What Is a CMS?

A long time ago, building your own website was hard work. You needed to know all sorts of coding languages, such as PHP, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and more. And while those are still quite helpful in today’s day and age, they’re totally unnecessary for building most websites or blogs. Content Management Systems (or CMS’s) allow you to create a website much faster, and without needing any coding knowledge whatsoever (though having some does definitely help).

CMS’s are pre-made website building tools, originally made for blogging, but, because of their flexibility, people were able to build virtually any website with them. You can build a very professional business site, a landing page for marketing, or virtually anything you can build with normal site building tools, can be built with a CMS like WordPress.

But CMS’s aren’t just about being able to build things without knowing how to code, they also save a considerable amount of time on design. Because there are pre-made “themes” which cover most of the basic design of the pages and layout (which are simply uploaded to the site) most of the design for the site is essentially done for you right after you begin working on the site and upload a theme.

On top of that, you have little mini-programs within the CMS that other people create, and you can simply upload to your site in a heartbeat. In WordPress, they’re called “plugins” though they can be also called “modules” or something similar. There’s really no end to what these can do for you, and how they allow you to customize your site.

Why WordPress?

As you may already know, there are lots of great CMS’s out there. Examples include Drupal, Joomla, Weebly, Blogger, and others. But, WordPress has taken the number one spot for having by far the most users and the largest community. In fact, most of all CMS users are using WordPress, and there’s really no indication that this number is slowing down either. WordPress continues to grow in popularity each and every year.

The fact that it’s popular is actually a huge boon to WordPress. Why? Again, because of the community that’s involved with making WordPress work better, have more functionality, and of course, fewer bugs and issues. A larger community means that there are more people offering cool, professional and oftentimes beautiful themes. It also means more plugins are available to allow you to do all kinds of things you normally couldn’t do without knowing how to code in a scripting language like PHP or JavaScript. Overall, it means more functionality, more support, more options, and a better user experience on the whole.

While WordPress may not have the highest level of customizability, as compared to Drupal or Joomla, for example, it does happen to be one of the easiest, if not THE easiest CMS to quickly get an elegant site up and running, and looking great. A good website in WordPress can often be built in less than an hour, sometimes less than a half hour. That’s what makes it so absolutely powerful.

Because of its popularity it also has a lot of third party support outside of WordPress. For example, nowadays, just about every hosting company you sign up for offers some sort of WordPress fast install. BlueHost allows you to install WordPress, and many other CMS type programs with a few clicks of a mouse. Other hosting companies offer a service called “WordPress 1-Click Install” or “Fantastico” (which is very similar to the BlueHost’s WP installer). Because of it’s popularity, they’ve made it so getting it installed on your domain is extremely simple and quick.

Now let’s talk more about the nitty-gritty of WordPress. If you’ve never setup WordPress before, I have a tutorial for you which will teach you exactly how to do it. Once you’ve installed WordPresss, the first thing you need to do, is install your Theme…

WordPress Themes

Now, I mentioned WordPress themes were an important part of WordPress, so let’s take a moment to talk about those. On the left-hand side of your backend, where the primary nav menu is, you’ll see a tab that says “Appearance”, and there’s a sub-tab of that called “Themes” You can have multiple themes installed on your site, but only one can be “active” at a time. This allows you to switch back and forth between different themes depending on what you want at any given moment.

Again, there are themes for just about any type of website you want to create. There are countless themes offered for free via WordPress (these are themes which people in the WordPress community create, and then offer up freely), and then there are many “Premium” themes which are designed to be sold. You can choose a free theme, or, if you’re looking for something a little better, you can go to a website like ElegantThemes and get access to 86+ very nice Premium themes for as little as $69 per year. They also have a theme like Divi which allow intense levels of customization to your blog or webpage.

The Core of Your Site: Adding Posts and Pages

The main way to build out your website, is to add posts and page (which are similar, but a little different). If you’re running a blog on your site, the main thing you’re going to focus on are the “posts”. These can be shown on your home page (or another page) based on the date you posted them (usually in descending order). They can also be archived and categorized so people can browse through them easily, etc.

If you’re going to be building something like a business website, you’ll typically focus on just having a few “pages’. These are usually put on the top nav bar (though they don’t have to be) and are used as you generally use new pages on a typical website.

So, ultimately, what makes WordPress so popular, is its simplicity. Once you add a theme, add your plugins, and then add your posts and pages (and fill them in with content) the site is pretty much done. Of course, there are still a few other things which you have to do, such as add your widgets (in most cases) but the core site is VERY easy to setup.

Hopefully I was able to help you here with the basics of WordPress, and you’ll see it’s a pretty wonderful CMS, and it clearly is here to stay, so play around with it for yourself, and you’ll no doubt find you can build your own websites fairly quickly.

If you need help on how to create a website using WordPress, please just follow the steps explained in my tutorial. Here’s the link to the first step: Install WordPress on your site.

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