It was recently announced that 15% of all websites around the world run on WordPress. This website is one of them. It’s a really great platform and its success can be attributed to many factors. It’s free, it is simple to use, it has a huge community of users and it has great documentation in the WordPress Codex.
The fact that it is free gets people in the door. That’s the removal of major barrier to entry—you just learn a thing or two about LAMP servers and PHP and you have a website. I often get asked how WordPress can be free, and although I don’t have the exact answer I direct people to the website of the company, Automattic, who builds it. The company does offer VIP services to paying clients and probably has a solid base of investors.
But just because something is free doesn’t mean people are going to continue to do it. Take jogging, for example.
WordPress is simple to use and has a large community in large part due to its documentation.
I am in awe of the thought and care put into this software. It does so many things well: it is customizable in the way it looks (themes) and what it can do (plugins), and the development team has built intuitive functions that turn PHP into everyday English. It is very easy to use. But it would be a million times harder to use if the Codex were not in place and maintained on a regular basis. I would dare to say that if the WordPress documentation contained in the Codex were not there that most people would have never heard of WordPress, at least not as quickly as they have. I know that I have been on the verge of frustration many times but was satisfied by the documented tutorials and information that are readily available (and accurate) for free on WordPress.org.
There is a very strong developer community too. The forums on WordPress.org are very active, and of the thousands of questions you will find on the site you might find only one or two answered by malcontents; it’s a friendly bunch. There are community educational events called WordCamp held all over the world. I attended one in Birmingham, Alabama last year, and not only did I learn some advanced programming skills I also made some good friends.
My point is this: No one would go to WordCamp or continue to use WordPress if they couldn’t learn it easily, accurately, and on their own time. If the Codex were not there online for me to reference every time I needed it, this website might have been made by some clunky Microsoft product, but thankfully it doesn’t have to be.
Documentation is the key to success. Winners have it, and losers don’t.