What is WordPress

What is WordPress? - A Story of Crises, Ideals & Global Market Leadership

What is WordPress, anyway? In a nutshell, it's a globally popular content management system (CMS) that can be used to build and manage great websites. A full 43.1 percent of the Internet now runs on WordPress. In this article, we answer the question of what makes WordPress so special and explain how this digital revolution could happen.

What is WordPress - Your universal software

When asked what WordPress is, WP professionals quickly have the answer: a CMS. People who don't know what the term "CMS" means are then told: "A content management system (software) with which you can edit content such as images and texts independently". And especially in German-speaking countries, the question "What is WordPress?" is often answered with "a blog software".

You can do anything with WordPress me

WordPress is much more than just software today. Because this much is already said: With WordPress you can implement almost any digital project today. It wasn't always that way. All beginnings are hard, but both the ups and the downs have made WordPress the undisputed leader among content management systems.

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

In 2003, the Internet world was in crisis. The recent dot-com crash was just over and new ways to make the Internet usable were being sought. At that time, 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 gave no 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 (open source) at the time, whereupon Mullenweg and his friend Mike Little grabbed it and developed it further. The basic idea of free software remained and the vision of "Democratize Publishing" took shape.

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WordPress is called "Opportunities on the Internet for everyone".

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

  • publish what he wants
  • view the code of the software
  • customize the software
  • make improved versions available to all others

The basic idea that the basic technology of the Internet should be available to everyone has remained intact to this day.

WordPress is "Open Source" - This brought the breakthrough

Of course, even then Mullenweg was not alone with his software. There was already a larger competitor, which developed a blog software under license with a professional team. Blog software was also being developed in the open source sector.

However, when all at once the commercial software increased its prices, the rush to WordPress was so great that even the site collapsed. All under the premise that WordPress remains free software.

Instead of butting heads with the open source competition, Mullenweg was able to convince his "colleagues" to collaborate on WordPress. That brought the breakthrough.

What is WordPress? - From blogging software to gigantic community

Even the greatest ideals need money to survive. Since the US media company CNET wanted to use WordPress at the time and thus had a great interest in its further development, it hired Matt Mullenweg without further ado so that he could work on WordPress full-time.

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

Big obstacles at that time were installing WordPress on a server and spam in 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 reach your limits. So it was a good idea to solve the problem with your own company and to create Automattic was born.

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

The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

As a product of his company Automattic, founded in August 2005, Mullenweg created the platform WordPress.com. As a commercial, hosted platform, this should not be confused with the open source project WordPress.org. True to the motto "Internet for everyone", WordPress.com is easy to use because you no longer have to worry about hosting and much is predefined.

However, this also means that your flexibility is severely limited, as WordPress.com does not allow you to modify the core software - unlike WordPress.org . WordPress.com is therefore not open source. Nevertheless, the Automattic team is significantly advancing 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 had created a commercial WP product with WordPress.com , WordPress.org remained freely available and was significantly further developed within the framework of the WordPress Foundation. The community also started to network locally: with the first WordCamp 2006 in San Francisco. In the meantime, there are 56 local meetings in Germany alone, where users network with each other.

WordPress.org becomes the "operating system of the Internet

Driven by the community, WordPress is constantly evolving. Already in 2005(!), besides numerous improvements like the "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) editor and design templates(themes), pages and custom post types were introduced. The times where WordPress was just a blog system are therefore already over since 2005.

WordPress  becomes the operating system of the Internet
Forecast of 2018 on the development of WordPress in the future.

WordPress.org and its free "App Store

Then in 2005 the plugin directory was officially introduced. From then on, WordPress could be supplemented with functionalities in a simple system with plugins.

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 now numerous small to medium sized companies that make WordPress an El Dorado for website owners with great themes and plugins.

WordPress.org Super Loop

That's exactly why WordPress will stay with us for a long time. The so-called network effects drive WordPress from 13 to 27 percent from 2011 to 2016. Joomla has 2(!) percent market share here. The principle is simple:

More users lead to more plugins, themes, hosting providers as well as web agencies specialized in WordPress. This development leads to WordPress becoming more attractive and trusted, which in turn leads to more users.

What is WordPress - Super Loop
Further development and growth through the "WordPress Super Loop

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

Meanwhile, WordPress offers you unlimited possibilities and a huge community. There is a huge amount of functionality (plugins) that can be installed with two clicks. On the marketplace Themeforest many different design templates (themes) can be purchased, many themes can also simply be selected in WordPress.

What is it WordPress and how do I use it?

I hope I could show you that WordPress is more than just a normal tool. Understandably, you still want to know how to make WordPress work for you. Here is the answer:

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

WordPress.org is a free software that only needs hosting and gives you a lot of freedom. To see for yourself, you are welcome to try WordPress for free and without obligation:

  • Step 1: Log in
  • Step 2: Click new Box - The latest WordPress version will be installed automatically
  • Step 3: Log in under WordPress Login and select theme under "Themes".
  • Step 4: Add desired functions under "Plugins

WordPress.com is software for non-technical people

As described above WordPress.com already implemented WordPress in a very simple way. So simple that it is more like a website builder rather than a content management system. Ideal for beginners and non-technical people who only need a website or blog.  

Attention: Danger of confusion!

WordPress.com is not WordPress.org. Meanwhile, the same elements may be used, but they are two different systems. WordPress.com is not open source and therefore not as flexible. It is not easy to transfer to WordPress.org . WordPress.org is flexible, but requires more training and technical understanding.

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WordPress as an all-rounder: WooCommerce turns your website into an online store

WooCommerce is a popular store system based on WordPress. Via WooCommerce several thousand products can be sold with unlimited turnover. 

For more information, it's best to check out our article on the pros and cons of WooCommerce or download our e-book for WooCommerce professionals.

WordPress with BuddyPress is a social media solution

The plugin BuddyPress can be used to build entire intranet solutions, such as at the TU Munich, analogous to Facebook. Just like WooCommerce , BuddyPress is integrated into many themes on the theme marketplace Themeforest.

WordPress is exactly what you want

In the end, WordPress is exactly what you think of as a digital solution. The mentioned extensions (plugins) can be installed not only on WordPress.org or within WordPress, but also purchased on Codecanyon.

With the huge community, there is already a template for your exact project or idea that you can build on. And if a plugin or a template doesn't offer exactly what you have in mind, you just hire someone with web design and web development skills.

WordPress is not for everyone

Last but not least, a warning. WordPress is intuitive, but it still requires training time. Especially if you want to customize a lot, you often can't avoid professional web design. With 40 hours for a final website should be expected in any case. Analogous to this: Wallpapering can also be done by yourself. Nevertheless, it is often more stress-free and the result better if you hire a painter.

Therefore, our recommendation for small and medium businesses is to outsource that and have WordPress professionally created and customized according to individual needs. After that you can enjoy the intuitive operation.

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 are network effects, as described above. Besides the open source idea, exactly the network of WordPress contributes to the fact that WordPress will still exist for a long time.

WordPress will crack the 50 percent

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

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