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Back to the future: WordPress turns 15

In the history of the internet, fame can be instant, short and fleeting. Remember MySpace? Altavista? AOL? Ask Jeeves? Senior Graphic Designer Adam Elovalis discusses why WordPress’ 15th birthday proves it is one of a chosen few tech companies to make the milestone.

History

To little fanfare, on the 27th of May 2003, a small, free, but abandoned content management system, b2/cafelog was relaunched as WordPress by young college students, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. They were determined to keep it free and supported forever. With its enormous community of plugins, themes and support, it has changed the face of the internet forever.

Today

Today, WordPress is the platform of choice for more than 30% of websites.  And not just personal blogs either. Brands like Techcrunch, Bloomberg, Playstation, Sony, Star Wars, Disney, MTVnews, Mercedes Benz – pause for breath – Microsoft, Time, Facebook, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the country of Sweden all use WordPress. We use it on both our websites here at the 268 and at canningspurple.com.au. It’s stable, fairly scalable, well supported and is easy enough to understand.

The future

The last time WordPress released a major update was in 2014 for v4.0, and we’re currently at v4.9. There has been much talk (on a lot of WordPress-powered blogs, of course) about v5.0 and WordPress’ new editing platform, which is called Gutenberg.

Project Gutenberg is not quite a page-builder plugin replacement, at least it won’t be to start with. It will enhance the existing, familiar content-editing area to give you the option of adding blocks of content within a page content area without plugin assistance. It may lead to the end of page-builders like Ark and Visual Composer in the future, although that won’t happen for a while.

WordPress V5.0 Project Gutenberg Screenshot

What does this mean for my business website?

If you use WordPress, there may be issues when you upgrade to version 5 when it is released. It’s a major release, and although the boffins at the WordPress Foundation are normally very good, it’s up to individual theme publishers, and plugin developers to make sure their plugins work with the new version. It will take some time for developers to update their plugins to iron out any bugs.

The good news is that you don’t have to upgrade, at least not straight away. Waiting a couple of months is usually not an issue – provided that the version you are using does not have any security flaws and vulnerabilities. This will reduce the likelihood of your site completely breaking.

If your WordPress theme is several years old, it may be a good time to plan to replace it. But in the meantime, check with your theme and plugin providers, make sure your site is backing up regularly and keep an eye out for the update.

Happy fifteenth birthday WordPress!

Adam Elovalis is Cannings Purple’s Senior Graphic Designer and an expert in design for both digital and print. Contact Adam.