What is WordPress? How does it work?

WordPress powers over 28% of the internet's websites - in it's simplicity, it's a website creation tool i.e. you make websites with it.
Article by Simon Steed
Wordpress Header Simplepage

Table of contents

So just what is WordPress?

WordPress powers over 28% of the internet's websites - in it's simplicity, it's a website creation tool i.e. you make websites with it. In fact, a few of the Simplepage suite of sites run upon the Wordpress platform, really for a number of key reasons - 1) It's quick to deploy, 2) cost effective to maintain, 3) new page designs can be delivered very quickly, 4) there are many add-ons (plugins) that can extend the functionality of the website quickly and easily plus many more reasons.

WordPress was originally developed as a blogging engine, somewhere for people to write articles and notes. Over the years, it's evolved into more of what is known as a content management system (CMS), which basically means it allows you to edit your website by logging in, and won't likely need any special skills beyond what you would use to edit a Word or Excel document. As you can see below, the editor is fairly intuitive, with many of the familiar options for bold, italics, bullet points and so on.

‘Front End’ vs ‘Back End’

What is the ‘front end’ of Wordpress?

When people use the term ‘front end’ what they really mean is ‘the publicly available part of the website’ which is what you get when visiting the homepage and navigating between pages in the normal way

What is the ‘back end’ of Wordpress?

When you wish to edit content of your website, all CMS systems (including WordPress) have an admin web address you can visit which will allow you to login.

Wordpress Pages and Posts … What’s the Difference?

Wordpress Pages vs Posts

If you’ve used Wordpress a little, you’ve probably noticed it allows you to create ‘pages’ and ‘posts’ - but what’s the difference? When should you use one over the other?

It really comes down to time. For news, blogs and other status updates, posts are best. They are for things that are time-dependent (i.e. things that will be a lot less important in a few weeks or months time).

Pages on the other hand have a bit more ‘permanence’. They are ideal for what are sometimes called ‘static’ pages such as ‘about our company’ or ‘contact us’ where you are unlikely to change these pages on a day-to-day basis (though you may need to update them once every year or two to keep information up to date).

You may wonder why this division? It really comes down to historical SEO (search engine optimisation). If you use a post, you are more likely to get indexed and ranked more quickly in the search results. But after some time, the rankings of posts will likely taper off. On the other hand, pages may get indexed, but take longer to rank comparatively well. But once ranked, static pages will rank higher for much longer.

Getting Started

The first step to getting started with your WordPress site is to login. To do so follow the steps below:

To open one of these pages, and begin editing simply:

  1. In your browser, type in (yourdomainnamehere)/wp-login
  2. At the login screen, enter your username and password and click ‘Log In’

You can use the ‘forgotten password’ to reset your login details if you have lost them (provided you still have access to the email address you are using).

View and edit existing pages/posts

By clicking the posts or pages buttons on the left hand side of the dashboard (shown below) you will be taken to the main index that lists all pages (or posts, depending on which one you clicked).


Wordpress Posts

You can begin editing any of these by clicking the names of the posts. If you hover near the title you will also see a few additional options pop up including 'edit, quick edit, bin and view' which do exactly what they say on the tin! There is also a 'trash' you can recover your posts and pages from if you didn't intend to delete them!

Adding a new page

If you click the ‘add new page’ (or post!) button, you will be taken to an empty editor as shown below. You'll see the familiar editing options you would expect fro Microsoft Word, Open Office or your favourite editor. These work exactly as you might expect and can help you format your content and present it in a way that looks great and reflects your brand:


Wordpress Post Edit

There are a few simple steps to remember when creating a new page or post:

  • This is where the page name goes. The page name will be displayed on the website menu and on the website browser.

  • You can add and edit content on this page as you would any other document, and this content is what will be displayed in the body of your page when viewing the front end (or public) facing site.

  • You can preview what your page will look like before publishing the page by clicking on Preview Changes.
    After creating or editing your page you will need to click the Update button. If you’re creating a new page this button will be called Publish.

  • A Permalink is the name for the web address (or URL,) of your blog post. Wordpress allows you to edit this separately from the page heading and name, allowing you set these in a way that complements your SEO efforts where needed.

The Editor Toolbar

You can see the icons just above the editor allow some of the common functions which are (from right to left):


Wordpress Toolbar
  • Text format (i.e. Paragraph, Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.)

  • Bold, Italic, Strike-through (cross out)

  • Bullets – Recommended for lists (unordered)

  • Numbering – Recommended for ordered lists

  • Block-quote (applied to paragraphs) Primarily used to indicate a block of quoted text or similar.

  • Align Left, Align Centre & Right Align – Should be rarely used as your website design should determine this automatically in most cases.

  • Insert/Edit Link – Use whenever possible to link text to another web page.
  • Unlink – use to remove a link

  • Insert More tag – Useful for shortening the display of long blog posts on the blog summary page, by displaying a ‘Read more’ link to view the full post.

  • Distraction Free Writing mode enlarges the editing area to fill the browser window. Look for the ‘Exit full-screen’ text link to exit this mode.
  • Your Content Goes Here
  • Show/Hide Kitchen Sink – Simply turns on and off the display of the second row of buttons. We recommend keeping the second row permanently

Adding Media

You’ll also notice an ‘add media’ button just above this toolbar – you can use this to upload or insert images or common media files – we will look at this next.

When clicking add media, WordPress will take you to your library. This is a collection of all uploaded documents which you can choose from, or alternatively, click the upload button to add more images from your computer or device.

Once embedded, you will get a series of options about how big you would like the image. You can also ‘float’ the image in text by clicking it in the editor (once embedded in the page) and choosing either the left, middle and right align text items from the toolbar (as outlined above).

WordPress SEO Optimisation

This is it! We’ve covered the basics editing pages, adding and editing content and media – but if you’re interested in getting the most from WordPress SEO – this bonus snippet is for you!

Fortunately, WordPress is very SEO friendly out of the box, and with a few tweaks you can squeeze even more SEO goodness from it.

Firstly, as already mentioned, you can set the permalinks for each page, giving you the ability to craft web addresses that include the keywords that you want to rank for. By installing another plugin, you can (separately) take complete control of the page titles and meta tags of each page, post and also your special page types (such as the homepage, categories and tags – don’t worry we will cover these in a later post).

The SEO plugin by Yoast is a great all-in-one package that builds your robots.txt file and (XML) Sitemap for search engines, and also adds an ‘SEO’ box to each page and post so you can set these for search engines. This plugin also includes some other great features that help you analyse keywords, do keyword research from your WordPress dashboard and more.

The All-in-one SEO Pack is another great plugin – not quite a comprehensive as the Yoast SEO plugin, but simpler to use and includes all the basic important functions for editing page titles and meta tags.

We will be writing more on the topic of WordPress SEO, advanced WordPress editing and the best WordPress plugins in other posts, but hopefully this has given you enough to get started with WordPress. We quite enjoy it as a website content management system (CMS) and we hope you do to.

If you would like WordPress training or web development, why not get in touch with the Simplepage team today?