The History of WordPress Web Design: Where it all began

Sep 19, 2016 | Website Design, WordPress

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Kevin Fouche

The History of WordPress Web Design: Where it all began

Posted by Kevin Fouche, Pixel Fish Director

Kevin handles the planning, design, launch and training of every website that Pixel Fish creates. He ensures that every website is highly engaging and aligned with our client’s goals. With over 20 years of design and web industry experience to draw upon, Kevin aims to pass on his knowledge to our clients and like-minded businesses wanting to grow their online presence.

WordPress has risen to be one of the premier website platforms in the world.

And the amazing part of it’s story, is that unlike global corporations such as Apple and Google, it has relied solely on a community of web-loving developers and designers to achieve its continued success.

Here is the true story of WordPress Web Design…

The History of WordPress Web Design

WordPress is a classic case of getting rich on the Internet by giving stuff away. It started with an idea for improving an existing blogging platform and grew to be the most popular content management system on the Internet. It all started in 2003 with Matt Mullenweg, Mike Little, and a blogging platform called b2. Mullenweg wrote about the need he saw for a new platform with “the flexibility of MovableType, the parsing of TextPattern, the hackability of b2, and the ease of setup of Blogger.”

2003… In the beginning

Starting from the code base of b2, which was available under the GPL license, Mullenweg and Little released the first public version of the WordPress software on May 27, 2003. They called this version 0.7; version 1.0 followed in January of 2004. The code name for 1.0 was “Davis,” after Miles Davis, setting a pattern of naming releases after jazz musicians.


A series of releases followed rapidly, adding features such as plugins, pages, and comment moderation. WordPress grew rapidly in popularity, especially when its competitor Movable Type placed restrictions in 2004 on usage without a paid license. Many users switched to WordPress and never came back.


In 2005, Mullenweg founded the company Automattic, which created the website allowed users to create their blogs without having to install the software, though it placed serious restrictions on the available options. It’s still a very popular site for people for setting up simple blogs at no cost and with very little effort.

Version 2 of the WordPress software, released on New Year’s Eve of 2005, featured major improvements. It offered a better administrative interface and editor, and blog owners could upload images. Subsequent releases of version 2, through 2009, improved all aspects of the software, added categories and change tracking, and made it easier to upgrade both the base software and plugins. These changes marked its growth from a blogging platform to a full-fledged content management system (CMS).


The WordPress community was growing rapidly. The first WordCamp took place in San Francisco in 2006, and over 500 of these conferences have taken place since then, in many countries.


A parallel project during this time was WordPress MU, which allowed multiple blogs from a single installation. Version 3 of WordPress (“Thelonious”), released in June of 2010, merged in WordPress MU and revamped the administrative UI. It introduced the “Twenty Ten” theme, starting the tradition of having an annual theme named after the year.

In the same year, Mullenweg founded the WordPress Foundation, dedicated to ensuring perpetual free access to its software projects. In addition to the WordPress software, these projects include WordPress Themes, WordPress Plugins, and the social networking software BuddyPress. Automattic transferred ownership of the WordPress trademark and logo to the WordPress Foundation.

By the time version 3 came out, WordPress had become the most popular open-source CMS in existence. A third of the 100 most popular blogs on the Web used the software. This rose to nearly half by 2012.


2011 saw the appearance of the WooCommerce plugin, which has become one of the most popular software bases for e-commerce sites. WooThemes, which developed WooCommerce, became part of Automattic in 2015.

The release of WordPress 4.0 (“Benny”) wasn’t quite as big a deal as the earlier major releases, but its subsequent releases added responsiveness to its strengths, reflecting the rapidly growing dominance of mobile devices on the Internet. Currently it stands at version 4.6.


Today, WordPress software is the basis for a quarter of the websites in the world and holds nearly 60% of the market share of all content management systems. In 2015 there were over 660 million posts on WordPress blogs. It’s not just for bloggers working out of their homes; major sites such as Variety, eBay, Xerox, and the New York Times use it. No doubt someday a new platform will dethrone WordPress, but its creators will have a lot of work to do.

So there you have it.. The History of WordPress Web Design.

At Pixel Fish, we’re the WordPress experts. If you want a website that will present your company in the most effective way possible, contact us today.

Further Reading
How to Successfully Use Content Marketing for Ecommerce
10 Top Social Media Marketing Tips for Ecommerce
Top 10 Benefits of Content Marketing for Australian Businesses
6 Key Problems an Inbound Agency Can Solve For Your Business
5 Signs Your Business Needs a Content Marketing Agency
8 Signs of a Great Content Marketing Agency
Why Small Business SEO and Content Marketing Are Made for Each Other
Top 8 Advanced WordPress Features and Plugins to Beat Your Competition

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Kevin Fouché, Pixel Fish Director