Wordpress is open source (i.e. free) software for building and maintaining blogs and websites.
There are hundreds of sites about Wordpress and how to use it. Many of these delve into very fine detail so getting to grips with the product can be a bit daunting. This short article is intended to give an overview of what it's all about. For in depth descriptions, start with www.wordpress.org. The sister site www.wordpress.com provides a ready made Wordpress service where you can sign up and start blogging and/or building your website on their servers. The basic service is free but there are small charges for various optional extras like using your own domain name.
Although the Wordpress software is free, it has to run on a web server and have access to a MySQL database so, if you want your own independent version we charge for installing and configuring it. The advantage of your own version is that you have full control over every aspect of the way the site works and appears. Using wordpress.com restricts you in various places. For example you can only choose from a relatively small number of themes whereas there are over a thousand available on the Wordpress.org site and, if you have the skills, you can adapt an existing theme or make your own from scratch.
Wordpress started as blogging software and many of the on-line pages about it still concentrate on the blogging aspect.
With a blog, you add ('post') entries to your existing collection of articles whenever you like. Many users do this on a regular basis to provide a journal or diary. Typically the most recent posts are available on the blog page while earlier posts are archived. When you write a new post you are allowed to assign categories and key words of your choosing to it so that it's easy for you or readers to recall it from the archive. You can edit or delete previous posts and you can optionally allow readers to comment on them. The comments can be unrestricted but it's more usual to set the system so that you see and approve the comments before they are visible on the site.
Wordpress has expanded the blogging concept so that a post can be a whole web page with its own web name (URL). Although you can add/delete and edit web pages just like blog posts, they aren't archived. They will always be there on the site and will appear in the navigation bar.
The clever thing about modern blogs and Wordpress in particular is the way content - i.e. what you type or paste into the editor is held separately from the layout and general appearance of the pages - i.e. the titles, navigation bars, sidebars and so on. Worpress calls this the theme. Because themes are not mixed up with the content you can radically alter the appearence of your site very easily. If you don't like the new appearence, you can change it again