About 10 years ago, we used to have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) programme called OfficeTalk. It was a really good system but had a problem – not enough users! OfficeTalk was developed by techies but simply didn’t have enough marketing behind it. Because there weren’t enough users generating revenue, software development started to slow down and things stopped working. What had been a great solution to our CRM needs stopped delivering and we moved elsewhere. This is a real problem with software. Only the really big software companies with many thousands, or even millions of users, are in a position to develop and maintain high-quality, commercial software at a unit price that people are willing to pay. Sure, there are niche software products designed for a particular sector or business type but using them can cost many hundreds, or even thousands of pound a year to licence and use.
The Open-Source Model
Normally, independent coders write open-source software. They collaborate to develop a solution to a need. Often, they do it for fun! There is some really good open source software out there. However, the support behind it is often fairly limited and technical. Perhaps not surprising as open source software is free to use and development is normally a project-based labour of love! Consequently, it is most often people with enough knowledge to understand the available technical support who use open-source software! WordPress is unusual. The core WordPress software is open source so free to use. Because it works well as a way of developing a website at little or no cost, and nearly all businesses, as well as many individuals, have a website, WordPress became VERY popular. Recent figures (https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/wordpress-statistics/) suggest runs nearly 30% of the entire internet. Inevitably, such a huge user base has attracted commercial services. Not everyone wants to do it themselves and paying for help is a good option for many people and businesses – particularly because the sheer scale of the WordPress user-base means many of these services can be offered at modest fees. A real win-win The open-source base of WordPress keeps costs down but the user base makes it worthwhile developing commercial plugins. These are add-ons that add some significant functionality-even if they only cost a few dollars. It isn’t unusual to see plugins that have been downloaded 50,000 times. Even at a cost of $5-$10, this means serious revenues! All of this development also means there is a lot of investment in WordPress so there is value in maintaining development of the underlying core systems.
WordPress Keeps Delivering
WordPress has developed into a positive spiral of improvement.
- Security Updates
- Functionality Updates
- Fundamental System Updates
Developers release updates every few days, keeping your website current and secure. Even if a problem does arise there are ways to roll-back to a version that does work. Your website stays live. In the meantime, the developer community is on the case and typically problems get fixed very quickly. As we looked at above, OfficeTalk is an example of an investment that didn’t pay off. It simply didn’t reach a critical mass. WordPress is the polar opposite. Even though no one company owns WordPress, there are so many people using WP and so much investment in the platform, delivering real value and generating significant revenues across the board, ongoing development is essential to maintain the value already in the system. Unless there is a fundamental technology shift at the heart of the internet, it looks like WordPress will continue to deliver, getting better and better, for some time yet. If you want to find out about making more of this internet phenomenon for the benefit of your business, do get in touch.