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20 years of WordPress:

Why you might consider WordPress over a bespoke website

Developed in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, the open-source content management system (CMS) has since exploded in popularity, now powering over 43% of the web. Their website boasts that “more bloggers, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies use WordPress than all other options combined,” and it’s certainly not hard to see why. 

The flexibility and extensibility of the platform makes it a great choice for many people, ranging from your amateur blogger all the way up to companies like Salesforce, Slack, Bloomberg and Disney. It supports a range of plugins and themes, and its popularity comes with the added benefit of having a dedicated community who can support troubleshooting. 

The (précised) history of WordPress

WordPress started life as a fork of b2/cafelog, a blogging tool popular in the early 2000s. Version 1.0, named ‘Davis’ after jazz musician Miles Davis, launched in 2004, and offered a simple interface for users to manage their content. The next big platform enhancement came in 2004 with version 1.2 ‘Mingus’ (after Charles Mingus Jr.), introducing support for a plugin architecture that allowed developers to extend the functionality of the platform. There are now over 60,000 plugins available on Wordpress. 1.5 ‘Strayhorn’ launched in 2005, providing better control over your website themes, comments and introduced ‘Pages’, laying the foundations for the website structure we know today.

Mullenweg created Automattic Inc. in 2007 to manage the development of WordPress, and in the same year hosted the first WordCamp – a community conference for WordPress enthusiasts. In 2010 he set up the Wordpress Foundation to oversee the open source WordPress project – ensuring that it will be free to use forever.

In the same year, they launched 3.0. Until this release, you could only have one WordPress blog per installation, unless using a fork known as WordPress MU. Version 3.0 merged those codebases together – allowing multi-site functionality. It also introduces custom post types, new APIs, and a refreshed admin UI.  5.0 ‘Bebo’ launched in 2018, introducing a new block-based editor named Gutenberg, providing a new way of creating content on WordPress sites. 

WordPress continues to be updated with new features and refinements, and we recommend keeping any installation up-to-date to patch any security issues.

Is there a difference between and

There are two versions of WordPress; and They’re both built on the same underlying code, but come with an important distinction. is the underlying open source project, which you self-install onto a web server, and have access to the underlying database. You have complete control over how the website looks and operates. It is managed by the WordPress Foundation and any developer can contribute to the source code. is a custom version of that is managed by Automattic Inc. This means that your website will run on their servers, and you are, in effect, a customer to Automattic. You have less control over your website, but it is quick to set up. Automattic contributes to the open source project, but they do not own it. 

So is WordPress right for me? 

WordPress is a powerful content management system that is in active development by a dedicated community. You can tailor a lot of the features to your own needs, and its live preview functionality lets you see changes you make on the site in real-time before you press save. There’s definitely benefits to going down a WordPress installation. Here are three:

Ease of use

WordPress is renowned for its simple interface, allowing you or your team to easily update and manage content without having to worry about the underlying code that powers your site. And, given its ubiquity, it’s very likely your team will have encountered the CMS before (but if not we can offer support). 

Lower development costs

By leaning on the work of the active WordPress developer community, you can save yourself a lot of time (and money) by using existing themes and plug-ins. In the words of our Senior Front End Web Developer, “Don’t repeat yourself”, and if the functionality you’re after can be installed with just a few clicks, that’s a win for everyone. Similarly, it is often quicker to find a theme you like and then customise it to your own branding, rather than start from scratch. 

Perhaps the best example of that is the existence of mobile apps to manage WordPress content, meaning you can upload blogs or tweak website copy on the go.

Highly extensible 

The popularity of WordPress means it is already supported by hundreds, if not thousands, of other services. You can quickly spin up a commerce platform with WooCommerce, easily plug-in your analytic tools of choice, or integrate with social media and mailing platforms. 

Why might I choose a bespoke build?

Although WordPress is perfect for a great number of people, it’s not right for everyone. We’re perfectionists at Brew Digital, and if we think your needs are better served with a bespoke build, contact us to support you with that process. 

Complex or custom functionality

As we’ve ascertained, WordPress is a very flexible platform and you can do a lot with it. However, if your needs are particularly complex, or you require a very specific function, it may be more challenging to mould WordPress to your requirements than to just build a website from the ground up that’s tailored to those needs. 

Performance optimisation  

Building on the first point, when your website is built from the ground up with a particular focus or function in mind, you can design the underlying architecture in a way that ensures a fast and responsive experience. WordPress’s utilitarian approach means your site might be burdened with code bloat, including features and functionality that you have no need for. 


Firstly, this is not to say WordPress is insecure – far from it. But, the reality is that when you build on the world’s most popular platform it is going to be a popular target for hackers and widespread vulnerabilities. You do also have to consider that security risks can arise from outdated themes and plugins. Sometimes, the less dependencies your website has, the more secure it is. The key is to ensure you don’t neglect your site and keep informed about the latest security updates. This is something we can do for you. But bespoke is definitely the way to go if you have very stringent security requirements. 

There are pros and cons to any platform choice when designing a website. Brew Digital are experts at web development and maintenance, we’re on-hand to support and advise you. Get in touch today and let’s discuss how to meet your needs. 

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