WordPress is a CMS, short for Content Management System. It is free and open source and the reason it’s so popular is a little bit more complicated.
Some WordPress history
At first, WordPress was designed as a blogging CMS. It was designed to be used to develop blogs, not complex websites. Early on it has very few of the features it currently has, like plugins support, themes support or WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. Each version brought more and more new features, but most of them were designed with blogging in mind.
Around this time, other CMSs started to appear, some of them focusing on more complex websites, some on simpler and more basic websites. Some of the most popular CMSs during the mid 2000s were Joomla! and Drupal and Typo3.
Around 2008-2009 the most websites we were working on were built either with Joomla! if they were older or WordPress if they were newer. Typo3 was mainly used in German speaking countries and Drupal was mostly used on enterprise projects, usually being too heavy and feature rich for a simple website for a small company.
The main problem with Joomla! was its security flaws and the websites built with it got hacked very often. That meant a lot of maintenance, and repairs and a lot of time wasted. WordPress on the other hand grew slower in terms of features and this meant less vulnerable points.
WordPress’s rise in popularity
Around 2009-2010 most of the websites we had the chance of working on were migrating from Joomla! to WordPress. Thanks to the simplicity of writing plugins and themes for WordPress and easy of installation, WordPress became a more desired CMS, especially for small websites of 5-6 pages of content and a contact page.
Joomla! failed to adapt quickly and WordPress benefited from the growing community of developers that were writing themes and plugins for almost anything you could have wanted. The big selling point for WordPress was that most of these were free, meaning a client would only pay for the cost of labour.
In the recent years WordPress started to focus more on the CMS features than the blogging ones, thus making it an even better choice for small to medium websites.
Should you choose WordPress?
Most likely yes, you should. But it essentially depends on what you need from the website. WordPress is a very popular CMS with lots of features and plugins for almost anything you can imagine. But in some cases, a custom script or a different more niched CMS is a better deal.