What is WordPress, what is it for and how does it work?

Did you know that WordPress is the absolute leader in the world for website creation?

Right now, according to W3Techs surveys , 31.7% of the world’s websites are made with WordPress, the next system, Joomla , is very far behind with 3.1% .

As you can imagine, this overwhelming domain of WordPress is no coincidence and raises the question of what it is about this system that has allowed it to dominate the world of website creation in this overwhelming way.

And more importantly: is WordPress also the most suitable system for you?

Therefore, in this post, I want to explain everything you need to know to really understand what WordPress is and if you are interested in using it or not for your website.

What will you find here?

  • What is WordPress exactly?
    • What is WordPress used for and who is it used for?
    • What websites can be created with WordPress? – Examples
    • What are WordPress plugins?
    • What are WordPress templates?
    • How is content created in WordPress?
  • What is WordPress.org and how does it work?
    • How to install WordPress.org on a hosting
    • How to create a website with an attractive design in WordPress
    • How to use WordPress.org in Spanish
  • What is WordPress.com and how does it work?
  • WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – Key Differences to Choose
    • The key differences between WordPress.com plans
    • WordPress.org or WordPress.com Which one suits you best?
  • Final tips for choosing your WordPress option
    • What to choose in the “indecisive” phase
    • What to choose for a personal project without major ambitions
    • What to choose for a professional project

In addition, I will give special weight to some very frequent doubts and confusions such as, for example, the famous difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org that, to this day, continues to confuse all WordPress beginners.

What is WordPress exactly?

The simplest definition of WordPress is that it is a software application for creating and managing websites (creating their content, etc.).

There are many applications of this type, which are also known as CMS (“Content Management System” , content management system).

WordPress also has the peculiarity of being a free and open source software project that depends on the WordPress Foundation , a non-profit foundation, chaired by Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress.

This means that its code is created and maintained by a community of thousands of volunteer developers (which guarantees its continuity) and that you can have the application completely free .

What is WordPress used for and who is it used for?

The reason for using this type of application ( CMS ) is very simple: they allow you to create websites and their contents in a visual way, without having to program , in a way similar to how you work in a modern text editor such as Microsoft Word, for example.

This was not always the case. In the early days of the web, web pages had to be coded in a language called HTML (a kind of programming language), which you can get an idea of ​​here:How to make a web page in HTML: Tutorial from scratch

Creating a web page in HTML is surprisingly easy for non-technical people to learn and it is well worth doing it because you access another level of possibilities for your website.

Programming in HTML by hand to create content was tedious, inefficient, and limited .

Creating a web page became “breaking stone” and, above all, things with a bit of functionality and logic, such as a simple comment section, for example, required considerable effort and were only available to programmers.

That is why CMS were born: they are web applications that allow the user to create content with a visual interface, in a simple and fast way and without programming knowledge, something that allows practically anyone to handle them.

The “classic” visual editor for WordPress.

In addition, the CMS already include the typical functionalities that are repeated in almost all websites, such as the example of the comments section that I mentioned before, contact forms, etc.

What websites can be created with WordPress? – Examples

Everyone knows that WordPress is used a lot for creating personal blogs .

What is much less known is the fact that WordPress allows you to create practically any type of website : not only personal sites and blogs, but also corporate websites , magazines , online stores … Even for digital newspapers , WordPress is a frequent option

Many of the best known companies worldwide use WordPress for their websites.

What is usually surprising is the number of websites of world-known brands that are based on WordPress.

In the “WordPress Website Showcase”   of WordPress.org you can find a list of websites of companies that belong to the Fortune 500 , which is the list published annually by Fortune magazine with 500 US companies with the highest stock market price.

Here you will find the websites of companies and brands such as Walt Disney , Time Magazine , Sony Music , etc.

Example of an online store created with WordPress and WooCommerce .

I recommend that you take a look at the tag cloud page of the “showcase” because here you will find hundreds of websites, organized by the niche to which they belong .

Also, if you want to create a new website, taking a look at the websites of your niche or related niches first is also a very good source of inspiration for yours.

What are WordPress plugins?

The fact of being free and open source software has been one of the essential factors in the success of WordPress.

Another of the great factors has been its architecture, which, thanks to the themes and plugins , is tremendously flexible , which has allowed WordPress to be adjusted to practically any need that a user may have.

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Let’s start with plugins: ” plugin “ is a term widely used to refer to a software component (code) with a very specific functionality that is very easily added to an existing application to extend it with this new functionality.

This idea is also used, for example, in web browsers where many of them allow the use of plugins which are also called “extensions” , “add-ons” , etc.

In the repository of WordPress.org plugins you will find more than 50,000 free plugins for WordPress to add all kinds of functionalities to WordPress comes “from the factory” and that is relatively basic.

In addition, you also have a huge number of payment plugins from different brands.

A very simple and very useful plugin example that we use in this blog is NextScripts Auto-poster (in its paid version).

This plugin, after the publication of a post or page, spreads it automatically in all those accounts and / or social network groups that we have configured, which saves us a lot of time.

To this are added other very useful functionalities such as, for example, being able to create a round of publications , that is, periodically republish existing content.

The WooCommerce plugin page on WordPress.org.

Another example of a plugin, in this case, much broader in functionality, would be WooCommerce , the most popular plugin for creating online stores for WordPress and, in general, one of the most popular solutions for creating online stores.

Both plugins are also examples of “freemium” products, which are those products for which the manufacturer creates, together with the commercial paid version, a limited free version that allows you to know the product before buying it.

What are WordPress templates?

WordPress templates (or “themes” ) are a concept very similar to plugins, but they are specifically designed for web design , the appearance of WordPress, although many times they also include certain functionality.

The templates function as “pre-made” designs , with their layout style, fonts, font sizes, their set and color combinations, and so on.

Here you can see a few examples among the thousands of themes on WordPress.org :

Some examples among the thousands of free themes that you can find on WordPress.org.

The grace of this is that the templates are 100% independent of the content and that allows changing the design of a WordPress site almost as easy as someone who changes their suit.

It’s choosing a new template, activating it, making some minor adjustments (configuring the logo, selecting header images, etc.) and you’ve already completely changed the design of your site.

The downside is that the vast majority of templates, especially free ones, tend to be quite limited in terms of customization possibilities .

It is true that all templates can be customized with the WordPress CSS editor , which gives a lot of play, but this already requires the help of a web designer or you acquire certain CSS knowledge that, by the way, you can acquire in this post :The quick guide to learning basic CSS from scratch

If there is something that I recommend if you have a website, it is to learn CSS and HTML. Even if you use a platform like WordPress or Joomla, there is no color.

If you already want a theme “no more” , an extremely customizable theme and without the need for programming knowledge, today, you will have to go to paid themes with advanced visual editors such as Divi . Here you can see how you work with them

These types of templates, in a way, precisely because they are 100% open, lose the idea of ​​a template with a predefined design that the user only customizes a little.

This also makes them somewhat more complex to use (you have to learn to use their design tools), but, in return, you can create any design with them , to the point of exactly replicating the design of other websites, as you can see. With the example of Citizen 2.0:

How is content created in WordPress?

And as the last point in this section, let’s see how the contents of your website are created in WordPress.

As this is a process that is much better understood with a video, here is also a video with which you will get a very clear idea of ​​what the day-to-day content creation in WordPress is like:

What is WordPress.org and how does it work?

If you have read this post carefully so far, it may have caught your attention that sometimes I have talked about WordPress dry and other about “WordPress.org” .

This has to do with the fact that there are two very different ways to create a WordPress site: with WordPress.org and with WordPress.com .

Let’s start with WordPress.org: this is the site of the open source project, that is, the “headquarters” of the community that develops WordPress and where you as a user can also download the current version of the WordPress application (in the button blue top right)

Home page of the WordPress.org website in Spanish.

If you look at the menu on the page above, you will see here are also access to the repository of free themes and plugins for WordPress.

In addition, you will find a support forum, information about events, information on how to collaborate in the project if you want to participate, etc.

How to install WordPress.org on a hosting

Now that you know where to get the application, the question is: how to turn this into a website?

Note that, as with any other application, for this you have to install WordPress on a computer , like when you install programs on your PC or new apps on your mobile.

But since we are talking about a program to create a web visible to the public, we also need a computer connected to the Internet and an IP address linked to a domain name and that this computer is working 24 hours a day .

Although you could set up all this at home, it does not seem very practical : preparing the computer so that WordPress can be installed requires serious technical knowledge and the idea of ​​having a computer connected 24 hours a day for this is not very attractive either

A data center such as those used to offer services of web hosting. In this case, it is one of Google’s data centers.

And this is where the concept of web hosting comes in ( “web hosting  in Spanish, although the English term “hosting” is used mostly ).

In a web hosting service (or just hosting) you can rent a computer in a computer farm (called “data centers” ) already prepared for all this where you would only have to install WordPress (which is very easy for anyone, like you’ll see).

It would be something like renting a house (your computer) in a building (the data center). Now you will also understand why the term “accommodation” is used in this …

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Notice: these offers are valid now , they may expire in a few days.

It is important that you know that this type of installation does not speak of computers, but of “servers” , a very powerful type of computer specially designed for these environments.

What’s more, 99.9% of people just rent a “piece” of a server. This “piece” is perfectly isolated from the other customers and you, as a user, will have the feeling as if it were a machine for you alone.

Returning to our simile, it would be renting a single room with your private and shared space inside the house, which is known as shared hosting and, thanks to the power of current servers, it allows you to have dozens of websites on the same server.

This has been a real revolution because it has allowed everyone to create a professional level website (which is what WordPress allows) at very low prices (around € 5 / month there are already good hostings).

Having seen all this, you are now ready to understand the following video in which the “original” installation of WordPress (with its own installer) on a hosting is explained step by step :https://www.youtube.com/embed/QaZQYueGUr0

If you prefer to read it better calmly in a post, here you can see the same as a post:How to install WordPress step by step in 5 minutes

Here I explain the best way to create a WordPress site on a hosting, your PC (or server) local or in the cloud. It’s easy and you’ll be ready in 5 minutes.

And if you have doubts, you can raise them in the comments of this post.

How to create a website with an attractive design in WordPress

And in this mega-tutorial an entire website is created in WordPress , with a blog included , with a professional and responsive design , that is, it is adapted for mobile devices 

How to use WordPress.org in Spanish

WordPress is of English origin. But luckily it is translated into many languages.

In our case, Spanish speakers, I recommend you go to the WordPress.org site in Spanish , that is, es.wordpress.org instead of wordpress.org (the US headquarters which is in English).

Thus, using WordPress in Spanish has no more mystery than downloading the application from its headquarters in Spanish and installing it.

From there, everything is automatic , updates will be made automatically with the Spanish version, as well as when installing themes and plugins, their Spanish versions will also be used automatically.

Of course, although most plugins and themes are also translated into Spanish, there is a not inconsiderable part of them that are not.

The specific menus within WordPress of these untranslated themes and plugins will be in English, although the rest of the interface is in Spanish.

What is WordPress.com and how does it work?

Now that I have explained what hosting is, it will be much easier for you to understand what is the other way of creating a website with WordPress, WordPress.com , and why it exists.

The creator of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg , in light of the success of WordPress, ended up also creating the software company Automattic with the idea of ​​offering services based on WordPress and other related applications.

Its most important service is WordPress.com , a service that allows you to create a WordPress site without having to hire a hosting, or install the WordPress application yourself.

The WordPress.com page in Spanish.

Servers are also necessary here, but the difference is that they already put them , you don’t have to worry about hiring a hosting.

You simply have to create a user account on WordPress.com, just like you would on other services “in the cloud” like Gmail, for example.

The advantage of this concept is that it simplifies the technical part of WordPress for the user : the initial process of creating the blog is easier and maintenance is also somewhat simplified.

But it has the counterpart with the limitations of WordPress.com compared to an own WordPress installation on a hosting, especially in the cheapest plans.

As you can see on the WordPress.com plans and prices page , these plans have different features :

WordPress.com plans (click on the image to see the details on the web).

As you can see in the image above, you have from a very limited free plan to a very complete “Business” plan .

The idea is to adapt these plans to different user needs, although they themselves come to recognize that as soon as you go a little “seriously” with your blog, it will be necessary to use one of the payment plans.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – Key Differences to Choose

Now you will understand that one of the great doubts of people is what to choose for their website is:

WordPress.com or WordPress.org with its own hosting?

That question does not make sense to answer without talking about the differences between the plans of WordPress.com , so we first talk about the options that you have in WordPress.com and then we return to the comparison with WordPress.org:

The key differences between WordPress.com plans

In my opinion, the essential points of the plans to take into account are the following:

Free Plan

This plan has the obvious advantage of being free, along with how simple and immediate it is to open an account at WordPress.com and have the blog created and running within 5 minutes.

However, it also has serious drawbacks : you cannot use your own domain name (it will always be of the type “loquesea.wordpress.com” ), you cannot install themes and plugins and Automattic will show ads on your website that you cannot disable.

Personal Plan

With this plan you can now use your own domain name, ads are removed and a support service is added. In addition, the disk space is increased to 6Gb, a pretty good figure.

Premium plan

This plan adds premium templates (about 200 at this time) to the free ones (about 300), it adds the possibility of integrating payments via PayPal and ads with WordAds (Automattic’s own online advertising system, similar to Google’s AdSense ).

Another very significant change is that, along with the premium templates, the possibility of advanced customization of the themes via CSS is also added , something very important because it will already allow a lot of “polishing” the look you want for your website.

The downside is that the way to do it (with CSS rules) is somewhat technical. Here you can better understand what exactly it consists of:The quick guide to learning basic CSS from scratch

If there is something that I recommend if you have a website, it is to learn CSS and HTML. Even if you use a platform like WordPress or Joomla, there is no color.

It should also be noted that here we are already paying about € 100 per year (similar to what a good hosting costs) and we still cannot freely upload themes and plugins.

Business plan

This plan is, in my view, the only one that is a serious alternative to a WordPress site with its own hosting .

This is so because it allows, finally, to install themes and plugins and integrate Google Analytics .

All of these are tools that, sooner or later, you will want to have at your disposal as soon as your project goes beyond an initial development phase.

To this we must add that with this option, you have unlimited storage space . This in cases that require a lot of space can be a weighting factor in the decision.

The downside is that, with € 300 / year , this plan is already substantially more expensive than the previous ones and also than the basic and advanced plans of a good shared hosting.

WordPress.org or WordPress.com Which one suits you best?

As you can see, the plans below the Business Plan are much more limited than WordPress with its own hosting, except for the Business plan , but this is clearly more expensive than an option with hosting .

This can lead you to the conclusion of choosing WordPress.org with hosting, but remember that hosting also has its drawbacks that you have to consider in your decision.

So let’s go to the “final battle” between WordPress.com and WordPress.org by comparing the 7 criteria, in my opinion, most important in your decision of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org:

1. Difficulty of installation and maintenance

This is where WordPress.com scores strong. Its service consists precisely in taking away this technical work from the user .

That said, WordPress installation is a 5-10 minute max process and maintenance is basically automatic.

Therefore, the technical burden that hosting adds, even for non-technical people, is low . If, in addition, you go to a hosting plan with WordPress support , they help you in everything and it will definitely be a service very similar to the one provided by WordPress.com.

The crux of the matter is much more the quality of your hosting , if you choose a good hosting (I especially recommend: Webempresa , SiteGround and Raiola Networks ), you basically forget. If the hosting is bad, it will be a continuous stream of problems.

Here are some of the most popular hostings that also include WordPress support so you can see options and prices (click on the logos or the links to go to the provider in question):

WebempresaSite GroundRaiola networksHOSTINGER
IdiomSpanishSpanishSpanishSpanish
ForumIn higher plansNONONO
WordPress support (*)In higher plans YESIn higher plansNO
Trainingvideo-tutorials, articles, forumsupport, video-tutorials, free eventsvideo-tutorials, articles, forumarticles

Summary table with support services. Click on the logos for more information on provider plans.

2. Performance / price ratio

If the only thing that worries you is that you have to pay, it is clear: your option is the free WordPress.com plan .

In terms of pure performance, in terms of server speed, security , etc. the benefits will be very similar between WordPress.com and a good hosting.

As for the performance / price ratio at the level of design and functionality , if you have read the post carefully, you already know that design and functionality, in WordPress, translates to themes and plugins .

Here, the situation is very simple: the hosting will always win because here there are simply no limitations.

In addition, the difference with WordPress.com plans other than the Business plan is very high. However, the Business plan does come very close in terms of design and functionality to WordPress.org with hosting.

But if we talk about the performance / price ratio, with this plan you are paying triple what a good own hosting costs (about € 100 / year).

3. Traffic and storage capacity

This is another clear strong point of WordPress.com, since in the free plan you have 3Gb of storage space , which is gradually increasing reaching unlimited in the Business plan .

Also, there is no traffic limit . WordPress.com boasts even some websites with millions of page views per day .

If we go to hosting, the range of offers is very wide and there are hostings with unlimited storage from the most basic plans.

Here, except in the Business plan, as a general rule, the hosting option would win .YOU DO NOT GET VISITS ON YOUR WEBSITE?

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  • You will multiply the visits to your website.

On the other hand, there are also hostings that offer unlimited bandwidth (which, in theory, should translate into unlimited traffic) from their basic plans.

But the reality is that practically all hostings put a ceiling on supported traffic , but arguing on the side of the consumption of CPU resources.

In my personal experience, with the most basic plans from good hosting providers, you can handle several thousand visits a day with no problems. Here I recommend providers such as Webempresa , SiteGround and Raiola Networks .

Since these are already traffic figures that few people ever reach, in practice most people will never have a traffic limit problem.

The rest will have a time when they will have to level up their hosting plan.

Now, with the economic performance that a website that has already reached thousands of visits should give, paying € 5 more per month for a better plan should not be a big problem either.

In any case, in the traffic section WordPress.com would win .

4. Security management

At WordPress.com they take care of security in a comprehensive way. You can basically just forget about it.

In WordPress.org it depends, on the one hand, on the hosting (the measures that they implement) and / or on your own security management.

Win WordPress.com for making it easier for you.

5. Monetization options

Here WordPress.org clearly wins because the monetization options of WordPress.com are very limited in the cheapest plans . They can only be compared to WordPress.org on the Business plan.

You can see the details in the plans themselves and, above all, in the WordPress monetization options page .

As this particular page is only available in English, the link above points to an automatic translation with Google Translate. Keep this in mind because of the “kits” that you will find in the translated text.

6. Create or integrate an online store

Perhaps you want to create an online store based on WordPress (with WooCommerce, which is now also from Automattic) or integrate a section with an online store in a WordPress website (a blog, for example).

But what’s more, WooCommerce is the leading platform in the world, with which more online stores are made. So you might also want to take a look at it more calmly here:What is WooCommerce, what is it for and how does it work

If you want to create an online store, one of the best options (if not the best) is WooCommerce. Here I explain what it is exactly.

This in WordPress.org, again, you can do it without any problem and no limitations On the other hand, in WordPress.com you will need the Business plan to be able to do it.

Win WordPress.org .

7. Branding and additional functionality

Here I would highlight, above all, three things :

  • Being able to have your own email (that is, with “@yourdomain”).
  • Being able to upload and download files with FTP / SFTP .
  • Being able to install complementary applications such as Prestashop (an alternative to WooCommerce for very popular online stores), phpBB for forums, etc.

When hiring a hosting, even in the basic plans, the three things usually come included .

The WordPress.com service, however, only allows the first and “half” since it only allows redirection, that is, they can send you email to pepito @ tudomino and WordPress.com will forward it to pepito@yahoo.com , for example.

The problem is that WordPress.com does not support it the other way around: sent from your own domain email. For this, you need to hire a separate service.

Having email with your own domain is an issue that affects your brand image and your branding. So keep this in mind.

Therefore, at this point the WordPress option with its own hosting wins by a landslide.

Final tips for choosing your WordPress option

Now that we have seen the details of the differences between the different versions of WordPress, I think you will agree that there is no point in talking about a “winner” .

There is no “better” version of WordPress , there are options that are better or worse adapted to your specific situation and you have to be the one who makes the final decision , with the help of the criteria set out here.

Now, having said this and generalizing a lot, we can isolate three specific scenarios that are repeated a lot and for them I can give my opinion and advice:

What to choose in the “indecisive” phase

If you do not have a clear project in mind and you simply want a first with the world of blogging or webs in general, have a first experience of creating content and receive some feedback, etc. you don’t even need a domain of your own.

Therefore, in this case, I would clearly recommend the free WordPress.com plan.

What to choose for a personal project without major ambitions

This case is already more complicated. So let’s go in parts:

If you are clear that you want to have your own website, although without major professional and economic aspirations , but to which you are going to dedicate some time and effort, first of all, I highly recommend acquiring a domain .

The reason is that the image of your project changes a lot, your own domain, together with a wise choice of your theme, take away that “seedy” impression that many sites suffer and that you will not want for a site to which you are dedicating a good part of free time.

This leads us to choose between the paid plans of WordPress.com and a WordPress.org site with hosting.

If you are a person who is scared by the technical aspects, I would recommend the Personal or Premium plan of WordPress.com. It is very likely that they will be enough for you.

If the technical tasks do not put you back or you even like them, for the same money you will have the option of WordPress.org hosting which, in this case, I would recommend you to definitely get rid of any limitation of the WordPress.com plans that you I have recommended and that could affect your project.

What to choose for a professional project

If your project is already “very serious”, that is, if we are talking, for example, of projects with professional, economic aspirations ( generating income with your website), etc., in my view, there are only two good options: the Business plan of WordPress.com or WordPress.org with its own hosting.

Remember that, without reaching 100% of the total freedom and flexibility that an installation with your own hosting gives, the Business Plan is very close and is a very interesting alternative to your own hosting .

In addition, if you foresee that your project is going to reach very high traffic quotas (tens of thousands of visits per day) and space (many tens of Gbytes), the unlimited resources of the WordPress.com Business plan are a very important added value for your case in favor of this option.

If, in addition, you dislike the (few) tasks that involve a WordPress.org site with hosting, I would definitely favor this option.

If it is not like that and you do not see a major inconvenience in the small additional technical load of a hosting, I would lean towards WordPress.org , and if it is with a hosting with WordPress support included, even better.

In this way you access 100% of the potential and options of WordPress and, in addition, you will pay half or a third of what the Business plan costs you per year.

That is also basically the reason why, in our specific case, all our sites are WordPress.org with hosting, including this one, Citizen 2.0.

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