What the heck is WordPress anyway?
WordPress can be described several ways, but the bottom line is: It’s software. Software that lives on a web server and does two things:
- Displays a web site, like this one.
- Enables the owner of the site to edit the site content, and control various aspects of the site, through a web interface.
Why WordPress? Some History
Once Upon A Time…
… about twenty years ago, web sites were just weird geeky stuff. Only very geeky people wanted to have anything to do with them. Now they are smack in the middle of daily life and everybody and their dog NEEDS a web site. But they are still weird geeky stuff. If you doubt that, just do this, right now: Go to the menu at the top of this browser window and find the place where it says “View Source” ( You might have to Google how to find it for your particular browser, but it IS there someplace.) Click that menu item and see what a web page is actually made of.
So naturally when everybody and their dogs began to need web sites, they soon began to need a way to edit the content of their sites without having to hire a geek every time they wanted to change something.
The Dawn of “Blogging”
As luck would have it, this was also about the time that “Blogging” came along. A Blog -which is short for “Web Log”- is essentially an online public diary. People who wanted to blog – and there were hundreds of millions! – needed to be able to add new content all the time, maybe even daily. Some clever geeky people came up with the idea of blogging software that would allow bloggers to edit content through an interface with a minimum of exposure to the techno-guts of the site. There came to be lot of different flavors of blogging software and online blogging services. And one of those was our friend WordPress.
Like the other blog software, WordPress allowed the editor to create short articles called “Posts” and display them on a web page, with pictures and other cool stuff. Posts were displayed in reverse chronological order, newest first, and older ones scrolled down the page. If you have never seen a blog, welcome to Earth in the twenty first century.
Blogs Become CMS
As time went on, bloggers felt a bit constrained by this simple format, and began to want more bells and whistles, like permanent content that didn’t disappear down the page as new posts were added. Meanwhile the people/dog pairs were still looking for a way to self-edit their non-blog websites. To oblige everyone, WordPress evolved into what is known as a “Content Management System” or CMS.
One of the most useful changes was the addition of “Pages”. Pages are like Posts that don’t go away, and are not chronological. They live alongside of the posts, and are displayed in a menu so that you can find them. We needn’t look far for an example – you are reading one right now.
By using pages (and sub-pages, of which this one is also an example) you can create an entire complex web site which you can edit. The blog is only one of those pages, usually called ‘our blog’ or ‘news’ or ‘what’s new’ and stuff like that. In fact, you can skip the blog altogether and just have pages, which ends up being…a web site.