WordPress Winning By Being Free as in…

In the future of blogging, “the winner will be WordPress.” That’s the way it seems to Philip Leigh, writing at MediaPost (via WordPress Publisher Blog). Philip goes on to imply that blogging will be an important factor in the future of media.

He identifies two reasons for the success of WordPress: it’s free, and it’s free. He uses open source rather than free, or free as in speech, or GPL’d, to describe the second cause of success. The first cause is free as in beer, gratis, cost of zero, etc.

I refer to the MediaPost article, not just to quote it – it’s been fairly widely quoted already – but to remark on some of the questions it implicitly raises. In particular, consider the following.

WordPress is not merely a blogging tool. It’s a platform that can lead to an explosion of new media properties capable of text, video, audio, music, animation, interactivity, online merchandising, podcasting, and even social networking.

WordPress isn’t the only such platform. It isn’t the only such platform that’s both free and free. Drupal and Joomla spring to mind. So what is it about WordPress that will make it the winner? Is it the trajectory from simple blogging tool to rich publishing platform?

WordPress and Joomla: Smashing Comparison

Once upon a time, choosing a Content Management System was a matter of finding the CMS that could do what you needed it to (if you doubt this, you might want to see the fussy notes at the bottom of this post). Over time, though, CMSs have tended to become more capable and more similar to each other. And so, according to Marco Solazzi at Smashing Magazine:

Picking the right CMS is then a matter of “mental models”: choosing the one that best fits our vision of how a Web application should work and what it should provide to users and administrators.

Marco goes on to compare the respective models of WordPress and Joomla, with particular emphasis on themes and extensions. I skimmed and nodded my way through the WordPress parts, and had some “that’s… different” thoughts on the Joomla parts. My reaction, of course, backs up the above quote from Marco.

Looking at the comments on Marco’s article, many of them are similar to mine: I’m used to WordPress (or Joomla), and so lean towards it. There are several What about Drupal? comments. There are also a some links to other comparisons between CMSs. By the way, I compared WordPress and Drupal recently, but not in any great detail. Summary: the two are becoming more similar.

That brings us back to, and reinforces, Marco’s above-quoted point about how CMS choices are made these days.

Fussy footnotes:

  1. I suspect that developers have long tended to go with their favorite CMSs. People in general tend to use the tools they know and like.
  2. I still consider CMS to be a very strange term.