It seems remarkable that a blogging tool created by two amateur coders has taken over the world, but that’s precisely what WordPress has achieved in the fifteen years since it was launched. Originally created as a replacement for the defunct B2/Cafelog site management portal, it’s evolved into a platform that underpins 30% of all live websites. It comprises an astonishing 60% of the world’s content management systems, estimated at 75 million sites globally. Such a meteoric rise has left respected competitors like Joomla and Drupal far behind.
So what makes this site building and content management tool so popular? There’s no single merit or standout feature, but people adopt it for the wealth of user-friendly functionality on offer. These are ten reasons why a WordPress site deserves consideration for your next online venture or project:
#1. It’s free.
And this is not just free to use in a basic trial version, or until something more than a single-page website is required. Consumers are able to construct a detailed and sophisticated site without paying a penny, providing they’re willing to accept advertising, of course. Premium hosting plans offer the ability to hide ads, for companies wanting a dedicated online presence. The only real costs involve online essentials like purchasing domain names or paying for website hosting.
#2. It’s easy to use.
Some CMS greet new users with an unintuitive interface and a lack of cohesive instructions, while others require complex installation processes. WordPress is fully functional immediately after it’s installed. A plain-English dashboard offers tips and how-to guides on writing a blog post, customising a website, and more. The left-hand menu bar flags available updates, while past activity and audience interactions are prominently highlighted. Different users may even be granted varying levels of privileges and responsibilities, according to their seniority within an organisation.
#3. There’s endless reinvention.
This continually evolving platform regularly debuts new features, courtesy of contributor teams around the world. For instance, a new WYSIWYG content creator called Gutenberg will be launched in the autumn. It’ll allow people to create drag-and-drop blocks dedicated to different types of text, images, multimedia files and so forth. Scheduled for release in version 5.0, Gutenberg is an example of ongoing development improving the user experience.
#4. Sites can grow to any size.
Some template-based site builder tools restrict growth, either deliberately or inadvertently through architectural limitations. Conversely, WordPress sites are endlessly expandable, since designers and developers get to modify layouts to their hearts’ content. A blog may acquire ecommerce functionality, or spawn foreign-language subsites as and when required. High-profile examples of sprawling WP sites include BBC America, Sony Music and TechCrunch.
#5. Almost 56,000 plugins are available.
Each self-contained piece of code is designed to perform a unique role or function, ensuring the main WP code base remains streamlined. Plugin volumes are constantly rising, as people upload new widgets for particular functions. And if the existing library doesn’t solve a specific problem, self-created plugins represent an option for people possessing basic programming expertise. As an entirely open source creation, anyone can modify code elements.
#6. There are over 6,000 individual themes.
The Theme Directory currently lists 6,070 different themes, and each one can be previewed. To narrow down options, a search bar enables users to shortlist particular types of website. Entering ‘ecommerce’ reveals around 270 templates geared around selling products. And since each theme is endlessly customisable, it’s impossible to tell whether a particular template has been used elsewhere. Being able to personalise an off-the-shelf design solution is far quicker and easier than creating one from scratch.
#7. WordPress websites are mobile optimised by default.
Now the majority of internet traffic displays on smartphones or tablets, appealing to mobile audiences is imperative. Most themes are responsive since fast-loading pages provide another boost to SEO performance. Google and Bing factor accessibility and loading times into their web page ranking calculations, so a slick and mobile-optimised site should outperform a desktop-oriented competitor.
#8. Maintenance is easy and affordable.
The intuitive nature of this platform makes it simple to maintain. If plugins are regularly updated or replaced when they become obsolete, a WP site should require minimal supervision. IT investment is reduced, yet a small army of amateur developers and experienced coders is on standby to resolve development or customisation challenges. Indeed, this extensive (and proactive) community is arguably superior to many in-house customer service teams.
#9. Security is impressive.
WordPress is particularly good for ecommerce, courtesy of all-in-one plugins including WooCommerce or Shopp. Automatic security updates cover everything from specific themes to individual plugins. And because its ubiquity makes it a popular target among hackers, WordPress’s in-house teams are endlessly fettling their core software to improve resilience against malware or hacking. Although individual plugins vary in quality, a thriving online community is quick to express opinions on (or develop patches for) flawed code.
#10. Yoast is available for SEO improvements.
It would be remiss to conclude our list without mentioning arguably the greatest plugin ever devised. Using a universally recognisable traffic light system, Yoast SEO identifies potential ways to improve a web page’s performance in future search engine results pages. From captions and images to keywords and updates, modifying websites has never been so intuitive. And yet despite its obvious power, Yoast remains free to download and use.