Quick, op question: What do TechCrunch, BBC America, and the New Yorker have in common? No, it’s not the fact that these companies are all pioneers in their respective industries and are common household names that rake in six figures or more of profit yearly.
The answer is quite simple, especially if you’re a keen-eyed netizen. All three rely on WordPress for their website needs. In the last half-decade, WordPress has gone from being a mere blogging platform (in the style of Google’s Blogger or LiveJournal) preferred by geeks alone and into a full-featured content management system that is used by more than 70 million websites all over the world. It is estimated that one-fourth of the Internet’s top 10 million most visited sites use WordPress for content management.
A Quick History:
To say that WordPress changed the Internet is actually undermining the huge impact that this tool had on the online community. It did not merely changed the Internet— it REVOLUTIONIZED it. Before WordPress, websites and blogs would have to be coded from scratch. At the very least, people would need to have at least amateur-level HTML skills to get their sites off the ground. While Blogger and LiveJournal were blogging platforms that were in vogue back in the day, their features were pretty limited.
WordPress’s beginnings were simple. The tool was actually an offshoot of an earlier blogging software called b2/cafelog, which was popular in the early 2000s. After development on b2 stopped in 2003, Matt Mullenweg, a young philosophy and political science major from the University of Houston, decided to fill in the void left by the software by bringing it up to current web standards and continuing its development independently. Thus, the seeds for what would become WordPress was laid out.l He was then joined in this endeavor by developers Mike Little and Michel Valdrighi (who was also part of the team that initially developed b2). By 2005, WordPress was enjoying immense popularity among blogging communities and the whole online community in general.
Why is WordPress so Popular?
1. It accommodates both casual and professional users.
WordPress is both a blogging platform and a content management system. For bloggers who merely want an outlet for their thoughts and don’t want to delve in deep in the world of website development, WordPress can easily accommodate them- no coding skills necessary. All they need to do is to sign up for an account on WordPress.com, go through a quick set-up for their blog’s appearance, and voila! Instant blog in just a few minutes. The learning curve here is close to zero.
For users who want a bit more control over how their website looks and runs, they can opt to download the whole WordPress framework on their machines and host their own sites by themselves.
2. The amount of customization is legendary.
With WordPress, there’s practically no limit to the kind of websites that you can create. You can create an online shop, a personal blog, a promotional site, a group wiki- the possibilities are endless. There’s bound to be a theme out there that can perform the features that you want your site to have.
Also, the thousands of plugins that are available for WordPress can add another layer of functionality to your site. Matt Mullenweg, WordPress co-founder, actually authored a popular spam filtering service/plug-in called Akismet. There are also other kinds of plugins that can perform search engine optimization tasks, add widgets, integrate social media, and other such functionalities.
3. There’s great mobile support.
WordPress has native apps for common mobile operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows Phone). Majority of WordPress sites look good on smartphones and tablets, and in a world where more and more people access the Internet from mobile devices, this fact is particularly comforting.
These are just a few examples of how WordPress changed the Internet for the better. It made blogging and website creation easy and democratic. Forbes.com stated that WordPress was the “lingua franca of the Internet” and rightly so– we can’t help but see how true that statement is, the statistics do not lie. Multiple competitors have tried to topple WordPress from its pedestal in the last few years, but it’s easy to see why WordPress just won’t budge from the top.