WordPress Leveled the Playing Field
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). While it’s not the only one, it is the biggest. The best part about any CMS is the ease by which most webmasters can use to create and manage their websites.
A CMS in general, and WordPress specifically, became popular because of the ease with which people can not only get their websites up and running but also because of the support surrounding the platform. In WordPress, you can add functionality to your website via plugins and widgets.
You can control the look of your website via the various themes that exist. These are simple one-click components that instantly transform your website with the look and the features you require. Without a CMS, you would need to find a designer who would layout your website with design features you would be happy with.
This came at a huge cost since designers were not cheap. If you needed any extra functionality on your website, you would probably have to hire a programmer. Getting the programmer to work with the designer often led to compatibility issues.
Even when the programmer and designer are one-and- same, they tended to have stronger skills on one versus the other. Programmers typically didn’t make good designers. Good Designers were not very good programmers. These are two separate vocations, both requiring their own sets of training.
You either did one or the other. WordPress practically eliminated the need to hire a designer or a programmer. Granted, if you want more specialized or customized features, you still may need to get some outside help.
But, for the most part, the standard components included within WordPress, are all that most need to get a complete solution going. There are plenty of plugins and themes, both paid options and free. The paid options will come with more options, all things being equal.
Many people find, however, the free options are great for starting and when their websites catch on, they upgrade to the paid options. Even if you need a custom solution that you couldn’t find in existing plugins or themes, you can outsource it.
The cost to develop these add on features will be much less than having a developer/designer build a website from scratch. There are other CMS platforms, and some will say they are better than WordPress. Keep in mind, however, WordPress is heavily supported due to its popularity.
This means that bugs will get fixed faster, and features will be created quicker. Platforms that are not popular will likely leave the market, which means you could be left high-and-dry if you choose those alternatives.
The Technology That Drives a Website
While you don’t need to be a technologist to create a website, having a basic understanding of the technologies involved can help, especially if you ever run into trouble with your website. When describing your problem to a tech support person, you will be able to identify at least where the problem lies.
If you are looking to connect to the internet, the first step is to find an Internet Service Provider (ISP). You probably already have one. This is the company you pay a monthly fee to in order to use the internet. It is typically your cable provider, or it could be via Fiber Optics, etc.
They provide you with a way to connect to the internet (usually a modem) and will even come to your house if you have trouble getting it installed. If you are looking to have multiple people in your house connect, you will purchase a router at your local electronics retailer. Most of these are wireless these days.
The next stage is to use a web browser to connect to the internet. Most modern-day operating systems have these pre-installed. If you don’t, your ISP can take you through the steps to get one installed. You will know these as FireFox, or Internet Explorer. Google has its own derivative called Chrome.
When you use your browser to make a request to the internet, it goes through your ISP to look up the address of where to find the information. If you typed in Google.com, for example, your ISP would send that to a name server. This name server translates Google.com into an address in and then routes the request to that numeric address.
It also knows who the requester was (you) to be able to send you the page. This is an oversimplification as there are also intermediary web servers, but this gives you the general concept. There needs to be a way for your browser to know how to interpret the data. You may think it’s just a document.
But, if you have ever worked with a Word document before or equivalent, you know that you have to format that document. You would have headers, line breaks, graphic elements, etc. The same is true of your web browser. When the web server sends the requested document, it sends it as a computer language known as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).
This is simply instructions for your browser to use to render properly the various components of the pages you see in the browser. This is by no means meant to make you an expert on web technologies. But, if you ever need to communicate the problem you face, you will at least know what components are at work.
Be sure to check back soon for Issue 2 in this series of articles.