In the early 2000s I dabbled in making websites. It was a time in my life when I wasn’t doing as much after recovering from a surgery. I became engrossed with the fact that I could do something behind the scenes and see it come to life in a web browser.
I peeled back the layers once I discovered you could look at the source code of a website in Internet Explorer. I discovered FrontPage Express, which came bundled with Internet Explorer 4 and started tinkering with the WYSIWYG editor. I found myself putting together crude web pages.
So, I built a couple of websites for churches and nonprofits. I could do something new and it was pretty cool. Soon I discovered that websites were moving toward a dynamic model: database-driven platforms. Developers started using content management systems (CMS). At the time, they were mostly used by enterprise-level companies, but it was clear that development was moving in that direction.
Once again, I was behind the curve. I had no way of really learning how to develop websites using database-driven platforms.
At about this time I decided I had a lot to say about college football, so I launched a blog where I logged my “top 10” each week during the season. I used the Google-based Blogspot platform. It allowed me to focus on crafting the posts and not worrying about using an editor to edit a web page. I was still mesmerized by the process of how the blog worked, but I never dove further into the process.
During my second football season of blogging, I decided I wanted to add some things that I felt I could do better on a static website. I also wanted to have my own domain, so I built a static website and tried to integrate my Blogspot blog with the site. It did not go how I wanted.
In the process of trying to figure out better how to do this, I came across a blog about my home state’s main college football team. The blog looked nice, clean, and well organized. I discovered it was running on WordPress and decided to give it a try for myself.
The hosting company I was using offered a push-button installation of WordPress, so I installed and began learning. I began running my college football blog on WordPress and even started another one. At the time, I was working at a bookstore and had a nice employee discount. I bought a copy of WordPress for Dummies and began learning the ins and outs of the CMS. In addition to learning WordPress, I was also learning how to run a media-driven website.
At this point, I started making WordPress websites—taking a theme and customizing it to create a branded site for companies. I definitely felt empowered. WordPress is open source, and I am grateful for this, as it has become the very core of many successful businesses across the globe. It is the core of what I do every day, whether writing, consulting, or developing a website.
The WordPress community is very collaborative, too. We know that this great resource that has been given to us and it helps solve thousands of problems for millions of people each year. Contributors help with code, report bugs, write plugins, develop themes, write blog tutorials, and much more for the broader WordPress community.
I think one of the reasons I like WordPress so much is that it combines the value of a content management system (the separation of content from structure) with the value of producing content in an easier manner, giving website owners the opportunity to improve search engine visibility. Another great thing about WordPress is that it’s open source, so there is volumes of information available about the software.
The WordPress support board features tutorials from some of the most remarkable WordPress developers. There are also hundreds of thousands of blog posts, eBooks, and other pieces of content out there aimed at the average WordPress website owner.
This is the spirit of open source, and WordPress has optimized it in a way that is rarely seen.