The Mechanics of WordPress: What Is Under the Hood?

Like a regular car, you never have to worry about anything under the hood until something goes wrong. In WordPress, web developers like us, act like your neighbourhood garage shop, and try to figure out what went wrong. The mechanics work with transmissions, radiators, batteries to worry about; web developers work with HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript. In today’s article, I will do my best to demystify the elements of the structure of the Content Management System (CMS for short), WordPress. 

First, let us define these terms: HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript. My goal here is not to give you an introduction to programming, but a better understanding of the terms.  


HTML ( Hypertext Markup Language)

HTML is the very first language for the web browser you are currently using to read this article. It is the structure of a web page, which is divided in elements. If you are still following the mechanics analogy, this would be your car body. 



CSS (Cascading Styles Sheet) 

Like its name mentions, CSS is about adding style to a web page. Colours, fonts, pictures and more can be added on top of your HTML structure (web page). Now this would be your car paint! 




A web page which is only composed of HTML and CSS would look and feel static. Analogy (one last time): a car would not go far without wheels. Javascript is what brings dynamic features to your website. 



PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)

You turn up your engine and everything works just fine. Where do you go? There must be a road to use with your vehicle, otherwise it would have no utility. PHP is a scripting language that is equivalent to the roads and highways that get your content places. On the internet, the roads and highways are called servers. 



How WordPress uses HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP

Let us analyze how each language works together. Bear with me; we will not go into the technical details. 

A WordPress website is structured like a typical website from the front-end perspective. HTML, as mentioned earlier, is the backbone (structure) of your website. Then, we have CSS, which allows colors, controls the elements’ size of HTML and so much more. It is CSS that allows your website to be mobile responsive, generally known as responsive design. Finally, Javascript allows dynamic content of your elements, such as creating an e-commerce shop. Whenever you are looking for new features on your website via a plugin, you will more than likely be adding javascript code. 

And there comes PHP in WordPress. As mentioned earlier, it is the language that allows people to fill in forms on your website and send it to a server. PHP is usually described as a server-side language, as it takes care of moving data from one place on the web to another. For example, when a visitor leaves you a message on your website contact form, PHP takes care of sending the information to your email or database. 

These are the roles that HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP play to make WordPress work. Of course, other parts exist to make WordPress function, and we will discuss it in later articles.Hopefully, you are not reading this article while driving! 


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