For more than 15 years WordPress has been in existence, powering blogs, websites, and even eCommerce stores. One could argue that WordPress is a big deal in the web development space. Of all sites with a known content management system, WordPress accounts for 50-60% share of the global CMS market and powers 35% of the internet. Before we take a look at WordPress history, from whence it came to where they are today, I’d like to give a brief overview for the uninitiated.
What is WordPress?
So just what is WordPress? It is a free and open-source Content Management System or CMS. The main features are the template system and plugin architecture. Templates allow developers to build on a predefined structure as opposed to building out a site from scratch. Plugins allow for additional functionality to extend the tools that come “out of the box.”
The founders of WordPress operated on the philosophy that great software should work with minimal setup. They aimed to make the tools easy to use and intuitive so that developers and designers spend their time creating. No matter what tools you use to build sites, there are many reasons why so many web agencies use WordPress.
WordPress History: Origins
WordPress began as a fork of b2/cafelog in 2003 by Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg. They were looking to create an elegant and well-architected personal publishing system. B2/cafelog was developed in early 2001 by a French programmer named Michel Valdrighi. It was a unique concept that brought about a new way of creating web pages. This new concept, which gave birth to WordPress, was the idea of creating pages dynamically from MySQL database contents. By doing this, they were able to expand the power of the blog.
Even before this, the main reason for the beginnings of WordPress was the fact that developer support for b2/cafelog became non-existent in December of 2002. While Michel Valdrighi worked throughout 2002 on the project, it was abandoned leaving users with concern over the future of the project. One of those concerned users was Matt Mullenweg.
Fast forward to January 2003 where Mullenweg uses the source code of b2/cafelog to create a new platform based on the things that he thought was cool but with added features. He wanted it to have the flexibility of MovableType, the parsing of TextPattern, the hackability of b2, and the ease of setup of Blogger.
The year 2004 saw tremendous strides for the platform and was arguably the turning point for WordPress moving from another blogging platform to the CMS we know today. The first thing they accomplished was obtaining the GNU GPL. What that means is that WordPress is now free and open source. The contributions of developers around the globe help open source projects thrive.
Around the same time, Ryan Boren created the plugin system. This key feature revolutionized WordPress’ capabilities. It allowed them to offer functionality outside of the core elements of WordPress, maintaining the core while users explore other things that work for them. Version 1.2, the first major update to WordPress, included support for plugins.
In 2005, we saw the branding of WordPress with the creation of their logo. Through private email communications, six developers and designers close to the project began the early workings of what would become the “W” we know now. After a process that lasted several months, May 15th was the day they finalized the logo.
By 2008 WordPress launched their Theme Directory. Having a directory for themes allowed users to develop and upload themes for the public to use. Today, there are over 2,500 free themes that are available.
The creation of the WordPress Foundation completed in 2010. Automattic, the company that held WordPress’ trademarks, formed the foundation following the intentions of some of the founding contributors. The idea was to keep them separate from the company, and to prevent abuse and dilution should acquisition of the trademark guardian take place.
REST API Infrastructure
WordPress made considerable strides in 2015. This year saw the merger of the REST API infrastructure into the WordPress core. The integration of REST allowed for less complicated creation of custom API’s.
REST, also known as RESTful API or RESTful web service, is based on REpresentational State Transfer technology. It is an architectural style and approach to communications often used in web services development which uses HTTP requests to GET, PUT, POST and DELETE data.
Today, WordPress powers more than 20% of all self-hosted websites. Its architecture is mostly similar to that starting b2/cafelog foundation: PHP, a server-side scripting language for Web development, and MySQL (pronounced My-sequel or MY S-Q-L) which is an open source relational database management system. It is highly flexible and customizable. Matt Mullenweg was indeed successful in creating the very platform he talked about in his original 2003 blog post.
Other technologies used for WordPress web server environments are Apache with the mod_rewrite module, Nginx, and Varnish cache. These tools are used to help your website run lightning fast.
A recent major addition to the WordPress platform was the introduction of the Gutenberg editor, helping beginners and developers alike to easily create beautiful websites at any scale using the new Gutenberg Block. Gutenberg, coupled with a Managed WordPress host, could help streamline processes for digital agencies, developers, and freelancer with multiple clients and websites.
What Kinds of Sites Can WordPress Host?
- WordPress for Personal: With all of the tools available through WordPress, the types of sites you can create are almost endless. Do you have a personal website used for informational purposes? There are plenty of tools WordPress offers to help enhance your site. You can even use it for an electronic resume or portfolio sites.
- WordPress for Blogs: Whether it is a public or private blog, there are plenty of themes and plugins to make your blog site pop. WordPress centers around bloggers as a platform for them to create and deliver their content. Blogs are one of the areas that it shines but not the only one.
- WordPress for eCommerce: eCommerce is another area that runs on WordPress. No matter the store plugin of choice, WordPress has many options for online stores to set up stunning websites. WooCommerce and WP eCommerce are among the popular platforms with tools developers need to transform a standard site into a fully functional store. We’re proud to say that our Managed WooCommerce Hosting platform has WordPress as its backbone.
- WordPress for Business: WordPress is not just for eCommerce businesses, by the way. Companies such as the New York Post, TED, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, and TechCrunch all use WordPress for their CMS. It is easy to quickly build and launch your site and grow as your business expands.
- WordPress for Non-Profits: Some businesses, such as non-profit organizations and religious groups, don’t exist in a profit-seeking capacity. Having access to free services wherever possible is of critical value to these groups. WordPress has many free and open source solutions that still allow businesses that don’t derive income from profit margins to create professional websites.
- WordPress for Directories: Job boards, business directories, and forums can all be created using WordPress. Building community is everything in today’s online climate and having the right online presence can prove valuable to your project. There are several plugins devoted to this task, like the bbPress forum.
- WordPress for Many Cultures: You can install WordPress in many languages. Multi-lingual support is a massive factor for developers that may not speak the same language as their clients or the intended site audience. Not only can your administrators have this feature, but you can also create sites in other languages as well.
An Overview of WordPress Basics
A WordPress theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress powered website. Changes to your design will alter how your site looks and what visitors see on the front-end. There are thousands of free WordPress themes available in the WordPress.org Theme Directory and many developers sell premium WordPress themes with additional functionality and support. Many WordPress sites also use custom themes for their website designs.
Themes are what allow you to store your content in WordPress and then take the content and data and display it in the web browser. They let you decide the look of your site and how visitors interact with it. Even within the themes are customizable ways to display your content. Choose from static or responsive layouts and use columns where necessary.
Beyond these basic forms, you can also choose where you want content to be displayed. Use tools to specify how your site looks on different devices or what actions make your content visible. Images and videos are additional elements that can be included anywhere in your theme.
WordPress themes are amazingly efficient. There is more to them than meets the eye than color and layout. Having the right themes enhance engagement with your website’s content.
Out of the box, WordPress comes with a pair of default themes. If they are not up to your standards or do not fit the direction of your site, you can use the theme directory to create an elegant website. You can choose from single page layouts to multiple pages with menus.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of WordPress theming is the freedom to code or not to code. Change the typography and design elements by dragging and dropping or by entering your CSS code. What happens when all of these options still don’t meet your needs? You can create your custom theme, of course. With the click of a button, you can upload your custom coded, entirely original website theme.
As you might understand by now, WordPress is full of features for every creator and developer. Still, there can be an instance where some features you may want don’t come included. Not to worry, there’s a plugin directory as well with thousands of plugins.
As with anything else in WordPress, you can use the plugins of other developers or write your own. By making your plugin, you further extend WordPress and its limitless functionality.
Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress
With all of the tools and tricks to WordPress, there’s no wonder that many creatives and agencies look to a hosting provider to manage their environment. Liquid Web is ready and equipped with a Manage Applications team to take care of the heavy lifting.
With Managed WordPress Hosting, you can focus on your sites and content while we concentrate on the environment.
Liquid Web Managed WordPress hosting features include:
- Easy to use dashboard that focuses purely on the management of WordPress sites
- Automatic Plugin updates using our Visual comparison tool
- Ability to add additional users
- Painless, plugin-based migrations make it simple to move websites
- Create multiple website templates at once using Stencils to save time
- Automatic core updates to WordPress ensures greater security and peace of mind
- Automated backups make it simple to restore from earlier points as needed or to download a backup any time they need to
- We don’t limit the number of installed plugins, allowing for even greater flexibility
- SFTP and SSH access for simple file management
- 1-click staging provides an easy way to try new themes or plugins without any risk to a live site if something needs tweaking
- Liquid Web manages the entire WordPress optimized backend, leaving our customers free to design and develop, rather than focus on administration
- Free, automatically installed SSLs on each site
- We make getting started easy, with helpful information on common tasks available right in the dashboard
- Easy database management utilizing phpMyAdmin
- iThemes Sync Pro is a dashboard that helps those managing multiple client sites save time by providing them with the tools and resources they need. Get back to developing and building websites for clients:
- White-labeled client reports for WordPress maintenance
- Control over what clients see in their WordPress dashboard (wp-admin)
- Site uptime, downtime, and performance monitoring
- Tracking and viewing Google Analytics data
- Mass install or update of commonly used plugins
WordPress Is Changing History
WordPress has changed much over the past 15 years. From the original self-publishing system adopted by Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg from b2/cafelog in 2003, all the way to the number one Content Management System powering 14.7% of the top 100 websites in the world, WordPress continues to grow and thrive. And with the introduction of the new editor in WordPress 5.0, also known as WordPress Gutenberg, WordPress continues to evolve.