WordPress is a widely-known brand on the internet, but what exactly is WordPress? In simple terms, WordPress (or WP) is the most popular way to create a website, or to run a blog. In fact, as of 2019, WordPress is behind 33.5% of all the websites on the internet. So, more than a quarter of website on the net uses WP to serve website pages to you.
That’s the simple explanation. Looking at the WP CMS at a more technical level, WordPress is firstly an open-source software program: it’s published under GPL so anyone can make use of WP or make changes to WordPress as they see fit.
WordPress is also a content management system, or CMS. In essence a CMS is a server application that makes it easy to publish content on the internet. A CMS manages a range of important aspects of your website for you, without the user needing any programming knowledge.
The net effect is that WP makes it really simple to build a website: anyone can do it, without any technical programming knowledge.
How does WordPress.org differ from WordPress.com?
You’ll notice that you will find a presence for WordPress in two places: WordPress.org, and of course on WordPress.com. Why do you get two different websites for WordPress? It’s simple really.
The free edition of WordPress that you host yourself or with a hosting provide of your choice is available through WordPress.org. It really is 100% free and completely open-source so you can simply fetch it at WordPress.org and start hosting your own website without paying anything to WordPress.
In contrast, WordPress.com is a paid platform that, though powered by WordPress.org, loses some of the flexibility that’s inherent to WordPress.org. It is very easy to use.
Self-hosted WordPress from WordPress.org is usually what people talk about when they refer to the WordPress CMS. For most people who want to set up their own website WordPress.org, the free WordPress, is usually the better option. However, you still need to buy web hosting for your WP instance and of course a domain name which reflects your website.
Who created WordPress and when was the first version of WordPress released?
The creators of WordPress is arguably two people called Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg who spun WordPress out as a separate project from another project of theirs, b2/cafelog. Nowadays Matt Mullenweg is really seen as the person who represents WordPress, however WP is really a big open-source collaboration project.
That said, Automatic is the company which runs the WordPress.com website, which has a profit motive, and Matt Mullenweg is the person who founded Automatic. But, like we said, you can use WP completely free if you choose to do so – via WordPress.org.
Of course, in technology terms, 2003 is a very long time ago. Clearly WordPress has had a very long history from its founding in 2003. The massive community behind WordPress and the countless contributors that continuously add to it has really made it into the incredibly popular solution it is today.
Which types of website is WP good for?
Interestingly, WordPress in its initial form started out as an application that really supported blogs. As you can imagine, blogs are far simpler websites compared to many of the other websites on the internet. However, over time, WordPress has evolved extensively, and you can now create just about any type of website using WordPress – in part thanks to the large array of WordPress extensions on the market.
So today WP CMS is used to run extensive corporate websites, and even large and complex e-commerce stores. In fact, statistics show that WordPress is the most popular CMS to base an e-commerce store on.
You can create all sorts of other websites on WordPress too, ranging from portfolios to discussion forums and social networks through to membership websites and much more.
Examples of well-known WordPress websites
Just to illustrate exactly how popular WordPress is, we’ll refer to some examples of websites that run on WordPress. You might be surprised at how everything from big enterprises through to government and private individuals make use of WordPress. Let’s take a look:
One of the most popular technology blogs on the internet runs on WordPress. TechCrunch is not just a blog, it is a database too with a sophisticated Crunchbase with extensive searching features. It shows just how versatile WordPress can be.
Everyone knows the popular MTV brand. Well, MTV’s news website – MTV News – runs on WordPress and is a great illustration of how WordPress can run attractive, action-packed sites visited by millions of users.
The White House
Even the US Government thinks WordPress is a top choice. When you visit whitehouse.gov you get a WordPress experience straight from the commander-in-chief. Clearly WordPress is a dependable platform that even the most traditional of institutions are happy to rely on.
Reasons to consider WordPress
With more than a quarter of the world’s websites already making use of WP as the CMS of choice you might wonder whether WordPress is the right platform for you. Here are a couple of points you should think about:
- Open source, free to use. WordPress software does not cost a penny, it is completely free to use in contrast to some other popular CMS systems which are not free. You will also find that many excellent WordPress themes are free, while some of the most popular WP plug-ins also have free versions.
- It is easy to get started. Let’s admit, website software can be technically difficult to use. Many people think they need to be technically minded to get a website up and running. That’s really not the case when it comes to WordPress. You can easily make use of a website host that gives you a pre-installed version of WP so you can get started right away. Other hosts will give you installation tools that are very easy for non-technical people to use.
- Customise and extend. Again, WordPress makes it easy for people who are not developers to add custom functionality and experiences to the CMS. Themes let you instantly change the way your website looks, with over 5,000 free themes currently on the market. WordPress plugins help you add new functionality such as e-commerce or response forms – there are over 50,000 plugins for WordPress.
- Finding help is easy. The popularity of WordPress means that there is a huge support community that exists purely to help people get the most out of WordPress. If you experience any problems at all you can know that you can rely on a mix of tutorials, forums and blogs to help you out. Of course there is also a legion of paid developers that can offer help when you need it.
- Ultimate flexibility. Building a website can be unpredictable because you might end up requiring features and tools you didn’t expect you’d need. WordPress gives you the required flexibility because you can simply add features via plugins when you need it. You are never limited because you chose WordPress, you can always adapt WordPress to your future needs.
So you can clearly see why WordPress is so popular: it’s free, it’s easy to use and you can customize it to almost any website requirement.