Happy Birthday, WordPress! Let’s Have a Quick Tour of WordPress History and Recent Facts

Today (May 27) is WordPress's birthday. It’s been 20 years since American developer Matt Mullenweg and English developer Mike Little launched the initial version of WordPress in 2003. To mark this occasion, let's show you some of the biggest milestones in WordPress history.

According to W3Techs, WordPress empowers 43.3% of all websites on the internet- such a big achievement!

However, it's time for celebration 🎉. Be a part of this amazing journey to know how WordPress comes to its today's position.

How It All Starts with Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little

WordPress was launched by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little- WordPress history

It's a long 20 years story of two extremely talented people- Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. They launched the first version of WordPress on May 27, 2003. This open-source platform wasn't just a copy of its predecessor. Rather the partners started this program with a bigger vision of making website building easier for all.

The WordPress software is written in PHP language. Besides, it uses MySQL for maintaining the database. Christine Selleck Tremoulet suggested the name WordPress. He is a prolific blogger and a friend of Mullenweg. Later he became the co-founder of WordPress.

At first, WordPress strengthen its position as the world's most popular blogging platform.

But gradually, it became the top choice for business websites as well.

The Revolution WordPress Brings to The CMS Industry

WordPress brings revolution in web development- WordPress history

Since launched in 2003, WordPress breaks the conventional trend of web development.

The best part about WordPress is that it's free, incredibly flexible, and gives you complete design freedom. Now anyone can build different types of websites regardless of technical skill.

On top of that, new additions and continuous improvements make WordPress history more incredible. WordPress supports a rich library of interactive themes and plugins hence it enlarges the customization arena to infinity. WordPress diminishes the concept- Only programmers can build a website.

Timeline of Major Features and Events from WordPress History

It's really difficult to describe the entire journey in this short time. Here, we picked some major events from WordPress history.

2003Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little released WordPress
2005Introduced the Theme system, a modified user role system, and a new backend UI. New releases: Version 1.5 (Strayhorn), Version 2.0 (Duke)
2008Introduced the WordPress Theme Directory and today's admin dashboard through the releases of Version 2.5(Brecker), Version 2.6 (Tyner), and Version 2.7 (Coltrane)
2009Streamlined web development workflows. New releases: Version 2.8 (Baker), Version 2.9 (Carmen)
2012Introduced theme customizer & previews as well as a new media manager. New releases: Version 3.4 (Green) & Version 3.5 (Elvin)
2015Focused on mobile experience and improved responsive images and embeds. New releases: Version 4.2 (Powell), Version 4.3 (Billie) & Version 4.4 (Clifford)
2017Refined theme customizer, new gallery widget, modified text, and video widgets. New releases: Version 4.8 (Evans) & Version 4.9 (Tipton)
2018Introduced new block-based editor Gutenberg with a new default theme “Twenty Nineteen”. New releases: Version 5.0 (Bebo)
2020Focused on speed and security improvements to WordPress. New releases: Version 5.4 (Adderley), Version 5.5 (Eckstine), & Version 5.6 (Simone)
2021Simpler layout to make web development easier. New release: Version 5.7 (Esperanza). Improvement in the block system.
2022Introducing a new default theme “Twenty Twenty-Two” including many advanced admin facilities. Gutenberg's writing improvements.
2023WordPress 6.2 is released and the full site editing came out of beta.
WordPress Timeline at a Glance

How Does WordPress Industry Revive After the Covid19 Period

During the pandemic, our lives came to a standstill. At that time we saw many changes around us including in the business arena. The WordPress industry also went through a lot of changes. Like many other industries, remote work culture also got popular inside the WordPress ecosystem. Moreover, the number of freelance WordPress professionals increased significantly.

Due to unemployment, a large number of people decided to start their online businesses at that time. As you know, WordPress along with its rich library of useful plugins help anyone to build almost all type of websites. This is the reason, a large number of people choose WordPress to strengthen their online presence.

Even now in post-pandemic times, WordPress plays a vital role to start an online business. From a simple blog site with guest posting options to fully functional online stores, you can do everything with WordPress.

Another remarkable fact, WordCamp has come back to its old phase. Due to safety issues, all the WordPress events were held virtually during the Covid period. But once again WordPress enthusiasts have started meeting each other in person and contributed together to expand the industry.

matt at wordcamp asia 2023

During his discussion at WordCamp Asia 2023, Matt Mullenweg highlighted that every business needs a website and WordPress is an affordable option.

One thing I’ve found consistent during economic boon times and recessions is that we try to create more value than we capture. We provide one economic agency where people can do things themselves.

During answering a question on the growth and sustainability of open source, Matt discussed about Five For The Future (5FTF). According to him, contributing a small portion of resources back to the open-source community is crucial for its continuous development and success. He further added that open source has the potential to thrive in an economic recession.

Read About: WordCamp Europe 2022: The Biggest Reunion of WordPress Community.

WordPress Birthday: Let's Learn What Experts Thinking about WordPress Growth, Gutenberg, Full Site Editing, SEO, and More

An illustration for 20th birthday WordPress

Recently, we've talked to many developers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and influencers about WordPress. We had a set of questions for them on the occasion of WordPress's 20th birthday.

  • What are they thinking about WordPress's overall growth and market share
  • How will ‘Full Site Editing' (and Gutenberg Editor) affect the industry?
  • How effective are the recent updates of WordPress with Content Management and SEO?
  • And finally- the future of WordPress!

Let's find out what the experts think. We believe you will enjoy our initiative and this will help you be more optimistic about WordPress in the upcoming days.

Recent Drop in WordPress Market Share

“Honestly, I don’t think that the “sudden drop” in market share is unexpected or significant.
Businesses close. People are retiring. How many people have died from COVID?
How are we measuring our market share?
If businesses want to be on Squarespace, that is fine. When they need scale, WordPress will be here with open arms.
I think it is also notable that many hosting companies have imposed sanctions against Russian and Belorussian websites. How many of them were in WordPress? Can the drop be accounted for because of sanctions?
Every market has a rise and fall.
What WordPress end users want is predictability. I would love to see major changes slow down after the release of Full Site Editing (FSE).
Backward compatibility was always one of the UVPs of WordPress. We need to get you a happy compromise with our new editor and attrition.” –Bridget Willard

Bridget Willard is a marketing consultant, especially well known for her brand building for Riggins Construction, GiveWP, and the Make WordPress Marketing Team.

WordPress Full Site Editing

“CMS like WordPress have come a long way. I remember when I was using b2/cafelog and the beginning of WordPress, when you had just a blogging platform, and manually created pages in PHP, and then created an iframe focused theme so the blog and the pages could all be under one uniform design. Years later, developers started making page builders to help code less, and design more.
This being said, even outside of WordPress, with other types of CMS, offering a page builder experience that the user can see how their site is coming together live before their eyes, has become a thing of today. There's still a lot of accessibility issues and education for the users wanting to learn CMS, but these are solvable solutions. I encourage local WordPress meetups and WordCamps to do more workshops based on different page builders, and even the Gutenberg editor.”-Nile flores

Nile flores is an expert web designer, public speaker, and WordPress developer from Centralia, Illinois. She also has expertise in graphic design.

“Full Site Editing and WordPress leaves a lot to be desired when you've been using WordPress for as long as I have transitioning from using template files and template parts and still trying to use tools like ACF require a whole new way of approaching a problem. I really wish FSE would look at the existing solutions and borrow from them. Beaver Builder and Divi have been doing full site editing for a while now and works quite well.” -Jason Tucker

Jason Tucker is a professional WordPress website developer. Also, he has over 10 years of experience in podcasting.

WordPress Content Management

“I have been in the WordPress space since 2006. Of course, a lot has changed since then, and competition is fierce. But the one thing I know, with certainty, is that the industry is wide open, and the opportunity to succeed and make good money has never been greater.” -Brian Gardner

Brian Gardner is the founder of Authentik and the first person who started selling premium themes.

“WordPress has come a long way over the years but as each year passes it seems to become easier and easier for non developers to see their website vision come to life without touching a single line of code. As new technology emerges and integrates with WordPress can you imagine the ease of use in the future? I’m looking forward to building with WordPress by just thinking about it.” -Brian Messenlehner

Brian Messenlehner put himself to utilizing WordPress for more than a blogging system. Also, he is the co-founder of WebDevStudios.com.

“Happy Birthday, WordPress and to everyone that has been a part of the community. It's because of them I have been able to make a 15-year career in a diverse, open-source community. The flexibility of the CMS rides on the back of what has brought me success in the space. And lastly, cheers to WordPress for making it possible for me to meet, work with and become friends with some of the coolest and most talented people in the world.” -Bob Dunn

Bob Dunn works as a blogger and Podcaster at Bobwp. Also, he has expertise in different areas of web development including WordPress, eCommerce, and monetization.

WordPress SEO

“Over the past decade, I've enjoyed writing thousands of blog posts and helped grow sites organically from zero to 1+ million visitors per month. And there is one thing these projects all had in common; WordPress was always at the foundation.
Here are just a few reason why I think WordPress is an excellent choice for anyone doing SEO.

First, you have a wide range of different SEO plugins you can use. This gives you flexibility regarding features you might need for a specific project, such as structure data, redirects, sitemaps, rich snippets, etc. Lately, I've been a fan of The SEO Framework plugin.
Second, being open source and written in a popular programming language (PHP), there are plenty of ways to manipulate WordPress to do exactly what you need it to. This enables you to stay on top of any changes Google makes regarding SERPs. Try customizing Shopify or Wix; you only have so many options.
Third, WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform. And to this day, that's why I still love it. It makes blogging and content creation a breeze! ” -Brian Jackson

Brian Jackson is the Co-founder at forgemedia. He was the Chief Marketing Officer at Kinsta. Brian is a blogger/author obsessed with SEO and webperf.

“WordPress plugins offer an incredible range when it comes to SEO. A couple of native additions stand out the most for me. This is, of course, responsiveness and WebP image support. An automatically mobile-friendly layout makes engaging those users much less of a hassle, and optimized imagery always makes Google happy. Of course, Google has been pushing WebP since 2010. Still, it’s nice to use those images without having to force mime types in WordPress.” -Anna Gargioni

Anna Gargioni is an experienced marketing and branding professional. She is very active in the WordPress community.

Future of WordPress Development

“To ensure WordPress stays the best and most used CMS, we need to embrace accessibility in every aspect. This is essential for taking the next step to a professional and user-friendly world leading tool. The future is accessible.” -Rian Rietveld

Rian Rietveld has been working as a WordPress developer and accessibility consultant since 2000. She got first place in the Individual Achievement category of the Heroes of Accessibility Awards.

“I am very optimistic about the future of WordPress in the next 5 years and beyond. WordPress market share is in general steadily growing, and more and more amateurs and established businesses are choosing WordPress to power their websites. Very importantly, WordPress is already in the process of simplifying its use.
What I just love about WordPress is the fact that even non-coder can create beautiful websites full of features all by themselves. I also believe that the concept of WordPress plugins will allow WordPress to expand its features and capabilities.
These two processes alone, along with the huge WordPress community, should be enough to keep WordPress ahead of the competition for many years to come. This open source spirit of WordPress is amazing and so inspiring to all of us who work with WordPress (and make for living via WordPress)!
The future depends on what you do today.” -Ivica Delic

Ivica Delic is the Co-Founder at Freelancerstools.com. He is an active volunteer in the WordPress community.

Read More: 49+ WordPress Influencers You Should Follow Right Now!

WordPress's Rewards & Recognition So Far!

Let's see the list of awards WordPress adds to its bucket to date:

  • WordPress gets a five-star privacy rating from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • Winner of InfoWorld's “Best of open source software awards: Collaboration”, awarded in 2008.
  • Winner of Open Source CMS Awards's “Overall Best Open Source CMS”, awarded in 2009.
  • Matt Mullenweg was awarded as the Winner of the TechFellow Award for “Product Design and Marketing” in December 2010.
  • Winner of digitalsynergy’s “Hall of Fame CMS category in the 2010 Open Source.” awarded in 2010.
  • Matt Mullenweg comes to the list of the top 10 most influential people online for changing the face of the internet by Business Insider in March 2011.
  • Winner of Infoworld’s “Bossie award for Best Open Source Software.” awarded in 20211.
  • Mike Little was given the “Outstanding Contribution to Digital” award at SAScon for confounding and developing WordPress in June 2013.
  • Winner of CMS Critic Award’s “Best CMS for Personal Websites.” in 2015.

New in WordPress? Read this easy guide to installing WordPress on your local host.

20 Interesting Stats & Facts from WordPress History

Interesting Facts from WordPress History

This 20 years is not only remarkable for WordPress, but also for the users. So, let's glorify the celebration by knowing the 20 most interesting facts about WordPress history:

  1. WordPress powers over 14.7% of the world's top websites
  2. WordPress is older than Twitter and Facebook
  3. All major releases are named after jazz musicians
  4. WordPress dominates 60.8% of CMS Market Share
  5. Around 40% of the top 10,000 websites are powered by WordPress.
  6. WordPress is available in 68+ Languages
  7. A WordPress developer earns around $63,375 in the US
  8. The term “WordPress” is searched over 3 million times each month 
  9. A Google search of “WordPress” gets you about 3,740,000,000 results
  10. WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not the same
  11. 58,367 WordPress plugins & 11,000 themes and growing daily
  12. WordPress has NO CEO and it is not owned by any company
  13. Over the years 382 persons have written over a million lines of code for WordPress
  14. More than 123 million people downloaded WooCommerce
  15. The WordPress core software is GDPR compliant
  16. Requires less than 60 seconds to install
  17. 49% of hacked WordPress websites used an outdated version
  18. WordPress WordCamps span across sixty-five countries; 1,080 events in 371 cities
  19. WooCommerce powers 22% of the top 1 million eCommerce sites in the world
  20. The latest version of WordPress 6 has been downloaded 12,553,254 times so far & growing every second

Also, read this blog to explore the most marvelous 100+ WordPress stats & facts.

How weDevs Amplifies the Happiness of This Special Moment

weDevs is the creator of many prominent WordPress products like plugins and services. We are also celebrating this big event by announcing some alluring deals for WordPress users.

This year, you can enjoy up to a 50% discount on all weDevs products.🤩

  1. Dokan Multivendor – Up to 40% Off
  2. WP Project Manager– Up to 40% Off
  3. WP User Frontend – Up to 40% Off
  4. HappyAddons– Up to 40% Off
  5. weMail – Flat 40% Off
  6. Appsero – Flat 40% Off
  7. wePOS – Flat 50% Off

Once Again: Happy 20th Birthday, WordPress!

The world’s favorite content management system WordPress turns 20 today. Along the path, WordPress leaves its footprints in every section of web development. Thus, people can experience a better way to create promising websites. And actually, we reap the benefits. The glorious WordPress history testifies to this entity.

So, what comes next in WordPress? Mullenweg has already stated that the future of WordPress lies in social and mobile features, as well as an application platform. Fasten your seat belt to enjoy a wilder ride for the next 20 years!

From all of us at weDevs, we want to say Happy Birthday WordPress! It was a great journey for 20 years. We’re eagerly waiting to celebrate the next 20 years with more festoons and glory.

Sabirah Islam
Written by

Sabirah Islam

Sabirah Islam is a creative content writer who loves to work on diverse topics. She has a deep interest to work with new marketing strategies and different buyer persona. In free times she loves to play with her twin boys.

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