Why WordPress is the burning question today, one that I doubt many people can answer. The question is, is WordPress the mean girl that is popular for no good reason or is there a reason why WordPress is so loved by business communities across the world? Whilst many of the reasons that resulted in WordPress rising to the top, many of these reasons are somewhat irrelevant today but some still stand as good reasons to choose WordPress.
The History of WordPress
WordPress was started first a foremost as a blog platform for writers in 2003, hence the name. This doesn't explain how it progressed to power 43% of the websites on the internet though.
The first version of WordPress was released on the 27th of May 2003 almost 20 years ago. It was based on b2 Cafelog with several improvements. A year later in May, 2004 version 1.2 was released adding a plugin architecture that enabled users to extend the functionality of WordPress. WordPress was offering a stable, mature, flexible platform that was easy to use and hosted features that more costly alternatives were yet to implement. This was when bloggers began to take notice of WordPress and its adoption rate began to rise.
Being open-source, this increase in use resulted in an increase in improvements.
Fast-forwarding to February 2005, WordPress 1.5 came out with the introduction of a key feature of the WordPress we know today... Pages.
"In 1.5 we have created an incredibly flexible theme system that adapts to you rather than expecting you adapt to it. You can have your entire weblog run through a single file, just like before, or you can literally have a different template for every single different category. It’s as much or as little as you want. We’ve also broken common site elements like headers, footers, and sidebars into their own files so you can make a change in one place and see it everywhere immediately."
Matt Mullenweg – Announcing WordPress 1.5
Over the following years, the adoption rate continued to grow, as did the investment in its development as an open-source platform until 2010 when the ownership rights of WordPress were finally transferred to the WordPress Foundation. At this stage, WordPress was truly cemented as an independent open-source platform built for no one specifically but rather the world as a whole.
With many more updates, the functionality and user interface of WordPress grew into a highly accessible website builder with endless options to make the platform truly yours.
Is WordPress Still Improving
Yes, WordPress continues to grow and evolve, however, they are still relying on the same base technologies as they always have. What does this mean? This simply means that WordPress cannot be compared to Next Generation Web technologies as there is a range of fundamental differences in the way that building and delivering websites to users is approached.
Why Is WordPress Popular in 2022?
The best way we can explain the popularity of WordPress is that they have such a large market share and a large following which makes it difficult for new companies to break through. For example, in the car industry, most companies have been around for such a long time and have remained largely unrivalled. There are a number of reasons for this, they each have strong reputations, established factories, and large advertising budgets to supplement further growth. Comparing this to car companies that have entered the market recently which were only able to gain a foothold by offering a product that is significantly better in one single aspect - the fuel type. The situation with WordPress is the same, until recently it was the best, and had everything. Today this is no longer the case and this is becoming blatantly clear.
Who is the Tesla and Rivian in the web situation? That would be JAMStack. A new architecture designed to make the web faster, more secure and easier to scale. For example where a WordPress website needs to build 1 million times for 1 million users a JAMstack website is designed in a way that allows it to build just once... There are some obvious benefits to this including energy savings, speed savings and security improvements.
Newer technologies can also be simpler to manage in terms of updating and managing content relieving stress for business owners when inevitably their WordPress website gets hacked.
Does This Mean WordPress is Bad?
Not yet, but if something doesn't change in the near future yes. For many business owners who are familiar with WordPress and like how it works, understand its shortcomings and how to address them, then WordPress may be sufficient to meet their needs for the next 5 years. Understanding the maintenance and possessing the technical know-how of how to perform essential WordPress website maintenance a business owner has already addressed the biggest concern with WordPress which is security.
The main shortcomings and how to address them are as follows:
Security - Keep plugins and theme up to date (always backup theme beforehand as errors frequently occur)
Speed - Install plugins sparingly, keep code clean & use a good hosting provider
SEO - Install an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO
Downtime - Keep an eye on your website and a developer on speed dial
Hard to use - Use a good theme and page builder
To summarise today WordPress is ok. This is, however, changing every single day, to put it simply new technology is improving every single day, these techniques are already far ahead of WordPress and WordPress is at serious risk of being left behind.
Should You Use WordPress
If you are a new business and have no experience in WordPress our advice would be to steer clear, the technology looks like it is going to die out in the coming years and you may find yourself learning next-gen technology in the coming years anyway. WordPress also tends to be overcomplicated for many business owners and you are more likely to need the help of a developer post-launch or in-depth training.
If you are an existing business owner who is frustrated with WordPress and looking to develop a new website then we would also recommend ditching WordPress for bigger and better things.
If you are an existing business owner with a large website that you are most happy with and you are familiar with WordPress then you are probably the best place to continue using WordPress for the near future. If however, you are looking to redevelop your website then Next-Gen Technology should still be carefully considered before committing to WordPress.
Are All WordPress Websites Built Equal
No, the large majority of WordPress websites are poorly built by developers who lack the required experience to create a great website. There are however some incredible developers who create nothing less than art using WordPress whilst preserving website speed and functionality.
What Should You Consider Instead?
What you should consider instead will be influenced by a range of factors, mostly what you wish to achieve, different technology has different solutions. If you are looking to build an information-based website then you cannot go wrong with Gatsby JS, if you have additional requirements please feel free to reach out and we would be happy to guide you towards and appropriate technology.