When WordPress was first launched in 2003 it entered a market already crowded with blogging platforms and there wasn’t any real excitement about it at first, but that quickly changed. Today it’s by far the most popular package for blogging and content creation, and over 23 percent of the top 10 million websites are based on it. Why did it become so popular, and how has it maintained a dominant position in such a fast-changing market?

One obvious reason for WordPress to attract users is its unbeatable price – it’s free. There are plenty of paid extras available but the basic package is available for nothing and that’s enough to let you get a site up and running. This explanation isn’t enough on its own though, because most other blogging platforms are also free.

What makes WordPress stands out is its versatility. It was originally aimed at blogs, but has now spread out far beyond that niche. That’s because unlike most other blog platforms its built-in options go a long way beyond just adding new posts. Other pages can also be added, the landing page can be configured almost endlessly with links to posts and other content, and an almost endless array of plugins let users add more features and a large degree of interactivity to their site. Traditional blogging systems simply lacked the flexibility built into WordPress, but at the same time they were often more difficult to use.

While WordPress has a huge range of capabilities that can be accessed by advanced users, it still offers plenty to those who haven’t learned its coding and markup language. Simple interfaces make it easy to create, organize and manage content without having to learn HTML or any proprietary coding. The results are also impressive – compare the average personal blog or homepage now with the clunky design and primary colors we got used to in the late 1990s, and the contrast is amazing. Some work is needed to make an outstanding site in WordPress, but anyone can make a decent one.

Of course if you want to put in that extra work even more doors open. You can learn some coding and build your own themes, but this can be time-consuming. A quicker alternative for many is to hire a freelancer to design a custom theme for them, or buy one from the vast libraries available online. There’s a vast choice of plugins too, many of them free. Almost any functionality can be added to a WordPress installation, and it’s easy to do; just download and unpack the plugin and it’s ready to go. WordPress has also stayed up to date with the growth of mobile devices. Native applications exist for all the most popular mobile platforms, including Android and iOS, giving a large feature set that’s tailored to the devices instead of relying on a cut-down browser version.

Web technology is a very rapidly evolving field, but for the last decade WordPress has managed to keep up. It’s now built a very solid position for itself through a combination of attractive pricing, simplicity and immense power. That means it’s very likely to hold on to its dominance for a while yet.