Why WordPress?

There are plenty of solutions out there to get your site up and working in little time but, for me, there are plenty of reasons why WordPress, a content management system, takes the lead.

At around 2004, having completed my Masters degree and grasping a pretty good grounding in HTML development at university, I embarked upon learning PHP. What is PHP? It’s a recursive acronym (it references itself) PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. Originally PHP stood for Personal Home Page,

PHP is a server-side processing language that enables the server to receive HTML requests from a client and then construct and deliver back appropriate HTML and JavaScript coded responses. For example, a simple search on a property site returns a listing of properties with summary information and photos. The data will have been fetched from the site’s database by PHP and brought into a display structure to be served back. There will likely be some JavaScript goodies to help scroll through the photos and perhaps display them in a larger size.

I caught the bug and started developing websites with PHP. I built templates to help me get clients up and working fairly quickly. I just needed to change the look of the site – the theme, if you will. Most clients needed a home page, maybe a few extra pages, a ‘Contact’ and ‘About’ page. This catered for over 80% of my customers.

Nearing the end of the decade, I started looking at WordPress, as well as Joomla, another content management system. I ruled them both out after trialling them fairly extensively. I found Joomla quite clucky in comparison with WordPress. Although I favoured WordPress, my fear was that it was going viral – it had the largest base amongst Open Source solutions in 2009. My concern wasn’t the volumes of users – it was more around search engine optimisation. Look under the bonnet and you could easily spot a WordPress site. What this meant was that it would have been difficult to set one hairdressing business from one thousand that had all chosen WordPress to power their websites.

I continued doing things my way for another five years or so and then, after a client had requested something a little out of the norm, I remembered WordPress and wondered if this could provide the solution. So, I gave it another ten coats of looking at.

Immediately I could see that what concerned me regarding search engine optimisation was no longer an issue. There were, and still are, plenty of plugins to help make a site distinctively different from other WordPress and non-WordPress sites.

In fact, the number of plugins had gone through the roof. WordPress could be pretty much anything you want it to be. So, for my client, I embarked on a journey with WordPress.

Back then, even though there were many plugins, the system required the developer to do many tweaks in the code-line. There were stacks of online solutions for how to do this and how to do that, which mostly involved diving into the code and either altering it or replacing it with a substitute. This was a little unnerving because, if a new version of WordPress were to be introduced to the client’s site, it could revert these code changes, which would lead to re-working them.

Coming more up-to-date, WordPress is a very formidable solution. There are now plugins for just about anything. The issues that once had to be resolved with code tweaks can now be resolved with a plugin.

One of the most striking aspects of WordPress is the amazing number of themes that can be sourced. They can be free or paid for – most being affordable to the masses. Most can be tailored to the site owner’s needs. If there isn’t a plugin, or maybe you just don’t want to install a big old plugin for a tiny solution, themes come with ‘child themes’. These provide coded functions that you can tweak and change that will not be affected by newer versions of the theme or WordPress.

It’s been quite a journey for me, but I have enjoyed every bit of it.

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