WordPress – The Default Website Template
In technical terms WordPress is a PHP web application that uses a MySQL database for storage and configuration. That’s a very vague statement, and probably wouldn’t mean much to 99.9% of the users. In the ten years (2014) that it’s been around it has grown from a simple site designed to bring blogging to the masses to a fully fledged, multi-user content management system – capable of running not only blogs, but membership sites, sales sites and even confidential conferencing. Through its two main websites (WordPress.org & WordPress.com) WordPress (the company) either host or provide the open source code for a huge proportion (over 17% according to WordPress themselves) of the world’s website requirements.
WordPress.com is the site where at no cost you can set up your own WordPress blog. Compared to self hosting, the blogs that are created there are limited as to which themes (colour & layout schemes) and plugins (additional sub-applications) can be added. You also have your content monitored – to a small degree, and transgressors of the not-very-strict rules will be thrown off and their blogs removed. Provided you don’t mind have a blogname.WordPress.com style domain name (and there are even ways around that) it is an ideal way to get a gentle introduction to the world of WordPress blogging.
If however you want more control over your site’s appearance and capabilities you will need to go down the self hosting route. Most of the webspace providers run a back-end installation system attached to the control panel. This system usually has the capability to install one or more or many web applications and it would be surprising if WordPress was not amongst them. The two main installation systems are Fantastico & Softaculous and both offer easy installation and basic set up for a new web site.
There are still some web hosts that are very ‘raw’ in their nature and do not provide any auto-installers and if you want WordPress on one of these you will need to go to WordPress.org and download the latest version for yourself. Fortunately setting it up is as easy as getting all the files into the webspace, making sure there is a MySQL server available, knowing it’s name or IP address and then running the WordPress installation file. A few basic questions and WordPress can create its own database tables, populate them and do the other basic housekeeping that a new installation needs. From there on in, the world is your oyster. There are tens of thousands of free themes and plugins for you to experiment with as well as thousands of premium add-ons from a few dollars up to hundreds.
There is also a burgeoning industry of ‘experts’ who will do the whole process for you, designing your own custom site that may look nothing like the original but still has the basic WordPress code at its heart.