Reading: What is Wordpress?

By now you have seen the word "WordPress" mentioned more than a dozen times, you know it runs 25% of all websites, and that we are going to be using it to build our websites during this course, but what exactly is it? We have seen that webpages are actually just documents while a webserver is just a computer configured to gives you those documents when you load a webpage. WordPress is built to fit in between these two pieces in order to make your job of creating and editing web pages easier.

Keeping everything consistent and up to date

Almost all websites include many different pages, like the different article pages in a single news site. While each page is a separate document, they overlap in many places. All of them share menus for how to get back to the main site or look through different sections. The main page and all the section pages include text from all the article pages and links to each of them. If you tried to build such a site by writing each page individually, you would be constantly copying menus to new pages and would then have to update the main page and relevant section pages whenever you made changes to the site.

WordPress helps you build sites without all this micromanagement. It handles putting the right shared elements, like menus, on each page and makes sure to update any portions of your site, like index pages, areas where you list "recent posts", etc, that refer to other pages on the site. In addition to avoiding all this micromanagement, WordPress also has lots of great tools to control your site's visual look and how it is organized. We will look at these more in depth next session when we choose a visual theme for our sites.

Many tools, one name

WordPress can do all of this because it is a "Content Management System" or "CMS" for short. CMSs are designed to include all the tools you need for editing, managing, and publishing things online. If you have spent time in a university in recent years you have probably already dealt with at least one LMS, or "Learning Management System". Learning management systems are descended from CMSs and attempt to provide all the same editing, managing, and sharing tasks for an educational course that CMSs do for web content. Don't worry, building your site with WordPress is going to be easier than any of the LMSs you have interacted with, but it is useful to think of Wordpress as a similar kind of toolbox. In session 5 we will take a brief look at how to use plugins to add additional tools to the built-in WordPress offerings.


comments powered by Disqus