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WordPress rides the open source juggernaut

Eight years after it was started by a 19-year-old college freshman as a blogging software, WordPress now powers 14.7 percent of the world’s top one million websites. It is used in 55 million websites.

In his annual State of The Word address last week, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg also said the open source content management system (CMS) now runs 22 out of every 100 new websites created in the US.

The velocity in WordPress adoption and its dominance illustrate the strength of the open source model, where the community is involved in the development of the software. It is not a coincidence that the top open source CMS packages today, WordPress and Drupal, also have the most active developer and user communities.

Matt Mullenweg giving his State of the Word 2011 address
Matt Mullenweg giving his State of the Word 2011 address.

Not just for blogging

WordPress is no longer just a blogging system but a full-fledged and powerful CMS. A survey of 18,000 WordPress users and developers shows that only eight percent use WordPress purely as a blog. At least 61 percent use WordPress as a CMS and 31 percent use it as a combination of blog and CMS.

With the availability of WordPress, it no longer makes business sense to 1) use a proprietary system to run your website and 2) pay for a CMS or for someone to build you one, unless you truly have unique needs. Your money is better spent on a developer using WordPress.

Company, government and news websites, jobs portals and resume databanks, online magazines, classified ads systems and even gaming companions can all be built easily and for free on WordPress.

I’ve been studying and using open source CMS for 11 years now, starting with PHPNuke, and two of its many forks, Postnuke (now Zikula) and Xaraya. After I left the PHPNuke ecosystem, I then tried in no particular order and at varying degrees of usage Pivotlog, Typo3, eZ Publish, Nucleus CMS and its fork Blog:CMS, Serendipity, Mambo CMS and its progeny Joomla, TextPattern, Campsite (now Newscoop), Habari, Plone and Drupal.

After all these years and CMS packages, I can confidently say that from both a developer’s and user’s points of view, none can match WordPress in ease of use, customization and extensibility in content and website management. In extensibility, only Drupal does it better than WordPress. If you want to do something with your website, chances are WordPress, and any of its 15,000 free plugins, can already do it.

Sites using WordPress

WordPress runs the UK prime minister’s website and various government offices in the United States and throughout the world. It also runs various sections and blogs of The New York Times, CNN, Wall Street Journal, CBS, Yahoo! and Reuters.

With the inclusion of post formats last year, WordPress was finally able to match Drupal in meeting publishers’ needs. The decision by the New York Observer to migrate from Drupal to WordPress is considered this year’s open source CMS coup.

Locally, WordPress runs the main Philippine Government portal at It also runs, the country’s most visited news website, according to Google Trends For Websites. At a very close second and on its way to grabbing the top spot is, which uses Drupal.

When your business decides to put up a website (you cannot afford not to have one), your best bet is to use WordPress. If your current site is all but dead because no one in your company can maintain it, having been built by a developer you no longer have access to, your best move is to rebuild the site using WordPress.

WordPress is not only easy to use and deploy, it is also a light CMS that is easy to maintain and update. Even your retiring company president who just discovered e-mail can, with sufficient user permissions, update your site and close security holes on a click of a mouse.