I am often asked, in one way or another, "Why WordPress?" -- often it is in the form of "Why is WordPress better than...?" and one alternative or another (Wiz, Weebly, Joomla, Drupal etc.) is mentioned. So, let's take a look at the answer (or answers) to the Why WordPress question.
First, before I begin with the better arguments for why WordPress, let me make it clear that WordPress isn't the only option. I've been around the 'net since before the World Wide Web began. I was there when HTML was invented and, in the early days you could actually count the number of deployed websites. I've used every release of HTML, was there for the introduction of CSS, and somewhere along the way I learned PHP. I've built small, personal websites, business sites, and large multi-function corporate sites. Until WordPress, most of those were hand-coded with nothing more than a text editor.
It was only natural that I should graduate from static sites to a content management system (CMS). Early on in the process I looked at Druple and Joomla and actually built a few sites with each. WordPress was still "Just a blog!" at that point and I used it as an add-on to otherwise static HTML sites. It was good for blogging, but not much more. But it was growing up fast.
More and more people were discovering WordPress. The developers among them liked the structure, the code, the idea. It was easy to use. They figured out how to add pages and other features. WordPress itself grew, adding theme selection and plugin extensions, and hooks that developers could more easily tie into. The WordPress team realized they had something more than just a blog in their hands and began thinking, and designing, for the future. We all took a new look at "Why WordPress?" And WordPress, much as we know it today, was born.
At that time, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, each controlled about 6% of the CMS market share. Drupal was the established go to CMS for general users. Joomla was primarily used by those more serious about their platform. WordPress was the new kid on the block but its ease of use and shallow learning curve was earning it a following. Soon it began to outstrip its competitors. Today, at the end of 2016, the market share numbers are something like this:
- WordPress 60%
- Joomla 7%
- Drupal 5%
Mind you, its a substantially bigger market so all three have grown in terms of number of deployed units, but WordPress is certainly the run away winner, representing nearly 25% of all websites on the 'net, including all the old static HTML sites. That's huge by any measurement, and all since just 2003. And that number suggests a lot of satisfied users, which says something in itself.
So what makes WordPress better? It should be understood that best and better are relative, not absolute, terms. Our needs, our skills, and our experiences differ, often widely. What is better for me may not be better for you. And, at best, best is fleeting. New things come along that overtake and replace the top dog, often with some regularity. So why WordPress over any of its competitors?
There are actually many reasons. I'm going to break them down into a few categories.
There are two sides to this; who is WordPress and who uses WordPress. Both are factors in an intelligent choice of whether you should use WordPress or not. There is a lot of information linked here and you may want to dig into some of it as you answer the why WordPress question.
Here are some of the people/companies behind WordPress
- Created by: Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little
- Owned by: Automattic, Inc.
- Developed by: WordPress Foundation
- WordPress Blogging Site: WordPress.com
- WordPress Open Source: WordPress.org
Matt Mullenweg is one of the two people who originally developed WordPress from an earlier blogging package called b2/cafelog (Mike Little was the other). Matt is still actively at the helm of WordPress development and owns Automattic, Inc., a major digital development company which holds the rights to WordPress.
Through an army of volunteer developers worldwide, WordPress continues to be developed under the guidance of the WordPress Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that keeps a tight rein on concept, quality, and security, and the open source nature of the WordPress source code.
Additionally, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of private companies and individuals who create and develop themes and plugins to extend the look and function of WordPress. The list is too long to even begin to list here but simple search WordPress Themes or WordPress Plugins to begin to get an idea of the scope.
And finally, there are the users -- individuals, small businesses, and large corporations -- who use WordPress as a simple blogging platform, a basic website, or a complex professional CMS. Here are 36 names of WordPress users you might recognize. There are millions more!
- The New Yorker
- BBS America
- Sony Music
- MTV News
- Best Buy
- Star Wars Blog
- eBay Inc.
- Larry King Live
- Rotary Club
- Rolling Stones
- The Walking Dead
- Wall Street Journal
- Dallas Mavericks
...and, of course, WizardsPlace!
But Really - Why WordPress?
Besides the whole WordPress thing being well managed, well backed, and selected by more people, including big names and big companies, besides being easy to learn and easy to use, WordPress has a lot of other things going for it.
First, its modular structure provides flexible site design possibilities, easy expansion and growth allowing you to add and use things you might not even be thinking about right now.
Themse provide instant design features that you could pay hundreds of dollars for and wait weeks or months for development. You can get these almost instantly and often for free; yes, FREE!
In a like manner, ready-made plugins allow you to quickly and easily add extensions, upgrades, and other features to your site. Custom development of some of these features could require weeks or months, and thousands of dollars. Again, many of these plugins are free and premium plugins (and themes) are very affordable, most under $100.
Second, while you don't have to know any website coding to establish and operate a successful WordPress website or blog, WordPress allows you to easily extend it's coding, and even add coding to page content, if you know how. This makes WordPress the right platform for both the developer and for the person who just wants to run their business, not be a website designer. As a seasoned, experienced, developer I wouldn't choose anything else. Many of my clients know nothing about coding and successfully manage their websites without any technical help.
Third, WordPress is under current development and will be so extending far into the future. New and better ways of doing things are being added, while keeping the current release both complete and backward compatible to older installations. A world-wide consortium of developers ensures you can safely choose WordPress as your platform without fear of it being abandoned anytime soon. Your investment of time and learning will be secure.
Fourth, WordPress is released under the GNU General Public License, which means it is open source. That means you have access to (actually receive) a copy of the underlying source code for WordPress. Should WordPress Foundation, WordPress.org, and Automattic Inc., every disappear and/or stop supporting WordPress, you (or your developer) will be able to edit WordPress in its entirety. You might not have that with a custom site even if you paid to have the site designed.
Fifth, and hardly last, there is a ton of support available for WordPress. That support ranges from discussion groups and forums, formal trainings and webinars, white papers and books, and your friend or relative who is already using WordPress. There is paid technical support available as well as website management contracts. But, as with most things WordPress, much of the support is also free.
WordPress is a powerful, flexible, extensible, relatively easy, and mostly free software package that will pretty much do anything you will want a website to do. Why WordPress? Well, why pay for custom coding when the base infrastructure of WordPress is ready to run and free? Why pay for upgrades when WordPress upgrades are free? Why pay for theme design and extended features when hundreds of quality themes and thousands of excellent plugins are available free? Why WordPress? Is there really any question?
If you still need more, there is more on one of the about pages here on WizardsPlace.