WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and content management system (CMS). Currently WordPress is the most popular blogging system, which is being used on more than 60 million websites, including 19% of the current top 10 million websites.
Founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little launched WordPress on May 27, 2003 as an off shoot, or “fork”, of b2/cafelog. Version 3.7, released in November of 2013, has been downloaded almost 10 million times.
Since WordPress is an Open Source project, there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it. This is more people involved than there are in most commercial platforms. Also, being an Open Source application, means that it is free to use for anything from a personal home page to a major corporation’s website without having to pay anyone for a licensing fee.
At its inception, WordPress was meant to be only a simple blogging system However, with its adaptability, the site has evolved to be used as a full content management system and even more. WordPress can be just about anything you can imagine with the thousands of plugins, widgets and themes the site has to offer.
WordPress users have the ability to choose from and switch between thousands of different themes, which allows them to change the look and functionality of their website or installation without changing the information content or structure of the site itself. The themes can be installed using the WordPress Appearance Administration tool or theme folders can be uploaded using FTP. The PHP, HTML & CSS code found in the themes can be added or edited for providing advanced features. WordPress themes are available either free, with some premium templates offered for a fee.
A very popular feature of WordPress is its plugin architecture which gives users and developers to extend the capabilities of their website way beyond the core installation. WordPress has a database of over 26,000 plugins, each offers a custom functions and features that allow the users to customize their sites so they are adaptable to each user’s specific needs. These customizations range from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) enhancers , to client portals which can be used to display private information that only logged in users can view. There are also content displaying features including widgets and navigation bars.
Multi-user and multi-blogging
WordPress supported only one blog per installation before the release of WordPress 3.0. WordPress Multi-user (WordPress MU) was a fork for WordPress created to allow multiple blogs to co-exist within one installation and allow the ability to be controlled by one administrator. WordPress MU allows users who have websites to host their own blogging communities, as well as control and moderate all the blogs from a single dashboard, it also adds eight new data tables for each blog.
WordPress applications exist for WebOS, Android, iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), Windows Phone and BlackBerry. These applications allow users to use a set of options that include adding new blog posts and pages, commenting, moderating comments, replying to comments in addition to the ability to view site stats.
WordPress also features integrated link management including a search engine-friendly, clean permalink structure, the ability to assign nested, multiple categories to articles and support for tagging of posts and articles. Automatic filters provide standardized formatting and styling of the text in articles. WordPress also supports the Trackback and Pingback standards for displaying links to other sites that have themselves linked to a post or article.
Recently, Google has launched a plugin for self-hosted WordPress blogs in public beta that makes adding AdSense ads to users’ websites easier. It also makes verifying a site with Webmaster Tools a single-click process.
Given the fact that WordPress is a major force in the blogging community, powering more than 20 percent of websites, it’s no wonder Google has decided to take them seriously. Despite its reputation as a blogging platform, WordPress is mostly used as a content management system that possesses the ability to cater to virtually every need, because of its extensibility.
While the initial version of Google’s plugin is still pretty limited, there are plans to add more functionality over time. Besides the Webmaster Tools verification, that saves the user the normal steps of copying and pasting snippets of code to their WordPress templates, it also offers the ability to easily place ads on the user’s website.
With so many WordPress websites on the market, Google wants to make sure they are the main source of income available on as many of them as possible.
WordPress for eCommerce
Whether you need an online store, to be used as your primary business or to complement your physical small business, the WordPress platform makes the creation of a professional eCommerce website simple. Not only are there thousands of templates, but there is also a massive library of plugins designed to automate and simplify your online sales.
One of the most popular e-Commerce plugins is WP e-Commerce, which comes with a wide variety of functions and features. The feature packed download works great out of the box and comes with flexible coupon codes, discounts and free shipping options, cross-page promotion, a New Products widget and single-page checkout to name a few.
WooCommerce is another popular e-Commerce plugin which is easy to use for both vendors and customers. It includes complex coupon campaigns, product and inventory management as well as order management, sales reports and more.
Jigoshop is a free plugin that comes with just about everything you need to run an eCommerce store. The features include, detailed reporting, widgets and shortcodes, inventory tracking and product imports and exports plus much more to build a professional eCommerce website with.
With so many major online players using WordPress and so many major online service providers taking notice, WordPress has transcended the bounds of a just an everyday blogging website and has re-invented itself as a very versatile that can serve just about any need. WordPress has the simplicity to be a blogging platform where you can share your opinions on how to fix all the world’s problems, and the same site can create an impressive website for some of the world’s largest corporations. WordPress is definitely a force to be reckoned with.