WordPress is an open source blogging tool and content management system that uses PHP programing and a MySQL database. WordPress first appeared in 2003 as a joint effort between Matt Mullenweg from Texas and Mike Little from England. Together they created a blogging platform from a previous open source blog code package called b2/cafelog. The name, WordPress was suggested by one of Mullenweg’s friends, Christine Selleck Tremoulet. Mullenweg originally set out to revise the b2 platform to suite his personal needs and likes as a blogger. Currently WordPress is used by more than 60 million websites.
WordPress is revered by many and avoided by some website designers. Why? In both cases a large part of what is liked or disliked is the SQL database that WordPress (WP) is built upon. The SQL database is capable of massive data storage and it is both durable and versatile. WP uses its database to store and retrieve information as and when needed. The database is the most crucial component of any WordPress installation. So, let’s take a look at the database structure, the major tables, and taxonomies used.
Inside The Machine
The MySQL database at the center of WordPress has eleven essential tables. There are two tables for comments. That means, when you use the comment feature, which allows readers to leave comments at the end of posts and on specified pages, these two tables wp_commentmeta and wp_comments are used to organize and store all the information involved with those comments. Next there is a table, wp_links used to store all the links which can be accessed from the links menu in the admin panel.
A blog is capable of having multiple users, so the next two tables, wp_usermeta and wp_users contains information about the user accounts associated with the WordPress website. When you use a WordPress blog you have to login and the information you use to do that is all stored in the users tables. The back end information is all accessed through the dashboard, which is the place you arrive after you’ve logged into the blog. The dashboard is the working area of the blog where all the posts and pages are created, and where the many other features of the blog are accessible for use. It is also the place where the user section is located so you can find any and all users of the blog.
The other tables are used to organize the posts and their arrangement into multi-columns of text or with or without a sidebar are controlled by this table, it also controls pages. There is also a table for options which controls the appearance features of the blog like the widgets for the sidebar and the tweaks that are available for other visual changes to the blog. Finally, there are three tables that handle custom taxonomies and terms within the blog. Some of the terms used within a WordPress blog are the “categories” and “tags” that apply to posts and how they are organized with the search menu. Basically, a taxonomy is a way to group things together.
The reason some web designers are not excited to use WordPress is that while these tables are very well organized and provide power, dependability and flexibility of use, they also have inherent limitations. The very fact that the tables organize and arrange the data used in a WordPress blog means that if you want to organize that data differently you may have problems. Web designers are always coming up with new ideas and seeking new ways of presenting information, so any limitations are likely to eventually become a problem. That’s the hit on WordPress, but it is a limited criticism and only applies to those who have to play outside the given WordPress structure. Even with these limitations, there are ways around them by using specialty software called plugins.
The Database Plus Software – Plugins
What makes WordPress such a successful blogging platform is the combination of a powerful database that is well organized into a simple set of tables and the interface of that database with a very simple structure that allows outside software to be added. WordPress calls outside software, “Plugins.” The software is able to plug into the database through a very simple coordinating interface structure. This means that many different needs of a website designer or blog user can be satisfied by adding a plugin that was designed to include that needed feature. But that’s not all. WordPress designed their plugins so that any coder could design a software solution for a blogging or website problem and it would be usable on the WordPress platform.
At first that may sound a bit chaotic, as if there are many thousands of different pieces of software scattered around the internet that have to be found and adapted to the blog. But WordPress also organized a marketplace for these pieces of software that allows users to rate the plugins (software) and give feedback about what they like and dislike about each plugin. The WordPress Plugin Marketplace is also coordinated with every WordPress blog through the dashboard so a user can find and add plugins right from the blogs back end dashboard. Note only can this software be easily added, there is also a search window that allows a blog user to use different query terms to help find the software that is needed. It all works smoothly and easily once you are comfortable with the process.
So WordPress offers a blog that is built around a powerful database and simply structured to interface with a multitude of software that will modify the blog to look and or operate in almost any way a user wants it to. That’s the beauty of WordPress and it is the most successful blogging platform out there. But there is even more reason to appreciate WordPress.
A big part of WordPresses popularity is because it works so well with the Google search algorithms. Most bloggers and website owners are looking for ways to get traction, which means gain a steady stream of traffic headed towards their site. One of the most important online traffic generation methods is to be easily and regularly found by search engines and Google search is the biggest search engine in the world.
WordPress helps bloggers and website owners get found by search engines. How does that happen? Although Google doesn’t publish the particulars of their search algorithms, it’s pretty certain that three elements play significant roles in the weighting of their algorithm’s evaluation of any site their crawlers encounter. First, they improve ranking on their search results when they encounter sites that regularly add original new content. Two they look for sites that receive meaningful external links, and three they look for sites that have been up and running for a significant amount of time.
WordPress makes adding original new content very easy and convenient. WordPress also makes optimizing that content for particular keywords used in Google searches very convenient. These two WordPress features make getting high Google search rankings an easier task. As for having a site that’s been up and running for a significant time, WordPress can’t really do much about this, but two out of three is good enough to help get results.
Finally, WordPress has another design feature that makes using the WP platform very easy and desirable. The design part of any website or blog is a significant element in branding the site. To make WordPress site design easy, there is a themes section of the back end dashboard that allows easy loading of entire finished themes that have many specific detail options. Themes are designed by outside design companies and made available through WordPress’s marketplace and most of these themes are customizable to a users specific needs.
The net affect of an open source blog platform in combination with its own software and theme marketplace makes WordPress a well thought out and easily used blogging platform that dominates the blogging space.