It was recently reported by W3Techs that WordPress is now used on a staggering 40% of websites on the Internet. This a huge, almost incomprehensible milestone. As a 15 year user, community member, and WordPress evangelist, I’m happy to see it grow to be the dominant CMS of the internet. At Martin & Company, this site here is built on WordPress. Many of our client sites are built on WordPress too. Why has WordPress taken hold the way it has when there are so many website options available today? There are several reasons and factors that have led to this humble blogging software becoming the default content management system of the Internet.
WordPress from the beginning was designed to be simple to set up, manage, customize, update, and most importantly, easy to create content. When creating content it’s easy to write, add images, links, videos, etc. similar to a word processor like Microsoft Word. Keeping that approachability throughout the years has made it popular with the tech elite, and content creators alike.
WordPress launched as simple blogging software and today it can still be used in that capacity, but it can also be used in so many other ways. There are literally thousands of themes and plugins that modify the look and feel of WordPress, and more importantly, what it is capable of doing. From building full eCommerce sites using WooCommerce, a forum with BB Press, or a complete social network using BuddyPress. Think of almost any website feature you can think of, and there’s very likely a WordPress plugin that can do what you’re looking to do. And if there isn’t and you really need something custom, you can build a plugin yourself if you have the ability, and maybe fill another hole that needs to be filled and benefit other websites.
Remaining Open Source
Open Source software is basically a software project that’s source code is freely available and licensed with the developer-friendly GPL. When starting WordPress, Matt Mullenweg was but a young man who was laser-focused on his project and keeping it open source to foster its growth by having anyone with an interest in improving WordPress be able to do so and he and the team have never strayed from that vision. While many other platforms have come out since or had a lead before WordPress came along, who decided to go to non-open-source models and some that fizzled out and never evolved enough for today’s internet. Some of the current DIY website builders have become very successful businesses, but they still don’t have the incredible reach of WP.
To ensure the future of WordPress and an open-source Internet, Matt and the team have also started the nonprofit WordPress Foundation to further the mission of the WordPress project, and Automattic, which is the parent company of WordPress.com and owns and invests in other businesses mainly related to WordPress and open-source software. From a young age, he was a forward thinker, thinking about the long-term viability of the project and the future of the Internet and free speech.
Community & Support
Another key piece to the WordPress story is the community, of which I am proud to be a member. The WordPress community exists online at the main site WordPress.org in the forums and support for each theme and plugins. Somebody has likely had a similar experience as you and is willing to help someone else. In addition to the online community, there is an IRL community of local and virtual meetups and WordCamps at WordCamp.org. I currently am a member of the Nashville WordPress Meetup group and was involved in the North East Ohio WordPress meetup groups when I lived there. At those meetups you can bounce ideas off of people, learn, help each other and network.
WordCamps are bigger regional or national events with full sessions and educational tracks for beginners to experts and I’ve been a volunteer at some of them both in Ohio and Nashville. At the big WordCamp US event (which was held in Nashville in 2017 & 2018) Matt Mullenweg gives his annual “State of The Word” address as an annual update on how things are going in the WordPress World. Due to the pandemic, in 2020 it was given virtually (see video below)
In closing, WordPress is an Internet juggernaut with humble beginnings that is here to stay for the foreseeable future and at Martin & Company, we’re proud to use it and be involved in the community. And of course, let us know if you need any help with your WordPress project whether you’re already on WordPress or want to be.