I have been using websites as diaries for a very long time… far longer, in fact, than has been practical. I used to hand-code my journal entries in html and then upload them onto the uberhaus.com site almost every night. It was a laborious process, but I got a lot of satisfaction from it. Bear in mind that this was in 1997, the real “olden days” when we thought the world was going to change and everything would be free and open and computer monitors looked more like console TVs than what we have today. (Grapnel’s Bryan White actually was far ahead of the curve, coding a pioneer blogging CMS 1n 1998 for his site Disturbance–but that’s another story).
1997 was the year in which Evan Williams coined the term “blog” and came out with his content management system, Blogger. Anyone could post an online journal, and no coding was required. No HTML. No FTP. It was free, too, so suddenly, everybody with an opinion was willing (if not able) to write their every thought and feeling that would (hopefully) be read by countless millions. Or at least a few dozen, for Blogger had a very loyal community in its early days, and the golden rule was pretty universal. Blog unto others and they will blog unto you. Most of the early bogs were pretty forgettable, and the writers abandoned them after a while. The graveyard of dead websites is well-populated with orphaned blogs.
Still, the standouts developed huge followings, and what we now know as social media was born. Movable Type and TypePad followed in Blogger’s stead, and a real industry began taking off. Blogs became a legitimate (if not accurate) news source, and the advent of the more immediate platforms of Facebook, Twitter and their ilk only spread the influence.
So where did WordPress come in?
One of the more successful early entries was B2, an open source content management system that utilized PHP and mySQL in a slick combination that allowed users to customize the look and feel of their sites without sacrificing functionality. However, you had to know what you were doing, so much of the non-technical bloggers were stuck with limited customization.
Then, in 2003, a “fork” of B2/Cafelog was released by a couple of guys named Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. They called it WordPress. WordPress was different because it included not only a user-friendly content management system but also a plug-in architecture and template system. Now non-technical users could not only choose how their site looked; they could decide how it WORKED.
And that’s not all. Remember, WordPress was (and is) open source. That means anyone could develop for it. Designers. Programmers. Marketers. Yep. I said marketers.
You see, WordPress is much more than a blogging system. It is a rethinking of the way in which websites are constructed. It is truly modular, allowing specific selection of elements based on whatever criteria you set up. Mobile site? Done. SEO heavy? No problem. Landing pages? Yes indeed.
You see, WordPress doesn’t just separate the content of a website from the presentation (a standard website best practice for many years). WordPress is completely modular: every element of the site can be separately controlled and modified without affecting the site as a whole. You can have one set of content with multiple creators and editors that is automatically delivered to users in the format they need at the moment, be it an iPad or a 72″ flat screen monitor. It can be used for commerce, for presentation, for data display, as a gallery, as a projector… pretty much anything you can think of.
And because it’s open source, there are literally hundreds of new plug-ins every week, not to mention a huge array of themes and designs. Many are free, but some of the more advanced components can get expensive (but still a fraction of the cost of custom development). Bryan and I have been involved in all kinds of installation of WordPress from huge multi-pronged sites to simple blog/portfolios.
If you’re interested in weighing the pros and cons of a WordPress installation, feel free to drop us a line. We’re happy to answer any of your questions.