Everything You Need to Know about WordPress: Must-Read Facts

Michal Kaczor Avatar


WordPress, an open-source content management system (CMS), has fundamentally transformed how websites are created and managed. As a platform that is both free and priceless at the same time, WordPress provides users with a versatile toolkit for building anything from simple blog pages to extensive e-commerce sites. Its intuitive design and a vast array of customizable features make it accessible for beginners and seasoned developers.

This CMS has come a long way since its inception, growing from a modest blogging tool into the internet powerhouse it is today, driving a substantial portion of the web. The ecosystem surrounding WordPress, including its plugins, themes, and community, contributes robustly to its capability and popularity. Understanding WordPress is not just about technical know-how; it’s about appreciating a thriving community that fosters growth, learning, and innovation within the digital landscape.

About WordPress (illustrative image)
  • WordPress is an open-source CMS, making website development accessible to a wide audience.
  • It dominates a significant portion of the web, with a vast community supporting its growth and evolution.
  • WordPress maintains versatility across different types of websites, offering extensive features and customization options.
Table of Contents
  1. Everything You Need to Know About WordPress: Key Takeaways
  2. WordPress Origins and History
  3. Core Features of WordPress
  4. WordPress Community and Events
  5. WordPress Usage and Statistics
  6. Organization and Support Behind WordPress
  7. Technical Aspects of WordPress
  8. WordPress as a Versatile Platform
  9. WordPress Design and Aesthetics
  10. Innovations and Future of WordPress
  11. WordPress Security and Reliability
  12. WordPress and SEO
  13. Legal and Licensing
  14. WordPress Internationalization
  15. WordPress Branding and Mascots
  16. Frequently Asked Questions

WordPress Origins and History

In this section, you will uncover WordPress’s beginnings and trace its evolution from a simple blogging tool to the comprehensive content management system it is today.

Co-Founders and Early Days

In early 2003, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little embarked on a journey that would soon reshape the world of web publishing. They forked an existing platform named b2/cafelog to enhance its capabilities. Their collaboration led to the initial release of WordPress on May 27, 2003. This marked the birth of a new content management system and the start of a revolution in how websites are created and managed.

Evolution of WordPress

As interest in the platform grew, so did its features. From its roots as a blogging platform, WordPress rapidly expanded. Its versatile architecture began supporting various web content, including corporate websites, forums, and online stores. Its evolution was marked by introducing features like plugin architecture and themes, transforming WordPress into a highly customizable and user-friendly system. By the end of 2023, WordPress powered a staggering 43.1% of the top 10 million websites, cementing its status as the most popular CMS.

Core Features of WordPress

As you explore WordPress, you’ll discover that its core features cater to a wide variety of users, ensuring that anyone, from entrepreneurs to artists, can create a website tailored to their needs. The platform’s flexibility is key, offering powerful tools for customization, extensibility, and content management.

Themes and Customization

WordPress themes provide the visual design for your website and can be easily switched and customized. The newest default theme, Twenty Twenty-Four, emphasizes versatility with a design catering to different use cases, including businesses, photographers, and writers. It sports modern design elements, a customizable color palette, and a range of font choices, including the elegant Cardo for headlines. WordPress themes enable a high degree of customization, from color changes to typography tweaks, transforming the appearance of your site with minimal effort.

Plugins and Extensibility

Plugins are the building blocks that extend your website’s functionality in WordPress. With plugins, you can add features like contact forms, SEO tools, and e-commerce capabilities to your site without touching a line of code. The open-source nature of this software means a vast repository of plugins is at your disposal, making WordPress highly extensible and adaptable to your site’s evolving needs.

Content Management and Posts

Managing content is a breeze with WordPress’s intuitive interface. Creating and organizing posts is straightforward, allowing you to draft, edit, and publish your content efficiently. WordPress’s strength as a content management system is evident in its media handling, integration with SEO best practices, and provision of version control. Plus, the block-based editor introduced in recent versions has innovated the way you build your content, making it more accessible for you to construct complex layouts.

WordPress Community and Events

The WordPress community thrives through its collaborative events and dedicated volunteers. These gatherings range from local meetups to international conferences, all fostering the spirit of open-source contribution and learning.

WordCamp Events

WordCamp events are the cornerstone of WordPress community engagement. They are casual, locally organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. Whether you’re a blogger, developer, or designer, WordCamps provides valuable opportunities to connect and learn. These events attract attendees eager to share their experiences and insights into WordPress each year. You can find schedules and locations for upcoming WordCamps on the centralized WordPress Events landing page.

WordPress Meetups and Volunteer Developers

WordPress Meetups are monthly get-togethers organized by local groups. They offer a regular space for users to convene in person and share knowledge, tips, and best practices. As a part of the community’s heart, these gatherings depend on the passion and dedication of volunteer developers. These volunteers teach, share, and contribute to the platform’s evolution. The Meetup Organizer Handbook is an excellent place to start if you want to join a meetup or volunteer.

WordPress Usage and Statistics

Diving into the world of WordPress, you’ll discover a landscape dominated by this powerful CMS. It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about its influence on the web—let’s unpack this phenomenon.

Market Share and Impact

WordPress is a titan in the CMS market, powering 43.1% of all websites. Its presence is undeniable, with a 62% market share among known content management systems. WordPress’s growth trajectory in the competitive race for digital space has been unmatched since 2014, illustrating its leading role in shaping the online experience. WordPress’s versatility caters to various online needs, from small blogs to the largest corporate websites.

  • Market Share Over Time:
    • 2020: 35%
    • 2021: 39%
    • 2022: 42.9%
    • 2023: 43.1%

The trend continues, with WordPress’s market share progressively increasing yearly, reflecting its persistent appeal and adaptability in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

Notable WordPress Sites and Downloads

As for the software itself, WordPress Version 6.4 has been downloaded over 77 million times, a testament to its popularity and user trust. Beyond these downloads, top-tier entities like Fortune 500 companies often choose WordPress, proving its reliability and robustness for high-stakes sites. You’re likely interacting with WordPress more often than you realize, especially since it powers many of the most visited websites around the globe.

Moreover, 409 million people each month view more than 20 billion pages hosted by WordPress, and users generate a staggering 70 million new posts. These numbers don’t just signify activity; they underscore the vibrant community and dynamic content creation synonymous with WordPress.

  • High-Traffic WordPress Sites:
    • Every month, 70 million new posts are published
    • Monthly page views by users exceed 20 billion
    • WordPress is available in over 200 languages

By choosing WordPress, you’re not merely selecting a CMS; you’re joining a global movement that continues to define the digital age.

Organization and Support Behind WordPress

WordPress is more than just a content management system; a robust and dedicated organizational structure supports it. Key entities, like the WordPress Foundation and Automattic, are instrumental in its development and growth.

The WordPress Foundation

The WordPress Foundation is a charitable organization that ensures free access to WordPress software projects. It emphasizes the need for an open-source platform that allows you and millions of other users to build a digital presence without restrictions. The foundation works to educate the public about WordPress and related open-source software, ensuring that WordPress.org remains a freely available resource.

Automattic and WordPress.com

Automattic is the parent company behind WordPress.com and contributes to WordPress.org. While WordPress.org offers the self-hosted version of WordPress, Automattic provides various services, including support and hosting through WordPress.com. Automattic’s role is pivotal if you prefer a more hands-off approach and desire additional services like hosting security and premium features. Unlike the non-profit WordPress Foundation, Automattic is a for-profit enterprise that helps sustain and develop the larger WordPress ecosystem.

Technical Aspects of WordPress

Before delving into the technicalities of WordPress, you need to understand that it runs on PHP and utilizes a MySQL database. These are pivotal components that handle any WordPress website’s functionality and data storage.

WordPress and PHP

WordPress is built on PHP, the scripting language that serves as the backbone of the CMS. The PHP version you use directly impacts your website’s performance, security, and compatibility with plugins. As of the latest updates, WordPress recommends your host supports PHP 7.4 or higher to experience the best results.

  • Minimum Requirement: PHP 5.6.20
  • Recommended Version: PHP 7.4 or newer

Database and Hosting Requirements

Your WordPress site is stored on a web server offered by your hosting provider. The MySQL database is a critical part of this ecosystem, where all your site’s content and settings are kept. To run WordPress, your host must meet the following:

  • MySQL: Version 5.6 or greater / MariaDB version 10.1 or greater
  • Hosting: Apache or Nginx is recommended

It is also essential that your hosting provider meets the recommended PHP and MySQL versions to ensure compatibility and security. WordPress can run on various servers, but Apache and Nginx are preferred for their robustness and capability to handle pretty permalinks, which are essential for SEO.

WordPress as a Versatile Platform

You’ll find that WordPress isn’t just a blogging platform; it has evolved into a robust content management system (CMS) suitable for various online endeavors, from publishing to e-commerce.

Blogs and Publishing

Primarily designed as a Blogging Platform, WordPress provides a user-friendly interface and various customizable features. You can choose from thousands of themes and enhance functionality through plugins, which makes publishing your content seamless and efficient. WordPress allows you to easily set up and manage a blog, whether a novice or a seasoned webmaster.

E-commerce with WooCommerce

If you want to start an online store, WordPress has your back with WooCommerce. It’s a powerful, extendable plugin that turns your website into a fully functioning E-commerce platform. With WooCommerce, you can access features like order tracking, customer engagement, inventory management, and shipping integration from your WordPress dashboard.

Multisite Capabilities

WordPress offers Multisite capabilities, enabling you to create and manage multiple websites from a single WordPress installation. This is an excellent feature for businesses, educational institutions, or agencies that need to oversee several sites without the hassle of individual WordPress installations for each. Multisite centralizes your administrative efforts, simplifying your workflow and making site management more efficient.

With WordPress, versatility is at your fingertips, whether you’re into blogging, selling online, or managing multiple websites.

WordPress Design and Aesthetics

When you explore WordPress, you’ll find its design capabilities quite extensive, mainly due to a vast selection of themes and user-friendly page builders. These tools allow you to create aesthetically pleasing and functional websites without writing code.

Popular WordPress Themes

Avada and Divi are two of the most sought-after WordPress Themes, renowned for their versatility and ease of use. Avada is known for its rich customization options and many pre-built designs. This theme provides elements and templates that make website building intuitive.

Divi stands out for its real-time design framework, allowing you to see changes instantly while you edit. It also offers an exceptional drag-and-drop builder, making customization a visual experience.

Page Builders and WYSIWYG

When it comes to page building, Elementor is a revolutionary force. It exemplifies the concept of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), granting you control over every aspect of your site’s design in a live, front-end editing environment. With its point-and-click tools, Elementor makes it simple to craft responsive websites and does not require coding knowledge.

Drag-and-drop page builders like Elementor have changed the game for WordPress users. They serve as standalone WYSIWYG editors that complement any WordPress theme, ensuring that your site’s aesthetic matches your vision down to the last detail.

Innovations and Future of WordPress

WordPress continuously evolves to remain at the forefront of content management systems on the internet. Your experience is set to become even more intuitive and feature-rich, particularly with advancements like the Gutenberg Editor and ongoing platform updates.

Gutenberg Editor

Gutenberg, the block editor introduced in WordPress 5.0, has revolutionized content creation. It utilizes blocks to build content, allowing for a more visual and interactive design experience. You can expect continuous improvements to this editor, including interesting themes like Spectra, which Brainstorm Force developed. It offers a versatile experience with custom blocks that extend your WordPress site’s functionality and design possibilities.

Continued Expansion and Updates

WordPress doesn’t sit still; it’s an ever-growing entity with regular versions released to enhance your experience and maintain security. As the backbone of a significant portion of the internet, WordPress ensures that each update brings something beneficial—a combination of new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements to keep your site running smoothly and securely.

WordPress Security and Reliability

When it comes to managing a website, security and reliability are paramount. WordPress, as a content management system (CMS), is well-equipped with various features and tools to help you protect your site. Let’s explore the measures and plugins available and best practices for managing updates.

Security Measures and Plugins

WordPress offers a robust framework for securing websites. You must take advantage of security plugins that bolster defenses against potential threats. Noteworthy is Akismet, which helps ward off comment spam, a common nuisance for website owners. Similarly, Jetpack is a versatile plugin that enhances security through real-time backups and malware scanning. For comprehensive security management, the All In One WP Security & Firewall (AIOS) provides a powerful suite of tools that protect against brute force login attempts and monitor files for unauthorized changes, thus improving the overall security posture of your WordPress site.

  • Akismet: Shields from spam
  • Jetpack: Offers backups, security scanning
  • AIOS: Prevents brute force attacks, monitors file changes

Managing WordPress Updates

Staying current with WordPress updates is vital for the security and stability of your website. Updates often contain patches for security vulnerabilities discovered since the last version. As a user, you’re encouraged to apply these updates promptly to ensure your site’s reliability. Not only do these updates address security concerns, but they also enhance the functionality and performance of your site. Remember that a good hosting provider can assist with managing updates, making the process smoother and less daunting.

  • Update regularly: Protects against vulnerabilities
  • Improve performance: Enhances site functionality
  • Host assistance: Potentially simplify the update process

By following these guidelines, you’re taking important steps to ensure your website remains secure and operates reliably.

WordPress and SEO

WordPress provides robust options for optimizing your website for search engines. Utilizing its myriad SEO plugins and tools, you can significantly enhance your site’s visibility and rankings on Google.

SEO Plugins and Tools

WordPress offers an extensive range of powerful SEO plugins that can help maximize your site’s search engine performance. Among the most prominent is SEOPress, a comprehensive plugin that guides you through the essentials of site optimization. It provides real-time page analysis to help you optimize your content, image titles, meta descriptions, and keywords. Another indispensable tool is the All-in-One SEO Pack, favored for its simplicity and effectiveness, particularly for beginners. Both plugins are designed to boost your visibility in Google searches.

  • Key Features of Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO Pack:
    • Sitemap generation for better indexation by search engines
    • Social media integration for cross-platform content optimization
    • Snippet previews to help adjust how your content appears in searches
    • Real-time content analysis for optimizing keywords and readability

Content Optimization with WordPress

When you use WordPress, you gain access to features that make content optimization intuitive and efficient. Its intuitive interface allows you to place keywords judiciously within your titles, headings, and main content to enhance relevance for Google searches. You can also take advantage of the alt text feature for images, which is crucial for SEO and accessibility.

  • Best Practices for Content Optimization:
    • Ensure your titles and headings include primary keywords.
    • Utilize the provided field to add alt text to images.
    • Structure your permalink to reflect the main keywords of your post.
    • Regularly update your content to keep it fresh and relevant.

Legal and Licensing

When working with WordPress, it’s essential to understand its legal framework, specifically its licensure. WordPress’s usage and distribution are governed by the GNU General Public License (GPL), which ensures that the software remains free and open for you to use, modify, and distribute.

GPL License and Open Source Ethics

WordPress is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which grants you several freedoms. You can run WordPress for any purpose, study and modify the code, and redistribute copies of the original or your modified versions. However, the GPL stipulates that you must do so under the same license if you distribute WordPress or derivative works. This willingness to share and the open-source ethic are hallmark principles that have powered the platform’s growth and innovation.

Contributing and Sharing Code

If you decide to contribute to the WordPress project, you’re participating in a community that values collaboration and the collective improvement of the software. You must release code under the GPL license when sharing code with the WordPress community or any plugins and themes. This allows others to benefit from your contributions and build upon them, fostering a robust ecosystem driven by cooperative development and mutual respect for intellectual property.

WordPress Internationalization

WordPress has evolved far beyond its origins as an English-only platform, offering extensive capabilities for creating multilingual websites and drawing on a vast global community for translation contributions.

Multilingual Websites

Due to its robust internationalization framework, WordPress makes it easy to create a multilingual website. This framework allows themes and plugins to be translated into various languages using specialized tools like WPML and Polylang. Using the text domain system, WordPress ensures that each theme or plugin can be translated without conflict, maintaining the uniqueness of text across different translations.

Global Community and Translation Contributors

WordPress benefits from a worldwide community of contributors who work together to offer WordPress in more than 160 languages. If your primary language is not English, you will likely find WordPress available in your language, thanks to the Polyglots team. This team is a collective of volunteer translators who regularly contribute to the project by translating WordPress core, themes, and plugins. They play a key role in fostering and expanding WordPress’s reach to a truly global audience.

For detailed guidance on using WordPress internationalization in your projects, refer to the Internationalization section of the Theme Handbook.

WordPress Branding and Mascots

Before diving into the details, you should know that WordPress boasts a unique brand identity infused with jazz influences and even has an adorable mascot that’s become a symbol of the community.

The WordPress Logo and Name

The WordPress logo, consisting of the stylized uppercase “W” in a grey circle, represents simplicity and reliability. Christine Selleck Tremoulet, a friend of co-founder Matt Mullenweg, suggested it. The word “weblog” and “press ” combine to reflect its blogging origins.

Wapuu: The Official WordPress Mascot

Wapuu is the official mascot that embodies the friendly and welcoming nature of the WordPress community. Initially designed for the Japanese WordPress community, Wapuu is a round, yellow, and fluffy creature with the WordPress logo on its belly. It was inspired by the love for jazz music, also named WordPress releases after jazz musicians. Over time, Wapuu has become a global sensation with various customizations to represent local WordPress communities worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions