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What Is WordPress? Meet the World’s Most Popular CMS

What is WordPress? A Guide for Beginners

Published: March 22, 2022
What is Wordpress?

Rebekah Carter

WordPress a term you’ve probably heard if you’ve spent more than a few seconds looking into website creation online. One of the simplest, and most popular site development tools on the market, WordPress is a “Content Management System” or “CMS”.

Today, WordPress powers more than 43% of the websites online – making it the biggest CMS there is in terms of market share. You’ve likely visited a WordPress website already – without knowing it.

Here’s everything you need to know about WordPress.

What is WordPress and Where Did it Come From?

In simple terms, WordPress is a tool for building websites and online entities. It’s an open-source content management system, licensed under GPLv2, which means anyone can use or modify the software behind WordPress without paying anything.

WordPress offers a host of features to companies looking to build their own websites. You get things like built-in SEO solutions to help you improve your position online, custom menus, a built-in blog, and a medial file library. WordPress also benefits from a huge online community.

The open-source nature of WordPress means anyone can create add-ons, plugins, and themes which either change the appearance or functionality of a WordPress site.

So, where did WordPress come from?

WordPress was originally created as a standalone project in 2003, by a man named Matt Mullenweg (a college student). The entity began as a relaunch of a previous project named b2/cafelog, built originally by Michel Valdrighi. Matt saw an opportunity withy his creation to improve website functionality, without modifying the core source code.

Matt eventually developed a new version of b2 on SourceForge, and with a little help from his friends, introduced the world to the first WordPress version, WordPress 1.0. Over time, WordPress gained traction as a flexible and affordable solution for website building.

What is WordPress Used for?

Some of the biggest companies in the world rely on WordPress to carve their piece of the internet today, including NBC, USA Today, Disney, Spotify, and Airbnb. The WordPress ecosystem as it stands now is a growing community of designers, developers, and bloggers, who use the “Gutenberg” editor, and WordPress 5.0 to design a host of different kinds of sites.

Initially, WordPress was most commonly used for the creation of simple blogs. Now, the flexibility of the ecosystem and a robust WYSIWYG editor means companies can create all kinds of websites with WordPress. You can even leverage pre-existing plugins and themes to bring your site to life.

For instance, with the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress, you can design an eCommerce store. The powerful range of themes available from WordPress make it easy to create professional business websites, and you can even use plugins for SEO, lead capturing, and analytics to boost your chances of success on the web.

Other types of websites built via WordPress include:

  • Membership sites
  • Magazines
  • Forums
  • Resumes
  • Portfolios
  • Social networks
  • Mobile applications

What’s the Difference Between and

One of the biggest issues people have when it comes to understanding WordPress, is differentiating between and Both solutions belong to the overall WordPress brand, but they each provide users with access to a different experience of WordPress. is the most popular version of WordPress, the “self-hosted” version. This is the free, open-source WordPress software you can download and install into your own web hosting environment to create your website. allows for access to an ultra-flexible website building tool, but you have to manage things like hosting, security, and updates yourself.

Most of the time, when people talk about “WordPress” they’re talking about the self-hosted version.

Alternatively, is a for-profit solution powered by the software available from This easy-to-use environment gives companies an opportunity to build their website using WordPress, without having to worry about finding hosting themselves. While this version of WordPress is a little simpler to use, it’s not as flexible.

What are the Benefits of WordPress?

With the largest market share of any website building solution or CMS, WordPress has clearly had a positive impact on the marketplace. Even well-known entities like Microsoft and the White House rely on WordPress. So, what makes the solution so special?

Here are some of the biggest benefits of building with WordPress:

  • It’s open-source: WordPress is a free, open-source software. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay anything at all to get your website online, but you can control costs by shopping around for the right hosting, domain name, and other essentials. As an open-source solution, WordPress is also highly flexible, and it’s constantly evolving. New tools emerge from the community all the time, to help empower your site.
  • WordPress is extensible: Even without developer knowledge, you can easily modify and customise your WordPress website to suit your needs, thanks to a huge selection of plugins and themes. There are thousands of options to choose from.
  • Ease of use: The WordPress experience is easy-to-use even if you don’t have a background in code. You can easily install the WordPress technology with most hosting providers. WordPress is so popular most hosts will offer to install WordPress for you, or give you access to one-click tools for setting up WordPress.
  • It’s SEO-friendly: WordPress is well-suited for SEO. The backend design is created with the needs of search engines in mind, and there is access to various plugins to help boost your SEO too. For instance, you can access Yoast SEO and integrate analytics software.
  • WordPress is flexible: WordPress supports all kinds of major media options, so you can design your website however you choose, and implement the kinds of content most suitable for your business and audience.

Though there are some challenges associated with WordPress, like finding your own hosting provider, and keeping on top of updates to make sure that your system stays secure, it’s still overwhelmingly considered to be the most popular CMS on the market.

Should You Use WordPress?

Whether you’re building a store with WooCommerce or a Business website with a host of popular WordPress plugins, there’s no limit to what you can do with this technology. WordPress has emerged as the world’s most popular CMS for a reason. It’s definitely one of the top options worth considering if you’re building your own site.