Those of us with our heads in the web world don’t think twice about the myriad terminology that goes along with this business. When it comes to basic WordPress development, here are a few foundational terms and definitions to help you understand life in the web-building lane.
WordPress: What is it?
Basically it’s an incredibly versatile content management system. WordPress was initially built for bloggers as they needed a quick and easy platform to publish all their content. The developers also made a strategic decision early on and made WordPress “open source.” This means that the WordPress code is free and open to anyone, anywhere – to pull apart and customize. In a very short time, web developers all over the world began customizing WordPress for websites, whether their clients were blogging or not. I recently read a statistic that 25% of all websites built today are built in WordPress. Pretty impressive.
Here are some companies that are “powered by WordPress”
Themes: How do they apply to WordPress?
Your WordPress site can be further customized by applying a Theme. Themes reconfigure content, offer styling options and even add things like fancy new sliders to your homepage. Themes can be free and many are – or they can be purchased. You don’t have to use a Theme to build a functional WordPress site but they do make it more interesting.
Basically, there are two tiers of Themes: Parent and Child. The Parent Theme is the framework – literally the frame over the (WordPress) foundation. Using a house as an analogy, The Parent Theme is what defines the placement of the walls and built-ins. This framework sets the stage for a Child Theme which, in the house analogy, would be where the interior designer comes in. You don’t have to have a Child Theme because the Parent Theme comes with its own set of designs. But a good Parent is defined by its ability to be flexible across many Child Themes. (Oh boy, this is starting to sound like actual parenting.)
Plugins are add-ons that extend the functionality of WordPress and your Theme. There are thousands of free ones and of course plenty of paid plugins. Some of them will play well with your Theme(s) or other plugins – and some of them will not. If you add a plugin and your site doesn’t look or act quite right, just “deactivate” and “uninstall” it, no harm done. That’s the beauty of these plugins: they stand alone with their own code and functionality and integrate with WordPress without altering that foundational code.
If you can imagine it, there’s probably a plugin for it.
See a list of plugins that can add huge functionality to a site
- E-Commerce – to sell products, process preorders and way, way more
- Forms – from simple “Contact Us” to complex conditional, multi-layered forms
- Event Management – for detailed layout of all your events; with or without payment
- Membership – perfect to limit access to visitors who need to pay/register
- Galleries/Slideshow – you’ll find any way imaginable to render images
- SEO – fields to search engine optimize your site easily
- Maintenance Mode – to shield your site-in-progress from visitors
- Social Sharing – add share icons for social media to your posts or pages
- Social Feeds – pull in your Twitter and Facebook posts
- Fancy buttons/calls-to-action – perfect if you don’t want to make your own images
- Newsletter email subscribe – ensure emails submitted onsite flow to your newsletter service.
- Spam filters – to help with the spam comments
The list is literally endless as new plugins are available every day.