According to a study, WordPress is considered the most popular Content Management System (CMS), with over 32.2% of websites running on this amazing platform. If you are a WordPress user and looking to know more about it, including its history and how it transformed from merely a simple blogging platform into its current form, then keep on reading!
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that helps webmasters and bloggers edit content regularly without the need to use that HTML editor software. This platform is changing the way how websites used to be made. It offers more power and performance compared to other Content Management Systems.
Its WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) ability allows users to change parts of their website, which is the biggest reason why more and more people are becoming bloggers, website developers, webmasters, and internet marketers.
WordPress, being open-source software, allows others to use and modify it freely.
Starting its journey from 2003 to current day, WordPress has been evolved a lot! Here is the interesting timeline of WordPress and how it transformed from a simple blogging platform to what it is today:
WordPress was merely a fork of a pretty obscure blogging platform. No, we are not talking about the fork that we use to eat food. A Fork happens when a developer takes a copy of the open-source code from one software package and start editing it independently, creating a unique piece of software.
The developer of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, announced the first-ever version of WordPress on May 27, 2003. It was welcomed with open arms by the community. This first version was based on b2 Cafelog, but with significant improvements. It included a new user interface for admin, new templates, and also created XHTML 1.1 compliant templates.
B2 Cafelog, from which the mastermind Matt created WordPress, was originally developed by Michael Valdrighi in 2001.
In 2004, WordPress saw the release of Version 1.2 (Mingus) that included the addition of plugins, along with the famous Hello Dolly demo put together by the genius, Matt, itself. Later that year, forum solution bbPress was launched that powered, and currently powers, the WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
The best thing about the Mingus was that it enabled users and developers to write their own plugins and share them with the rest of the WordPress community. While WordPress was still under development, something totally favorable for WordPress was happening in the world of blogging.
Moveable Type, the industry leader in blogging tools, announced new licensing terms and pricing structure, which was poorly received by the bloggers. This bad move by the company forced many users to find a new blogging platform and this is where WordPress came to the rescue and won the hearts of millions!
2005 was a breakthrough year for WordPress in several different ways. The first one was the creation of Automattic, which is the backbone of WordPress, WooCommerce, Tumblr, Jetpack, Crowdsignal, Simplenote and more. It was a separate commercial entity. The second was the official launch of WordPress.com.
Initial funding for Automattic of $1.5 million put this commercial entity on a financially solid footing at an early stage. Moreover, the company’s commitment to supporting the development of WordPress as an open-source platform was proved well when it involved in several high-profile releases of WordPress.
The WordPress version 1.5, also known as Strayhorn, was released in February 2005 that brought pages, comment moderation tools, a complete new theming system, and a new default theme Kubrick. The step to separate design and functionality was the reason behind the inaugural of Kubrick. It was a key factor that created the element of interest among developers and designers all around the globe. This also opened a new path for future monetization efforts.
In December 2005, Version 2.2 (Duke) was released that featured persistent catching, user roles, and a significant modification of the backend User Interface. 2005 was the year that saw the launch of the anti-comment spam plugin Akismet we see installed by default when we install WordPress.
Opposite to the fairly extraordinary amount of activity and innovations in 2005, the next years were the years of consolidation, and the company offered a quite slow iterative improvement on both the open-source and commercial sides of the platform.
The notable additions during this time were the ability of tagging, addition of widgets, pretty URLs, spell checking, update notifications, and assorted speed improvements. WordPress Plugin Directory also opened new paths for users to search and install different plugins during this time.
In 2006, the first-ever WordCamp was conducted in San Francisco that helped this CMS reach to a wide audience. On the other hand, Toni Schneider was appointed as full-time CEO of Automattic and the company made one of the first major purchases in Gravatar.
As 2007 came to a close, WordPress had emerged as a significant online presence and was evolving continuously. Also, in 2007, Matt was named the sixteenth most-important person on the internet by PC World. That’s what we call an achievement!
Three versions of WordPress were released in 2008 (2.5, 2.6, and 2.7). The Version 2.5 (Brecker) featured new admin User Interface, which was designed for WordPress by a newly joined company, Happy Cog. They conducted a usability study to design such an Admin UI. In addition to this new UI, they also introduced the dashboard widget system and the Shortcode API.
The version 2.6 (Tyner) and version 2.7 (Coltrane) saw new upgrades such as post revisions, Press This, redesign of the admin UI, automatic upgrading, built-in plugin installation, sticky posts, comment threading/paging/replies, bulk management, and inline documentation.
In 2009, WordPress won the Open Source CMS Award of “Overall Best Open Source CMS”. Moreover, two new versions of WordPress were released in 2009 (2.8, 2.9). In version 2.8 (Baker), a new theme installer was introduced along with some improvements to widgets, themes, taxonomies, and overall speed was enhanced.
Drag and Drop feature was also introduced in this version. Speed enhancements were in terms of styling and scripting. Before version 2.8 came to the market, there were so many syntax mistakes that were taken care of by a new CodePress Editor that came with V2.8 and featured syntax highlighting to the dashboard-based code editor.
In addition to this, multiple screen options were added to the Admin UI that allowed users to customize user interaction with the current items being used and it also provided the ability to filter out the other items.
Version 2.9 (Carmen) was the real deal as it was a joint effort of more than 140 contributors. Image editing, bulk plugin updating, a Trash/Undo feature, and oEmbed support was introduced in this amazing version that allowed integrated 3rd party provider content to integrate with content seamlessly. Other modifications and additions include:
- Comment framework enhancement
- User profile
- Registration and automation improvements
- Smilies (or what we call emoji)
- Editor upgrades
- HTTP requests
- Author links
- Tag clouds
- SSL support
In 2010, WordPress won the digitalsynergy’s Hall of Fame CMS category award in the Open Source. Moreover, a major release (V3.0) was launched in 2010 that was an effort of more than 200 contributors. This version 3.0 (Thelonious) introduced custom post types, added custom menu management, introduced a new default theme called “Twenty Ten, added new APIs for custom headers and custom backgrounds, and more miscellaneous upgrades.
In 2011, WordPress was a winner of the Bossie award for the Best Open Source Software, which was given by Infoworld. Version 3.1 was launched in 2011, which featured an Admin Bar and introduced Post Formats. A redesigned linking workflow also added in the system, which allowed users to work with existing posts and pages efficiently. To make the overall system more efficient, the import/export system was overhauled as well.
This year also saw the release of the versions 3.1 and 3.2 that added more functionality and improved WordPress. V3.1 made WordPress lighter and faster compared to what it was before. Plus, they introduced a new fully HTML5 default theme in this version called “Twenty Eleven”. On the other hand, V3.2 made WordPress more user-friendly for people who were new to this system. They added welcome messages along with feature pointers.
Moreover, a new drag and drop uploader was introduced that made it easy for users to install a plugin or upload a photo. It also offered better touch support for Apple iPad and other tablets.
Version 3.4 and 3.5 were launched in 2012. These versions came with theme customizer, theme previews, and a new media manager. These features helped users to create beautiful image galleries and preview themes before they select and install it.
Version 3.6, 3.7, and 3.8 were released in 2013. One of the best things about the V3.7 was that it came with the new “Automatic Updates” feature that enabled WordPress to update your website’s software automatically for minor releases. This feature is similar to what Google Chrome does. However, many users didn’t like this feature as they didn’t want to upgrade to a newer version because they were satisfied with the older one. For this purpose, they disabled automatic updates in WordPress.
When WordPress 3.8 was released in December 2013, it introduced the new responsive admin interface, and provided better user experience on different devices, regardless of their screen sizes.
WordPress version 3.9, 4.0, and 4.1 were released in 2014 that saw various upgrades to the system. The V3.9 released on April 16, 2014, focused on improving visual post editor, allowing users to drag and drop photos directly into the post editor. Now, users were able to edit their images and see their gallery previews right inside the editor. This update also introduced audio playlists, live widget previews, and several other enhancements.
The amazing thing about 2014 is that non-English downloads for WordPress surpassed English downloads worldwide, which means that more and more people are starting using WordPress for creating their blogs and websites.
In 2015, WordPress version 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4 were released, and WordPress won the award for the “Best CMS for Personal Websites” by CMS Critic. These releases were intended to improve localization, theme customizer, and emoji support. Another best thing to ever happen this year was Automattic acquiring the most popular WordPress e-commerce plugin, WooCommerce.
WordPress version 4.5, 4.6, and 4.7 were released in 2016. Each of these releases brought the latest updates in terms of features and improvements. Most notable upgrades during 2016 were streamlined updates for plugins and themes, custom CSS feature for theme customizer, and content recovery by using browser storage.
This year, WordPress version 4.8 and 4.9 were released. These releases introduced multiple new default widgets to add video, images, gallery, audio, rich text, and HTML. Moreover, these were the elements that laid the groundwork for the new WordPress block editor.
The version 5.0 was released in 2018 that introduced a new block editor with a new default theme called “Twenty Nineteen”. This editor offered a brand new editing experience to the users. This release supported a total of 37 languages.
Final Verdict – The Future of WordPress
From almost nothing to becoming the world’s most powerful Content Management System, WordPress has indeed achieved a lot! According to a survey published by Netcraft, it is estimated that there are more than 1.3 billion active websites on the internet, out of which 35 percent is powered by WordPress, which means almost more than whopping 455,000,000 websites.
However, websites made on WordPress don’t provide the best experience for mobile users all the time, which is what they have to improve in order to have a secure future. WordPress, with every new release, is putting more and more effort into keeping up with the best user experience. Right now, very few large enterprises use WordPress as their CMS, but that is changing too, and companies of all sizes are opting for WordPress due to its extensive feature palette and tight security policies.
Keeping in mind all the major and minor updates the company released from 2003 till now, we can safely assume that WordPress will continue to empower people around the globe, helping them create wonderful websites easily and that too, with minimal effort.