WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that launched in 2003 as a blogging platform. A user could pick a template out of the box and add their own content to launch a blog website in a matter of minutes. Because it is Open Source (more info about that below), the possibilities around using WordPress expanded exponentially. WordPress now powers a third of websites globally.
But, why do marketing novices and the World’s best developers continue to use WordPress, and how has it grown into the product it is today? We picked out what we think are the most notable reasons for its popularity.
‘Open source’ means that the original code base of the product is made freely available, so it can be used by anyone at no cost, and developed even further by anyone who wants to.
When this happens with a good product, a community of developers usually grows around it and become very engaged with each-other – uploading and sharing smaller code modules that can be bolted on to the existing product – these are called Plugins. If you need a WordPress site to do something very specific, there is probably a plugin for it, or failing that – someone can build one. WordPress have their own themes and templates a user can utilise easily and quickly, but a developer might choose to create their own custom theme that makes the website more bespoke.
There are benefits of having this community that make WordPress easy and exciting to work with as a developer. Issues can be problem solved within minutes by throwing questions out, a huge array of plugins and other code modules can be found, edited and built, but most importantly – WordPress is constantly improving – at the same pace of the progressive tech World is sits in. So, it’s always almost as cutting edge as the progressive community of brains around it.
It’s also worth mentioning that the WordPress platform uses the PHP coding language, which is also open source. This offers another dimension of flexibility to developers who use WordPress to create fully bespoke web solutions.
Not skill exclusive.
WordPress was initially made for any level of user to take advantage of, so that still stands today. A website novice can grab WP for free, select one of their themes (a collection of templates and styles) and easily add their content. Over the years, as the code pool has built up in the way of plug ins etc, good developers can do crazy stuff in WordPress – making it a real possibility for businesses of any size, or sites of any complexity.
So, it’s user base is not limited in terms of skill or expertise – making WordPress an option for a wide spectrum of users.
Wordpress is available on an open license , so you don’t have to pay a license fee like you would for other software. Low cost is an obvious selling point, and so a lot of startups will take this low budget option. Once your website is built, there’s not much point moving it to a different platform unless the developer you use changed and specialises in something else.
A free option will also appeal to the developer or agency who build the site – making their proposal more attractive to the client, or to themselves depending on if they decide to disclose the fact that WordPress is free to use!
User friendly & familiar.
Because WordPress has already been popular for a long time, their CMS is the most familiar one to website admins all over the world. A marketing person walking into a new job will most likely already know their way around the WordPress CMS. Because of this, people responsible for commissioning a new site will often request WordPress. People stick to what they know, so it’s hard for competing platforms to make a dent in their market share.
On top of this, the WordPress CMS is intuitive for the admin and flexible for the developer (custom fields can be added to enable the admin to edit more than is standard). The numerous users and evolution of the software means it’s always improving its user experience. The majority of the experts will tell you that WordPress is the ‘best’ CMS – and so it’s reputation is in very good shape.
It’s intuitive, and helpful to the user. The SEO tools in the CMS help even novice marketeers to optimise their posts for good organic SEO, and the user is guided through creating page meta descriptions and tags. For example, we use the industry standard plugin by Yoast that displays an SEO task list with red dots against the tasks that haven’t been completed.
It’s also worth mentioning that wordpress has always created URL’s that are really search engine friendly, and were doing this before most of the other similar solutions.
No matter what you need your website to be or do, WordPress will be a good option for all the other reasons we’ve mentioned. Because it’s open source, WordPress has evolved into a multi-purpose platform that can handle a billion dollar e-commerce business (Woocommerce is the most widely used e-commerce plugin), be a famous vlogger’s online HQ, or be used to create complex sites that host specific media like video or photos (think Youtube or Flickr).
This is partly because WordPress can easily be integrated with almost all API’s. This basically means that is can work in conjunction with third-party products and features that might be important to the functionality of your website.
Like all platforms, WP isn’t without flaws. What are they?
Bad plugins can be problematic.
Using plugins that ‘any old developer’ has built could not be supported long term and so become dated. They come with no guarantee and you don’t know the quality. There are a load of ways to detect bad ones, and rather than make this blog post too long – we’ll just link to something else that explains it well. https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/is-that-wordpress-plugin-safe-15-warning-signs-to-skip-downloading/
Popular platforms are targeted by hackers.
Being the most popular means being the most targeted by hackers. Having said that – Keeping the WordPress core up-to-date will ensure that you are pretty safe, although if you are using plugins you might still be at risk. There are some great protective solutions to safeguard your website through encryption and firewalls. Wordfence and Securi are two of the front-runners.
Can be inefficient if not built properly.
WordPress has as a reputation of being inefficient, heavy with queries, unoptimised and therefore slow. For a very simple website that doesn’t need to be updated with an admin backend, WordPress might be adding too much that you never really need. With this in mind, it’s important to use developers that know how to work with the tools at-hand (wordpress and plugins) to build and optimise the site to be as efficient as possible. (Huxley developers have built vast websites used by thousands of concurrent users).
Not always the best option for your business.
Despite being incredibly versatile, if your website has certain requirements a different platform might be better suited. A proper project scope before you start is a good way to find out if your project is the right platform or not.
If you have any additional thoughts around this that you’d like us to share, we certainly can do via our social media when we promote this blog post. Please use our contact form to send us a message.