We may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: WordPress powers over a third of all websites on the internet and is the most popular CMS. And with a steady increase of the market share year on year, its popularity looks set to keep growing.
But what’s behind this viral popularity? And how did we get here in the first place? In this article, we’re going to delve into a brief history of WordPress, and take a look at some of the key features that have helped keep it in the number one position all this time.
A Brief History Of WordPress
WordPress was created by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little in 2003. And as with a lot of great business ideas, it happened somewhat by chance. Matt had been using b2/cafelog – an early blogging system – for his personal use, when the system’s creator was forced to abandon his project for personal reasons. Unwilling to let the project disappear into obscurity, Mullenweg created a new branch of b2/cafelog and edited his own version. At the suggestion of his friend Christine Tremoulet, he named it WordPress.
The first version, WordPress 0.7, was released in May 2003, followed by WordPress 1.0 in January 2004. Also known as the Davis version, this was the first release to be named after one of the jazz greats – a tribute to Mullenweg’s love of jazz music that has stuck with every version since.
From the very beginning, WordPress has always been open source software, meaning that it is free to use and free to modify.
Shortly after WordPress 1.0 was released, one of its main competitors, Moveable Type, decided to change their pricing structure. This caused many users to leave the blogging platform, finding a free alternative in WordPress.
In 2005, after a brief stint working for CNET, Mullenweg founded Automattic and raised over a million dollars in funding to develop the project. By August of the following year, San Francisco was hosting the first ever WordCamp – a conference for discussing all matters WordPress that is now hosted in 74 countries, across 6 continents.
From Amateur Bloggers To Industry Leaders
One of the main reasons behind the phenomenal success of the platform is that WordPress caters for everyone. Amateur bloggers can even access a free, hosted version of the software on WordPress.com – allowing them to put content online without spending a single penny.
Meanwhile, professionals, businesses and anyone else interested in creating a scalable, fully featured, dynamic website can access the open source software from WordPress.org, and install it as their website’s content management system.
Because the software is open source, any WordPress developer around the world can modify and improve the code. These modifications are then comprehensively peer-reviewed by a community of WordPress developers. The best talent in the world is continually working to improve the software, which is how, over the years, WordPress has grown into far more than a blogging system.
WordPress is now a comprehensive, world-class CMS. Features such a multi-language and multisite allow it to scale easily, which is why some of the largest corporate sites in the world are powered by WordPress, including:
And many more. Even Sweden’s official website proudly uses WordPress.
WordPress may have caught a couple of lucky breaks in the beginning, but there are many other good reasons, aside from scalability, that have led to it becoming so popular.
As we’ve mentioned already, there are no licence fees. On top of this, running WordPress on your own domain means that you still own all of your data. And while license fees can be costly, that’s often nothing compared to being locked-in with a supplier that owns your data.
WordPress also offers excellent SEO out of the box, regular updates, and an incredible amount of flexibility, due to the availability of over 55,000 plugins. The platform itself is user-friendly, intuitive and doesn’t require extensive programming experience to use.
Simply put, WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world because it’s one of the best in the world. The open source nature of the software means that it is not only free, but also being continually improved by some of the best developers in the world. And, because of this, it offers excellent SEO, scalability and a host of features for boosting performance, along with regular and continual updates and improvements. But as much as anything else, the simplicity and user-friendly nature of the software has greatly contributed to its enduring popularity.