I love WordPress. In fact, I think it can save the world. Even if you’re not as enthusiastic about WordPress as me, I want to convince you that it’s a force for good in the world and a communication platform of inestimable value for the world’s emerging economies.
What is WordPress? WordPress is a great way to get your content online. It’s web software you can use to power your own blog or website. From humble beginnings as a blogging platform, it’s evolved both in terms of number of users (more than 20% of the world’s websites run WordPress, including this one) and its capabilities.
So what can it do? Pretty much anything any website can do. WordPress is super-modular – it’s built to be extended and enhanced. You can choose from hundreds of thousands of themes (free and paid for) which control how WordPress looks and behaves and further customise your site with thousands of plugins (again, free and paid for). By combining themes and plugins with WordPress and some know-how, you can build forums, shops, web communities, complex data capture, geo-located content, crowd-sourcing platforms and pretty much any other manner of website or blog you can imagine.
So what? WordPress is a tool that helps people build things online. People love to build things – our instinct for creativity is one of our finest attributes.
The kicker is that it’s free. Free, Open Source Software. Owned by the community, developed for and by the community. That means anyone, anywhere can download it, hack it, use it and purpose it for their own needs. It’s a free, creative canvas for the digital age.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s incredibly cheap and easy to host too. Even for a handful of dollars a month you can find a hosting provider that will give you a one-click install process for WordPress. You can even run it on a Raspberry Pi. From there, the world’s your oyster. Start a store. Start a campaign. Make it accessible to anyone else that’s online. And that’s what makes it such an incredible tool for the world’s emerging economies: the power of communication. The ability to contribute what you know, want, have or need to the global economy.
What about some other reasons?
* Resilience. As long as you keep your WordPress site backed up, you can move it’s contents, files, data between infinite hosting providers quickly and easily
* Censorship. Which country is going to block Twitter next? Or YouTube? With WordPress, all a censor can do is block individual domains and The Pirate Bay has shown us how difficult that is to do
* Privacy. WordPress gives you the power to control your data and content’s privacy. Make it as secure as you like. Unless there’s a so-far-undocumented zero day security flaw in WordPress, the only way that snoopers can read your private communications is through determined, individual attack on your single site. That’s just not economical in comparison to NSA programs like PRISM and Muscular
* Connectivity. WordPress is ultra-connected. You can publish by email, app, web or API, to web, social media, email and other platforms. You can read new content on-site or by RSS and typically also through syndicated social media or email marketing channels
*The future. WordPress is out-growing its competitors, and the gap is predicted to grow. More people using WordPress = more development time = better WordPress.
And if all that sounds a bit lefty, let’s talk about the economics of WordPress. The WordPress hosting market alone is estimated at a cool $2bn globally (I don’t have a quotable source for this, sorry, but the guy that told me, he would know). There’s a great write-up about the economics of WordPress here from a couple of years ago that’s still relevant now. Building things with WordPress makes a lot of people a great living – from designers to consultants to developers and everything in between. Top WordPress theme authors selling on Themeforest have sold over $1million of downloads. WordPress-based businesses like WordPress.com, WP Engine and WooThemes are thriving, careless of global recession.
For me, one of the most fascinating aspects of WordPress is the licensing. It’s free, GPL-licensed software. So how on earth can anyone make any money from it? Through differentiation on service, support and innovation. Make a good WordPress plugin that solves a problem for a lot of people, support it well and the world is your oyster. Look at WooCommerce. First released in 2011, by 2014 it’s powering more than 10% of the world’s ecommerce sites.
The WordPress economy is open for business: whoever you are and wherever you live, if you’ve got access to a computer and the internet, you can be a part of it.
I live in Brighton, UK and run a specialist WordPress agency called Pragmatic. We work with clients globally to deliver top tier WordPress solutions and consultancy services. When I’m not building with WordPress, I’m either on a mountain bike, doing burpees at my local CrossFit box or drinking whisky. Rarely all three.