In nontechnical terms, WordPress is “open source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app.”1 By being open source, it is free to use, modify, and distribute the software according to the GNU General Public License (GPL).2 According to the GNU website, the GNU Public License “is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of work”. the GNU General Public License is designed to guarantee your freedom to share and change all versions of a program – to make sure it remains free software for all its users.3 At the time of this book’s writing, the current version is GPL v3. Compared to proprietary software such as Microsoft Office whose source code is closed and only available to the original creators to modify, open source software empowers users to freely make changes to the source code anytime and share them with anyone. If a feature is missing or needs to be added, users who are technically astute can add it by modifying the source code.
WordPress is a content management system. A content management system (CMS) is a software application that provides the capabilities for creating, organizing, editing, and publishing content to the Web.4 Instead of requiring multiple software applications, only one application is required. According to WordPress.org, WordPress is used by 30 percent of the websites and blogs on the Web, ranging from hobbyist to mainstream online news sites.
Some of the companies that use WordPress to power their websites and blogs include:
- The Obama Foundation
- Angry Birds
- Pulse by Target
- Bloomberg Professional
- Vogue India
- BBC America
- Tribune Media Group
- Georgia State University (my alma mater)
Not only is it robust enough to work for a solopreneur, but it is also scalable enough to handle the needs of an enterprise organization.
Prior to WordPress, when a business wanted a website created, it either used a web designer within its company or hired a web designer consultant. Due to the lack of technical expertise in-house, most small businesses were either forced to hire an external consultant or freelancer or find a volunteer looking to gain some website design experience to create one. While already working with limited resources and budgets compared to bigger businesses, creating a small business website could quickly become an expensive undertaking depending on the website features. Once the website is launched, it will need to be maintained and modified, which is an additional expense. A simple informational website can quickly become expensive.