WordPress (WP) is a free, open-source content management system for websites. Using a web-based interface, WordPress makes creating and maintaining websites extremely easy. If you can run Microsoft Office apps, you can run WordPress!
WP isn’t resident on your computer like traditional software– it’s installed “in the cloud”, on our server. You access it through the web with a browser.
We set up your site for you, and then you can manage your site from any computer with an internet connection. You can even manage your site from your smart phone! (The small screen makes this hard, however, so that’s not an easy everyday access.)
“Content management systems” like WordPress work a little differently than traditional-style websites. If you’ve worked with a website before, you may have created each page separately, with it’s own version of the menu and sidebars, all the content (text and images), with lots of html code around each item telling it how to display. You may have advanced to “cascading style sheets” of CSS, which began to create some “shorthand” for that display, but each page was created separately with both content and display code on it. Changing the display of the site was time-consuming and tedious (and therefore expensive!). Adding content required special knowledge of code so that you didn’t “mess it up”.
WordPress (and other CMS’s) separate completely your content (text & images) from how they display. The content is held in separate databases, and when a specific page is called up by a user, the active “theme” tells that content how to display, with the layout (sidebar left or right), the fonts, the colors, etc. Don’t like the look of your site? A quick change of theme easily creates a new look.
The editors of your website (you?) don’t have access to change the theme, so there’s little to “mess up”. When you open WordPress to make changes to your site, you are only editing the content databases through the simple user interface, so no special knowledge of codes is required. If you can use basic word processing software, you can edit your website.
Sometimes it’s confusing for our clients when they don’t understand how the WP theme is separate from the content. For instance, if early in a project we are working with a client to get the specifics of their WP theme finalized, and they want us to “add a menu tab for Music” — because the theme only tells the content to display, and that menu tab is linked to an actual page, it can only come later when the actual content of the site is created.