On the outside, each website we visit on the internet looks different. Sure, they all share some similarities, but each one is unique. However, underneath it all, most of the websites we use on a daily basis have one thing in common: WordPress.
If you’re not a blogger or web developer, it’s quite possible you’ve never heard of WordPress but if you use the internet, you’ve certainly interacted with WordPress in one way or another. This is because WordPress is by far the most popular platform for building and managing websites in the world. It’s versatile, easy-to-use, and, perhaps most importantly, completely free. As a result, bloggers, companies, schools, and governments all around the world rely on it to power their online presence.
It should come as no surprise, then, that WordPress has had a powerful impact on the internet. It has made it easier for people to build websites, and these websites have made it easier for people to build companies, publish writing, and connect with others. To see just how much of an impact WordPress has had on the internet, we’ve compiled 17 of the most interesting facts about the platform.
WordPress has been getting more and more popular each year, and it has been blowing the competition out of the water. Check out how WordPress has been doing compared to other content management systems:
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). All this means is that it’s a platform that is used for the creation and management of online content. There are many different types of content management systems, but what sets WordPress apart is that you can use it without having any real technical knowledge. There is a slight learning curve, but to use the main features of WordPress, you don’t need to have any developer experience at all.
Another interesting thing about WordPress is that it’s an open-source software, meaning no one owns it. Instead, a community of developers work on it together and release it to the general public for free. The first version of WordPress was launched in 2003, but there have been countless updates since.
Currently, WordPress operates as a non-profit organization under the name WordPress Foundation. The original founder, Matt Mullenweg, established this foundation to protect the WordPress name and also to protect its status as open-source software. That WordPress is free to use, does not generate a profit, yet is used by millions of people around the world is part of what makes the software so interesting. It’s hard to find something equally as altruistic in today’s world.
It’s hard to underestimate the role of WordPress, but its main function in the development of the internet has been in making it easier for people to start a website. In the early days of the internet, to build a site that was pleasing to look at and that worked was hard work. One needed some highly-technical skills and a lot of patience, two things most people don’t have. So, when WordPress came along, it filled a void in the market by making it ultra-easy for everyday people to launch and build a website.
In this sense, we could argue that WordPress has helped make the internet the free and open space that it is. The software helped remove many of the barriers to entry when it came to the internet, allowing more people to voice their opinion or launch that business they’ve always wanted to launch.
Today, WordPress continues to grow in popularity, which means we can expect it to continue to impact the internet as we move forward and become more digital. However, how the internet will affect WordPress remains an unanswered question. Up until now, it has managed to retain its free and open philosophy, but it’s worth wondering if that may someday become too difficult to maintain. Let’s hope not.
To give you some context on just how big WordPress is in today’s world, here are some interesting facts about the CMS software that all but powers the Web.
In fact, it isn’t even really much of a competition.
There are at least another 20 options in the “Everyone Else” category and they control less than 25 percent of the market. As a result, WordPress clearly has a monopoly. Since it is a non-profit foundation, and also because it is free and so easy to use, not many people seem to mind the fact that the CMS market is dominated by essentially one entity.
This number is actually from a few years ago, so it’s likely to be even higher in 2019, which shows just how popular WordPress is when it comes to building a website. It’s gotten to the point where those interested in launching a website almost automatically assume they need to have WordPress to do it. Of course, this isn’t entirely true, but it’s pretty true considering how much control WordPress has over the CMS market.
Originally, WordPress was only offered in English, but as it began to grow, it was offered in more and more languages. Now, full versions of WordPress are available in over 60 languages. The most common are: English, Chinese, Spanish, Indonesian. Portuguese, French, German, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, and Bengali.
There are translated versions available in many more languages, but they are incomplete. In fact, in 2014, non-English language WordPress downloads surpassed English downloads, demonstrating just how quickly WordPress is spreading around the globe.
In addition to WordPress versions, content is published on WordPress in more than 120 languages, with the most popular being English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Indonesian.
This stat refers just to the site WordPress.org, not to the many blogs that use WordPress. On WordPress.org, users can get help by asking questions in support forums, read tips, download the newest version, and donate to the WordPress foundation. This level of traffic makes WordPress one of the more popular sites in the world, and it demonstrates how large the global WordPress community is.
When we look at monthly views on WordPress blogs, we can see even more the impact WordPress has had on the internet. To give you an idea of the scale of WordPress traffic, consider that 409 million monthly views is roughly equivalent to what the site Reddit gets. Currently, Reddit is the 17th most popular website in the world, according to the Alexa Top Sites ranking.
WordPress blogs can generate this kind of traffic because WordPress bloggers are active and engaged. This stat comes from WordPress and it shows how frequently people are posting content to WordPress. The map found here shows where this activity is coming from. Zoom in on your area to see who is posting near you.
Just to further drive home how much of a role WordPress plays in today’s internet, consider that around a third of the web is using the software. At first glance, this might not seem overwhelmingly impressive, as it means two-thirds aren’t using the software, but we need to keep in mind that not every website uses third-party content management systems. Many companies pay to have their own created, which is why it’s more important to focus on WordPress’ share of the CMS market. However, that 34 percent of the web is on WordPress is still impressive.
WordPress is not used just by bloggers and small businesses. Many major companies rely on it for their own websites. Some examples include the New Yorker, CNN, TED, Disney, Target, Microsoft, and PlayStation. There are also several large universities, such as Harvard, the University of Berlin, and the University of Melbourne, among many, many others.
This may come as one of the most surprising facts about WordPress considering how popular it is and how valuable it would be if it generated revenue. The original WordPress founders created the software to make it easier for people to build websites, not so that they could get rich. They have been able to maintain this philosophy to the current day, which means the people who work on WordPress to make it better receive no salary. WordPress does solicit donations, but these are 100 percent voluntary.
Here is a great example of how WordPress really has changed the internet. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge part of most companies’ marketing strategy. It’s the process of creating content that performs well in search engines to drive more traffic.
There are a lot of things that go into determining how well you do with SEO, but Google executives have pointed to the fact that using WordPress helps solve 80-90 percent of the crawling issues Google faces, meaning using WordPress makes it easier for you to rank on Google. This is by itself a good reason for anyone looking to build a successful website to use WordPress over any other CMS.
The latest version, WordPress 5.2, was released on May 7 2019 and has 26 million downloads at the time of writing (the end of June 2019.) A new version is released roughly every six months, but many of these updates are designed to fix small bugs or other issues. However, once every year or so, WordPress releases a much larger update. Interestingly, all versions of WordPress are named after famous jazz musicians. The first version was named after Miles Davis, and the latest version is called “Jaco” after Jaco Pastorius.
Here is an example of how the internet has changed WordPress. Basically, to try and generate some revenue, original WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg launched the company Automattic, and its principle entity was WordPress.com. This service offered an all-in-one blogging experience that included hosting (something WordPress.org doesn’t do) for a monthly fee. Themes are limited and must be bought, and other features are put behind paywalls. WordPress.org aims to always be free, and the company Automattic makes contributions to the WordPress Foundation, but the two are entirely separate entities.
Plugins are software patches that allow you to do more with WordPress. Some of them analyze your content, others provide extra layers of security, and some simply let you design better menus and tables. Many people charge for these, but others are free.
Currently, there are more than 55,000 plugins you can download, but this number is constantly growing. This is a great example of how WordPress has opened up new opportunities in the world of software and web development.
Since WordPress is such a massive operation, one might think it has a massive team behind it making it work. Remember that WordPress is created by volunteers and offered for free, so the group responsible for making it is rather small. Right now, there are fewer than 1,000 people working on WordPress. To give you an idea, Amazon, which gets roughly the same number of page views per month, has more than half a million employees. Granted, they do very different things, but it’s kind of incredible to think that such a significant piece of software is run by such a small group of people.
If one person were to work on WordPress by themselves, it would take then 151 years of work to complete the project. Of course, there were many more people helping to build WordPress, but it’s fun to think about how much went into the development of this software so many people use today. And to think they did it for free!
Thanks to the ubiquity of WordPress, there is a lot of demand for people who know how to work it beyond the surface level and build truly unique and exciting websites. This includes designing custom layouts and designs beyond what is available via various, and they also help create unique plugins and other special features for your site. Of course, you can do some stuff on your own as WordPress is meant to be easy to use but to take things to the next level, you sometimes need a professional. Because of this, one can earn a pretty decent living by helping other people build their WordPress sites. The lower end of the range is $20/hour, but many WordPress developers make up to $100/hour for their services.
Lastly, WordPress has helped bring people together all around the world. In 2017 alone, there were more than 4,000 WordPress meetups in cities around the world, and there were 128 WordCamps, which are essentially conventions for people involved in WordPress. This shows how the software is helping to not only bring people together digitally but also bring them together physically. How nice.
It’s hard to find a piece of software that is more influential than WordPress. It’s used by millions of people all around the world, and because it’s so good, and also because it’s free, it will likely continue to be the CMS of choice for years to come. But no matter what happens, we can always be grateful for WordPress for making it easier for us to build websites, connect with one another, and turn the internet into what it was always meant to be: a safe space for free speech and uncensored self-expression.