get a web hosting account, you will need to sign up with a WordPress hosting provider. These are third-party companies that sell hosting solutions.
We recommend using Bluehost. They are one of the largest hosting companies in the world and an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.
Normally, a domain name costs $14.99 per year, and web hosting starts from $7.99 per month.
Bluehost is offering WPBeginner users a discount on hosting with a free domain name. Basically, you can get started for just $2.75 per month.
For step-by-step instructions, see our complete guide on how to make a website. It will walk you through the complete WordPress setup.
What Kind of Websites You Can Make Using WordPress?
You can make any kind of website imaginable using WordPress.
Users from all over the world use WordPress to make money online. It is flexible enough to run eCommerce operations and simple enough to quickly make small websites.
Here are just some types of websites you can make using WordPress:
- Start a blog
- Make a small business website
- Create an online store
- Build a membership community
- Sell online courses
- and many more
How Does WordPress Work?
Once you have installed WordPress, you will see an easy-to-use dashboard with links to different areas in the left column. From here, you can create pages for your website or write blog posts.
You can also choose a website design template (theme) for your website. There are thousands of free WordPress themes that you can choose from.
You can also choose from premium themes that come with more advanced features.
All these WordPress themes allow you to set up your website using a simple theme customizer interface or a block-based site editor.
From here, you can edit and customize your site design.
But the real power of WordPress comes from the plugins.
WordPress plugins are like apps for your website. Similar to the apps you install on your phone, WordPress plugins allow you to add new features and functionality to your website.
There are 60,000+ free WordPress plugins in the WordPress plugin directory alone. There are also premium WordPress plugins that offer full support and guaranteed updates.
You can see some of the best WordPress plugins hand-picked by our expert team to help you grow your WordPress site.
Note: If you want to see how WordPress works behind the scenes from a technical point of view, then please check out our infographic on how WordPress works.
Who Else Is Using WordPress?
WordPress is not just popular among beginners, web developers, and bloggers. It is used by many Fortune 500 companies, universities, non-profits, governments around the world, and more.
The following are some of the top brands and organizations that are using WordPress.
The official website of the White House is built using WordPress. It features a large header on the top, followed by the latest updates, news, and resources.
Facebook uses WordPress for their corporate website. It is a typical business website with a homepage showcasing key characteristics of the brand along with its flagship products. It also has a blog section called the Newsroom.
New York Times uses WordPress on its corporate website showcasing the company behind the iconic newspaper.
Microsoft uses WordPress to run their blog website. It features company news, information, and product highlights.
Sony Music is one of the biggest music producers in the world, representing top artists and labels. They use WordPress to power their corporate website.
To see a full list, check out our complete list of the most popular brands using WordPress.
Why Use WordPress to Make a Website?
Now, if you are thinking about starting a blog or a small business website, then you may wonder why you should use WordPress as your website platform.
There are dozens of website builders and potential WordPress alternatives on the market that you can use to make your website. However, we believe that WordPress is the best platform for beginners and small businesses.
This is why over 43% of all websites use WordPress.
But here are just some of the reasons to choose WordPress for your website.
1. WordPress Gives You More Freedom
WordPress is free (as in freedom) and open-source software. Anyone can use it to create and launch a website.
It is not owned by a single company and has a large WordPress community behind the development of the project. The WordPress Foundation, a non-profit organization, also protects it.
This means you have complete freedom to use it however you see fit. You will have full control and complete ownership of your website and all of its content.
2. WordPress Is Easy
One of the reasons that make WordPress the #1 website builder is that it is incredibly easy to use.
There is a slight learning curve when you familiarize yourself with the software, but most beginners pass it quickly and easily manage their own websites.
It comes with an intuitive user interface, a WYSIWYG content editor, and a user-friendly admin area.
Pro Tip: See our guide on how to learn WordPress for free in a week.
There is also a ton of free WordPress help and support available. You can ask questions on any tech community website, and you will find answers from other users who started out just like you.
You can also join our WPBeginner Facebook Group to ask all your WordPress-related questions and get free help from our experts and other WPBeginner users.
3. WordPress Is Super Flexible
WordPress allows you to use third-party themes and plugins. This means you can choose from thousands of professionally-designed templates for your website.
Using plugins, you can add any feature to your WordPress website. Most of them are free, but you can also purchase premium add-ons to get priority support from developers.
There are also drag and drop WordPress page builder plugins that let you completely customize your design and make custom templates without writing any code.
4. WordPress Is Multilingual
WordPress is fully translated into more than 70 languages. You can easily choose your website language during the installation or change it from the settings page.
You can keep the WordPress admin area in one language and create a website in another language. You can also use a WordPress multilingual plugin to create a website in multiple languages.
WordPress themes and plugins can also be translated, and many of the top WordPress plugins are already translated into many languages.
5. WordPress Is Cost-Effective
Proprietary website builders and hosted platforms come with different pricing options. You have to pay a monthly fee for a fixed set of features.
With WordPress, you pay a monthly hosting fee and add any feature to your website using plugins. Most of them are free or have free alternatives, which gives you the freedom to control the cost of your WordPress website.
Once your website starts growing and making money, then you can spend more on upgrading your hosting service or buying premium WordPress themes and plugins.
For more reasons, see our article on why you should use WordPress.
FAQs About WordPress
We made WPBeginner to help WordPress beginners. Since 2009, we have helped millions of beginners get started with WordPress and have been answering WordPress-related questions every day.
Here are some of the most frequently asked WordPress questions that we hear from beginners.
1. Why is WordPress available for free?
WordPress is an open-source software available for anyone to use. It is free (as in freedom), but there are other costs involved. For instance, you will need WordPress hosting and a domain name to make your website.
For a more detailed explanation, see our article why is WordPress free, which explains the philosophy behind free software and WordPress.
2. What are the advantages of using WordPress?
There are many advantages to using WordPress for your website.
It is easy to use and suitable for beginners as well as advanced users. WordPress also gives you access to thousands of plugins, which enable you to add new features to your website.
Plus, there are thousands of templates and themes that you can choose as the front end of your website.
3. What are the disadvantages of using WordPress?
Like everything else in the world, there are pros and cons to using WordPress. We have mentioned the advantages in detail, and they are enough to outweigh any disadvantages. However, here are some of the cons of using WordPress:
- You will need to spend a little time learning the basics. This does not mean coding skills or programming but learning where things are located and how to use them.
- You’ll need to spend time setting up backups, WordPress security, and updates. Most of these tasks can be easily automated, and most beginners manage them without any special skills
- If you are not careful, then you may end up spending more on third-party tools and plugins that you may not need. Spend your money wisely and rely on free alternatives whenever possible.
4. How can I learn WordPress?
WordPress is easy to learn, and there are a lot of learning materials out there. You can learn WordPress right here on WPBeginner.
We are the largest WordPress resource site for beginners in the world. All of our WPBeginner resources are available for free.
For beginners, we recommend starting out with our WordPress video tutorials. This series of videos walks you through WordPress basics and how to manage your website like WordPress experts.
Our WordPress Glossary section explains all the technical WordPress terminology in plain English for beginners.
You can also find answers to your WordPress questions by clicking on the search icon at the top.
Need a little more help from real users? Join our WPBeginner Facebook group to get answers from other WordPress users and our experts. It’s free to join, and there are over 94,000 members.
You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel for regular WordPress video tutorials and guides (over 1000 free video tutorials).
5. Do I need to learn programming to use WordPress?
No, you don’t need to learn programming to use WordPress or make websites. Most WordPress users don’t know any HTML/CSS or have other programming skills.
6. Which WordPress hosting company should I choose?
You will need WordPress hosting to start your website, and there are thousands of options out there. Due to fierce competition in the hosting industry, it can become quite confusing for beginners to make up their minds.
Don’t worry because we did the research for you. You can read about it in our complete WordPress hosting guide for beginners.
More importantly, they are some of the biggest names in the business and officially-recommended WordPress hosting providers.
7. How do I start a WordPress website?
Getting started with WordPress is easy. You can simply follow our step-by-step tutorial on how to make a WordPress website for detailed instructions.
It will walk you through the whole process, and you will be up and running with a brand-new WordPress website in no time.
If you need assistance, you can take advantage of our free WordPress blog setup service, where our expert team will set up your WordPress blog for free.
We hope this article explained what is WordPress, and how you can use it. You may also want to see our guide on things to do after installing WordPress or our expert picks for the best email marketing services to grow your website.