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What I Learned About WordPress in the Past 10 Years

On May 27, 2018, WordPress will turn 15 years old. It has been amazing to see a software platform like WordPress, which is relatively young, grow to power over 30% of the entire internet. WebDevStudios is also celebrating a milestone. We just turned 10. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve learned about WordPress over the past decade.

Community is everything

When I first started dabbling in WordPress, I really knew nothing in terms of how it worked. As any good programmer does, I started to dig into the various code files and began to hack away! Hacking at a software package you don’t understand quickly leads to searching for answers. I found myself in various support forums, and even chat rooms (IRC), learning from other developers. Over time my question-asking turned into question-answering as I grew more familiar with the platform.

In 2009, I attended my first WordCamp, which is an all-day conference geared toward WordPress topics. I was met with passionate people who were very outgoing in helping each other. I quickly learned that the WordPress Community was not only very approachable but also extremely helpful. Random internet strangers were quick to help answer a question or debug some code that wasn’t working, in hopes of helping with my questions.

Over the years, I’ve made a number of very close friends all over the country because of WordPress. The WordPress Community truly is amazing and a major reason why the software is so popular today.

WordPress Fist Pumping at WordCamp Chicago 2010 from Brad Williams on Vimeo.

 

User Experience is very important

User Experience (UX) has been a core focus of WordPress from the beginning. Users always came first and every major decision around WordPress had the user in mind. I firmly believe that this laser focus on UX is a big reason why WordPress is the dominant CMS that it is today. While other platforms were more developer focused, the WordPress team knew that users would only adopt a system that was easy and intuitive to use.

When building websites with WordPress, we strive to build things the “WordPress way.” This means we focus on the user experience of all custom features and enhancements to give our clients the best possible experience as a user. UX should never be an afterthought, but a part of the conversation from the start and WordPress is a perfect example of that.

Shedding negative perceptions is tough

WordPress is insecure. WordPress can’t scale. WordPress is only a blogging platform.

These negative perceptions of WordPress have existed for years, but anyone who has worked closely with the platform knows they are completely untrue. Time and time again, WordPress has been proven to be secure, extremely performant, and far beyond a simple blogging system. WordPress is trusted by some of the biggest brands in the world like Microsoft, Disney, Starbucks, Comcast, and even the U.S. Government. These institutions aren’t known for randomly trusting a piece of software without fully vetting it from a security, performance, legal, and workflow standpoint.

WordPress IS secure. WordPress CAN scale. WordPress IS a content management system.

These are facts and the industry proves it every single day.

It was never us vs. them

Competition is good, right? Years ago, when I first started using WordPress, there were a number of other platforms that were considered ‘competitors.’ Among these platforms were open-source projects like Drupal and Joomla!. It was easy to brag about how much better WordPress was over Drupal. There are literally tens of thousands of discussions on the internet arguing over which platform is better. As WordPress grew in usage, it made that argument seemingly easier, since WordPress was now the number-one platform on the internet.

What we all should have realized, and still need to remember is…

It was never us vs. them.

Open-source software is just that, open, meaning the source code should be available for anyone to freely use, redistribute, and modify. As strong believers in open-source, we should champion all open-source projects. Drupal is not bad because it’s not WordPress. Drupal is an amazing platform that has a proven track record on the internet. If a potential client decides to use Drupal over WordPress, I don’t view that as a loss for WordPress, but rather a win for open-source. I think we can all agree that is a very good thing.

The web is always evolving

Technology and the web will never stop evolving. If you think what you know today is what you will be using in a few years, you are in for a big surprise. For this very reason, you always need to stay on top of new web technologies. When WebDevStudios was founded in 2008, ‘responsive web design’ didn’t exist. WordPress themes were created for desktop, and the common mobile experience was either a separate mobile website or a mobile plugin that would optimize your content for viewing on a mobile device. Today responsive design is the standard and you would never consider launching a website that isn’t fully responsive.

JavaScript is another great example of the technology evolution of WordPress. jQuery was the JS library of choice for years and is even included in the core of WordPress. More recently, the React JavaScript library has become the dominant JS framework for new WordPress development and projects like Gutenberg.

To stay relevant in the web design and development industry, it’s vital to stay ahead of web technologies.

Not every decision will be popular

WordPress is open-source software and therefore is created by a community of individuals all over the world. Every feature included in WordPress is generally thoroughly discussed, pros and cons are weighed, and ultimately a decision is made to either include in the core of WordPress software or not. Not every decision made will be one you agree with. There are plenty of features included in WordPress that I don’t agree with. Post Formats is a perfect example of this. I don’t have to agree with every decision to agree that WordPress is the best platform on the internet today.

The best way to have a voice is to get involved in the discussion. Contributing to the core of WordPress software is highly encouraged and very easy to do.

Open-source is (still) the future

When we launched WebDevStudios, we made a decision to primarily focus on open-source software. In 2011, we made the decision to focus on a specific platform, which was WordPress. Seven years later, I don’t regret that decision for one minute. WordPress has grown in amazing ways since then and continues to be a solid choice for all types of websites and web applications.

Open-source software is (still) the future and WordPress will continue to play a major role in helping shape the internet for years to come.

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