Written on 10. April 2017 by Lennart Christensen

The history of Wordpress - the most popular CMS in the world

WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world. With over 28% of websites running on this platform, we thought we'd look at its history, how it was transformed from a simple blogging tool to its current form.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS for short) that helps bloggers and webmasters edit content regularly without having to use a traditional HTML editor software. WordPress has a good grip in the whole world and today forms the backbone of most websites.

WordPress changed the way websites from around the world work, with greater performance than most other CMS systems seen to date. It's true that WP started as a blogging system, but now it has evolved into a full CMS. WordPress can be used to manage your entire website, not just your blog. Because of the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) ability to change parts on the website, more and more bloggers, webmasters and online marketing specialists came than ever before.

WordPress itself is an open source software licensed under GPLv2, which means it is free to use and free to modify. This package can be found at WordPress.org.

The early years...

According to the official WordPress Codex, WordPress is the official successor to a blogging tool B2, which was developed by French programmer Michel Valdrighi. As mentioned, it was called b2/cafelog and was launched in 2001. In 2002, Valdrighi stopped developing b2. The story of WordPress could therefore have ended here before it began. Fortunately, it didn't end that way, as a university student by Matt Mullenweg who used b2 to blog with, had second thoughts. And in January 2003, Matt Mullenweg wrote on his blog that he would be willing to build on B2 (Fork of the project). Along with a guy named Mike Little, that's exactly what he did. Mullenweg and Little released the first version of WordPress in May 2003.

Fork of the project/ Project fork?In development, the term is used when developers take a copy of some code from a software package and start an independent development on it, creating a special separate piece of software. "Forking" leads to the development of different versions of a program. Forking often occurs when the development of a piece of open source code has reached an impasse. Free and open source software is that which, by definition, can be forked from the original development team without prior permission. Or without violating copyright law.

Other web developers soon became part of the Mullenweg and Little team, including B2 developer, Valdrighi.

Plugins, themes, widgets and more

The first version of WordPress to support plugins was version 1.2, released in May 2004. In February 2005 they added themes (a set of files that draw on the features/abilities of the WordPress back-end to create the visible front-end layout and design of the website), many of which were (and still are) created by WordPress users. According to Mullenweg's Wikipedia page, version 1.5, was released in February 2005, and had over 900,000 downloads.

In 2007 version 2.1 was released with a new user interface, automatic save and spell checking. Widgets, improved atomfeed various speed optimizations etc. In year 2009 WP presented automatic upgrades, built-in plugin installation, comment replies and questions, as well as a new API, etc.

Custom post types, additional custom menu management, new APIs for custom headers were introduced in 2010, as well as the ability to manage a multisite.

Since then we have seen a lot more changes ....

The future of WordPress?

WordPress has grown into a system capable of powering a wide variety of different projects! Thousands of web designers and developers specialize in WordPress all over the world. They create beautiful designs and additional functionality for WP-based websites using a wide variety of tools and programming languages.

There are two ways every designer and/or developer can make money with WordPress.

  • Build a theme or plugin and sell it
  • Provide support to companies using WordPress
  • By building bespoke projects for clients, one at a time.

I code in PHP and have used various CMS as core, but I have come back time and again to WordPress. Today, I'm only fully focused on WordPress design and developmentwhen I have to build websites. In addition to its flexibility, it is also easy to work with for SEO geeks, and it is easy for the website owner to edit content without the need for extensive technical knowledge.

Everyone loves WordPress, right?

There's a question on everyone's mind, "Why would full-service web developers, who can code in almost any language, use WordPress as their dominant web development platform?". The fact is that a lot of people love WP, even the savvy marketers. People keep coming back to this CMS platform because it's sustainable and you know what you're getting.

 

The best thing about WP is that it's easy to use and flexible enough for almost anything. It's also the main reason why WordPress has grown so much in popularity.

Love costs nothing. Because WordPress is open source, it is free to use and there are no software licensing fees. This means you are free to download, install, use and modify it. Additionally, with WordPress you can enhance or modify the source code to create the right website for your needs.

Flexible WordPress is robust and has the ability to be molded by skilled hands for almost any type of website. WordPress can easily be transformed into a fully functional web shop, a powerful website, a membership portal or anything else. WP is fully compatible with exterior frameworks and programming languages, making it possible to weave in any integration.

SEO friendly WordPress is extremely nice to work with when it comes to SEO optimization. WordPress has been developed to give your website the best advantages for search engines and has some tools that are great to work with. This means that for SEO specialists and SEO agencies, it is a more collaborative platform when it comes to building structure. Structure that allows Google to scan, index and rank WordPress sites in a much easier way than other platforms.

WordPress training

If you do a quick Google search for "WordPress tutorial", you'll get millions of hits. So there are a lot of people who have written a lot of articles about WP that you can use if you're starting out and want to get started using WordPress.

Final thoughts

WordPress supports PHP 7, which offers some promising and impressive improvements in website performance. For content creators, its interface is straightforward and flexible. For web developers, the customization possibilities are endless. This ease of use and flexibility has resulted in WP continuing to improve, thanks to its open source approach.

Last year, Matt Mullenweg asked WordPress users to share why you love WordPress. You're also welcome to share in the comments below what you love about WordPress.

If you have questions about Wordpress, or similar, please please contact me.

Latest version of WP can be downloaded here - Download WordPress.