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Sloan the DEV Moderator
Sloan the DEV Moderator

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Explain Wordpress' popularity like I'm five

I've never really understood Wordpress's popularity, can someone explain all the reasons it has such a huge userbase?

Top comments (19)

ahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

As someone who spent the last 12 years with WordPress — contributing to most of the things like WordPress Core, default themes, it's REST API, and now Gutenberg — I think I can explain it very well.

  • WordPress is free
  • WordPress was the cool kid in town during the time of recession — we had our own open source version control setup with SVN and stuff (when I think there was no GitHub at the time)
  • WordPress has done open source right in many many ways — keeping things simple

  • WordPress has a huge market space — so many job opportunities and what not

  • Except for some #WPDrama the WordPress community is pretty awesome

  • I can't in my right mind ask a non-tech person to start a blog on Gatsby or anything similar (WordPress I can)

  • As a non-tech person, you can host, manage, maintain, and run a high traffic blog/site on this battle-tested platform. That's not true for almost any other new CMS out there.

  • Let me also add it's very cheap to do so, the support is not costly, you can probably find someone in your street who can handle things with WordPress :P

Hope some of it makes sense :)

stanwmusic profile image
SWSiteDesign • Edited

Great answer. I also started using WP 12 years ago.

ahmadawais profile image
Ahmad Awais ⚡️

Awesome! 💯
Good old times. A post about PHP Contact form I wrote had gone viral in 2006 and that's how I got into the web. Clients wanted me to build their contact forms.

In 2007, when Contact Form 7 was released (that's why it's called CF7) — I fell in love with how easy it was to build forms with WordPress.

And then I started building plugins coz that was the most exciting part of WordPress. Just search and then install it and you're good to go.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Wordpress solves a common pattern for how the web has been used in the past 20 years. It's a higher layer of abstraction for creating things and can be used pretty well by technical and non-technical folks.

Different insertion points depending on expertise. It works pretty well this way.

No, it's not the greatest software in existence today, but its lasting power isn't based on nothing. Wordpress replacements do not have the ecosystem and lasting success that this solution has.

I've worked with Wordpress before and do not want to go back, but it has the strong network effect of a successful project and still backs HUGE amounts of the open web.

tux0r profile image

WordPress does nothing notably better than s9y does - they just have a better looking default theme. :)) And yes, that's why I started with it as well...

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

You have to go back 15 yrs ago, when Blogs were ruling the internet.
WP made it easy to have one.
People used it. They required more features. Features required more technical skills. Repeat the cycle for a few years.

Now you have devs that know WP and found other clients that wanted more features like e-shops and presentation websites.

Following the "if I'm a hammer everything is a nail" and the fact that WP was popular, it gained more memento.

Bottom line, I think it was because of its simplicity (of use and install), at the highest abstract layer, and it was the right product in the right moment on the right market.

Now ofc it is over used, from ecommerce to static websites to large websites.

Some would say WP is an anomaly, a nightmare that should not exists (from a tech point of view), but who are they to judge?

joehobot profile image
Joe Hobot

^ This guy blogs!

In short: We went from html static pages to easy self generated WP themes that just grew and grew.

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

I actually hated blogs and bloggers for a long time, for the same reasons I don't watch TV. In its glory it became a hate&marketing fest. Most recently I realized I can use it as a tech-communication tool and started to love what I hate.

And maybe when Blogs were ruling the internet. it is an understatement, the top bloggers I knew bought houses and business based on their blogs. It was a very successful business back then!

Thread Thread
joehobot profile image
Joe Hobot

I sold mine for 6 figures (back then)

bennypowers profile image
Benny Powers 🇮🇱🇨🇦

Following the "if I'm a hammer everything is a nail" and the fact that WP was popular, it gained more memento.

Did you say "Magento"?

/me shudders

cjbrooks12 profile image
Casey Brooks

A major reason why Wordpress is popular is because of excellent timing. It came out and solved a problem (easy Website content management for non-technical folks) in a revolutionary way. Its Famous 5-minute installation demonstrates that it is a tool created explicitly for the end-user, and this has always been its focus, and it started with this vision at a time when the normal process of updating a website involved hand-editing static HTML/PHP files, and a lot of manual work to upload to the production server via FTP. Wordpress wasn't the first to create a system where websites could be managed entirely from the web (in fact, it started just as a fork of the b2/cafelog CMS), but it did manage to come out at the right time and offer the best solution for this problem at that time.

As a tool for the end-user, they have continued to see great success all the way up until today. They created a for-profit company,, where users can get set up with Wordpress without even needing to install it themselves. Users add plugins and themes from an easy-to-use marketplace, and because of the way Wordpress is set up internally, they all work together reasonably well. And because of its rich history and the prominence of the name "Wordpress", clients just want to use Wordpress, not other systems. Webmasters have been managing Wordpress sites for years, and they don't want to take the time to learn other systems, even if other systems (from a developer's perspective) seems like a much better match.

I have experimented with several other CMSs, and while there are some really great ones out there, the fact is that none of them really have an ecosystem large enough for a non-technical person to actually build the website they want. Wordpress is still really the only viable solution for a non-technical individual. The other CMSs that have seen great adoption all focus more on the developer than the end-user, which isn't a bad thing, but it does limit their usefulness to the broader population.

9130khz profile image

When Wordpress first came about, setting up your own website was a nightmare. I remember people who had an entire side job out of installing Movable Type. Wordpress was one of the first powerful (and very extensible) that came with a really easy (relatively) install path.

It was pretty easy for people to make plug-ins for too which allowed people to expand it from just a blog into a powerful CMS. This helped it grow quite a bit, but it's also why it has a bad reputation for security (another day another Wordpress security hole). But it was the right product at the right time so it got huge.

dbelyaeff profile image
Dmitriy Belyaev

Will try to be short.

It's much more easier to install some plugin or theme than to write it manually in case of using framework or vanilla technology.

Beautiful sites can be created with Wordpress in lack of optimization. Recently I've seen very nice-looking WP site which homepage has been loading for… 30 seconds. At 100Mbps internet connection 🔥In 2018.

thinsoldier profile image

I've seen longer loading square space sites recently too.

aftertheboop profile image
Rory M

As an (almost) full-time, 90% custom-code Wordpress developer, I feel the main reason for its popularity and staying power is how extendable it is. It began, and still remains a blogging platform at its core, but can be expanded, enhanced and modified to be a full-blown CMS, have e-commerce functionality, handle CRM/leads or even just work as a way of organising data for a json API with very little tinkering under the hood.

It gets a bad rap because it's "jack-of-all-trades" requirements for themes cause a massive amount of bloat, poor optimization and hacky implementation (even if the frontend looks beautiful); never mind security risks due to poorly built third-party plugins. But, if you do a Wordpress build with a laser focus and custom code the necessary template files yourself, it's an efficient and effective way for non-technical teams to manage large amounts of data without overbearing training documentation.

The very basic requirements and simple config and setup (in comparison to something like Drupal or Joomla) make Wordpress easy to understand and very effective when extended.

patricktingen profile image
Patrick Tingen

Especially in the beginning, WP was more or less like Apple: it just worked. In 2006 I wanted a replacement for my blog that was based on e107. I wanted to move away from e107 because of a lack of development. I tried Joomla first, but since I had no experience with CMS's I just had no clue how to get it working. Even getting a 'hello, world' post was a drama. I had to create a blog post type first, had to create user groups, blog post type groups thingies, link both to each other, add authorisation and blog post view type thingie membership linking and what not. In short: it didn't make me happy.

Then I tried WP and within 3 minutes I had my 'hello world' post. Those 3 minutes were mainly so long because I stared a full 2 minutes at the screen - with my mouth open, unwilling to believe it could really be that simple - before I hit the 'publish' button.

I never switched again.

thinsoldier profile image


Works fine on the cheapest shared hosting (usually with 1 click install)

Instant CRUD

Lots of free templates (most, but not all, allow freely swapping betwen templates with no negative side effects as often as you want)

Very user friendly Administration UI.
I personally think this is the #1 thing about Wordpress and all that php haters should have to do is use a more "popular" programming language to replicate this UI and make it shared hosting friendly to capture at least 20% of the wordpress developers.

ferkungamaboobo profile image
Doug R. Thomas, Esq.

For me as a dev, there are 3 big reasons:

  1. There are a lot of users, who have made posts that are easily google-able.
  2. The documentation - especially now - is top-notch and easily accessible.
  3. I can write simple documentation for clients to edit their own sites.

There just isn't another CMS that can compare for the not-particularly-technical end-user.

The entry point also was huge at the time.

tobiassn profile image
Tobias SN

You can use it to create almost any kind of site. Blog? Of course. Community site? You got it. Web shop? Not that hard. This is mostly thanks to all the awesome plugins out there.

theodesp profile image
Theofanis Despoudis

For me, it's the plethora of themes.

fyodorio profile image

It’s the easiest way to build decent web site. I made it when I knew completely nothing about web technologies, above simple web serfing 🤷‍♂️