The History of WordPress and How it Changed the Internet

Each website you come across may look and feel unique, but did you know that most of the websites you visit online have one thing in common? About 35% of sites on the web today use WordPress. Launched in 2003, The history of WordPress has seen an evolution like no other and brought many changes to how we experience the internet today. And it continues growing with each year that passes.

Though WordPress is a well-known name online, some do not know what it exactly does. It is a Content Management System (CMS), a platform that helps you build and manage websites at ease. It provides versatility that allows everyone from big companies to small business owners and even bloggers to create websites. WordPress today powers 42% of the internet and is likely to take over half of the web soon. So, how did it manage to win over the internet? Let us find out.

The History of WordPress

Before WordPress, content management and website building were not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, in the early 2000s, only a couple of big companies with enough resources developed their own systems to put content online. It took a lot of money and time. So naturally, the non-tech-savvy public did not have the luxury to own websites and put out content online. Though WordPress slowly but steadily changed the way CMS works, it was not the original intention. The very first version of WordPress, version 0.7, came out in 2003. But it was nothing like it is today. It was a blogging software that simply allowed you to post blogs.

original wordpress ui
Source: wpbeginner

In fact, it was a successor of a software called b2/cafelog. The platform used PHP backed up by MySQL. However, the software became dormant as the developer went MIA. Two religious users of the software, Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg decided to create their own fork of the software. Fork basically means when one takes the source code of a program and develops an entirely new software out of it. In 2003, the first version of WordPress was released with blog posts, some schematic documentation and support forums.

The Next Step in the history of WordPress

WordPress slowly started shifting from being just a blogging software to more. In 2004, plugin systems were introduced, bringing in the first plugin, Hello, Dolly! which randomly displayed lyrics of the Louis Armstrong song of the same name in the top right corner of the admin dashboard. The intention was to help developers and users understand plugins. Just as WordPress started opening up to the world, Moveable Type, the market leader in the blogging industry of the time decided to change their license, which meant for the users to pay to use their services. Many shifted to WordPress, expanding the public knowledge of the platform. Since then, several features and tools were introduced to make WordPress what it is today.

wordpress 1.5 UI
WordPress 1.5 – Source: wpbeginner

What Makes WordPress Unique

The top 3 CMS platforms in the market currently are WordPress, followed by Joomla and Drupal. All of them are free to download and come with a lot of add-ons and plugins that allow customisation.

However, Joomla and Dhupal require a certain level of technical knowledge and programming languages such as PHP and HTML CSS. This is where WordPress stands out from the rest of the market. They allow both beginners and experts to customise their websites in their own way regardless of the amount of their knowledge of code or programming. It made making websites and maintaining them easy and less time-consuming. Its uses stretch from e-commerce stores to online portfolios.

What people needed was a platform that would allow them to handle different layouts and styles with ease and allow adding several features. And mainly, something that can be used by both technical and non-technical users. Before WordPress, no one put it all together into one package.

It is by far one of the biggest open-source projects that is still and will continue to evolve and grow. Their mission as they say it, “democratising publishing”, is to allow you to have the freedom to build, modify and share content on your own.

Facts About WordPress

Big Numbers

According to WordPress, sites collectively get over 409 million unique visitors each month. Users make 70 million new posts and 77 million new comments per month. That is about 1620 posts that go online every minute.

“Tipton” Downloaded More than 250 Million Times

Every new version rolled out by WordPress are named after Jazz musicians that bring their developers together. Tipton, version 4.9, was downloaded over 250 million times, the highest count of downloads to date.

“Eckstine” with the Highest Number of Contributors

In 2020, version 5.5, Eckstine, was rolled out. It had 809 developers contributing to add speed, search and security improvements to WordPress. It has the highest number of contributors in the history of WordPress. 

The WordPress core contains over 430,000 lines which is maintained by the WordPress team of only over 70 developers. 

WordPress Dominates CMS Market

WordPress leaves its competitors in the dust with 61.8% of the market share, while the second most popular CMS, Joomla, enjoys only 4.7%. It is by far the most used CMS. Any competition that wants to beat it has its work cut out for them.

Most Infected Websites in 2018

WordPress is generally secure, however, since it is open-source, it is more prone to data breaches and security attacks. According to Sucuri, a security plugin, 90% of the cleanup reports it received in the year 2018 were from WordPress sites. It turns out most of the sites that were infected were using outdated versions of WordPress.

security statistics
Source: Sucuri

WordPress is Available in 196 Languages

Currently, 71% of WordPress blogs are in English, with Spanish ranking next at 4.7%, Indonesian at 2.4% and Portuguese at 2.3%. The WordPress Polyglots team localises the core, plugins and themes. The fact that WordPress is accessible in so many languages makes it different from other platforms.

WordPress is More Visited Than Twitter

Surprisingly, WordPress gets more monthly unique visitors at 163 million compared to the 156 million unique visitors per month that twitter gets. Proof that blogs still hold a lot of power regardless of the rise of social media.

WordPress Worked Remotely Pre-Covid-19

WordPress has only 1,148 employees! And what’s even more impressive is the fact that they are scattered across different continents and manage to do their work remotely. Guess they really were ahead of their time.

1/3rd of Top 1000 Websites Use WordPress

Many well-known companies and Fortune 500 companies such as The Walt Disney Company, Sony Music, People Magazine and more use WordPress. This is impressive considering big companies require large sites with high-performance requirements.

The New Yorker, BBC America, Variety, PlayStation. Blog, Vogue India and The Official Star Wars Blog are few more examples of well-known names that rely on WordPress.

Spammed At Least 487 Billion Times a Month

Akismet, a plugin that defends the comment section of sites from spam, bots and cyberattacks, noted that WordPress gets 487 billion spam comments. Luckily, Akismet effectively blocked 99% of the spam from reaching the sites.

if our article on the history of WordPress convinced you into creating your own website on WordPress here’s something to look out for.

Evaluating WordPress

The Pros of WordPress

Accessibility

Small businesses often do not have the luxury to spend money to hire a web designer. WordPress’s main goal was to make website building and tools accessible to everyone. Even those without any knowledge of coding can build and maintain a website. 

Design Flexibility

Your website is fully customisable down to the last detail with the help of the many templates and plugins that it offers you. There are more than 8000 free themes for your website.

themes on wordpress
Source: WordPress

Cost-Effective

WordPress is a free software. Are you stunned? Well, it is true. However, you will need a domain name and web hosting to back it up. It allows you to modify your website for free to a certain extent. It comes with inexpensive 1-click hosting plans, making it easy for just about anyone to own websites.

Scaling Made Easier

The number of people internet surfing through their phones is increasing exponentially by the day. WordPress sites are mobile-friendly. Most of its designs and themes are responsive to many devices, which means your users uniformly get the same experience regardless of the device they are using.

website ui design
Source: VIEO Design

SEO Ready

We already spoke of the power of SEO in our previous blogs. WordPress uses standard compliance high-quality code, which is why their sites tend to rank relatively higher on search engines. Several free support plugins like Yoast WordPress SEO, Platinum SEO Pack and All-In-One SEO Pack are available to make your job easier.

Supports Media Types

WordPress is not just limited to textual content. It comes with a built-in media uploader to handle images, audio and video files. It also supports oEmbed that helps you embed YouTube videos, tweets and more.

Own Your Data

You have full ownership of your content, data and your website. WordPress will not claim your data or website as theirs.

The Cons of WordPress

Cost of Customisation

Your website and its customisations depend on themes and plugins. If you want to add more features to your website, you will need multiple plugins. And though WordPress is free, the plugins are not. The more of them you use, the higher your expenditure goes. You will also have to manage and update the plugins consistently.

Slow Page Speed

With all the added plugins, custom themes and databases, the page load speed increases. It can be a huge turn-off to the visitors and may negatively impact your site. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, there are plugins that can help you reduce the load speed. Page load time is also a parameter in the Google SEO ranking algorithm, which means the chances of your site getting found are lesser. You can find more on how SEO ranking works here.

Frequent Updates

Since it is an open-source software, constant updates keep coming in almost every month or sometimes more than once within a week. You will have to look out for updates on your dashboard and keep everything up to date. If not updated to the date, you can experience broken links or even have your site crash. Sometimes your plugins may not be compatible with the new updates, making them useless. 

No Built-in Backup System

WordPress does not include data backup on its platform. You will have to rely on plugins like BackupBuddy or UpdraftPlus to prevent any loss of data from your site. The storage limit can be a little tight, making it inconvenient for you.

Security Issues

The open-source structure saves development time and effort but it leaves your website vulnerable to attacks. There have been cases of malicious code being placed into the published code. Your information may be at risk of leaking in data breaches.

The History of WordPress: The Conclusion

Despite all of its “fors” and “againsts”, WordPress remains to keep its competitors out of the league. Through the history of WordPress, It has evolved as it moved, so it is here to stay for a long time. Would you choose WordPress to build your website? Let us know in the comments below.

The Purple Papaya Blog

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