WordPress (WP), released in 2003, is an on-line, open source website creation tool written in PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor). Anyone who is even a bit computer savvy has heard of it. Even detractors admit it is one of the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management systems (or CMS) out there.
Private individuals who used WP to write their personal blogs were WP’s first customers and numerous Fortune 500 companies now use WP as their business blogging platform. But some high-profile brands and businesses like The Rolling Stones, BBC America and Australia’s Herald Sun – use WP as a platform for their entire website. The power of WP is evidenced by this increasing use by businesses and e-commerce sites to build and manage their websites, and create mobile applications and online games.
To give an indication of just how popular WP is:
- The term ‘WordPress’ is typed into a search engine about half a million times every month.
- Around 20,000 posts are published on WordPress blogs every day.
- It is used by about 7.5-million sites (40% of sites using CMSs).
But there are a lot of CMS's out there - why is WordPress so popular?
FeaturesThere are five key features that have kept WordPress the leader of the CMS pack.
Ease of UseWordpress’s popularity is in a large part due to its ease of use. If you can make edits to a Microsoft Word document, you can edit your WP content with the same ease. You can also copy and paste text directly into WP, something not all CMSs allow, and it’s not just text that is easily manipulated; WP supports multimedia like Instagram photos, YouTube videos, tweets and Soundcloud audio files. An extensive range of add-ons make it easy to add functionality, from remembering user passwords to having multiple user roles. It’s also easy to install and there is extensive online documentation and a host of forums and communities offering advice.
Customization CapabilitiesWhile WordPress offers an extensive range of pre-made themes, you can also customize your own. This is a big advantage for businesses as any pre-made theme is bound to be used by not just a few others – but by many others. Right from the start you have a big advantage in terms of setting yourself apart from the competition. The wide choice of plugins allows you to customize features and functionality as well. For instance, if you’re a business owner who wants to sell your products, the WordPress plugin WooCommerce is an eCommerce solution that powers 30% of all online stores today. It’s also free.
AffordabilityIt’s free and non-proprietary. While free is drawcard enough, non-proprietary means that 1000s of people are voluntarily at work every day improving the software because they really believe in its value. While there are many other open-source CMSs around, WordPress offers the largest list of plug-ins (nearly 30,000) and widgets of any other CMS. As this list grows, so does the range of functionality available to WP users.
Up to DateAs new versions of WordPress are introduced, actively updated plugins are modified to work with the latest releases. WordPress with its large user base and active development community quickly issues new versions of the software when security flaws are discovered. In fact, most cases of hacked WP websites are due to not keeping up with installing the latest release.
Extensive Range of Plugins and Pre-made ThemesPlugins are add-ons that can be installed in the WordPress administration area to add features that are not part of the core code and extend functionality (e.g. page navigation, security, payment gateways, sales trackers, contact forms, SEO, etc.). Themes provide the design for a blog or website (e.g. portfolio, wedding, magazine, e-commerce, photography, etc.). Being open-source, WordPress themes and plugins can be customised. There are currently 2600+ WP themes and 31,000 plugins available. But you don’t have to use them; you can design and code your own too.
ConclusionThere are literally hundreds of CMSs out there but the ease-of-use of WordPress and its numerous features are the main reasons for its popularity. It also keeps up to date with the latest IT trends such as the demand for HTML5 responsive websites. Search Engine Land, for instance, has a completely custom built WP website using custom plugins and widgets. The site renders perfectly on any mobile device.
Some interesting and underused WordPress features include:
- Applications to enable you to run your blogs on Android or iOS mobile phones.
- A plugin that lets you create and send professional invoices from your dashboard.
- Ability to add an online chat feature to your website which is a great way to provide real-time customer service.
- Since WP 4.3, you can use markdown-like syntax.
- WordPress can perform essential image editing tasks like rotating, cropping and resizing.
- WordPress uses oEmbed to allow you to embed Tweets, Vimeo and Youtube videos, Soundcloud and all sorts of other
Note: You can easily install WordPress in your cPanel through Localnode using Softaculous. Alternatively, you can download it from wordpress.org