Morten Rand-Hendriksen |
Monday, May 18, 2015
In the fall of 2010, shortly after the release of WordPress 3.0, I spent a week building a WordPress training course for lynda.com. The months prior were spent experimenting, testing, and planning out every detail with a simple goal: Make the course that I needed when I first started using WordPress.
This was my first lynda.com course, and I hoped my WordPress training would be watched by a few hundred subscribers. Five years, four course editions, and countless minor updates later, that goal has been reached this week—by a factor of 1,000!
As WordPress Essential Training was watched by its 100,000th viewer this week, I was working on its fifth revision—so this is a perfect time to reflect on where we were, where we are now, and where we’re headed in the world of WordPress.
Before coming to lynda.com, I’d planned to write a book on WordPress for beginners. I’d just finished the fourth edition of my book on Microsoft Expression Web and learned from the experience that even the most complex concepts could be expressed in a straightforward way.
Having worked with WordPress for years, I felt that I couldn’t just help people get their work done with WordPress; they needed to understand the application well inside and out to get the most from it.
I also came to realize that, since software evolves at a breakneck pace, a book might not be the ideal medium. After brainstorming with my lynda.com content manager, we decided to create a perpetual video course on WordPress that could be updated as the software evolved.
And so, as new versions of WordPress are released and a regular stream of new features and experiences reach millions of users each year, WordPress Essential Training evolves in parallel to keep our members current, and help them and their organizations get the most out of WordPress for their blogs and websites.
Earlier this year, a conference attendee asked why I’m so passionate about WordPress. I answered flippantly that it was because “WordPress is made of people.” I’d intended to say “WordPress is made by people”—but once the words left my mouth, I realized they were also true. Let me explain.
WordPress holds over 60% of the CMS market today and powers 24% of sites on the web today. This is a steady increase, climbing more than 10% since 2011. According to Manage WP, by February 2014, WordPress powered over 74 million websites worldwide (split about 50/50 between self-hosted WordPress sites and sites hosted at WordPress.com).
WordPress’ GPL license is held by “the contributors,” meaning anyone can download, alter, distribute, and contribute to WordPress however they choose. The result is a robust publishing application that evolves to fit the needs and whims of its users and pushes the boundaries of both what a CMS can be, and how open-source software can impact the world.
And WordPress is indeed impacting the world. At WordCamp San Francisco last year, project lead Matt Mullenweg announced that non-English installations of WordPress now outnumber English installations. WordPress has successfully lowered the barrier to self-publishing worldwide through its strong internationalization and accessibility.
WordPress has also spawned a thriving ecosystem of third-party products: integrated applications, themes, and plugins; specialized backup, security, and development services; B2B integration services; even specialized hosting and SaaS platforms have placed their roots in the WordPress community.
This massive rise in WordPress’ popularity can be attributed to one thing: WordPress is made of people. Its strength comes from the engaged, rapidly growing community that builds, maintains, and uses it.
In the five years since WordPress Essential Training was published, WordPress’ rapid evolution has been both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. I recently published an article on my blog discussing the challenges of building businesses upon the quickly evolving WordPress platform.
In 2010, WordPress was primarily a blogging tool with a handful of CMS features. With the much anticipated WP-API allowing more customization options to today’s third-party developers, WordPress has graduated from a publishing app to a robust publishing platform.
While this evolution fosters a diverse community of users and cements WordPress as a professional publishing platform, it also risks disenfranchising its core market: novices needing to build a blog or small website for their businesses.
Answering every need with a common set of tools and interface could become WordPress’ Achilles heel: It’s now becoming more intimidating for new users, too. But WordPress.com has taken this challenge head on and aims to simplify the hosted publishing process for consumers. I’m hopeful we’ll see WordPress core further diversify in the future and adapt to the wide-ranging needs of its user base.
In the meantime, WordPress’ core principles and standards for usability, broad distribution, and openness are rock-solid. The WordPress community continues to grow, and everyone using it helps shape its future directions. Amidst all this activity you’ll find me keeping WordPress Essential Training current as we build our WordPress-powered websites.
To celebrate the 100,000th view of WordPress Essential Training at lynda.com, we’re opening up the course for free for an entire month (through June 18) so everyone can see why I’ve become so passionate about WordPress.
Tags: Morten Rand-Hendriksen, WordPress
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