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How and why WordPress became so popular

How and why WordPress became so popular

WordPress is one of the most popular blogging applications available, although it is now more commonly used as a general purpose content management system (CMS). It has been quoted that out of the top 10 million websites that run on the public Internet, 18.9% of these run WordPress; there is also high probability that there are probably a number of internal corporate websites that are running the application as well.

Extended collection of third-party plugins

WordPress is well known for its large plugins database, which stood at 30,000 at least count. The database is so large that there is plugin available for pretty much any purpose that isn’t included as part of the core of WordPress, meaning that the basic application can be built upon to serve a wide variety of websites. Many of the plugins are third-party plugins that have been released as open source applications by their developers and this of course means that they are free to use; a site that would have previously taken a trained web developer several weeks to put together can now be constructed in just a few minutes by a novice using WordPress and the necessary plugins. It is this combination of power and simplicity that has helped to excel the uptake of WordPress.

Powerful and well documented API

All those plugins need to have a way of accessing the core WordPress application, and so this is achieved with the use of an API (Application Programming Interface) and what are known as ‘action hooks’, which allow developers to hook their custom functions in with functions that are part of the WordPress core so that the core functions are able to execute the custom functions as they are executed themselves. If third-party plugins aren’t your thing then you can of course create your own plugins!

The powerful API means that developers are able to save a substantial amount of time when developing a new website. By customizing the operation of a WordPress installation and with the use of a custom theme, overall you can create a custom solution that utilises WordPress at its core by your end-users will be oblivious to this fact.

Multi purpose platform

WordPress was designed and is designed to be a blogging platform first. Although it offers a feature to let you manage pages and menus, it has always been a blogging application. However, its powerful page management system and relatively intuitive admin interface have led it to become a general purpose content management system. When webmasters are updating a website on a regular basis on would like to delegate the task to other people, then a slick and easy to use interface is essential because other users may be good at handling content but may lack the skills necessary to navigate a complex interface. The WordPress user management system also enables users to be assigned different levels depending on their role in the website; for example, an editor can be responsible for reviewing and publishing the content of others without having admin access to anything else, whilst the most basic user account can be attributed contributor status meaning that the user can only create, view and modify their own content.

I would say that its WordPress’ ability to be treated as a general purpose that has made it so popular. Having been created as a blogging tool primarily, a lot of focus has been placed on developing a solution that is able to handle content and media simply yet effectively, succeeding in an area where primarily general purpose CMS fail as they try to cram their WYSIWYG editors with too many features and options that even the most seasoned of webmasters won’t have a use for. The powerful API and the plugin community that it has spawned have also contributed greatly to the success of the platform in my eyes because even a novice can now create a relatively feature rich website in just a few minutes with literally just a few clicks – they can also make it look good as well by using one of the many freely available themes!

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