WordPress: what is it and why use it?

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Illustration for the article: What is WordPress and why use it?
Illustration for the article: What is WordPress and why use it?
Illustration for the article: What is WordPress and why use it?
Illustration for the article: What is WordPress and why use it?

Used on 34% of websites on the web in 2019, WordPress is the number 1 CMS. But what is a CMS, what is WordPress and why is it so successful? These are the themes 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 many other things....

A CMS is a set of scripts and files to be uploaded to a web server. In most cases, it is necessary to link it to a database, but there are some that manage their data in files like plugXml.

CMS offers a system of themes (or templates) that allows you to manage the appearance and design of a site as well as a plugin system that allows you to extend its functionalities. They also allow you to administer and manage the content of a site by several people.

Today, the main generalist CMSs are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. We also often find Prestashop which is specialized in e-commerce and online sales.

What is WordPress

Before answering this question, a clarification is necessary. It is important to distinguish 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 and free of chargeit is distributed by the company automattic under the GNU GPL v2 license. This license provides copyright but also user rights that aim to preserve the freedom to use, study, modify and distribute the software and its derived versions. WordPress is based on the technology pair of the programming language 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 thanks to a large community and a permissive license to become a complete site creation tool.

Today WordPress is the dominant CMS, used by a quarter of all websites on the web. This popularity can be explained by many criteria. The first of them is undoubtedly its simplicity of use, which makes it an accessible tool for everyone, without necessarily having to master web programming languages. It has many themes and plugins which offers great possibilities, two points discussed later in this article.

Here are some of the advantages of WordPress:

  • Easy to use and easy to use
  • Quick to set up
  • Free GNU GPL V.2 license
  • A large active and reactive community
    • Many plugins
    • Many themes
    • Self-help and support forums
    • Regular evolution and updates
    • Security vulnerabilities fixed quickly
  • Allows a good optimization for natural referencing and a good indexing by search engines (especially thanks to the plugin WordPress Yoast SEO 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

Design themes for design

A theme is what gives a website that is managed by WordPress its appearance. There are many of them, both free and paid for and easy to install.

Themes can be used to decorate the site, but they can also provide functionalities. For example, a theme created for restaurateurs may offer an online table reservation system. More generally, there are often functions such as sliders that are supported by the themes. However, mistrust because a theme that offers features is only a benefit if they are properly used. Indeed, if these options are not used, they will unnecessarily burden the site, which will then win the title of "gas plant". Another case that is also often encountered is the double use of a feature, both by the theme and by a plugin.

Be careful, however, 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 use a reliable site to download them as the official WordPress theme catalog. Reliable theme shops are also listed by WordPress.

Plugins to extend functionality

One of the undeniable advantages of WordPress is undoubtedly its plugins and their simplicity of installation. Plugins are plugins pluginsthat will be added to a WordPress installation and provide it with features. Here again, as with the themes, there are many of them, free as well as paying.

There are plugins of all kinds 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 within pages using shortcodes and builder pages
  • Compress images before they are put online
  • Add features for social networks (timeline, sharing buttons, automatic publishing)
  • Manage newsletters (or connect to an external newsletters system)

You can find the pluginsfree ones on the WordPress catalogue. 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 developers

Finally, WordPress offers great opportunities for developers. In addition to its free code, it is designed to be editable and extensible, thanks in particular to the plugin and theme system mentioned above.

For the themes uploaded, there is the system of children's theme (child theme) to make any desired changes while keeping the basic theme intact and taking advantage of updates to it.

WordPress can manage two types of content: pages and articles. Note that items are also called "posts" or "tickets". 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 of personalized content (custom post types) as well as personalized categories (taxonomy) and finally personalized fields (custom fields with ACF). To give a concrete example and to illustrate all this a little bit, I will take an example that I had to look at a short while ago: a site that would propose the adoption of animals for an association.

To start we need pages (welcome, presentation, legal notices,...) and a part "news from the animal protection association", two elements managed natively by WordPress. Then we need to introduce the animals. It is then necessary to declare a new type of content, animals. In order to be able to sort and select them according to their ages or to assign or not the status "to be adopted urgently", I will be able to create personalized categories. Finally, to correctly display more information specific to animals, we use custom fields such as: color, breed, coat type...

Julien MA Jacob
WordPress Developer
Julien MA JACOB - WordPress Developer
Passionate about the web and programming with always many projects in mind
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Hello,

For me, the only reason I use wordpress is because of its back office. We can easily manage the content of our site via this interface. Well, it's true that it still makes a better thing!

See you soon!