Happy 18th Birthday WordPress! Featuring 8 WordPress Veterans & Their WordPress Story

Today marks 18 years since the first release of WordPress. ??

You heard it right! It’s been 18 years since a 19-year-old young man, Matt Mullenweg, and British web developer, Mike Little launched the initial version of what has become today’s most popular Content Management System. 

Today is also a very special day for us – WP-Content.co is turning one year today! ?? Yes, we went online last year on this very day and we have been sharing with you WordPress knowledge and updates without fail. A special thanks to all our beloved readers out there. You are our strength.

Now let’s take a look at the growth of WordPress over the past 18 years.

Growth of WordPress

Most WordPress users will agree that the last 18 years have been full of positive developments. Over time, WordPress has matured from a simple blogging platform to powering some of the most complex and heavily trafficked sites on the Internet.

When it comes to choosing a content management system, nothing can overtake WordPress now. It’s not astonishing that more than 76 million websites, among them many famous sites and business profiles, personal and celebrity blogs are based on this wonderful platform.

From cost-effectiveness to less learning curve in terms of the usage and customization processes, from multilingual support to GPL licensed nature, the range of the pluses of WordPress seems to have no end. 

In short, it is obvious that the future of WordPress is good enough to increase the trust of the clients and techies even more in the coming years. After all, it is good enough to be used on 41.6% of websites on the Internet.

How does it feel for WordPress professionals?

So, as WordPress marks its 18th birthday, here we have featured some of the WordPress professionals who have influenced the growth of the community on some level. We asked them a simple question – When did you first discover WordPress and What is WordPress to you now?

Here’s what they have to say about how WordPress came into their lives. Without further ado, let us handoff to the WordPress community representatives.

“WordPress now is fully ingrained in my daily life. It’s all encompassing!

I first discovered WordPress in 2009 when a colleague showed me a new site he was setting up. It didn’t take long for me to get stuck in with the famous Five Minute Install. From setting up a site, to discovering plugins, and then building my own plugins, using WordPress has always felt like having a super power.

I work for a WordPress company, build and sell WordPress plugins, run a WordPress SaaS app, podcast about WordPress, run a community WordPress news website, and write a monthly newsletter about WordPress trends. “

Iain Poulson is a WordPress developer based on the south coast of England. He works with Delicious Brains, chats about WordPress on the Pressing Matters podcast, and develops plugins like Intagrate and WP User Manager. He is also the founder of WP Trends, a monthly newsletter providing WordPress market insights, trends, and acquisition opportunities. 

Dimi Baitanciuc | Founder @ Brizy

“I discovered WordPress in 2009, when we started to sell premium WordPress themes on Envato Marketplace.

Forward 12 years to 2021 and WordPress is still our main business focus with our Brizy website builder and from the way it grows I presume we’ll continue to work with WordPress for many years to come.”

Dimi Baitanciuc is the founder of Brizy Visual Builder, a project by ThemeFuse. You might have heard about them in regards to WordPress because they have been developing themes and plugins for a long time. Their experience in the field spans almost a decade, with great results and happy customers. 

Ahmad Awais | Award-winning Open Source & JavaScript Dev Advocate

“I started blogging in 2002. After a couple of years of blogging — I started building things. I learned how to create a PHP contact form. That led me to WordPress in 2005 or 2006. I was so excited when Contact Form7 got released in 2007 (I believe that’s why it’s called CF7). Since then, I’ve been a part of the WordPress community. 

I have regularly contributed to the WordPress core for more than ten major released versions and have created create-guten-block, WPGulp and hundreds of other open-source projects, plugins/themes for WordPress. I’ve also conducted meetups, workshops, conferences for WordPress and helped tens of thousands of developers learn WordPress. 

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with excellent people who have gone on to become great friends — and sadly, I’ve also experienced the dark side of WordPress, WP drama, abuse, and hostility from several bad actors in the community. But at the end of the day, I believe that WordPress is an excellent piece of software, with a great community behind it. I hope the WordPress Foundation can put more effort into making the community more supportive of underprivileged & underrepresented communities and celebrate their diversity.”

An award-winning open-source engineer​,​ Head of Developer Relations at RapidAPI, Google Developers Expert ​Dev Advocate and Node.js Core Community Committee voting member, Awais has authored various open-source dev-tools and software libraries used by millions of developers worldwide. After creating open-source software for about a decade, he has been awarded a GitHub Star by folks who run GitHub. 

Birgit Pauli-Haack | President @ Pauli Systems

“In 2009, I was evaluating CMS for a project with four dozen nonprofits and was searching for a new CMS. WordPress was the only one that had a huge community sharing knowledge and offering advice.

Now we use WordPress almost exclusively for client projects and are quite actively contributing to WordPress on documentation and on Core, with testing, filing issues. Also, I publish the Gutenberg Times and host the Gutenberg Changelog podcast with Grzegorz (“Greg”) Ziolkowski (@gziolo) every two weeks and publish a weekly newsletter.”

Since 1998 Birgit Pauli-Haack has worked with nonprofits as a web developer, a technology strategist, a trainer and a community organizer. She founded Pauli Systems, LC in 2002 which is a fully distributed company. Since 2010, her team has used WordPress to build new nonprofit sites and applications. Birgit also serves as a deputy with the WordPress Global Community team, as a WordPress Meetup organizer and a Tech4Good organizer.

Hari Shanker R | Community Manager @ Automattic

“I discovered WordPress as a late teenager, way back in 2006! It was during that time, my friends and I started working on a “startup” – which was really an informal web services collective – where we built websites for clients using hand-code sites in HTML/CSS, and my job was primarily to write content

On a fine September evening, my friend showed me how you could build a website without hand-coding it using HTML/CSS, using an amazing software called WordPress. I was aware of WordPress.com, and I already had an account and a blog there, but WordPress.org proved to be a revelation.

In a few months’ time, the startup failed and I was unceremoniously kicked out of it, but my love for WordPress grew strong. I started exploring it more, building websites for myself and slowly for clients. I learned programming by building WordPress themes and tinkering with plugins, building custom things on top of WordPress for clients. The times were tough for me, personally, but WordPress kept me going.

Now, WordPress is everything for me. I owe it to that open-source software that powers 41% of the web (and counting!). My passion for WordPress led me to Automattic, where I joined as a Happiness Engineer. My love for WordPress and the open-source community that powers it eventually helped me become a full-time contributor to the WordPress Community. It has been an exciting journey so far, and I can’t wait to see where my love for WordPress takes me next!”

Hari Shanker is a Community Manager for WordPress.org, and his contributions are sponsored by Automattic, Inc. He works with the Community Team of the WordPress project, to help plan, organize, and execute WordPress-based events of all shapes and sizes. He has helped organize three editions of WordCamp Kochi, spoke at several WordCamps in India, and got actively involved in the WordPress Kochi and Trivandrum meetups. 

Andrea Zoellner | Head of Growth @ Kinsta

“I first discovered WordPress while studying journalism. It was the perfect tool to create news websites and personal portfolios for my friends and myself. Fast-forward 10 years and WordPress is now a huge part of my career in tech. I broke into what I used to think was a coders-only industry through the WordPress Open Source community.

As a writer, I quickly found my niche marketing WordPress-related products and worked my way up to Head of Growth at Kinsta, one of the leading WordPress managed hosting providers. If it weren’t for the supportive WordPress community members in Montreal and worldwide, I wouldn’t have had the encouragement, mentorship, and opportunities to get me where I am today.”

Andrea Zoellner is a Montreal-based digital content creator, brand consultant, and WordPress enthusiast. She is a long-time organiser of WordCamp Montreal, and a co-organizer of do_action Montreal, a WordPress charity hackathon. Now at Kinsta web hosting, Andrea is the Head of Growth and oversees their growth marketing strategies including lead-generation, advertisement, affiliate marketing, and social media. 

Nick La | Founder @ Themify

“I discovered WordPress back in 2006 (version 2). Prior to WordPress, I was building static HTML sites with Dreamweaver and FTP. WordPress completely changed my life. It allowed me to build dynamic sites without extensive PHP coding skills. Since then I’ve been using WordPress for all projects.

Now WordPress is our business. At Themify, we build professional WordPress themes and drag & drop layout builder that helps users to build websites faster and easier. Users can use our themes to design dynamic templates without writing any code.”

Nick La is the CEO and co-founder of Themify, a premium WordPress theme company. With Themify, he focuses on designing themes, designing a better user interface, product research, development, and providing customer support. He is always checking for new technology, new themes, plugins and features within the WordPress community in order to keep Themify current and continually provide the latest in technology.

Jeff Starr | Founder @ Perishable Press

“I first started with WordPress around 2004. Back then WordPress meant freedom from manually coding every website from scratch.

Fast forward 17 years later, and I’m still developing with WordPress.

These days WordPress is a means to work for myself, create useful things, and help other people succeed on the Web.”

Jeff Starr is one of the first WordPress developers. You may have already heard about his books Digging into WordPress (which he co-authored with Chris Coyier) and “WordPress Themes In Depth”, two popular titles among novices and specialists alike. You can find Jeff’s content on his blogs, too – Digging Into WordPress and Perishable Press – where he writes about his findings and experiences with WordPress as part of his daily job. 

We thank the above-mentioned wonderful people who took time off their busy schedules to share their experiences with us. We wish them all the very best in their future WordPress journey. ??

Future of WordPress

The WordPress philosophy has always been to offer features that the majority of the users welcome. When it appears that nothing can be better and there are no new heights WordPress can achieve, the WP experts show that you are absolutely wrong. One such example is Gutenberg, one of the latest features of WordPress. What WordPress provides its users with Gutenberg has a lot to do with the much-improved user and publishing experience. 

Talking about the future of WordPress, many experts and even the co-founder of WordPress Mike Little emphasize the indisputable fact that WordPress is quickly growing in rate and popularity. It means that more non-technical people start using WordPress UI. Therefore, everything should be done to make WP User Interface much better and user friendly. Also, initiatives like Five for the Future (launched in 2014) encourages organizations to contribute five per cent of their resources to WordPress development. WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg proposed this benchmark to maintain a “golden ratio” of contributors to users. 

Another great advantage of WordPress is its translation readiness. While many themes are translation ready and plugins are already translated into different languages, it is expected to see more results in this aspect in the coming years. The bigger the number of WordPress users from different parts of the world, the more localized WordPress themes and other products will be through translations. 

To cut a long story short, WordPress has come a long way since its launch in 2003, and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for the community.

Happy birthday WordPress! Happy birthday WP-Content.co!

We promise that you can only expect great things from both in the coming days.

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