ELI5: What exactly is the WordPress Install for…?

I’m a design student, working with really *really* simple HTML/CSS. (Way more focused on UI and graphics.)

I’ve worked with content management systems like Wix in the past so WordPress seemed similar. I used it to make a simple blog for one of my classes. We have not been taught anything about web hosting.

Now I’m in portfolio class and my professor told me to install WordPress and start making my site. I was like “Oh, it must just be an app/program instead of editing from the browser.” Like using Word Online vs downloading Microsoft Word. But I downloaded it and I’m…lost? I was looking for some kind of app/.exe but its just a buncha… “PHP files”? (Whatever that is…?) Honestly I’m not sure why my professor thought I would understand any of this

I’m trying to understand what it is by looking up stuff online but I’m seeing stuff about finding a host, installing locally vs on a server, creating an environment, that WordPress is not the same as [WordPress.org](http://WordPress.org) ? Is it not an editor like the browser? What did I just download?

  1. It needs to be installed on a server and connected to a database. Where did they ask you to install it?

    WordPress.com is the hosted version but won’t have all the features unless you pay.

    Try WP Local for a quick and easy way to install on your local machine for messing about with.

  2. There are THREE things called WordPress.

    [Wordpress.com](http://Wordpress.com) is the official site of Automattic, the company that publishes WordPress, and they have paid hosting available.

    [Wordpress.org](http://Wordpress.org) is is where you can get plugins to extend the functionality of WordPress, as well as documentation and user forums.

    Finally, WordPress itself is a content management system that grew out of a weblog platform, and it needs to be installed on a server (which can be locally installed on a computer for development purposes).

    Once installed, it creates a database which will contain all the components of the website you build with it. WordPress provides an extensive (and customizable) back-end for managing the site. The style and look of the front-end is based on a theme that must be installed (a default theme comes with WordPress, but you can change it). Many people use plugins that are considered ‘page builders’ or ‘site builders’ which allow you to create the entire look of the site, bypassing any themes installed.

    In addition, there are tens of thousands of plugins that add just about any function you can imagine, and many of these plugins, like WordPress itself, are FREE.

    And FYI, over 40% of the web is running on WordPress.

  3. Ask your professor for clarification as to where they want wp installed. They might have a host in mind, or just want you to host it locally on your computer. 


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