I remember the days when I was just like you.
I had no idea what a web host was, what WordPress really was, and terms like themes and plugins were completely lost on me.
If this is you — don’t feel bad. Everyone has a starting point and soon enough you’re going to understand all of this a lot sooner.
One of the most common confusions about WordPress is how it is different from a WordPress theme.
This was something that took me a bit of time to figure out, but just know:
It’s not too hard to understand.
Chances are, you just haven’t read about it in a way that it clicks.
In this post, I’m hoping to lift the fog on the differences between these two and how they’re not entirely separated from each other.
What is WordPress?
Generally, when you ask Google this question, it tends to spit out an answer that can leave you with more questions than answers.
I know this because when I searched this out of sheer curiosity, this is the answer that appeared in the top search results:
WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool written in PHP. It’s the most loved and used blogging platform/CMS on over seventy (70) million sites. That’s a whooping 23% of the internet! Not to mention, some commercial CMS come and go. ~ Source
Even with a “non-geek speak” explanation of what WordPress is, it still doesn’t answer the question inside the question.
If you’re trying to start a blog and you have no idea what it takes to build a website, then when you ask what WordPress is, my guess is that this is what you’re really asking:
Why should I use WordPress to build my site?
As our friends over at iThemes pointed out, WordPress is one of the easiest blogging tools, but the truth is that WordPress can be more than just a tool to blog with.
Granted, in its simplest form, WordPress is a great a platform for blogging, but it can do much more if and when you need it too.
Since WordPress is so popular (and by popular I mean, it’s popular enough that even The New York Times runs their blogs with it) there are a lot of products to help support it which means that you can build just about anything with it, including a lucrative online business.
With so many products out there to go along with WordPress, you can literally build any type of site you want to.
Want a simple blog? Great! Creating blog posts and uploading pictures is super simple.
Need a website for your small local business? Awesome. WordPress has a ton of templates called ‘Themes’ (more on this in a bit) that can help create the website that is perfect for your business.
Want to build an online magazine? That’s easy to do to.
WordPress is the website builder that uncomplicates a lot that goes into building a website.
The reason it is often the best choice is because the sky’s the limit and you’re not hindered by a ton of limitations.
For the moment, all you may want is to create a blog. But, like many others before you, you may quickly discover that your simple blog is actually a way to make money and it needs to expand.
Thankfully, since you built your blog on WordPress, you’ll be able to do that expansion rather easily with the help of some handy plugins that are probably free and rather easy to use and setup.
So what is WordPress?
It’s the website builder that you can use to create a blog or build and online empire with relative ease.
However, you can’t have a WordPress site without a WordPress theme…
What Are WordPress Themes, and are they Different from WordPress?
Before we answer the latter part of the question, let’s get the first part figured out:
A WordPress theme is what gives your site a “look”.
You can think of it as the dress or suit for your website.
You can always change your suit/dress, but who you are never changes. Similarly, you can always change your WordPress theme, but your blog posts, pages, and other content — the soul of what your site is really about — remains the same.
Now, for the second part:
Yes, WordPress themes and WordPress are different, but they are not entirely separate.
That little fact is often what instantly confuses people, so let me try and explain it to you.
It’s All Like Running A Car
The easiest way to understand something complicated is to use an analogy. I think that also applies to this situation now.
The best way I can explain everything is like this:
It’s all like a car.
Your host is the engine — you need it to run your site. Your WordPress Theme is the car — it’s what makes everything pretty with a few extra do-dads thrown in. And WordPress is the gasoline that makes everything go.
You need all of these things to come together to make a WordPress driven website. So even though WordPress and WordPress themes are different, it’s an all or nothing deal.
Another way that I like to explain it, it’s all like a theater:
A WordPress Theme is the front stage; WordPress is the backstage; Web Hosting is the theater where the action happens.
Wrapping It Up
I hope after reading this post is that you’ve just made a big sigh of relief.
My goal with this post was to get to you think, “Oh, yeah. That totally makes sense.”
So if I did that, then — yay!
Trust me, I know learning all of this WordPress stuff feels like you’re on a boat treading water, but you’ll be understanding and navigating the world of WP in no time.
But, if you are struggling to get your WordPress blog off the ground or need help navigating this strangely addicting realm of WP, then you’ll love our free and quick email course called, “The Absolute Beginners Guide for Building a WordPress Blog from Scratch.”
Want access to this awesome headache reliever?
Simply add your email our list below and get your first lesson in our free course.
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