What is WordPress?
WordPress is the leading content management system (CMS), powering more than a quarter of active websites. It’s used for creating, organizing, and maintaining various types of content through a single interface. While WordPress is most commonly associated with blogs, it supports other types of websites as well as mobile applications.
History of WordPress
French programmer Michel Valdrighi created a news and blogging tool called b2/cafelog in 2001. It was a new approach to websites; instead of static content, the site displayed content from databases which could be updated to change the site. A year later he dropped out of the active online community, causing b2/cafelog users Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little to join forces to continue development. Valdrighi reappeared in 2003 to give his blessing to the new “heir to the throne”, WordPress.
The following year, WordPress introduced plug-ins and began working on themes. Around the same time, their biggest competitor made a licensing change that caused users to drop it in favor of WordPress. The new support let WordPress grow quickly, and within a few years it achieved dominance in the CMS market.
- Open source
- WYSIWYG simplified editing
- SEO Optimization
- Extensive library of plugins available
- Built-in commenting
- Allows for custom user management classes
- Easy to update
WordPress is a solid foundation for a website. It comes standard with a bundle of plugins with thousands of others available. Many themes are mobile responsive.
Once it’s set up, WordPress is simple for non-programmers to use. It’s the most popular choice for clients who want to retain the ability to perform updates themselves should the need arise. Every new page is generated in line with the overall theme, so as long as end users don’t modify that they can add new content without involving IT.
Because so many websites use WordPress, choosing an existing theme and using it unmodified can result in a boring site. This can be avoided with a custom (or at least modified) theme.
Functionality and popularity lead to the trade-off of increased security risks. The risk can be mitigated through appropriate security measures and regular maintenance.
WordPress powers more than 75 million websites. Here’s a few high-profile examples:
WordPress serves as the platform for the number one source of digital news in America. Some critics of WordPress have found fault with its scalability, but CNN is a solid rebuttal. Their CNN Politics section alone sees about 33 million unique visitors per month.
The official Star Wars blog is built on WordPress. The platform is a popular choice for entertainment organizations because it’s easily integrated with social media services. Star Wars uses WordPress as the basis of an interactive cross-platform fan experience.
NASA has a lot on their plate, but they still want a vibrant and active digital presence. WordPress provides that without adding more work for their technicians. It’s easily adapted to their specific needs, and the simplified editor means nontechnical personnel can perform daily updates.
WordPress is far and away the favorite choice for a CMS. It holds 59.1% of the market share. Its closest competitors are still in single digits (Joomla at 6.9% and Drupal at 4.7%). Mullenwag has been public with his intent to further its utility as an applications platform, which should sustain WordPress’s popularity.