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How is WordPress still the most popular CMS

WordPress logo

When the first version of the WordPress CMS saw light in 2003, its creators probably did not envision the massive success it was going to achieve in the space of the following fifteen years. Fast forward to 2019, and WordPress has absolutely dominated the market for content management systems. According to the WordPress.org website, 34% of the internet currently runs on WordPress, and no other CMS even comes close to that figure.

So how did WordPress manage to stay so popular, over a decade after its release? What contributed to its undeniable success?

What is WordPress

Before we talk about “why”, let’s talk a bit about the “what” of this article. By now you have probably heard a thing or two about WordPress. But, since people online associate the name with a couple of different services, let me narrow down what I’ll be writing about here.

Many people associate WordPress mainly with the blogging service (available at WordPress.com). However, the product that I believe is much more powerful is the software under the same name (see WordPress.org). WordPress is an open-source and free content management system, that you can use to create virtually any website, and host a very wide variety of content. It has a built-in admin panel, which is a graphical interface that allows the admin of the site to add and modify the content. The above is generally true for most content management systems out there, so let’s talk a bit more about what the actual advantages of WordPress are.

Free and open-source

Let’s face it, people love things that are free. The developers of WordPress CMS decided to release it under the GPL license (General Public License), which has a slogan “free as in freedom”. This means that, under certain conditions, anyone is free to download, modify and share the software. This lead to a steady community of users growing around WordPress, which in turn helps to extend and debug the software. It also has a couple of other important “side-effects”, so we will come back to this fact in a minute.

WordPress support forum
The WordPress support forums house a large and active community of users and developers.

Intuitive and user-friendly

This one may be a bit subjective, but many users (including myself), find the WordPress admin panel very easy to manage. The fact that you can maintain your website with little-to-no coding knowledge is one of the reasons why this is a CMS of choice for so many users worldwide. After all, that means that you can manage your personal or company website without the need to hire a developer, and that is a giant upside.

The recent addition of the Gutenberg editor, and having your theme developed with a modular approach make the process of managing content even more approachable for new users. Catering to the needs of new users, and live interest in their experience is one of the things that helps WordPress stay relevant.

Easy to customize and extend

One very important property of the WordPress CMS is that the owners can customize their sites with the use of themes. Site owners can choose to create a custom theme for the site, or select one of the free or premium themes available on the web. You can read more about that in my previous post. The use of themes means that the owners of the site can change the style and branding visible on the frontend, while at the same time retaining all the content. This is also where having a large community of developers around WordPress helps a lot - anyone looking to either develop or purchase a theme has plenty of options to choose from.

The same goes for plugins. There are currently over 54,000 plugins listed on the official site, and their number is growing. You may install these plugins to extend WordPress’s basic functionality. Virtually anything is possible with the use of plugins, from creating multiple language versions of the site, to accepting donations from users. Many of these plugins are steadily supported, too, and their developers roll out new updates for them regularly.

Plugins library on the WordPress website
The plugins library allows you to easily search for new tools for your site. When choosing a plugin, it's important to check how many active installations it has, and whether it's been tested with the newest version of WordPress.

Future of WordPress

While it may seem that a piece of software first released in 2003 should be dated or even forgotten by now, WordPress is anything but that. It is still being developed, with new major updates being released just earlier this year. The numbers for websites put up on the CMS in recent years show that it is still gaining new users, and it is unlikely that any other system will take its number 1 spot in the near future.

If you are wondering if you should build your own site on WordPress, now is as good of a time as ever to join the ever- growing userbase. Unsure whether WordPress is a good choice for you? Feel free to get in touch with us - we’ll be glad to help out 🙂