Some Common WordPress Terms Explained – Part 1

If you have a WordPress website, you no doubt have heard a lot of terms and acronyms. If you are a techie, these terms are just part of everyday life. But, for the non-techie, it’s sometimes hard to keep it all straight.

Here are some of the most often used phrases and terms you will hear when talking about WordPress.

HTML – HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It is the language that is used to create and display website documents. In essence, it is responsible for telling website browsers how to display website pages on your computer or mobile device.

CSS – CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets – Style sheets are used to format a website page. Examples of this are formatting text, aligning images, creating “hover” effects, specifying background colours, etc. You can view, and edit, your style sheet from within your WordPress dashboard by clicking on “Appperance” and then “Editor”.

PHP – PHP is an acronym for Hypertext PreProcessor. It is a scripting language that can be used to output data based on server-side programming (meaning all the work is done on the server, not within the browser). It can also be used to query a database for data. In WordPress, all of the website data is stored within a MySQL database. PHP is responsible for asking the database for certain information (for instance, the contents of a particular blog post) and then passing that information on to the web browser. WordPress relies heavily on PHP and MySQL.

MySQL – MySQL is a relational database management system that uses SQL (Structured Query Language). In order to run a WordPress website, MySQL is required to store all of the website information. You normally do not have to access the database directly, and you shouldn’t unless you are familiar with database tables.

Plugins – Plugins are packaged bits of programming that add functionality to a basic Wordpress website. Common types of plugins are Photo Galleries, Event Calendars, Website Forms (such as a Contact form), Security, etc. There are thousands of plugins available (over 36,000 at this point) – some are free while others are available for purchase. They are easily installed and activated from the WordPress dashboard. Before installing a plugin, it is always wise to read reviews about the plugin, and whether or not it has been tested on your version of WordPress.

Not all plugins play nicely with each other, so after installing one, it is wise to check your website to ensure it hasn’t broken any existing functionality.

Widgets – Similar to plugins, Widgets are small sections of programming that are added to your WordPress website. They are often used for specifying what content shows up in, for instance, a sidebar of a web page. Depending on which WordPress theme you are using, you will see one or more “Widget Areas” in your dashboard (sidebar, footer, etc). Widgets can easily be dragged and dropped into these Widget areas from within your WordPress Dashboard (click on “Appearance” and then “Widgets”). WordPress comes with a number of built-in widgets such as Search (adds a search box to your website), Categories (displays a list of your blog categories), etc, and plugins often automatically add additional custom widgets as well.

Are there any WordPress terms that you are confused about? Let me know in the comments!

Tomorrow I’ll have Part 2 ready for you, so be sure to check back.




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