As a website designer I get asked about this all the time. So, I figured a handy graphic would be super helpful to explain how WordPress and websites in general work. When you’re just starting to build a site there are a few components that are needed:
A Hosting Plan: A hosting plan is basically the land that your website is built on. All the coded files that make up your site need a place to stay, this is that place. They’re hosted on a server.
A Domain Name: This is your www._____.com/.org/a whole bunch of other options. This is the address that people will use to find you on the web. I usually recommend going with a .com when possible, it is generally still the most known and trusted in my opinion. This is also a great place to make sure your SEO keywords are also located. (If you need help selecting a domain please feel free to contact me!)
WordPress Framework: The WordPress framework is an open source bundle of files that gets downloaded onto your hosting. This is basically the framing of your house, but it by no means is pretty all alone. This the framework from WordPress.org, NOT WordPress.com. They are two very different things.
Your Theme & Customizations: This is where your actual site starts to take shape and look nice. There are 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of themes for you to choose, some are free, some are paid. This is basically the decor of your house. This is what tells your site where to put things, what colors to use, how to make things interact with the user and so on.