It started out that way, but it’s all grown up!
100,000 new sites per day isn’t a niche market!
For a small open-source project not presided over by a big company, WordPress has seen a meteoric rise in popularity, familiarity and usage that hides it’s humble origins. Estimates vary, but I’ve seen statistics saying that somewhere between 1/6th and 1/4 of all new websites built are created on the ubiquitous CMS (Content Management System.)
The unique, accessible world of a free core platform with an open source community of paid and free plug-ins, themes and widgets that add design, functionality and every feature under the sun are what’s behind the phenomenal growth. Truth be told, there is almost nothing that a WordPress site can’t be set up to do. We’ve built dozens of them over the past few years and there have only been a handful of times when we opted to custom-build some specific required feature, and even then, there were plug-ins that could have been modified to work.
What is a plug-in?
At it’s core, WordPress is a platform that you install on a server that creates a database that allows you to upload and organize content (text, images, etc.) into pages, link them with menus, add widgets in a sidebar or footer, and publish to the web with comments and different levels of user access. One of it’s big pluses is the WYSIWYG text editor that converts your writing into html code.
Themes are basically style templates – you install them on top of the platform and they alter the layout and arrangement of the content and let you make further changes to the design. Many also have some unique functionality features built in – for example maybe a full-screen slideshow.
Most functionality though, comes from plug-ins – little chunks of code, mostly free but some premium paid version – that give your website the ability to do something, whether that be automating backups, letting people log-in with their Facebook profile, translating the site into different languages, installing security features, or just a unique slider or menu style. The list is nearly endless, and you can scope them by ratings and comments and a whole centralized catalog system that WordPress wisely chose to regulate just the right amount so as to ensure stability and compatibility while not stifling innovation and creativity among developers.
Can I do it all myself?
That depends on your level of expertise. While WordPress makes building a highly functional site much easier than it used to be, it’s still fairly complex and there are a lot of things that you won’t know without a lot of trial and error or background research. So if you need a new website, you would still do well to bring an expert on board to facilitate and build the site, but 1/ it will be a less-expensive process than a few years ago when everything was custom coded from scratch, and 2/ you will be able to update and edit the content yourself for sure!
How popular is WordPress?
A year ago, Forbes magazine published a great article on the origins of the framework and some statistics on its popularity.
“Today WordPress powers one of every 6 websites on the Internet, nearly 60 million in all, with 100,000 more popping up each day.