WordPress Explained through Metaphors

Wordpress logo

Wordpress logo

Are you struggling to understand what WordPress is?

Sometimes direct definitions are worthless when you are starting at the beginning.

Here’s an example from my real life.

Recently I put a learning app on my 8 year old son’s 7 inch Nook tablet. Words rained down and he had to choose which was a noun, pronoun, adverb, verb, adjective or preposition before the 1st word hit the bottom of the screen. He asked, “what is a preposition?” I could not find the words to define preposition to my son. “I know them all,”  I said lamely, and named many. So of course we came onto the web.

The web’s definition of preposition didn’t clear up a thing for my son. If I define WordPress like you’ve already seen it before it isn’t going to help you (especially if you are still searching). I’m going to define WordPress in a new way.

definition that is confusing

For absolute beginners often a definition doesn't define anything. It causes frustration. Think about an 8 year old reading this! Mine is in the gifted program, too so it is not because he Can't understand. It is just not a good explanation for a beginner.

Learning What WordPress is Through Metaphors

For those of us old enough this is going to be things you remember. If you are younger then forget the exact names and think in terms of timelines.

DOS is to Windows

as

Website Code is to WordPress

The Metaphor

Remember DOS? It was the only thing around before we had Windows and Macintosh (graphical user interfaces that allowed us to point and click).

Windows and Macintosh had another layer: software programs. Back then WordPerfect ruled and MS Word was #2. These programs began having predictable patterns: we could expect to find specific things under File for whatever word-processing software we used, for example.

It’s Relation to WordPress

The very first websites were in HTML, think of this as DOS. It was hard to use and you needed to know the exact things to type in to make anything happen at all. Often things could be destroyed “forever” by a mistake. FINALLY we got some graphical user interfaces.

WordPress is the web’s equivalent of Windows and it’s rivals Joomla and Drupal (I don’t like them) are options, too. We don’t need to know any programming language. We can point, click, type and see our websites change. No longer are we dependent on a programmer.

WordPress “out of the box” isn’t enough, though. It’s like installing Windows and not having Office. The free themes that come with WordPress are the equivalent of Note, a free and very limited program.

WordPress Themes

 

Themes are like software to run on the graphical user interface (WordPress).

WordPress requires a theme. It comes with some free and very limited themes. Think Note vs MS Word. You can have one custom made or you can use a pre-made theme. Think of it as Proprietary software vs Publicly available. Proprietary is completely tailor fitted but will cost money to maintain (forever) and requires help from programmers (forever).

I prefer pre-made themes that are maintained by a third party company. I’ve used several. At the time of this article I’m using Jupiter and it’s $55. I have discovered a few issues with it, giving you full disclosure, but overall I like it. I just wish I could make it run faster. There are also 3 or 4 little non-SEO friendly things.

Themes have a certain overall look (or range of possible looks), specific capabilities, and there are endless companies making them. Picking your theme for the very first time is very hard. Without professional guidance I guarantee you will pick the wrong one the first time. How can you look for things that you don’t know exist? Such as high definition, fully responsive themes with endless color combinations and can handle 4 columns? (That’s my basic starter requirements!)

Just like “Note” vs “Word” the ones with more capabilities are going to have a higher learning curve. Don’t Panic. Take a breath. Eventually with WordPress you start to remember that under “Appearance” you will find “Menus”. It just takes time to find and remember where to go to get certain things done.

How do we do all those things we want but don’t come with the “most” perfect theme? When you don’t want a programmer on your payroll forever, you use Plugins.  Many plugins are free but some cost money. My advice? Don’t go plugin crazy. Every plugin is a potential hole in your site that can be hacked. Keep in mind that pay plugins are often VERY much worth it, too!  Once comfortable, push yourself and see if you can find a way to do what you need without a plugin.

Windows is to MS Word

as

WordPress is to Themes

WordPress isn’t just for new websites. There are huge companies that use it. In August of 2013 more then 18% of the top 10 million websites used WordPress.

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About Marviene Fulton

Experienced SEO professional, helping medium to small business owners rank higher, get more traffic and achieve better user engagement.