Used on 41% of sites on the web in 2021, WordPress is the number 1 CMS. But what is a CMS, what is WordPress and why is it so successful? These are the topics discussed here.
What is a CMS
The letters C.M.S are the initials of Content Manager System. CMS are tools that allow you to put online and manage dynamic sites. For example, they can:
- Create and modify pages
- Manage media (images, PDF, music, image...)
- Manage a blog and comments
- Manage user and administrator accounts
- And a lot of other things...
A CMS is a set of scripts and files to be deposited on a web server. In the majority of cases, it is necessary to link it to a database, but there are a few that manage their data in files like plugXml.
CMSs offer a system of themes (or templates) to manage the appearance and design of a site as well as a system of plug-ins to extend its functionality. They also make it possible to administer and manage the content of a site by several people.
What is WordPress
Before answering this question, a clarification is necessary. We must make a distinction between WordPress.ORG (which is the one we are interested in in this article, a CMS to install on your host) and wordpress.COM (which is a blogging platform like blogger or overblog, but based on WordPress).
WordPress is therefore a CMS. Free of chargeit is distributed by the company automattic under the GNU GPL v2 license. This license grants copyrights but also user rights that aim to preserve the freedom to use, study, modify and distribute the software and its derivative versions. WordPress is based on the programming language technology couple PHP and MySQL for database management.
When it was launched in 2003, it was mainly presented as a blog management tool but it quickly evolved through a large community and a permissive license to become a complete website creation tool.
Today WordPress is the dominant CMS, used by a quarter of the sites on the web. This popularity can be explained by many criteria. The first of them is undoubtedly its ease of use, which makes it a tool accessible to all, without necessarily having to master web programming languages. It has many themes and plugins which offers great possibilities, two points discussed below in this article.
Here are some of the advantages of WordPress :
- Easy to use
- Quick to set up
- Free License GNU GPL V.2
- A large, active and responsive community
- Numerous plugins
- Numerous themes
- Self-help and support forums
- Evolution and regular updates
- Security vulnerabilities quickly corrected
- Allows a good optimization for natural referencing and a good indexing by search engines (in particular thanks to the plugin WordPress Yoast S EO with some knowledge in SEO)
- Responsive administration panel that allows you to manage your site from any device (mobile, tablet, pc)
- Adapted to web standards
Themes for design
A theme is what gives a website managed by WordPress its appearance. There are a lot of them, free as well as paid and they are easy to install.
Themes are used to dress up the site, but they can also bring functionalities to it. For example, a theme created for restaurant owners may offer an online table reservation system. More generally, one often finds functions such as sliders that are supported by themes. Be wary, however, because a theme that offers features is only a benefit if it is used correctly. Indeed, if these options are not used, they will unnecessarily burden the site, which will then win the title of "gas factory". Another case often encountered is the double use of a feature, both by the theme and by a plugin.
However, be careful if you decide to use a free theme because those found on the web are very often infected by hidden ads and malicious features. It is imperative to go through a reliable site to download them such as the official theme catalog of WordPress. Reliable theme shops are also listed by WordPress.
Plugins to extend functionality
One of the undeniable advantages of WordPress is without a doubt its plugins and their simplicity of installation. The plugins are plugins that will be grafted on a WordPress installation and bring it functionalities. Here again, as for the themes, there are many of them, free as well as paying.
There are all kinds of plugins to do all kinds of things. Here are some examples of what plugins can do:
- Create and manage contact forms
- Create sliders, carousels, galleries ...
- View Google Maps
- Create advanced designs inside pages using shortcodes and page builder
- Compressing images before they are put online
- Add features for social networks (timeline, share buttons, automatic publication)
- Manage newsletters (or connect to an external newsletter system)
You can find the freeplugins on the catalogue of WordPress. As for paid plugins, there are specialized sales sites such as CodeCanyon, but it is preferable (when possible) to buy them directly from their publishers' sites.
WordPress and the developers
Finally, WordPress offers great possibilities for developers. In addition to its open source code, it is designed to be modifiable and extensible, in particular thanks to the system of plugins and themes mentioned above.
For downloaded themes, there is the system of children's theme (child theme) in order to make any desired changes to them while keeping the basic theme intact and taking advantage of updates to it.
Basically, WordPress can manage two types of content: pages and articles. Note that articles are also called "posts" or "posts". But it is possible to extend its management capacity to adapt it to our specific needs and manage for example catalogues, portfolios, etc. Indeed, it has been designed to allow the management ofcustom content(custom post types) as well as custom categories(taxonomy) and custom fields(custom fields with ACF). To give a concrete example and to illustrate a little bit, I'll take an example I had to look at a little while ago: a site that has to propose the adoption of animals for an association.
To start we need pages (home, presentation, legal notices, ...) and a part "news of the association of animal protection", two elements managed natively by WordPress. Then, we need to present the animals. We then need to declare a new type of content, the animals. In order to be able to sort and select them according to their age or to give them the status "to be adopted urgently", I will be able to create personalized categories. Finally, to correctly display more information specific to the animals, you can use custom fields such as: color, breed, coat type ...