What is WordPress?
WordPress is an OpenSource platform (free design software) that was developed for bloggers. Since its inception it has blossomed into a powerful buzzword around web developers and website owners. Currently about 25% of all websites are built on WordPress technology and this number is increasing rapidly.
Why is WordPress so popular for web design?
It is fairly easy to learn if you are an experienced computer user, very little coding knowledge is required, more than one web designer will be able to help you in a fix, plus it is free. In addition there are thousands of templates and plugins to select from that saves hours of coding time.
Website designers can put a website together in a lot less time than a few years ago. Mobile friendly websites are a standard now and with the help of WordPress it saves web designers literally days of hard coding and testing. This means your website should be ready in a shorter timespan than before.
What is CMS?
For the first time, you as the website owner have access to your website content. You can update, add, remove and edit text, images and video. This new power that you as the website owner have is called CMS. CMS is short for Content Management System.
But, as the movie says, with great power comes great responsibility. Once you decide to manage your own content, you cannot expect to call upon the web designer for help without paying them for their assistance. Web designers are not help-desk support jocks nor are they teachers.
Do I really need a web designer then?
It is highly recommended that you employ the services of a web designer to setup, install and test your website. As easy as WordPress is to use in general terms, it can be extremely tricky if you have no experience in web design.
The trickiest parts of using WordPress is finding a suitable theme and plugins that work well together. Also, each template is different and this takes a bit of time to become accustomed with.
Website designers will also provide you with some form of training or a detailed guide on updating your own website.
What is a theme?
A theme dictates the way your website will look in terms of headers, buttons, background image, text style and colours. A theme also has various options respectively in terms of layout grids, sidebars, sliders, featured text, widgets, etc.
Themes come in a variety of flavours and some focus on specific industries. Industry related themes, such as real estate themes, provide handy tools like showing whether the property is for sale or rent, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, etc. A hair salon theme might include icons like scissors, combs and curling irons, plus an appointment booking facility with a specific hairdresser.
Themes also come in OpenSource and Premium options.
What is the difference between an OpenSource and Premium theme?
OpenSource implies “free” in essence. Anyone can download, use and modify the theme. Some of these themes are completely free with an array of functions and customisation options. More often though, the basic theme is OpenSource, but some of the fancier tools may not be available until you upgrade the theme to a Premium theme.
A premium theme requires payment upfront to release the additional features and functions to you. This is usually dealt with as an annual license fee payable to the theme developer. License fees are charged in American Dollar and fluctuates due to exchange rates. Depending on your business website needs, it may be useful to obtain a premium theme.
Should I rather go for a Premium theme from the start?
It is wise to first use the OpenSource version before committing to the Premium version of a particular theme. It allows you to test the theme and the various plugins that work with the theme. In cases where you do not require the additional features and functions it will save you quite a bit of money in the long run. Once you are ready to include fancier tools and functions, an upgrade to a premium theme is possible within minutes.
Can I change the theme of the website when I want to?
Sadly this is much simpler said than done. Changing the theme is easy, the results however can be very unexpected. Each theme has it’s own set of code for the way it displays and which plugins work with it. All custom links are affected when replacing a theme. In short, although your text and images remains on the server, changing a theme really means rebuilding the website.
What is a plugin?
Plugins are small bundles of code that perform specific functions. They too come in OpenSource and Premium versions. An example of a plugin is the contact form for a website where visitors complete the form with their contact details and message that you receive in the form of an email. The initial plugin may be OpenSource, but to unlock special contact form parameters and functions could require an upgrade to a premium plugin.
An assortment of plugins are available for most industries. As stated before, it is sometimes tricky to obtain a plugin that works well with your selected theme.
Why do themes and plugins sometimes clash?
Because themes are developed by one group of people and plugins are developed by another group of people, it sometimes creates a situation where the theme and plugin code clash. If the plugin is more important than the theme, it is wise to rather use another compatible theme. Alternatively, rather seek out another plugin with similar capabilities to avoid a software clash. A clash can either display your website incorrectly or make the website inaccessible.