A brief history of WordPress

Powering over a quarter of new websites and digital services across the globe, the rise of WordPress has been nothing short of meteoric. It’s now the dominant digital framework and for good reason; it’s open source (love it), very powerful, incredibly extensible and lightweight.

WordPress initially grew out of an old blogging platform, b2/cafelog, forking it into WordPress version 1, 10 years ago, pretty much to the day. The founders, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little wanted a better platform, primarily for their own use. At the time, the big player in blogging platforms was Type Apart with their Movable Type application. Movable Type had been around for a few years and we’d run a few sites using the platform. It too was open source and then in early 2004 the company dramatically changed the licensing terms, driving a lot of influential users away from the platform and, ironically, directly into the arms of the fledgling WordPress.

This change is commonly credited as being the tipping point for WordPress. We, like a lot of other “experienced” platform users jumped ship and despite WordPress being not as polished it became clear that is was a better bet for longer-term use by serious digital agencies.

2005 saw the explosion in it’s use; the founders formed a commercial company, Automattic, and added the now trademark theme environment, anti-spam measures, rich editing and better management. As 2006 dawned, it was clear to many that what was being born was a highly credible, flexible and powerful web framework. It would still take another 5 years before digital agencies truly accepted it as a commercial framework but the die was certainly cast and a few maverick companies pushed ahead, developing the core and the plugins that would eventually give it the clout to edge out proprietary frameworks. We are proud to have been involved at such an early stage and to be part of its growth.

The elegance of WordPress is it’s simplicity and openness. At it’s heart, it’s a web template framework built on PHP and mySQL but that’s only half the story. With over 25,000 additional plugins (add-in applications) it easily forms the heart of a fully-fledged digital framework and between 2007 and 2010 a large number of heavy-weight features were added, including change tracking, image editing, improved security and a multi-user option. It became a serious framework.

By the start of this decade WordPress was set to step into the limelight, more and more serious players had bought-in and now very serious organisations were basing their digital strategy around, in essence, a freebie content management system. In the last few years, WordPress has grown from strength to strength without having to make huge code changes. It’s stability and the open nature of the plugin environment has mean’t that’s it’s easy to build and integrate almost any type of functionality without having to resort to conventional (big) development projects. In fact, one of the major benefits of a modern-day WordPress installation is the NoCode approach to development; frequently handing the control and evolution of digital services over to the people that matter; not programmers and IT departments.

Us? We realised this new kid on the block was going to make all current frameworks obsolete in a just a few years so shifted our future development of VITES onto a curated framework, based around WordPress. We call this VNX 4.0 and it provides a lightweight, scaleable and function-rich framework as a starting point for every new site we’ve built since 2011.

Today, WordPress powers some of the most powerful and well respected digital services, including gov.uk, CNN, eBay, Sony, Tech Crunch, Yahoo, Ford, Samsung, Ben & Jerry, Medium, Quartz and many other notable companies. Anyone who suggests WordPress is not a commercial-grade solution is living in the past (well, 2004 certainly)

Connected have been using and deploying WordPress sites since 2007 and it forms to core of our VNX Digital Framework that includes a highly curated set of of extensions delivered from the cloud. What, in the past, required a cluster of 6 web servers and a near-full-time systems manager is now deployed and delivered on a single Amazon AWS instance – greatly simplifying the management and support and keeping the costs super low at the same time.

If you’re considering joining the legions of organisations migrating away from old-school web sites and embracing the new and responsive world of digital services delivered in WordPress you’d be nuts not to talk to us. If you’re stuck with Drupal or Joomla! then come and talk to us as soon as you see a chance to escape, we can migrate from other CMS systems with ease.