WordPress is an extremely popular content management system (CMS) that you can use to create anything from a simple blog to a full website. You can start publishing your pages and blog posts on the internet very quickly and easily just by using its default settings. Also, there is plenty of scope for customising your website.
WordPress comes with a dashboard to enable you to add new posts and pages to your site, or to change the content of existing pages, without having to understand anything about computer code.
A CMS stores the content of your website (e.g. text and images) in a database separately from the templates used to create the site’s pages. The pages are created dynamically when someone visits them. This means that it is easy to change the layout and appearance of your website by changing the theme, and displaying the same content in a different way.
There are two ways that you can use the WordPress platform, WordPress.com and WordPress.org, which can cause confusion. There’s a good explanation of the differences between them here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/
WordPress.com is completely free, including hosting, and has other advantages such as some security benefits and automatic backups. There is not such a wide choice of themes for you to use, although there are over 200 available, some of which you will have to pay for. If all you want is a simple blog or website then you might not want to rule out WordPress.com.
You can pay for upgrades to a WordPress.com website, including:
• domain mapping (so that your domain name doesn’t have to include “wordpress”)
• various customisation options, for example a CSS editor to change the look of your blog
• a no-ads upgrade so that no-one will see the ads that WordPress.com would otherwise display on your site occasionally.
You would need the fairly expensive Business plan to be able to upload plugins or custom themes.
WordPress.org – Self Hosting Your Website
If you want more control over your site, then you could choose to self-host your website. This will enable you to to choose from thousands of themes to upload and activate. Both free and paid themes are available. You will also be able to upload plugins to add functionality to your site, and will be able to customise its appearance using CSS.
The WordPress software is free, but you will have to find and pay for a web host and register a domain name.
I would expect that most people who hire me to work on their websites will be self hosting WordPress.