WordPress is open-source software for web publishing and web app development. Its simplicity has attracted numerous developers and web designers to implement it on their projects. Because of the high demand from users, many developers have also published their plugins to extend the usability of WordPress to meet each individual’s needs. (Image Source: Pexels)
Currently, over 75 million websites are running on WordPress. Although almost half of the WordPress sites run on the shared WordPress.com, the other half runs on self-hosted servers where users can access the files and manipulate the functionality of their websites.
In this post, we want to understand what runs behind the scenes of the huge WordPress websites you see on the internet.
Preliminaries: WordPress Sections
As an introduction, WordPress has three interfaces. The frontend is the website’s UX, and it enables your users to access information on your site. The backend is the website admin interface where you log in and update information.
Image source: Pexels
You can install themes and plugins, edit your learning management system users, upload files, and do so much more customization on your site. The last section, which we will be handling in the article, is the WordPress core.
What is the WordPress Core?
Each WordPress website runs on code. The code that powers all the WordPress websites is what we refer to as WordPress core. You can access the files of the WordPress core using a file manager on your cPanel host. In case you install WordPress on your computer, you can see the data using a file manager or file explorer.
When you install WordPress on your local or remote server, you will want to install themes and plugins to power your website and give it the look and functionality you want. The theme and plugins files install into folders (directories) on WordPress.
How WordPress Functions
WordPress is web software that runs on PHP and MySQL is the technology that powers its database. Without a database, WordPress will not install on your server, leave alone running. You should confirm whether your host runs PHP and MySQL before you proceed to install WordPress.
When you want to install it on your computer or a VPS, you should install Xampp which provides the technology you need for deploying WordPress on local machines. For Linux users, you can use a Xampp alternative, LAMP on CentOS. People who prefer Ubuntu for their daily tasks can as well install LAMP to run WordPress locally.
What the WordPress Files and Directory Structure Do
On every WordPress installation instance, you will see several files and three directories. Here are the functions of the main WordPress core files. You will understand why you should not edit the core files even if you feel the itch to do so.
Image source: Pexels
The administration interface on WordPress allows users with admin rights (power users) to edit and manipulate sections of the websites. The root user is the first user you create during installation and can do anything on the site. The wp-admin directory contains the files that load the admin interface theme to enhance the functions.
Every user that you create or signs up on your site gets “roles” they can perform. There is no need to worry about anybody hijacking your website because they log on to the website.
As a developer and a designer, you will want to upload themes and plugins to enhance the experience on your WordPress site. The wp-content directory is where you will find all the themes and plugins you uploaded. You can edit any of the themes under ../wp-content/themes/* or the plugins under ../wp-content/plugins/* (the * indicates the individual theme or plugin name).
Apart from the themes and plugins, you will also find your media uploads on the same directory. All your uploads will be categorized by the month you upload them on the server from the admin interface.
The heart of WordPress lies in its hooks and functions that all connect the plugins and themes to make the site more meaningful. All these, plus the core WordPress settings, are in the wp-includes folder. If at all you have an itch to edit WordPress core files, then the wp-includes is the folder to be wary about. I would refrain from doing anything here.
We know that all websites that run on PHP have an index.php file to load the homepage and include some functions for the various homepage widgets and UX. In the case of WordPress, however, the index.php file does a different job.
Other WordPress Elements
There are thousands of files and directories on the WordPress core, and we cannot discuss every single file here. It will even get more confusing because each theme and plugin come with files with similar names. Let us see what these two elements do and how they can help you achieve your WordPress development goals.
1. WordPress Themes
When you look at the 70 million websites hosted on WordPress, you will realize that each of them is distinct from the other. Although some owners leave their sites with the default UX, many businesses prefer setting a unique display to enhance their branding.
The themes in WordPress enable the users to create custom user experience display for their websites. The themes dictate the order of presentation of the content and elements on the page. However, you can customize the location of some elements, fonts, and colors.
2. WordPress Plugins
When you start to create a website for a company, you have objectives in mind that you should fulfill. Apart from enhancing its appearance, your website should accomplish specific tasks and do some things in the order you set. For instance, you can create a real estate website using WordPress, and another one can use the same software to create an eCommerce store.
Although both use WordPress for their development needs, each of them will implement certain features that will make it possible for their customers to find and buy the products they are looking for. But the processes will differ from each other. That is where plugins come into play.
WordPress can help you achieve a lot in your development journey. You can install WordPress on your computer to start your web development journey. Learning more about WordPress will help you create unique plugins and themes for WordPress to achieve your targeted goals.
When you feel that you can create exceptional plugins and themes people will love, you can sell them for an endless source of income. You can as well start a WordPress development business for people who need unique website development.