Happy Birthday WordPress, 20 Today!

The team here at Clever Marketing just wanted to say Happy Birthday, WordPress.

It’s amazing to think that it’s been a whole two decades since WordPress launched and how it’s evolved and stabilised over that time has been truly incredible.

My own recollections of downloading and installing WordPress in 2003 are very different from how I view the software today. I was a web designer back then and had been used to creating pure HTML websites. WordPress was one of the new tools, but I recall it being more of a blogging platform. Having used Blogger for some time, I remember trying out WordPress as a potential alternative having heard some great things about it. I actually thought it was a bit clunky back then and so I kept it “on the side” to experiment with.

A Blogging Platform

In 2005 I was tasked with project managing a heavy migration of an HTML enterprise website to a content management system (CMS). The site was massive and had become hugely cumbersome to update, so I pushed for the budget and resources to make the site even more user-friendly than before. The requirement was driven from the vendor side as it was myself having to update the site and pagination alone was a complete ‘mare.

Looking for CMS in 2005 was interesting – there were hundreds of them, ranging from the cheap and cheerful to expensive enterprise solutions. Sifting through the available platforms, I quite rightly focused on the “top end” systems, the ones that were high-performing but also well-supported and popular enough to have a broad user base that could assist.

Of the main contenders, I’d whittled the list down to:

  • Joomla
  • WordPress
  • Typo3
  • Drupal

There may have been one or two others, but it was 18 years ago now and I don’t remember if I still had Mambo on the list.

Anyway, I evaluated all the CMS and decided on Joomla over WordPress because, at the time, I felt that it was still primarily a blogging platform. And that was it for the next couple of years.

I launched the Joomla 1.0 website in 2006 and then had it redeveloped again in 2009 for Joomla 1.5, however, by that time I wasn’t impressed with the Joomla blog pages so I created the site’s blog section in WordPress – Joomla main pages and a WordPress blog section.

Drupal for a Few Years

In 2014 I left the business advice sector to work for a UK national charity where I encountered Drupal again. Whilst I’d dismissed WordPress for the huge website due to its blog feel, I’d also written off Drupal because I felt it was too steep a learning curve.

I felt the intensity of that for another few years as I moved from the charity to a global corporation in 2015 where every big brand website was built in Drupal and I managed 26 of them in 15 different languages before switching to a project management role.

Migrating all the brand’s websites in the world to a single Drupal platform was a huge undertaking but it ultimately made sense. At the end of that project I then switched to yet another CMS…

Back to WordPress

In my spare time over the past 14 years I’d kept all my personal and professional WordPress websites running. It had evolved from a pure blogging tool to a fully fledged CMS and was dominating the world.

However, there were also lots of criticisms of WordPress at the time, especially;

“I’ve heard it’s the most insecure, most hacked platform in the world.”

Well, if it’s the most popular CMS then statistically there’s an element of truth in there, the most prevalent systems will attract the most attention, good or bad. Also, out of the box, WordPress is OK, but failure to update or harden security is always an issue on any software.

In addition, my new digital agency, Clever Marketing, were WordPress centric. So for the next 6+ years I worked almost exclusively on SEO and technical SEO for WordPress (With a little Drupal, Umbraco,  and even some Nopcommerce thrown in for good measure).

Now, 20 years after I first installed and used WordPress, it is celebrating being possibly the most widely used CMS on the planet.

WordPress 20 Years On

I like WordPress, both personally and professionally. On a professional level I have to remove my personal preferences and recommend the correct tool for the job. And the vast majority of our clients benefit from having WordPress powering their web presence.

For me and my team we like:

  • The ease of installation – our host of choice makes it easy to “spin up” a basic instance in a few minutes. We have daily backups and a staging option so that we can development and test new designs and functions. Our WordPress hosting is brilliant. It also has built-in CDN and caching options, security, firewalls, you name it. And then the hard work of customising the WP site begins…
  • A plethora of themes – WordPress is so widely supported that it has a great many off-the-shelf themes. As a full-service digital marketing agency our designers create custom designs for every client, but they always sit on a theme that is as lightweight and customisable as possible.
  • Easy to SEO – When you know what you’re doing, SEO is straightforward on most CMS, but WordPress is so easy to SEO. Out-of-the-box it’s simple to tweak but with the addition of plugins like Yoast SEO or Rank math, there are so many options to configure for the optimal performance in the SERPs.
  • Simple to customise using plugins – If there’s extra functionality that you need from your vanilla installation, you can add it using a plugin. WooCommerce, for example, is a great ecommerce plugin that makes a standard WordPress website into an online shop. Don’t use TOO many plugins though, we need like to ensure our websites perform as efficiently and lightweight as possible.
  • LAMP Stacks – WordPress runs on Linux servers, using Apache webserver, delivering MySQL powered database and the PHP language. All open source, WordPress is free to adapt and highly-configurable.

Those are our key internal reasons for loving WordPress. But don’t just take our word for it, look at the numbers (Source):

  • In 2011 WordPress was used to power over 50 million websites.
  • By 2013 WordPress market share was a whopping 59%.
  • In 2023, WordPress has a 63.5% market share.
  • 30% of the world’s top 10 million websites run on WordPress.
  • 73% of the top 100 sites are WordPress websites.
  • There are over 60,000 plugins in the official WordPress plugin repository.

Of course, other CMS are available, and nowadays there are more options for users to create their own websites on Squarespace, Wix, or Duda. But WordPress has the prestige of being loved by developers & web designers, webmasters, SEO experts, and end users alike.

We’re biased and, whilst we love Drupal and the occasional Umbraco build, we still love WordPress more.

Happy birthday, WordPress.

Logo of Clever Marketing - Digital Marketing Agency in Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire. If you have a WordPress website that needs a redesign, or an old site on any other platform for which you need web design and development, Clever Marketing can help.

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