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What Is A WordPress Site: A Beginners Guide

A WordPress site is simply a website and WordPress is just a website builder. That’s it. That’s the short answer. But chances are you’re reading this because you’ve decided to make a website for yourself or your business and tripped down the rabbit hole of how to build a website. Trust me, we’ve all been where you are right now.

Having said that, it will be handy moving forward if we discuss a few simple technical ideas. Take a breath, this won’t be hard. I promise. In fact, over the next 250 or so words I promise to use absolutely no technical jargon.

Every Website Starts As A Blank Page

We have all stared at a blank piece of paper after being asked to write an essay. And maybe your essay needed more than just words. Perhaps you had been asked for charts, graphs, tables, and pictures. Websites are exactly that. An essay with words, charts, graphs, tables, and pictures. And just like an essay, a website starts with a blank page.

The only difference is the medium you use. In other words, with our essay we use paper, drawings, printers, a word processor, and photographs. Replace paper with a screen, and the word-processor with an online editor, and you can just as easily be building a web site as you can be building a written essay. 

In either case, you are creating, or looking for content.

It’s important to note that it can be exactly the same content driving both an essay or a website. This is an exceptionally true statement. Because a website and an essay do exactly the same thing: Present content to a user as information to consume.

Even more, when you use WordPress to build a website, writing an essay and building a website blend into a seamless experience of developing content and placing it in view as information to be consumed by a user.

That’s because WordPress allows you to organize your content into words, pictures tables and graphs, and videos. Once you have this content organized, WordPress then gives you the tools to present this content to users in a browser screen. Just as if you had printed it out and delivered a hard copy.

Creating and Organizing Content on a WordPress Site

WordPress organizes content into two broad categories: words and media. Words get further classified into posts and pages. Media are things like pictures, videos, and sound. Whatever content you talk about with a WordPress site, or any site for that matter, the content is created by the person/organization publishing the site.

Typical content is:

  • YouTube video
  • Vimeo video
  • Smart Phone’s
  • Graphic design programs
  • Recording devices
  • Word Processors

Each way of creating content produces different outputs.  Put another way, Word Processors create words, YouTube is a video repository, graphic design programs like Corel Draw or Gimp create .jpgs for infographics or other visual elements, recording devices capture sound, and so on.

Whatever your content, having a handy system to manage it makes things easier to deal with. If you were to pick a name for such a system  you might think “Content Management System” would aptly describe what you want. In fact, that is exactly what WordPress is: A content management system or CMS.

Most site-builders on the web today are content management systems. WordPress often is overlooked in the site-builder market because for a very long time it has been termed “Blogging Software”. But as the site-builder market matures WordPress is on track to move more firmly into the site-builder world.

In the site-builder world, you upload your content to a database and then format it for presentation in a browser, aka:Website.

WordPress Content Management Tools

Earlier we mentioned two broad categories of content: words and media. Now we can talk about how you manage content with WordPress to make a website. First we’ll talk about how WordPress handles the written word, and then we’ll discuss uploading media like pictures , videos, and graphics. Then we’ll talk briefly about WordPress themes and the Gutenburg block editor.

The Word Part of WordPress

Since WordPress started life as a blogging software, the written word is handled with Posts. But, you can create Pages too. The reason there are two ways to handle words in WordPress is sometimes you need to place a page someplace permanently like an about page, and sometimes you want content to be dynamic like a daily diary.

To put it another way, you would want to create a page for information that never, or rarely changes like an about page, or a contact page. These pages are typically tied into a menu selection on a website. A user clicks on the contact page and there is all your email, phone, and address information.

Posts, on the other hand, are topics that you’re interested in or want your users to have frequent updates about. When you write and publish a post WordPress stores it like a link in a chain with all the other posts you have written. When WordPress sees a user wants to see your posts, it grabs this chain and displays all posts the way you tell it to on a single page. For example, you might tell WordPress to display posts by category, by date, show only the title, show the title and some teaser content, or show the entire posts chain.

In either a post or a page you have the option to create the post or page with the WordPress editor, or you can cut and paste from your favorite word processor.

Your Website and WordPress Media

The media library is where you upload and keep all pictures, graphics, .pdfs, and sounds. Video can be stored in your media library, but most people choose to simply use YouTube and embed the video where it is needed. At any rate, the media library is the media repository for WordPress.

To get media in the library you select upload from the media page. Once you click that you will be asked for a location to upload your media file. Simply navigate to the directory on your hard-drive or phone, and select the media to upload.

If the media is a valid format and within the size limits, WordPress uploads the media placing it in the storage area of your website. Also, WordPress allows you to add description, meta-tags, and other information about the media in the library. You can also find a link to the media on the media’s information page.

Assuming now that we have loaded some media to the media library and have content for a page or post, we will briefly describe a theme and the Gutenburg editor.

Themes, the Gutenberg Editor, and Your Website

A WordPress theme is what visitors see when they visit your website. With WordPress you have virtually limitless themes available to use. Most of them are free. The theme is the visual personality of your site, and you build the attitude of that personality with Gutenberg blocks.

Gutenberg blocks is a recent core addition to WordPress, and it is sending signals in the WordPress community that moving forward WordPress is looking to empower the average user with the design and layout of their website.

A full tutorial on Gutenberg blocks could cover a lot of ground. But perhaps a better approach is to tell you that in each blank post and page you start in WordPress you simply add a block from the block library. The block library is shown to you when you click the plus sign in the upper right area of the editor’s header, or in the editing area when you cursor to an empty  area and click.

Once you see the block library, simply choose, pick, and place the block on the page. Once selected, you’ll find that each block has its own selections to make. In some, you simply add text, in others you click to add media from your media library, in others you can blend media and text.

Also, each block has its own color controls and advanced capabilities to customize it further with your own design ideas using CSS.

To that end, all these WordPress content management tools give you the ultimate control over how your website looks and operates. In addition, compared to other website builders, WordPress is the most open and widely supported website building content management system in the world. In fact, over 35% of the world’s websites run on WordPress.

Contact Me If You Need More Info

If you’ve come here looking for more information to help make your decision about using WordPress to build your website I hope you’ve found enough information to convince you it is a good choice. To me, it is simply well above any other site-builder in capability, support, and ease of use.

But if you’re still undecided go ahead and drop me a line or shoot me a text. I try to get back within 24 hours. It will be worth the wait to have a conversation about building websites with WordPress. I have seen many times builders like you use another site-builder only to find they really needed a CMS like WordPress.

In any event, thanks for reading. And let’s create and publish great content with WordPress.

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