The History of WordPress

An overview of when WordPress began to where it is now.

WordPress is an open source, content management system, which allows its users to manage aspects of their websites without needing to have the knowledge of programming. It is a simple way of creating websites and blogs, and is the most popular way to do it. WordPress powers over 37.6% of all websites on the internet, proving that WordPress makes building a website accessible to anyone.

The history of WordPress for CMS and website design

2003 – Where it began

The development of blogging software b2/cafelog was discontinued by its main developers. This was due to developer support becoming non-existent. Two users of this software, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, then decided to create a new platform on top of b2/cafelog. They could do this as b2 was released on SourceForge, which is a web-based service which allows software developers a place to manage free, open-source software projects. This was then named WordPress.


In 2003, the availability of the first version of WordPress was announced, having more significant improvements than b2 had. This version included a new admin interface, new templates and generated XHTML 1.1 compliant templates. Mullenweg wanted WordPress to have the flexibility of MovableType, the hackability of b2 and the ease setup of Blogger.


In May of 2004 a new version was released, which came with the opportunity to use plugins. This allowed users of WordPress to extend the functionality of websites and add new features. Users and developers would write their own plugins and share them with the rest of the community.

WordPress had an increase in users, when its competitor, MovableType, changed its pricing structure. This drove away its audience, and led to them looking for an alternative. WordPress was the best choice for these users.


In 2005, WordPress began the creation of their logo. Several developers and designers began the early workings of the ‘W’ we know today. After a few months, the logo was finalised on the 15th of May.

A new update of WordPress came with new features. In early 2005, the update added pages, comment moderation tools, and brand new themes. Another update was released in December 2005, with a new admin dashboard. This update used JavaScript and DHTML.


The trademark for WordPress and its logo was filed. This was done by co-founder Matt Mullenweg’s company, Automattic.


A web design company, Happy Cog, joined the WordPress project. They helped to design a new admin interface. A usability study was conducted to do this.

Throughout 2008, new releases had new features. Such as shortcodes, one-click updates and built-in plugin installation.

In 2008 the WordPress Theme Directory was launched, where anyone could develop and then upload their themes to the directory and make them available to visitors. This would be once a quality check was completed. There are now 3,944 available themes in the directory.


The company Automattic, founded by Matt Mullenweg, transferred ownership of the WordPress trademark to the WordPress Foundation. This ensured that WordPress will continue to grow as it is not dependent on a company or group of developers to continue the project.

In 2010, version 3.0 of WordPress was released, which included several features such as custom post types, custom backgrounds, headers and menus. This was a major step for WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System)


In 2011, post formats and admin bar were introduced to WordPress. Also around this time, new WordPress plugins were being used to build powerful e-Commerce platforms on top of WordPress. This enabled users of WordPress to create online stores.


Updates in 2012 had new features including theme previews, theme customiser and a media manager. These features helped new users of WordPress to create image galleries and preview themes, before they change their website to a new theme.


Version 3.7 of WordPress came with a new automatic update feature which allowed WordPress to automatically update your site’s software for minor releases. Some users didn’t like this feature.

By this time, WordPress had become the most popular Content Management System in the world.

Version 3.8 was released, and introduced MP6 which was the new WordPress admin interface. This interface was more responsive and provided users with a better user experience. This was for any device or screen size.


Release of WordPress 3.9 in early 2014 focused on improving the visual post editor. Images were able to be dragged and dropped directly into the post editor. Users could also edit images and see gallery previews in the editor. This update also introduced live widget previews, audio playlists and other improvements.

Later in the year, Wordpress 4.0 and 4.1 were released. These updates had many improvements including a new media gallery and language packs which allowed users to switch language from the admin area, rather than having to upload translation files.


In 2015 three updates, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4 were released. These updates had new features such as improved localisation, emoji support and a theme customiser.

WooCommerce is an e-Commerce plugin for WordPress. It was acquired by Matt Mullenweg’s company, Automattic.


Versions 4.5, 4.6 and 4.7 were released. Each of these releases had new features and improvements. These features included updates for plugins and themes, a custom CSS feature for the theme customiser. By the end of 2016 WordPress announced supporting HTTPs.


2017’s updates brought some new default widgets. These were to add audio, video, images, gallery, rich text and HTML. These releases started off the new WordPress block editor.


WordPress 5.0 was released and had a brand new editing experience. This block editor project release was codenamed GutenBerg. It had some of the features that were released in 2017 updates.

Present day

Wordpress has changed a lot through new updates, since starting in 2003. It is now the number one Content Management System in the world, with around 18 million installations. WordPress continues to meet the needs of its users, with new updates and features. It continues to be the most popular web development in the world, powering over 75 million sites on the web.