WordPress: a poster child for open source accessibility

Yesterday May 27, 2023, was a milestone date in the history of WordPress, marking the 20th year since the first version 0.70 was publicly released on May 27, 2003.

In all, the open-source software has gone through 47 public versions over the past 20 years to its current version 6.2.2, evolving along the way from a self-hosted blogging platform into a full-blown content management system.

According to a W3Techs metrics report updated today:

WordPress is used by 63.2% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 43.1% of all websites.

W3Techs, May 28, 2023

I started blogging in 2002 on Blogspot, moving to TypePad in mid 2004, and then experimented with WordPress with version 1.2 released in May that year. I considered WordPress as potentially the platform I’d use in the long term instead of TypePad. I was particularly keen on self-hosting and being able to create my own themes. And blogrolls, the means to connect other blogs, were a big appeal for me, although they have fallen by the wayside in recent years.

The early noughties were a time when quite a few blogging platforms were emerging and jockeying for position although WordPress soon captured most imaginations especially for its open-source approach, free use, and vibrant and very keen developer community.

I think being open source from the start was crucial as it enabled anyone to become part of the whole experiment to develop a tool that anyone could freely use and add to that development. At that time other platforms, such as Movable Type that I also played with, were proprietary and, unlike WordPress, required paying license fees.

WordPress was also far easier to use by anyone who wasn’t tech-oriented or interested in how it all worked.

Openness meant extensibility and plugins, a hallmark of WordPress that lets you create something that adds functions or features to the core and that others could also use.

My experimentation during 2004-2005 led to firm plans to establish my blog presence on WordPress, with final steps in late 2005 and the migration from TypePad taking place in February 2006 to the new blog hosted on DreamHost, one of the hosting services recommended at the time by WordPress (today, my blogs are hosted with Siteground).

20 years on from the humble beginnings that characterised “the blogosphere“, we’re now poised for the next steps in the evolution of blogging among a huge array of tools and services anyone can use to express themselves online. Whether we’ll still call it blogging in the coming years is an open question.

Artificial intelligence is on everyone’s lips these days with AI tools available that let you create content for your blog, Jasper being an example that comes to mind as does ChatGPT, both good tools for researching and creating draft articles from your text prompts.

AI undoubtedly will play prominent roles in blogs and blogging in the coming years, not only in content creation but also in the behind-the-scenes aspects of software development, implementation and overall automation.

WordPress is already on this case – take a look at a concise but good explainer from the core development team in early May on current thinking about AI. The comments to the article are very much worth reading as well.

Finally, if you really want to get into the weeds of the history of WordPress, this 104-page ebook is a terrific read.

The History of WordPress ebook

Whatever the immediate future looks like, WordPress, here’s to another 20 years!

(The image at top is a copy of the header image on WordPress’ Twitter handle.)