WordPress, what is it exactly?

wp-light-hi-1024x768This is the first in a series of posts specifically about WordPress, how it can be useful as a platform for building your websites with both your existing church community and your potential visitors in mind.

As many of you know already, the Presbyterian Church in Canada provides the WordPress platform and select themes and plugins (more on what they are later) to member churches without any cost. This is a ministry called PCCWeb and is supported through funds provided by Presbyterian Sharing.

Let’s start at the beginning…

WordPress was first released 12 years ago as a blogging platform and is now the foundation for more than 70 million websites (or 25% of all websites on the internet).

A blog is really a single page medium that’s a continuous record of the author’s thoughts (some say stream of consciousness) and any authorized reviewer’s comments on those thoughts. It is a very dynamic and interactive medium.

A website is a static multi-page medium (the content only changes slightly and infrequently) and tends to be more one way communication than it is interactive.

The great thing about WordPress is it can be both simultaneously and many WordPress websites have a blog page as a feature. Even more significantly, the WordPress core platform is free for the asking, as are many plugins and themes.

The WordPress consists of three basic and interrelated parts:

  1. Core files
  2. Theme files
  3. Plugin files

One of the best ways I’ve found to envision how it all comes together is by envisioning how a house is constructed.

First, the core of a house is its inner structure, the layout of the rooms, the heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing systems. The same is true of the WordPress “Core” files. They are the inner structure of the site, the foundation on which everything else is built.

Next are the internal finishes and fixtures, the drywall, light fixtures, the electrical outlets and switches, the doors and windows, flooring and paint. These are the things that make living in the house safe and comfortable.

That’s what WordPress Themes are. They provide the basic layout of the different types of pages on your website, the size of the header, the footer sections and your color choices.
The Core files plus a Theme (there are hundreds of themes available and if you really wanted to you could create your own!) will give you a working website, so what are plugins?

Plugins are the extras that you add to your house to make it truly your home. This could be a renovation, an extension, landscaping or even new garage doors. And that’s what plugins do, they give the site additional capabilities (contact forms, maps, photo albums, event calendars, online slideshows, etc.) that customize it to your church’s particular needs.

The technical name for all of these elements working together is a Content Management System or CMS. This simply means that you have a way to decide what content (text, images, videos, audio) to make accessible from or on your site. Once you have all three elements in place, your house website is complete!


Next Week – the fun begins!

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