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When I had to pick a CMS for my first blog in 2005, it was a different world. It seemed that anybody who had read a PHP tutorial had also subsequently written their own CMS. There were just so many! And there was no clear winner, but there was WordPress 1.5.
WordPress had only been around for 2 years, but it looked very promising already. I don’t remember there being one distinct reason, but I do remember that the clean and straightforward approach was what made it stand out from the others.
One little bit of proof of this: the WordPress admin backend looks (to me) pretty much the same as it did back in 2005. Which says a lot about someone making the right design choices from the get go (or: making the right incremental improvements without breaking UX).
Automattic and Matt
I value the open web. And it is clear to me that the open en free web needs an open and free CMS. This is an integral part of it. And with the presence WordPress now has; it is a vital cornerstone of the open web. But there are and were dozens of CMS, most even older than WordPress, all clawing for the number one spot. Which is great and exactly the freedom the open web provides and thrives on. But it does raise the question what exactly it is that made WordPress take the number one spot? I can only speak from my own experience that using WordPress is a joy, and more people probably have that same experience. And yes, I have used others and still sometimes have to, for various reasons. And every time I do I am reminded just how wonderfully elegant WordPress is. And I don’t want to overanalyze, but I would suggest this elegance has a lot to do with Matt Mullenweg. The creator of WordPress.
Matt comes across as a very level-headed guy with a clear vision. A vision that has enabled him to grow out this GPL (open en free) product of him into a billion dollar company with over 500 employees (yes, that’s possible!). He is around the same age as that other multi-billion-dollar company guy, but I would think the similarities end there. One guy provides free and open technology to enable people to express themselves, the other provides technology for free (which is quite different) that people use so his company can sell more ads (yes, I am deliberately putting it somewhat bluntly).
So it was a no-brainer when I had to pick a CMS for this blog. However I also like experimenting, and static site generators are all the rage right now and they certainly do have an appeal. And mainly for two reasons: speed and security. But WordPress is fast enough for my needs, so there goes that reason. And also WordPress itself is pretty rock solid. Most security problems are related to third party plugins, not the core. (I 💖 the auto-update feature that WordPress introduced in version 3.7). And lastly there are just so *many* great, free templates available for WordPress, that no static site generator could compete (yet). So, I’ll stick with WordPress, which is amazing!
So here’s to Matt and Automattic 🥂. Thanks for keeping the web open, free and empowering the people!
Also published on Medium.