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WordPress is a content management system (CMS) which provides a software platform to build websites on. It is the most popular content management system in the world, used as the foundation for about 30.2% of all websites on the internet. No other CMS comes close, with its nearest competitor Joomla holding just 3.1% of the market. WordPress is used by all sorts of people; from bloggers to small business to famous brands.

In its earliest iterations back in the early 2000s, WordPress was merely a simple blogging tool. Developers added more and more features and it slowly became robust enough to work as a CMS. Today it dominates the CMS market. We are big fans of WordPress here at Phoenix Web and use it to build most of our clients’ websites. This website is built with WordPress.

WordPress is written in PHP and stores content in a MySQL database (or similar). It is open source software meaning it is free and anyone can contribute to its source code. It is actively developed by an enormous community.

Strengths

Much of the success of WordPress can be explained by its strengths. These are:

  • Flexibility – WordPress is extremely flexible due to its plugin system and theming system. These systems allow you to add functionality and change the aesthetics of the website within seconds and without needing any coding skills.
  • User Friendly – Anyone who can use Microsoft Word, Facebook and send an email can use the WordPress interface to add, edit and remove content. If not, it won’t take long to learn.
  • Works Anywhere – WordPress can run on a LAMP stack, the most common servers powering the internet. It needs relatively little configuration and consumes little computer memory.
  • Developer Friendly – WordPress has an event driven action and filter system which makes developing for it a pleasure.
  • Free and Open Source – The software itself is free of charge.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

There are two different ways to use WordPress, .com and .org. You can sign up for a website at wordpress.com or download the standalone WordPress software at wordpress.org and setup the website yourself. The very similar naming convention between .com and .org is confusing and not explained that well by the WordPress developers.

At wordpress.com the hosting and technical work is taken care of by Automattic, while with wordpress.org you handle the hosting yourself. Using wordpress.com is easier in the short term at the expense of having less freedom in the long term. You are unable to edit the PHP code, your domain name is locked to the form yourwebsite.wordpress.com unless you pay a fee and your ability to customise is limited to themes and plugins approved by Automattic. We almost always build WordPress websites using the standalone software downloaded from wordpress.org to give us the flexibility to build whatever we want.

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