About WordPress

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a piece of software categorized as a Content Management System (CMS).  It is used to create, edit, and display webpages.

Using a CMS empowers content owners by letting them update their content on their own schedule rather than waiting for IT staff.  Site owners can login from on or off campus, before, during, or after normal university office hours.

CMS systems also make site menus easier to maintain.  In the past, separate copies of a menu were included on each page of a website.  If you wanted to change the menu, you had to edit every page in the site.

One of the most powerful built-in features of a CMS is the search box.  This lets website visitors to quickly locate content without having to dig through site menus.

Why WordPress? 

WordPress was originally designed for bloggers, who login and create content on a regular basis (often daily, or even multiple times a day).  Bloggers wanted to login, write, publish, and logout.  The folks who maintain WordPress designed the screens to accomodate that need, and created a very straightforward process.  If all you want to do is create or update a page, you don’t need to spend a bunch of time learning WordPress.

Our faculty at Russell Labs have varied responsibilities.  As part of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, their missions include research, teaching, and outreach.  That doesn’t leave much time to login and maintain their website content, much less attend training on complex software used to edit webpages.

That straightforward editing process originally created for bloggers works really well for our faculty.  With WordPress sites, they can login, create or edit pages, publish, and logout, and get back to their other responsibilities.  Additionally, the simplicity of the editing process makes it easier to train graduate students to maintain the sites.

Do Other Universities Use WordPress?

Yes – all of the Big 10, and more every day – here are a few:

  • Harvard Law School
  • MIT
  • Boston University
  • University of California – Berkeley
  • Duke University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Virginia