WordPress's evolution as a web publishing platform

WordPress powers this blog. That isn’t surprising as WordPress began with the goal of providing a powerful and, indeed, free blogging platform. To be sure, it earns money from premium services but, compared with its predecessors, WordPress is an open platform that gave users and developers the power to slash, hack and design.

But now WordPress has evolved beyond just blogging. According to Forbes:

Today WordPress powers one of every 6 websites on the Internet, nearly 60 million in all, with 100,000 more popping up each day. Those run through its cloud-hosted service, which lets anybody create a free website online, attract 330 million visitors who view 3.4 billion pages every month.

Thus, WordPress now has incredible scale.

To give you an idea of how important WordPress has become let me recount personal experience over recent time. Regular readers may have noticed that I have a new book coming out next week. That meant it was time to update my personal and book sites from their old Parentonomics focus. After all, I was competing for attention with both JK Rowling and Stephen Colbert, so I needed some spiffy web presence.

Previously, I had used Apple’s iWeb for this purpose. It was dead easy but it suffered from two problems. First, it was tied to the computer so I couldn’t update it on the fly. Second, it was no longer supported by Apple and so would continue to fall behind. So I reviewed a bunch of other options including SquareSpace and Weebly and others like them. Each had advantages but, in each case, there was some annoying feature lacking. Reluctantly, I was forced back to iWeb because it was just easy to do and still allowed a website that was satisfactory.

I was going to continue down that path when I read the Forbes article and it occurred to me that I, like those in the articles, should stop viewing WordPress as just about blogging. Now I had just finished creating a new website — Contribution Economy — that was part blog but mostly other stuff for our research project on the Economics of Knowledge Contribution and Distribution. I was pleased with how that came out. Thus, I realised that I could use WordPress to similarly power my personal and book sites.

To be sure, WordPress is harder to use than iWeb but once you have designed things and set stuff up, it is really easy to manage after that. So, world, I present to you the new Joshua Gans site, my research site and book sites for Parentonomics, Core Economics for Managers and the new book. Some are more interesting than others but that is because I was going for simplicity with some of them. The point is that WordPress allowed me to give the sites a consistent backbone as well as look and feel. In many respects, it is another big datapoint that open platforms can evolve in unexpected and important ways.

[And yes, much of the point of this post was to announce those new sites!]

4 Replies to “WordPress's evolution as a web publishing platform”

  1. WordPress, like Drupal and many others, doesn’t scale that well when you have published thousands or more pages.

    All tables get corrupted, but WP goes down with a corrupted table and shows nothing until the table is fixed. Dynamic publishing is what made WP so attractive to so many small publishers, but it what prevents WP from providng the neccessary scale.

    This is why many very large publishing websites use MoveableType or some static publishing solution.

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