Defining WordPress Terms, Part 1 – A Glossary for Beginners

Defining WordPress Terms – A Glossary for Beginners

First off, let’s answer the big question:

What is WordPress?

Almost everyone has read a blog, either professional or personal. We’ve all seen myname.wordpress.com and because of this, many people assume WordPress is for bloggers. While WordPress makes it easy to blog, WordPress is really a Content Management System (CMS). This means it’s a software that manages your content. It can be used to build a professional website, personal blog, or anything in between.

Installing WordPress

wordpress-logoThe WordPress software runs on a MySQL database. Before WordPress can be activated on your site’s hosting, a database must be created and along with it, a database user. Then WordPress’ config.php file is updated with this information and the WordPress software is uploaded to the correct directory on your host’s server. However, many hosting companies have simplified this process with built in installers. These point and click installers enable a user to install WordPress in a matter of minutes without any knowledge of databases or php.

What’s a Theme?

Wordpress ThemesWordPress themes are design packs or templates that can usually be installed on your WordPress site with one or two clicks. There are many places to find these templates (themes), both free and premium (paid for) that you can use on any WordPress site. Many themes can be modified by someone who knows some basic CSS and PHP. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, there are lots of people on the internet who will charge a small fee to modify a theme to meet your needs. If you want something entirely unique, or something professional for your company, a designer can be hired to build you a custom theme.

WordPress Plugins

Wordpress PluginsBecause WordPress is free, and so popular, many people have developed plugins or add-ons to give WordPress users additional functionality. There are thousands to choose from! Anything from plugins that will give you social buttons at the bottom of each of your posts, to those that will block certain posts from the front page, to image rotators. If you can think of something you’d like your site to do, chances are, there’s a plugin to meet your need. Again, many of these are free, but there are some really advanced tools built by professionals that you may end up paying for. Personally, I have yet to pay for a plugin.

WordPress Dashboard

Wordpress DashboardAfter WordPress has been installed, you will be given a login screen with your own unique username and password. When entered, WordPress will present you with an administrator’s dashboard. This is the back-end of the WordPress software. Here you can change themes, install plugins, change settings, and create and edit posts and pages. You can also edit your site’s sidebars, add links and banners, and moderate comments.

Pages vs. Posts

Unlike some other blogging platforms, WordPress allows a user to create both pages and posts. What this means is, one can create pages that, tho easily editable, remain the same and generally appear in their own navigation. Posts are dynamic sections of content, grouped together to form a blog. You will generally see several posts on one page, most likely with the newest post at the top of the page. Post can be assigned to categories, making your content easy for readers to find. For example, this site has a page navigation at top right: About, My Gear, Contact, etc. These Pages contain general information about me and my site. The Post/Category navigation is found just below the header and right above the content. Clicking any of these Category names will bring you results for posts in that category.

Comments

  1. Antti Kokkonen says

    I liked how you started the post with an explanation that WordPress is much more than “just blogging”, but a CMS instead. It’s easy to forget that, but there are some amazing “non-blog” WordPress sites out there that you wouldn’t believe are run and managed by WordPress. Just proves the power of this wonderful tool I can’t praise enough :)

  2. says

    Mike,

    I’m glad you found it useful and I hope your students do as well. In the next 3 weeks I’ll be covering Categories vs. Tags, Author and User Roles, and then Plugins and Widgets. Not sure yet where I’ll go from there, but I’m sure there will be more!

    Look for new additions to the series on Thursdays!

  3. says

    Mike,

    I’m glad you found it useful and I hope your students do as well. In the next 3 weeks I’ll be covering Categories vs. Tags, Author and User Roles, and then Plugins and Widgets. Not sure yet where I’ll go from there, but I’m sure there will be more!

    Look for new additions to the series on Thursdays!

  4. says

    Antti,

    I used to design HTML websites for small businesses. I can no tell you how much I have enjoyed the simplicity of WordPress and the ability to build a site I can turn over to the business owner if they want to manage it themselves. It truly is amazing!

    My husband is a professional web developer and he is using WordPress almost exclusively now for his client’s sites. Because he can design a new “theme” and code it himself from the ground up, there is no limit to what he can do or create. And you’re right, no one knows it’s WordPress.

    Thanks for the RT on Twitter and for visiting my site!

  5. says

    Antti,

    I used to design HTML websites for small businesses. I can no tell you how much I have enjoyed the simplicity of WordPress and the ability to build a site I can turn over to the business owner if they want to manage it themselves. It truly is amazing!

    My husband is a professional web developer and he is using WordPress almost exclusively now for his client’s sites. Because he can design a new “theme” and code it himself from the ground up, there is no limit to what he can do or create. And you’re right, no one knows it’s WordPress.

    Thanks for the RT on Twitter and for visiting my site!

  6. Gordie Rogers says

    I use WP Thesis and I can say it’s great for those who know very little code. It’s made my life so much easier and saved me so much time.
    .-= Gordie Rogers´s last blog ..How To Put Your WordPress Blog On Autopilot And Spend Most Of Your Time At The Beach. =-.

  7. Antti Kokkonen says

    I liked how you started the post with an explanation that WordPress is much more than “just blogging”, but a CMS instead. It’s easy to forget that, but there are some amazing “non-blog” WordPress sites out there that you wouldn’t believe are run and managed by WordPress. Just proves the power of this wonderful tool I can’t praise enough :)

  8. Gordie Rogers says

    I use WP Thesis and I can say it’s great for those who know very little code. It’s made my life so much easier and saved me so much time.
    .-= Gordie Rogers´s last blog ..How To Put Your WordPress Blog On Autopilot And Spend Most Of Your Time At The Beach. =-.

  9. says

    Gordie,

    Maybe I just don’t “get” Thesis. I had one client who wanted to use it and I just couldn’t get into the swing of it. I hear good things all the time, but I haven’t really had the opportunity to dive in and figure it all out. I can set it up as it comes and make a few minor adjustments alright, but really customizing it would take a learning curve I don’t have time for right now. Sigh.

  10. says

    Gordie,

    Maybe I just don’t “get” Thesis. I had one client who wanted to use it and I just couldn’t get into the swing of it. I hear good things all the time, but I haven’t really had the opportunity to dive in and figure it all out. I can set it up as it comes and make a few minor adjustments alright, but really customizing it would take a learning curve I don’t have time for right now. Sigh.

  11. says

    Dipankar,

    Thanks for the suggestion! It’s definitely something I’ve considered, and hadn’t decided if I should do or not. You’ve just helped me make up my mind. :-)

  12. says

    Erica,
    After reading the first paragraph I thought you were going to discuss WordPress.com but I was mistaken. In any of your WordPress series, do you explain the difference between WordPress and WordPress.com. I think that a lot of people are confused by and think they are one and the same.

    Thanks.
    @Ileane

  13. says

    Hey Erica,

    I found you through Twitter and found this guide of yours.

    I just wanted to leave a thank you! I also talk about WordPress on my blog and hadn’t even thought of describing these terms. For someone who is just getting started with WordPress, this guide could be really helpful.

    I plan on including a link to this guide in one of my near future posts. My readers should find this series useful.

    • says

      Dustin,

      Glad to make your acquaintance and glad you found me. I do hope your readers enjoy this little glossary. I know it’s helped a lot of my clients and saves me so much time when I can point them here!

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