The world’s most popular content management system is all grown up! On May 27th, WordPress is turning 20.
The content management system has done a lot in two decades. An estimated 800 million websites use WordPress, giving it more than 10 times the market share of its closest competitor. And throughout the last two decades, the platform has truly evolved from its humble roots as a simple blogging platform.
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, read on to learn more about the history of WordPress, how it has impacted and continues to impact businesses and websites, and where its future is headed.
WordPress has developed a long and rich history of helping content creators and business owners bring their ideas to life and distribute their messages to the world. Take a trip down memory lane with the following recap of WordPress’s most notable milestones.
2003: WordPress Was Born
WordPress’s initial goal was to improve an earlier CMS by allowing anyone to publish content without writing code. The platform was marketed as free and open for anyone to use, touting blog posts, pages, themes, and comments as significant features. The release of versions 1.0 and 1.2 in 2004 brought plugins, search, and password protection to the platform.
2006–2010: The Rise of the WordPress Community
After trademarking its name and logo, WordPress started to spawn a dedicated community whose feedback often spurred the platform’s creators to make necessary changes. Through the late 2000s, they introduced features like shortcodes, thumbnails, video embedding, and an image editor. WordCamp, the first WordPress conference, also launched during this time.
2010: WordPress.com Launched
It was a big year for WordPress and bloggers everywhere. The launch of WordPress.com thrilled users who wanted a plug-and-play website and didn’t want to pay for hosting. The novice-friendly version boosted WordPress users exponentially as the platform became more accessible than ever.
2010: Arrival of Custom Post Types
Custom post types arrived with the launch of WordPress version 2.9. Instead of just publishing words, users could create products and events while putting their own spin on content display.
2011: Release of WordPress 3.0
WordPress 3.0 was a turning point for the platform. With the 3.0 update, users gained access to the multisite feature, which allowed them to create different websites through one WordPress installation. WordPress also launched Twenty Ten, a new default theme.
2012–2017: Customization Tool, Media Management, Automatic Updates, and So Much More
WordPress’ popularity grew massively during the early-to-mid 2010s, reaching an unprecedented 50 million users. As smartphones began their ascent into everyday culture, so did WordPress’s responsive design, allowing for mobile device adaptation.
The Media Manager feature, launched in 2012, made adding photos and videos a breeze. In 2013, WordPress introduced the Customizer for real-time editing, with automatic updates soon following suit.
2020: Automatic Updates for Plugins and Themes
The number of plugins and themes multiplied in WordPress’s 17th year. Additionally, users no longer had to worry about losing functionality due to forgetting to update these features, as it could now be done automatically.
2022: Full Site Editing
Just before its milestone 20th anniversary, WordPress extended the concept of blocks from its 5.0 release beyond posts and pages to Full Site Editing. Users can now edit just about all the different elements of a page (including headers and footers) with an easy-to-use graphical interface.
2023: 20-Year Anniversary
What started as an easy way to blog has become the most robust website solution in the world. Continuing with the innovation, WordPress has introduced many new features in 2023, such as an updated Site Editor interface, improved blocks, Openverse integration, and a distraction-free mode, and it will continue its journey to publishing greatness well into the future.
If you’re interested in learning more about the progress within WordPress, the project has published an online repository for its history book, primarily focusing on the second decade of the project. It’s definitely worth the read!
The Impact of WordPress
WordPress has made an undeniable impact online and sparked an untold influence on business. Here’s a rundown of how the WordPress platform has forever changed the business world.
Makes Building Websites Easier
WordPress makes building websites more straightforward. Not everyone wants to or knows how to code. WordPress’s open-source CMS has always been free, giving anyone the power to create a robust website with just a few mouse clicks. Plugins and themes abound to help customize your website to your liking.
Supports Launching Online Businesses
In 2010, WordPress changed the game with Custom Post types, allowing anyone to use WordPress to build a business online. With so many theme types in existence today, users can display freelance portfolios, create stores, and even start their own design agency by customizing WordPress sites for others.
Allows Everyone to Publish
More than a decade ago, Bill Gates declared that “content is king,” and that statement still rings true. The WordPress platform keeps content at the forefront of the online experience by making it possible for anyone to publish theirs. All you have to do is type your words into a box and click the Publish button.
Creates an Online Community
One of the things that makes WordPress so attractive is the community that surrounds it. User input has molded WordPress into what it is today. If you run into trouble in the website creation process, you don’t have to travel far to find help. Creators constantly share new themes and plugins, easily making it the most dynamic CMS.
The World Celebrates WordPress at 20
With such a rich community, it’s no wonder that WordPress still excites so many. Here’s a glimpse into how people are celebrating the platform’s two decades, online and off.
WordPress fans and users can visit the official WordPress 20th anniversary website to learn about informal meetups happening around the globe. These gatherings aim to discuss the platform and allow users to share ideas with others in person. You can visit the site to contact a local group or learn more about hosting your meetup if one isn’t available in a nearby city.
The Make WordPress Marketing team established the “From Blogs to Blocks” campaign to help the community reflect on the platform’s development throughout the years.
As part of the campaign, the Make WordPress Marketing blog is featuring five daily prompts focusing on actions that express your WordPress-related memories, passions, and skills, such as:
- Blogging – Expressing action through writing, audio, or visual art
- Developing – Participating in the technical aspects of WordPress
- Designing – Creating visually-appealing websites
- Photography – Contribute to the WordPress photo directory
- Community – Foster connection among WordPress enthusiasts
Participants will receive recognition from the WordPress marketing team. You can also join the conversation and learn about other virtual events using #WP20 on your preferred social media platforms.
WordCamp began in 2006 as a small conference where WordPress users assembled to discuss the platform’s latest developments. Users worldwide will gather in August in National Harbor, Maryland, to celebrate WordPress’s 20th at WordCamp U.S. 2023. The event’s focus is learning and creation. Everyone from WordPress hobbyists to professional developers is welcome.
The Future of WordPress
With such a rich history and dedicated community, there’s little doubt that WordPress has a bright future. Here’s what we expect to see.
Possibilities for the Future
WordPress is working on greater mobile functionality since more than half of online searches now originate from mobile devices, alongside accessibility updates to help widen its reach in underserved communities and updates to enhance its performance and security.
FAQs on the Future of WordPress
What are some focus areas for future WordPress development?
In the future, WordPress will likely continue to focus on developing its Block Editor and rolling out new and improved features that make graphic website development even smoother. WordPress may also work on AI integration to make website creation more intuitive.
How can people share input on upcoming WordPress features and development?
Starting your own WordPress website connects you to the platform’s community. You can become a developer or look into core contributor roles through the Make WordPress blog, and you can continue to share your ideas through conferences and meetups like WordCamp.
Celebrate WordPress’s 20th with a Website
What better way to celebrate WordPress’s 20th year than to build a new WordPress website? Pressable’s managed hosting makes launching and maintaining your WordPress website even easier with a user-friendly interface, around-the-clock support, a 100% uptime guarantee, and unmatched speed and performance.
Try the MyPressable Playground for free and see how good it can be to host your sites with Pressable.
Obatarhe is a Customer Support Engineer at Pressable, WordPress Enthusiast, Community Volunteer, and Tech Advocate. He gets to do exciting things everyday, these include providing 5-star support to customers and rendering tailored service to resolve their issues. When he's not working, you can find him traveling and taking beautiful landscape pictures.