In general computer terms, an action is any sequence of code that is executed upon receiving a specific prompt. In WordPress, actions function quite similarly and are an integral part of the core WordPress software. Indeed, WordPress comes built-in with several actions, and there are also numerous plugins which rely on actions to function.
Actions are defined in WordPress as one of the two different kinds of hooks. In plain speech, an action operates by “When X happens, do Y” where “Y” means executing a piece of code. For example, when someone visits your website, WordPress uses an action to execute a short script that displays the header image or text at the top of the webpage.
If you’re solely interested in administering a WordPress website, then you won’t need to worry about how hooks and actions work because they’re already built-in. But for developers, actions are a smart way to ensure that code is being executed precisely at the right times.
On the surface, many WordPress actions may seem like overly complicated ways to do simple things such as display the name of a website at the top of the page every time it is loaded. But writing it as an action rather than static HTML ensures much more precise control over when and how data is displayed, an important consideration when designing a dynamic and engaging website in the modern era.