Understanding the “Layers” of WordPress

In trying to explain how the different parts of WP (WP itself, plugins and themes) work together, I’ve come up with this conceptual model to help people visualize this:

A model of how the parts of WP "layer" on one another

A model to help visualize how the parts of WP “layer” on one another.

  • WordPress itself is the “engine” that runs the website.
  • Plugins are additional “apps:” small software tools that add functionality to WordPress. These include tools like image galleries, contact forms, calendars, SEO tools, and many more. There are thousands of free plugins, and thousands more “premium” plugins for which you’ll pay anywhere from $10 or $20 to $50 or more. See wordpress.org/plugins/ to see the more than 29,000 free plugins that have been vetted by the WOP team, and are automatically available for download/install directly through your WP dashboard.
  • Themes are the outermost layer, the “design template” that gives your site its look and feel: page layout, menu style, colors, fonts, and more. As with plugins, there are thousands of free themes, and thousands more “premium” themes for which you’ll pay anywhere from $30 to $100 or more. See wordpress.org/themes/ to see the more than 2,300 free themes that have been vetted by the WOP team, and are automatically available for download/install directly through your WP dashboard.
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