WordPress is the most widely used CMS (Content Management System) on the internet with an estimated 25% market share at the time of this writing. WordPress’ popularity can be attributed to its modular architecture, vast plugin ecosystem, and its extraordinarily helpful and sprawling community of content managers and developers worldwide. WordPress is a great CMS, but as is true for any powerful tool, it can be misused and underutilized.
WordPress development – that is, developing a site on the WordPress platform – is best understood by breaking down some of the core components that make up a WordPress site.
WordPress Core is the software that WordPress.org (the foundation that releases WordPress CMS as open source) is constantly updating and supporting. It manages users, pages, posts, media, menus, and many other core aspects that make up a website. Out of the box, WordPress provides a structure for these elements that lays down the foundation for a website. The core functionality of WordPress lends itself primarily to being a blog management software by supporting the drafting and publication of posts as well as the management of different levels of authors and administrators within a single blog. Many large syndicated news organizations use it for this purpose; examples include TechCrunch, The New Yorker, and BBC America.
Because WordPress was developed with authors in mind, it makes it ideal for those needing to manage a website without the web development experience – a user may log in, edit the content of their pages, and even modify the layout of their site without needing to know HTML, CSS, or an even more complicated language like PHP. WordPress.org is constantly pushing out updates for more robust functionality, enhanced security, and a better user experience – It’s come a long way since its creation in 2003.
Want a menu to appear across the top rather than on the left hand side of the page? That’s theming. Want to ensure a site looks excellent on mobile devices? That’s theming. WordPress has already provided all the back-end structure we need, and a good theme (which we build custom and in-house here at Trademark Productions) puts them to use.
WordPress is modular by nature – you can download a theme or plugin and have them installed in less than a minute. A good theme or plugin can work out-of-the-box , no assembly required. Plugins are generally developed, managed, and updated by third parties. For example, Akismet is a spam filtering plugin developed by the creator of WordPress – it comes prepackaged with every WordPress install, and is the best at what it does. While themes create the look and layout of a site, plugins generally make up its extended functionality. In this case, Akismet is enhancing and securing the core comment functionality (Leave a comment below if you like! – no spam please) while avoiding modifying the actual core of our site.
There are a lot of great plugins created and supported by talented developers out there. We even have some plugins we’ve developed in-house that we use on our installs. That said, there are a lot of ‘abandonware’ plugins (the developer has ceased updates or work) and plain old garbage plugins that no one should have created in the first place. A developer worth their salt will know the difference, and will know when it’s safe to update a particular plugin on any given site. Here at TM, we are constantly updating plugins for security while ensuring no conflicts arise when these updates come through. Conflicts do happen – will happen – and a good developer will bring the site up to speed.
Proper maintenance of any website is necessary for it to have a healthy lifespan. At some point, code becomes deprecated (outdated), plugins are abandoned, or a site just starts to look like it’s hitting a mid-life crisis and needs some TLC. While a well-built site can continue chugging along for years, a look at maintenance and security is absolutely crucial to ensuring web presence permanence.
Take a peek at our WordPress Monitoring and Maintenance Package!