What Is WordPress – Story About Crises, Ideals & Global Market Leadership

Johannes Benz Updated on 23.10.2020
8 Min.
What is WordPress WP history
Last updated on 23.10.2020

What is WordPress? In short: A globally popular Content Management System (CMS), with which great websites can be built and managed. A total of 34.5 percent of the Internet are now running on WordPress. In this article we answer the question of what makes WordPress so special and explain how this digital revolution could come about.

What is WordPress? – Your Universal Software

When asked what WordPress is, WP professionals quickly have the answer: a CMS. To people who don't know what the term "CMS" means, one then explains: "A content management system (software) with which you can create and edit content such as images and texts – all by yourself". Especially in German-speaking countries, the question "What is WordPress?" is often followed by the answer "a blog software".

You can do anything with WordPress me

WordPress is much more than just software today. Because let me say this much in advance: You can use WordPress it to realize almost any digital project today. That was not always the case. Every beginning is known to be difficult, but both the ups and downs have WordPress made us the undisputed market leader among content management systems.

WordPress: From the crisis to the no. 1 blog software

In 2003, the Internet world was crisis-ridden. The recent dot-com crash was just over and new ways to make the Internet usable were sought. A young Frenchman developed a software called b2/cafelog. One of the users of the software was Matt Mullenweg.

Born out of necessity and saved by open source

But suddenly the developer of b2/cafelog disappeared without a trace and didn't give any sign of life for several months.

My logging software hasn't been updated for months, and the main developer has disappeared, and I can only hope that he's okay. […[…] Fortunately, b2/cafelog is GPL, which means that I could use the existing codebase to create a fork (new version)... Someday, right? – Matt Mullenweg, 2003

Fortunately, the software was freely available at that time (open source), whereupon Mullenweg and his friend Mike Little grabbed them and moved on. The basic idea of free software remained and the vision "Democratize Publishing" took shape.

WordPress means "Opportunities on the Internet for everyone"

"Democratize Publishing" still means that not only large media companies can be "publishers", but anyone. Anyone can be a publisher with WordPress :

  • publish whatever he wants
  • view the code of the software
  • customize the software according to his wishes
  • make improved versions available to all others

The basic idea that the basic technology of the Internet should be available to everyone has been preserved until today.

WordPress is "open source" - that brought the breakthrough

Of course, Mullenweg was not alone with its software even then. There was already a larger competitor who developed a blogging software under license with a professional team. Blog software has also been developed in the open source area.

When, however... the commercial software suddenly increased its pricesthe rush was WordPress so great that even the website collapsed. All under the premise that WordPress free software remains.

Instead of banging his head against the wall with the open source competition, Mullenweg was able to convince his "colleagues" to WordPress participate. This brought the breakthrough.

What is WordPress? – From blog software to a gigantic community

Even the greatest ideals need money to survive. Since the US media company wanted to use CNET at that time WordPress and therefore had a great interest in its further development, and employed Matt Mullenwegso he can WordPress work full-time.

WordPress is also with-profit, which was the fuel for the ecosystem

Big obstacles at that time were the installation of WordPress on a server and spam on comments. At some point, you had to realize that with a small team of volunteer supporters (these are called "contributors" in the WP community), you could reach your limits. So it was a good idea to solve the problem with your own company and Automattic was born.

In which areas you can participate in the WordPress project and become a WP-Contributor (without any programming knowledge!), we explain in this article.

The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Mullenweg created the WordPress.com platform as a product of his company Automattic, founded in August 2005. As a commercial, hosted platform, this is not to be confused with the open source project WordPress.org. True to the motto "Internet for everyone", WordPress.com is easier to use for beginners because you don't have to worry about hosting anymore and many things are predefined.

However, this also means that your flexibility is severely limited, since you are not able to WordPress .com the core software - unlike WordPress .org - you can't change. WordPress .com is therefore not open source. Nevertheless, the Automattic team brings the development of the open source software WordPress .org and Matt Mullenweg is still heavily involved in project management.

WordPress.org remains free and became a community

Although Mullenweg with WordPress .com had created a commercial WP product, there remained WordPress .org continues to be freely available and has been significantly developed further within the WordPress Foundation. The community also began to network locally with the first WordCamp 2006 in San Francisco. In the meantime, there are alone 56 local meetings in Germany, where users network with each other.

WordPress.org becomes the "operating system of the Internet

Driven by the community is WordPress constantly evolving. Already 2005(!) have been implemented alongside numerous improvements such as the "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" (WYSIWYG) Editor and design templates (themes) also sites and Custom Post Types introduced. The times where there was WordPress only a blog system are therefore already over for 13 years.

WordPress  becomes the operating system of the Internet
This could be the development of the WordPress future

WordPress.org and its free "App Store"

In 2005 the Plugin-Directory introduced. From then on, functionalities could WordPress be added plugins in a simple system.

Just like with the iPhone and its apps, this enabled an immense development of the system. Mostly there is a free version of one plugins that can be used with additional functions for which a fee is charged.

Thus there are meanwhile numerous small to medium sized enterprises, which WordPress with great themes and plugins to an Eldorado for web page operators makes.

WordPress.org Super Loop

It is precisely for this reason that we WordPress will continue to exist for a long time to come. So-called network effects are driving WordPress up from 13 to 27 percent from 2011 to 2016. Joomla has here 2(!) percent market share. The principle is simple:

More users lead to more Plugins, Themes, hosting -providers as well as for WordPress specialized Web agencies. This development leads to WordPress more attractive and enjoys higher confidence, which in turn leads to more users leads.

The WordPress Super-Loop
Further development and growth through the "WordPress Super-Loop"

WordPress.org is the "Swiss Army Knife of the Internet"

Meanwhile, WordPress therefore, offers you unlimited possibilities and a huge community. 60 million users have downloaded version 4.8. Meanwhile there are 55.000 Functionalities (plugins)which can be installed with two clicks. On the marketplace ThemeForest you can 11,000 design templates (themes ) be purchased or at least 6.000 Themes can easily be selected inWordPress .

What is it WordPress and how do I use it?

I hope I was able to show you that there's WordPress more to this than just an ordinary tool. Understandably, you still want to know how you can use it WordPress for yourself. Here is the answer:

WordPress.org is an intuitive open source software – Free trial

WordPress.org is a free software that only Hosting and gives you an awful lot of freedom. In order to convince yourself of this, you are WordPress welcome to contact us without obligation and try it out for free:

  • Step 1: Login
  • Step 2: Click New Box - The latest WordPress version is automatically installed
  • Step 3: Register under WordPress login and select design under "themes" design
  • Step 4: Under "plugins" add desired functions

WordPress.com is software for non-technical

As described above WordPress.com already at that time WordPress very simply implemented. So simple that it resembles more a website construction kit than a content management system. Ideal for beginners and technical laymen who only need a website or a blog.  

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Caution: Danger of confusion!
WordPress .com is not WordPress .org. In the meantime, the same elements may be used, but they are two different systems. WordPress .com is not open source and therefore not as flexible. It cannot simply be written in WordPress .org convict. WordPress .org is flexible, but requires more training and technical understanding. 

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WordPress as an allrounder: WooCommerce turns your site into an online shop

WooCommerce is a popular shop system that is based onWordPress . Among the TOP 1 million websites, it is the most used e-commerce solution even before Shopify. Several thousand products WooCommerce can be sold with unlimited turnover. 

WooCommerce shop
Like the one site from Mootes an online shop can look like withWooCommerce

For more information, please see our article about the advantages and disadvantages of WooCommerce or invite you to visit our E-Book for WooCommerce-Professionals down.

WordPress with BuddyPress is a social media solution

With the plugin BuddyPress entire intranet solutions, such as at the TU Munich, can be built analogous to Facebook. BuddyPress is just like WooCommerce many Themes on the Thememarketplace ThemeForest integrated.

WordPress is exactly what you want.

In the end WordPress exactly what you want as a digital solution. The mentioned 55,000 extensions (plugins) cannot only be based on wordpress.org or within WordPress installed, but also on Codecanyon can be bought.

With the huge community there is already a template for your project or idea on which you can base your work. And if a Plugin template doesn't offer exactly what you want, you can simply hire a web developer or web designer.

WordPress is not for everyone

Last but not least a warning. WordPress is intuitive, but it still requires some training. Especially if you want to individualize a lot, you often can't get past a web designer. In any case, you should count on 40 hours for a final website. You can also do the wallpapering yourself. Nevertheless, it is often less stressful and the result is better if you hire a painter.

Therefore, our recommendation for small and medium-sized companies is to WordPress have a web designer create and customize them according to individual wishes. Afterwards you can enjoy the intuitive handling.

What does the future look WordPress like?

The Internet is extremely fast moving. New technologies come and go. The only thing that contributes to consistency is network effects, as described above. Besides the Open Source idea, the network of WordPress help to ensure that WordPress will exist for a long time to come.

Gutenberg as a stress test

In the next major WordPress release, the user interface for editing content will changeWordPress . The new Gutenberg-editor relies on Javascript as a modern technology and brings WordPress us into the drag & drop age.

It is precisely with this technological change that we can WordPress demonstrate how flexibly the community can react to technical innovations. We are very confident that this will succeed and will be able to RAIDBOXES further contribute to the fact that WordPress users can concentrate on their real passion.

WordPress will break the 50 percent

At the same time, we are convinced that WordPress the 50 percent mark on the web will be broken. The "WordPress Super-Loop" and the great community will contribute to the fact that more than half of the web is open source. For us this is a very desirable world, because, true to our mission "More freedom for creative people", it achieves exactly that.

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