Why is WordPress So Popular?

WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world. Full stop. Let's explore the reasons why.

by Catie Leary


Reading Time | 12 min
WordPress logo

Out of the top 10 million most visited websites on the internet, WordPress is the CMS of choice for 38.2% of them, and the brand holds a 63.5% share of the CMS market.

In 2020, it’s estimated that more than 455 million websites use WordPress.

The impact and reach of WordPress is undeniable, but why is that? What makes this CMS the obvious choice for most website owners? This article rounds up all the reasons why WordPress is so popular.

The Benefits of using WordPress

1. WordPress is free

First and foremost, it’s free to download and install the WordPress core software on your website. The choice to make WordPress free is one of the primary reasons why it’s become so popular; it effectively lowered the barrier to creating a high-quality, professional website.

It is important to clarify that only the core software is free. Any themes or plugins you install may come at an additional price.

Even so, WordPress allows you to build a gorgeous professional website and save money for other pressing business needs.

2. WordPress is open-source

Computer screen with open-source code

WordPress is also open-source, which means its creators have made the software’s source code freely available for others to change and adapt for other purposes, including commercial purposes.

This open-source nature has allowed a vast community of WordPress contributors to grow and flourish over the years. Their ultimate goal is to continually innovate WordPress through core software improvements and the development of ancillary software like themes and plugins.

3. There’s a plugin for just about everything

Plugin cords

WordPress plugins are pieces of software that extend the functionality of your website. There are many types of plugins out there designed to meet a wide variety of needs — from page builders to contact forms.

Plugins may be free or paid, and while many of the free plugins get the job done, there are some paid plugins that may be worth investing in. Not sure where to start? As seasoned WordPress experts who have been around the block, don’t miss our guide to essential WordPress plugins.

When researching plugins to meet your needs, one of the best ways to evaluate the quality of a plugin is by looking it up on the WordPress plugin repository. All WordPress users have access to the ever-expanding portal of plugins, some of which are free and others that come at a cost.  Don’t miss our guide on how to choose a WordPress plugin.

4. WordPress is the best blogging platform in the business

WordPress blogger drafting post

As most people know, WordPress got its start in 2003 as a blogging platform. And today, some 17 years later, it’s still the best one around. True, WordPress has seen its share of competitors — many of which are still around, such as Tumblr, Medium, and Blogger — but they have proved no match.

With WordPress, you can build a simple single-author blog maintained with regularly published content, or you can even go as far as to create an entire online magazine with scheduled posts, multiple authors, editors, and contributors. Once uploaded, you can preview your content and make edits without needing any coding knowledge or experience.

5. But it’s not just for blogging

Elearning platform

While WordPress may have a reputation as a blogger’s paradise, it’s certainly no one-trick pony. How else can you use WordPress besides blogging? Here’s a few examples of what you can build on a WordPress site:

  • eLearning portal: Looking to build an online academy of your own? You can do this in WordPress with Learning Management System (LMS) hosting. The most popular method is using the LifterLMS plugin that’ll allow you to create and market online courses that sell. You can even include multimedia lessons with this plugin.
  • Invoicing systems manager: Create and send invoices for your products and services in WordPress with the WP-Invoice plugin. It may be basic, but it’ll do the job. If you find it’s not for you after trying it out, no worries — there are countless other plugins available within the WordPress plugin repository.
  • RSS news portal: In this often overwhelming online world, only providing access to the news will never be enough; you need an RSS feed. WordPress makes it easy to showcase feeds from various sources alongside your posts. Try plugins like WP RSS Aggregator for easy integration of RSS feeds into your site.
  • Knowledgebase: WordPress makes building an encyclopedia-like knowledgebase that includes glossaries and dictionaries astonishingly simple. Create tags, categories, and user-defined templates to effectively display your content, ensuring users can find answers immediately. Knowledgebase plugins such as Heroic plugin can create documents, thereby reducing the need for support.
  • Jobs portal: Thinking of converting your WordPress site into a job board? It’s as simple as one plugin. With the WP Job Manager, you can quickly add, categorize, and manage listings on your site. With this plugin, registered users and guests can search and apply for jobs listed by employers.
  • Event management systems: It’s common among many corporations to run events throughout the year. So much so that there is a need to set up an entirely separate online system for managing these events. Various plugins within the repository allow you to integrate and sync popular calendar apps, making your event management simpler.
  • Appointment scheduling: People from across industries work on an appointment basis. For these professionals, a succinct online appointment management system would be highly beneficial. Thankfully for WordPress to manage bookings.

6. WordPress prioritizes SEO

Google app on mobile device

For every website owner, search engine optimization (SEO) should be an essential part of your website marketing strategy. Why? When done right, SEO works to boost your site’s search results rankings, determining whether or not your desired audiences find your site. Many website-building platforms make it difficult for users to implement comprehensive, effective SEO strategies.

Fortunately, with WordPress, this is not the case. WordPress is the best-rated CMS for many reasons, and its SEO capability is high on the list. WordPress makes SEO easy for all users through a wide variety of plugins and by allowing your input on things like creating attractive permalinks, managing metadata, optimizing media, and allowing you to integrate other SEO software management tools into your site.

Our favorite SEO plugins for WordPress are SEO by Yoast, All-in-One SEO, and Schema or Schema Pro. These additions to your WordPress site will make it easy for any user to get serious about their search engine performance.

7. WordPress websites grow with you

Repotting growing plants

If you think of your business as a plant that’s always growing, then imagine your website as the pot that it lives in. As a plant grows, you may find it outgrowing its pot. Starting your business with a WordPress website makes it super easy to scale up and “repot” your business, so to speak.

How? When building a website, there are three main routes you could take: DIY, template, and custom. WordPress allows you to create all three website types, so you never need to jump from one website platform to another and start over in order to allow your business to keep growing. Let’s dive into these three basic types of sites:

  • The Do-It-Yourself Website: WordPress makes it easy for just about anyone to build a website entirely on their own, though if you’re going the 100% DIY route, you’ll probably want to brush up on your HTML skills a bit. Even so, with plugins and page builders at your disposal, creating a website from scratch is much easier with WordPress’ core software as a solid foundation.
  • The Template Website: Don’t want to go the full-on DIY route? A template website is a great choice. With this route, you have the option to buy a predesigned canned template from which to build your website. You can get one of these from websites like Template Monster, ThemeForest, Array Themes, or CSS Igniter. And once acquired, you can set it up yourself or have someone else do it for you. Templates have editable areas, but the templates themselves retain their structure. You’ll be able to change a few things like color and content, but the original theme will remain, for the most part. However, because it’s created with WordPress, the site remains scalable and can grow with your business. This is in sharp contrast to SaaS website builders, such as Wix or Squarespace, which are rigid in their technical flexibility and difficult to scale up as your grow.
  • The Custom Website: Need an specialized website to meet the complex needs of your business? Custom is the way to go. When you opt for a custom website, that means working with your in-house developer or partnering with a freelancer or digital agency to design and build your site from the ground up. Your WordPress developer will create a custom site that fulfills your specific needs, and as with any custom job, you pay for originality and the completion of your wishes.

Regardless of the route you choose, WordPress is unlike other software service providers in that, your website is always scalable and exportable.

8. It’s supported by a massive community and industry

Tech workers meeting around a table

The fact that WordPress is an open-source software means that anyone can harness the source code of WordPress core software to learn, create, and innovate.

This freedom has allowed a massive community to form. Although there are plenty of things to be learned with WordPress, pricing, skill level, or even premium customer support isn’t a limiting factor. There aren’t any obstacles to gaining access to the software, and its users have made blogs, forums, online classes, webinars, and even books that outline exactly how you can get the most out of the platform. With a little time to play around with the dashboard and watch some of the countless tutorials available online, anyone can get the hang of it.

Aside from how easy it is to learn from the community that has formed around it, there’s also a robust industry built around WordPress — plugin developers, theme creators, web hosting providers offering WordPress specific services maintenance companies, or digital agencies like SiteCare exist because of WordPress. And all continue to grow, with the same purpose: to make WordPress easier for users.

9. Managing content in WordPress is simple

Sign that says 'you got this'

With a CMS like WordPress, you don’t need to stress about your lack of coding experience and technical web-building knowledge. This platform is specifically designed to give non-developers the power to manage the day-to-day operations of a website.

That’s why WordPress is so popular with everyone from professional bloggers to corporate marketing teams. They can run the website on their own, and only call on a developer when they need to add a new feature or fix something.

10. Everything is in your control

The majority of WordPress competitors out there aren’t open-source. And although they’ll do an adequate job of hosting your site, there’s a limit to their flexibility. Limitations you can expect are like the following:

  • The code isn’t fully accessible, making it challenging to implement adjustments. What’s worse is that the coding language is often unique to the platform, meaning that if it is available, it’s usually unlikely that you’ll know enough about how it works. You’ll end up having to hire a specialized developer to change things for you.
  • E-commerce functionality is built-in and can’t be expanded via plugins.
  • Your content isn’t yours. Yes, you may have generated it yourself, but once published, it becomes part of the site where it’s hosted. This means that should you terminate your subscription, all your files and pages will be lost or held by the platform until you decide to restart your subscription.

The great news is that WordPress grants you full control of everything relating to your website. Move site files with ease; build and expand your online store; do just about anything you need with WordPress.

11. WordPress supports many media formats

Video shooting with a camera

A quick Google search will yield an extensive list of all the media formats supported by WordPress. But for now, at least you can be sure that the primary media types and their various formats are covered:

  • Images (.jpeg, .png)
  • Documents (.pdf, .doc, .pptx)
  • Audio and video (.mp3, .mp4, .m4a, .mov, .wmv, and .avi)

Needing to upload a less common file format? No problem, WordPress covers the obscure ones like .odt, .key, .ogg, and .3pg as well.

A few things to watch for

Flying owl with keen eyesight

WordPress is the best in the business, but there are some caveats to consider.

1. WordPress updates

Updates icon

Keeping up with WordPress updates can be a headache for many site owners.

First and foremost, the software update notifications on a WordPress dashboard are never-ending (and frequent, if you have a lot of different plugins installed). Secondly, rolling out updates incorrectly can cause pieces of sites to stop working as intended or even bring the entire website down for the count.

As a result, it’s not uncommon for some WordPress site owners to defer or roll back updates rather than face the issue head-on. This is unfortunate because leaving outdated plugins and themes unchecked can cause major security and compatibility issues down the road.

So, what’s a website owner to do? Your developer should be the one handling these updates, and if not, there are professional WordPress maintenance companies (like SiteCare!) that can manage these updates for you and provide you with peace of mind.

2. Site speed & performance

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There’s nothing quick like a slow-loading, poorly performing website to make visits leave before getting to the information they came for.

What’s the most common cause of a slow website? Although there are several reasons, plugins and extensions like page builders are the most common culprit. They add a lot of unnecessary code to your site, and this is what will cause your site to slow down.

For the average person with little to no code experience or knowledge, it can be difficult to vet the design of a theme, plugin, or page-building software and so the poorly designed ones can easily creep in. To avoid this, it’s essential to hire a professional from the get-go.

3. Security vulnerabilities

Padlock icon

With core software that is well-maintained by the company itself, WordPress is already incredibly secure. Still, the platform’s widespread popularity and open-source nature mean that plugins, themes, and scripts are a significant target for hackers.

There’s a long list of reasons why WordPress websites get hacked, and becoming familiar with these can help you to improve your site’s security. Just know, as long as your WordPress maintenance agency works to maintain the installed software through regular updates, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Never stress about your WordPress site again

Our “things to watch for” list may seem intimidating at first, but there’s no need to stress when you partner with a reputable WordPress maintenance expert — like SiteCare. Partnering with a WordPress maintenance agency means never stressing about your website again. Our team will manage all software updates, work closely with your host, help you make iterative development improvements, and implement effective backup and security measures. Contact SiteCare today to enhance your WordPress experience.

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Catie Leary | Contributor

Catie has spent the last 12+ years honing her digital storytelling skills as both a journalist and a content strategist. In her spare time, she enjoys powerlifting, karaoke nights with friends, reading science fiction, and hanging out with her three cats.