This ridiculously easy analogy will help you understand how your WordPress website is structured.
Let’s imagine your website is a car.
The WordPress framework is the vehicle itself. But in order to power the car you need an engine. That’s where your hosting comes into play. You need the site to be hosted on a server so that it can be powered. Your number plate is your domain…it’s the unique identifier, and for a url that’s really special, you will probably need to pay more. Just like cherished plates.
Now you have a bland shell of a car with its unique reg number, but it’s not very cool and neither does it have much in the way of functionality.
So let’s pimp it up.
Choose your colours, your interior finish, alloys, tyres etc. All those prettifying elements; well, that’s your WordPress theme. Most themes will fundamentally offer similarities in terms of function, but you can choose from a variety of different looks as well as different qualities depending on the purpose of your site. You can also customise most WordPress themes so you can have your site (and your car) looking the way you want it.
How many seats and doors you have will be determined by your pages.
But there’s an optimum number; too few and it’s too difficult for you to even ride your car or carry passengers, too many and is just pointless and makes your site messy. That number will be wholly dependent on the type of website you have and what you’re trying to achieve. Are you a solo rider and will manage with a couple of really good quality pages? Or do you need to drive a minibus full with your full-blown ecommerce website?
Think of your blog like your fuel tank.
It’s always there and it’s ready for you to fill with blog posts. The more you put in, the more miles you can travel. Likewise, creating blog posts, resources, articles or other good quality content on your website as a marketing strategy will drive traffic to your site.
Now, in order to have a car that works properly, it needs a certain amount of other features, such as an accelerator, brakes, a steering wheel, an exhaust, etc. These are your plugins. This includes everything you add onto the functionality of your website to make it work as you want it to. For example, contact forms, galleries, social media integration, anti-spam, analytics, CRM integration. The list is endless.
Some plugins are essential in order to run your car.
And occasionally they may break or need replacing. Sometimes you’ll find that you can only have the manufacturer’s recommended part otherwise it won’t work with others. That’s the same for WordPress plugins. You’ll also find that some WordPress plugins are dependent on each other, so if one gets superseded, you’ll have to also upgrade its counterparts.
What about ongoing maintenance?
Unless you’re a closet mechanic, chances are you couldn’t fix your car if it broke down or was faulty. Likewise, I would only ever recommend working with experienced WordPress specialists or developers to look after your website. If you wanted total peace of mind, you could opt for something like The Website Hotel which effectively offers servicing, M.O.T. and breakdown cover for a small monthly fee.
I hope that helps you visualise how your WordPress site is structured and powered! If you’d like help, apply to work with me.