A few years ago, in the days when companies were venturing onto the web for the first time, web development boutiques sprung up everywhere to help them. They pioneered in this exciting new space and competed with one another by each trying to create the best content management system (CMS) for their clients to manage their websites. The model was simple: A proportion of revenue went towards the development of the CMS, and the CMS rose to become the go-to system for everyone needing a website. The outcome, in theory, was growth of market share for the CMS, and corresponding growth for the development company.
Meanwhile, in the virtual space of Open Source software, Joomla, Drupal and WordPress were being developed simultaneously (and independently) by thousands of dedicated ‘code is poetry’ believers world-wide. While Drupal and Joomla were established as systems suitable for websites, WordPress was positioned as a blogging platform. It was written to be ultra light, with minimum excess functionality, and it targeted users who would be updating their blogs on a daily basis with news and images.
From the outset, Google loved WordPress. It makes content simple for Google bots to digest the keywords and back-links into its algorithm for indexing the site in search results. WordPress sites have always, and continue, to rank higher than other sites running less digestible CMS’. For many, this alone has been good reason to migrate to WordPress.
The underlying strategy of open source is entirely different to that of commercial software because it is free. It has no ulterior motives to create dependencies or paid subscribers. Its single objective is to get the job done in the most efficient way. That alone provides enough motivation to drive purist programmers to write and submit efficient code knowing they are part of a global phenomenon.
As its popularity grew, more and more developers got on board to create ‘plugins’ – little programs which can be added to a WordPress installation to provide specific additional functionality. Thousands more were developing Themes, the layer of code which give a WordPress site its look and feel, and which are as easily installed as plugins. Meanwhile WordPress itself continued to upgrade and improve, becoming ever more user-friendly whilst remaining lean on code yet more flexible with its customisations.
Eventually, in early 2012 or so, WordPress users realised they were working with something which wasn’t just a blogging platform, but a fully fledged CMS. With simple customisation, it was now possible to power sophisticated websites with all the visual appeal and content volume normally associated with large corporates of the day.
By now there was already a wide selection of literature and self-tutoring books available teaching readers how to build sites and work with WordPress. It was far along the road to becoming the CMS of choice in the same way Microsoft Word is for word processors.
Three years on and most students leave education with useful experience of WordPress. No longer should any organisation be paying a web consultant to edit their website or upload their images, it can all be done in WordPress with minimum training of staff.
And world domination continues. 18% of all websites in the world are now run on WordPress. Considering 68% don’t use a CMS at all, this ratio illustrates how prolific WordPress has become. There are no signs of the growth abating any time soon.