Do you need to code to use WordPress?

woman looking at lines of code wondering if she needs to know how to code to use WordPress

If you’re thinking about creating your own website, there are a lot of choices when it comes to website platforms. WordPress is one you’ve probably heard of, but you might be afraid to use it. Many people think you need to understand coding to use WordPress. But, do you really need to code to use WordPress?

Surprisingly, no. You don’t have to have any coding skills at all to use WordPress. You can work with WordPress without having a programming or technical background, but if you do know how to code, it can be incredibly helpful.

WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) used for creating websites. The platform uses PHP language and MySQL database, which makes it sound intimidating. But, it’s actually not difficult to use.

It is one of the most popular, straightforward, and convenient blogging and web-building programs available today. You can create everything using WordPress from personal websites, to portfolios, blogging, and e-commerce stores. 

WordPress has made it easy to build websites, even if you have no coding experience at all.   There are thousands of WordPress themes (free and paid) that help you create a fairly complex website without having to code.  The theme does all the coding for you. You just have to customize design elements like the colors, fonts, and images. 

How to Use WordPress if You Don’t Know How to Code

To use WordPress, you just need to learn how to use the dashboard. The dashboard allows you to select a theme, make customizations to your website, add pages, posts, and plugins.  It’s not nearly as hard to learn how to use as you might think, and there are so many benefits to learning WordPress.

selecting hosting plan for WordPress website

Select a Domain and Hosting Plan

If you want to use WordPress to build your website, the first thing you need to do is purchase a domain name and a hosting plan. A domain name is your website URL, and the host is the space on which your website will live. 

There are a ton of hosting companies out there that provide one-click installations of WordPress.  If you purchase a managed WordPress hosting plan, setting up a WordPress website is easy.   You don’t have to use the CPanel, or understand what an FTP program is. You can just click create a website, and everything is done for you.

Select a Theme

Once you have WordPress installed, to create a website you need to select a theme. You will notice a selection of free themes you can choose from. Just pick one. You can change your theme later.  There are thousands of free themes available for you to choose from. You may decide to purchase a premium theme later as premium themes generally come with a lot more features. 

However, if you are new to WordPress, it’s a good idea to start with an easy theme. Astra and Divi are two of the best themes for beginners to use.  Some themes come with a ton of features that might be difficult for someone with no coding skills to use.  

Using a Page Builder in WordPress

WordPress is a bare-bones CMS. You add features and functionality to Word Press by installing plugins.  A page builder is a type of plugin you can add, and should if you don’t know how to code.  

Page builders provide you with drag and drop options to help you create beautiful layouts and landing pages for your website. You can easily add content or images to your web page just by clicking on the elements you want to add to your page.

WordPress does not automatically come with a page builder built-in, but there are several page builders you can choose from including Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, and WP Bakery. Elementor and Divi are the two most popular page builders for non-coders.

The best thing about page builders is that they are used by non-coders and coders alike. Non-coders use them for creating websites, whereas coders use them to speed up their work process.

how to install WordPress plugins

Installing WordPress Plugins

Plugin installation is simple. The easiest method to install a plugin is through the WordPress dashboard. Click Plugins and then Add New option. After that, search for the plugins you need and click install. After the plugin has been installed, click on Activate to activate it.

You will see the plugin in the plugins menu of your WP dashboard. From here, you can customize its settings if need be.  

Another method to install a plugin is to download the zipped plugin file. You can find plugins through a third-party site or on WordPress.org.  Be careful about free plugins that are available from third-party sites. They can open up security issues on your site. Go to Plugins, select Add New & Upload Plugin to add a plugin this way.  Select the zip file from your system and follow the next few prompt screens.

Using WordPress Plugins to Add Features

If you want to add extra features to your WordPress website, the best way to do it is with a plugin. WP plugins are available for almost every feature you can think of, and many of them are free.  WordPress developers create plugins to integrate with WordPress so that users don’t have to code the features they want to add to their site.

Some plugins enhance a theme’s functionality, and some do things like create a shopping cart or calendar.  For instance, Woocommerce is a widely used e-commerce plugin that allows you to add a shop to your website.  You do not need to know how to code to use it.  You just search for the plugin. Install it. And, activate it. It’s that easy.

There are a plethora of free and premium plugins available in the market. Deciding which one to use is sometimes a matter of trial and error.  Get familiar with the WordPress platform first and then decide which features you’d like to add to enhance your website. 

Before you start installing plugins, you should know that sometimes installing a poorly coded plugin, or a plugin that is not up-to-date can break the functionality of your theme.  This is why it’s important to always read the ratings and reviews before you install a plugin.

Selecting a Quality Plugin

Since WordPress is open-source software, any developer familiar with PHP language can develop and publish a plugin. However, there are some guidelines you should follow before selecting a plugin to meet your needs. You can always deactivate and uninstall a plugin if it doesn’t work.  

1. Check Plugin Ratings

Always check for Plugin rating on WordPress.org. Popular plugins will have a higher rating.

2. Read Plugin Information

Check plugin info displayed at the lower box of the display card. You can also learn about plugin Author to see if it’s reliable. 

Also, note the number of installations and ratings. This will determine its quality. Lastly, check for the latest WordPress version compatible with the plugin!

It’s a good idea to backup your website before you install a new plugin. Updraft Plus and JetPack are two of the most used plugins you can use to backup your site.

If You Want to Use WordPress, Even if You Can’t Code, Go For it!

This is a quick overview of how you can create a website with WordPress without coding. If you want to build your own WordPress site, start by purchasing a domain name and hosting. Then install WordPress, and see what you think.  

If you don’t know how to code, you shouldn’t let WordPress scare you. Thousands of people use WordPress without knowing a thing about coding.  There are tons of tutorials on designing with WordPress to help you, including the ones here on Improve Web Design.