It is all too easy to take WordPress for granted.
After all — you have to pay for most good things in life. The chair you’re sitting in, the operating system your computer is running on, many of the apps you use, and so on. WordPress is powerful enough to run just about any site you could ever dream of, and yet it is available to you free of charge.
But let’s not get too carried away. WordPress is free, and that is awesome. But is it the best solution? How often do you actually ponder whether or not one of the many free alternatives out there is a superior option? WordPress may be the most popular Content Management System (CMS) out there, but that does not necessarily make it the best.
So — why use WordPress? What specific benefits does it offer that elevate it above the competition? Let’s see!
Ease of Use
I’m no design or programming expert. I built my own HTML sites back in the late 90s, but it was always pretty simple stuff, and these days I definitely couldn’t design a site from scratch without first burying my head in some books.
But advanced HTML and CSS knowledge (let alone PHP programming skills) is simply not necessary for WordPress users. If you can use a word processor then you can learn to use WordPress.
However, its ease of use belies its complexity and potential — advanced users are able to improve and customize to their heart’s content. Install in minutes, publish in seconds, and customize with ease. It’s all possible with WordPress.
No post such as this would be complete without homage to the beating heart of WordPress — its open source status.
No one person or entity “owns” WordPress. There is no corporation that dictates its future based upon shareholder’s interests or profiteering aims. Instead, it is developed by an enormous community of extremely talented people, and anyone is welcome to take part.
It doesn’t matter if you are completely new to WordPress and have no particular expertise — you can still get involved.
As I alluded to in my previous point, WordPress is powered by an absolutely enormous community of designers, developers, testers and users.
It is estimated that there are in excess of 72 million WordPress sites in existence, and nearly 15% of the top million sites in the world run on our favorite CMS. That kind of manpower and demand is unparalleled and arguably impossible to compete with.
WordPress is essentially one of the world’s biggest crowdsourcing projects. There are literally millions of people all around the world contributing to its ongoing development. In practical terms that translates into a product with mass appeal and awesome functionality.
Themes and Plugins
Speaking of mass appeal and awesome functionality, WordPress is basically a platform upon which almost any conceivable website can be built.
The WordPress.org theme and plugin repositories offer up literally tens of thousands of themes and plugins — completely free of charge. Our themes and plugins of the month series gives you an idea of the depth of quality that is on offer.
And that’s not to mention the premium offerings available. Although there are a gobsmacking number of quality free themes and plugins available, you can expect an even higher level of functionality and support from premium versions…
Pay for What You Need
…which leads me onto my next point. You can set up your own self-hosted WordPress site having paid for nothing more than a domain name and some hosting, and you can then utilize free themes and plugins to kit out your site as you see fit. It’s bootstrapping paradise.
However, if you do decide to take the leap and invest some money in premium products, you only need to pay for exactly what you need. If you have a specific requirement, the chances are that a theme or plugin has been developed to offer an excellent solution.
WooCommerce is an excellent example of this — a completely free eCommerce plugin with a selection of premium add-ons that you can purchase as required:
And this is merely one example of the extensibility and flexibility of offerings available to WordPress users. Pay for what you need and nothing more.
There is little chance that you will ever plan to build something that WordPress cannot handle. We’ve just taken a peek at what’s possible in terms of producing an eCommerce site in WordPress, but that’s just scratching the surface.
In essence, scale is not an issue. For evidence of that look no further than the likes of Mashable and TechCrunch, which both run on WordPress. Or instead consider WordPress.com — a single multisite installation of WordPress that runs some 35 million sites.
For your purposes, WordPress almost definitely has no ceiling. What works for you today will also work under circumstances of exponential growth.
It’s More Than Just a Blogging Platform
Think WordPress is just for websites? Think again.
More and more developers are using WordPress as a viable basis for web apps. If it’s not Hello Bar, it is of course none other than our very own ManageWP service. When it came to developing a complex app that would enable people to manage a huge number of WordPress sites, it only seemed logical to us that we would use WordPress itself.
I am sure that imaginative minds will create some truly awesome things in the future using nothing more than a WordPress installation and their own genius. With essentially unlimited extensibility and flexibility, the sky is the limit.
Finally, I want to focus on something personal to me, and something that we will be talking about more on the ManageWP blog in the future.
The huge popularity of WordPress has essentially created a whole new industry. If it weren’t for WordPress, I don’t know where I would be today. I certainly wouldn’t be the editor of this blog, and I don’t know what kind of shape my own blog would be in. My freelance writing career was built on my knowledge of WordPress — who knows where I would be without it.
Whether you’re a writer, graphic artist, developer, designer, blogger, or one of many other disciplines, WordPress offers great opportunities. It enables you to create a career when it otherwise might not have been possible.
WordPress can literally change lives. Once a piece of software is able to have that kind of an impact, you know that it is truly great.