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WordPress

We have been working with WordPress since mid 2006 with first live sites completed in October of that year. Back then WordPress was little more than a blogging platform but now it is a fully capable content-management system.

What set it apart then (and now) is that every quarter or so there was an upgrade to some part of the core system. Along side that an eco system of themes ( the design layer) and plugins ( extra functions & sub systems) has built up so that WordPress has full publishing support and can be extended in almost any direction via plugins.

For more background continue reading below or click here to skip to the websites page.

The big breakthrough for us came in late 2008 with the update to version 2.7. – the Coltrane version. That was when automatic upgrades were introduced and the backend admin got its first major makeover. As a user of other open source software applications, what set WordPress apart was its willingness to experiment and pay special attention to matters of usability and user self service.

Anyone who has used other content management systems will know that the backend admin was often counter intuitive and not friendly for non-technical users. To have a back end that was user centric for business users was a major revolution and the single most important change that WordPress has ever done.

wordpress-statsAnyone who has had to update the core, themes and various plugins manually ( until then) knows was a time soak that was.

Typically themes don’t need to be updated unless new functionality is being added or for some other reason like a security update.

However plugins and the core will often be upgraded several times each year and so implementing automatic upgrades using subversion was a major win for all WordPress users.

In November 2008, I was at Wordcamp Australia in Sydney and was delighted to meet Matt Mullenweg and other Automattic staff. As Matt was the co-founder of WordPress and still only about 23 at the time it was exciting to get the inside story on how WordPress was being developed and what it might become in the future.

Now – WordPress is a fully featured content management system with many millions of users around the globe. The chart (above left) shows user volumes at WordPress.com which is only the tip of the iceberg as far as WordPress usage is concerned.

At least half of the WordPress sites out there are called “self-hosted” and are based on the open source version available from wordpress.org. WordPress.com is a fully hosted version and is the way that many users start out. Between the hosted and self-hosted ( .com and .org) around 21.6% of the internet is now powered by WordPress.

For content management systems that equates to a market share of 60.2% for WordPress with a long gap back to Joomla and Drupal at number 2 and 3. Both of them have market shares of less than 10%.

It is possible to build anything on WordPress. That doesn’t always make it the best idea but for all sorts of usability and access reasons it will be the best all round option for most websites.

As we say to our customers if they want to add a new page to their website there is a button called “add new page” and if they want to make a blog post they should use the “add new blog post” button. Beyond that it doesn’t get very complex at all with any kind of media being easy to add and for reasons of self service alone WordPress is the clear winner.

Many businesses ask about training for updates and the actual experience is that after an orientation more than 95% of all updates can be managed by them quite easily. For larger and more complex sites it may still pay to have expert help but that is an option rather than a necessity.

So since 2006 we have built or rebuilt more than 120 websites. Some of these have been migrated from other systems and some were brand new. Some never saw the light of day and some lasted 2 or 3 years as their project life cycles drove their usefulness.

In the last few years the rise of mobile users on smartphones and tablets has driven the changes at the technical level. All of the sites we build are optimised for mobile. The other significant background driver for websites and online applications is the need for greater security and to keep ahead of any security threats.

WordPress has a very active development community and so all changes to core are scrutinised and tested on a scale that is beyond anything in the commercial or enterprise space. Pre-release versions  are always available and even when security or other updates are needed – it is never more than an upgrade /update button away.

WordPress is an excellent choice for any website and we have specialised in all things WordPress since 2006 and in 2014 that is equivalent to several lifetimes in the online universe.

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