What is WordPress?

WordPress is a user friendly way to create websites.  It is free and open source content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL which runs on a web hosting service.  It started off a primarily as a blogging platform.  However, the use of WordPress has exploded.  It is now used by fortune 500 companies and bloggers to create and power their websites.  Almost a quarter of the websites today are created with WordPress including this one.

If we continue the car analogy from our basic components of website post, WordPress would be like your  car engine.  It is what drives your website.  Just like you don’t need to know everything about an engine to drive an automobile, you don’t need to know everything about WordPress to create a site.  If you can use a word processor like Word, you can probably create a site.

What is a framework?

A framework is a set of code that provides the backbone of a Theme.  It is a flexible foundation that is created to speed up design.  It is like the interior wall of a building.  You don’t see it, but it is important.  The theme is like the exterior part of a wall.  It is the esthetics that you see. All themes have a framework.  Some companies like Genesis and Thesis sell their frameworks separately for themes.  Others such as Elegant Themes have the framework embedded in their themes.   Frameworks make things easier for users as well.  Themes that use the same Framework often are set up very similarly.   This means that info is stored in the same location and pages are set up in very similar ways.

Using the car analogy again, a WordPress framework would be like the internal structure or frame of a car.  You don’t see it, but it creates the overall structure, shape and form of a vehicle.  This is why it is wise make sure you use a good design company or framework to build your site on.  This site is created with the Genesis FrameWork.

What is a theme?

A WordPress theme is a set of files that determine the look and feel of your WordPress-powered website.   WordPress Themes create the general layout of the site pages and different widgets (plugins) you can use.  This means that they contain page content such as graphics, headers, logos and footers.  What makes this confusing is that some companies like Thesis call their themes skins.  This site was created with the Metro Theme.   There are some companies that create generic themes.  Others create themes for specific niches like churches.  Click here to read our recommended themes.

Using the car analogy, a theme would be a car’s detail – the paint color, chrome, etc.  A car can look very different depending on what color you use.  A theme can make a framework look very different.  Even different color schemes and slight modifications can make websites look and feel very different.  To see what I mean, look at this site which I created for Sunrise Church.  It was created with the same Metro theme as this site, but the home page and site feel very different because it is designed to fulfill different purposes.

What is a plugin?

A plug-in is a small program, or combination of programs, that allow your website to have more features and to do more than it could when you first installed it.  There are all kinds of free and paid plugins.  Read about all our recommended plugins for church (prayer, sermon, calendar, maps, etc) or download our Free Top Ten Church Plugin Resource Guide.

Finishing up our car analogy, a plugin would be like the different accessories you can ad to your car.  Some like an automatic while others prefer a manual transmission. Some like CD player while others prefer an MP3 player with their radio.  Some people like cruise control while other do not.  All of these change the feel of your car but they are minor.

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Brad started ChurchWP.net in 2013 to help churches get online with WordPress. He is a pastor and also operates a web design agency called Frugal Fox Design.