WordPress: A 💖 Story

Below is a summary of my keynote at CMS Africa Summit 2017, a community summit in Africa.

I love working with WordPress. I’m not a web developer, but I’ve tried a lot of different solutions for making websites. My first proper site was built with Flash, and though it was cool back then to have an intro film, it was a nuisance to update the site. Every single comma update needed an FTP connection.

Exploring CMSs

We looked for easier solutions for our band’s website. Insert MySpace, purevolume, and Facebook. These were the first content management systems (CMSs) that I used, but they always felt very limiting. So when I wanted to start sharing more of my personal insights, I went exploring again and discovered WordPress.com. I was sold instantly. I could focus on content, and not lose time with stupid small updates.

A few years later, I was involved with the creation of the website for Breeze, a Christian youth organisation. The team outsourced the development and it was built in Typo3, probably the most horrible CMS I’ve ever worked with. The user manual for our authors to write a simple post was 14 pages long. It was during this time, however, that I discovered how much I loved working with websites. Around that time, I started wondering if I should try to find a job in web development at some point.

Self-hosted WordPress

A few month later, Philip and I discovered WordPress.org and we realised straight away that Typo3 wasn’t what we should have used. A self-hosted WordPress website would make it much easier to not only create and manage content; but also to customise, update and edit the design. Breeze wasn’t super interested, so we decided to split off our culture reviews and started CULTUURSHOCK. The development of the Breeze website took about half a year. By contrast, Philip and I got the website of CULTUURSHOCK up and running in about 4 to 5 hours.

Our CULTUURSHOCK website allowed us to do something we loved: writing reviews, interviewing bands, and evaluating concerts. And it was easy. In about 4 years of working with CULTUURSHOCK, I interviewed some of my favourite bands: Thrice, Oh, Sleeper, Underoath, Haste The Day, and MxPx. Our WordPress website gave us an entry: it looked professional so we must have known what we were doing. The only time ever I didn’t get press tickets was for an interview with Beyoncé, and I knew I was pushing my luck on that one.

I, WordPress professional

When I moved to South Africa and I was in need of finding a new job, the itch for looking towards the web industry came up again. I applied at WooThemes, got the job and started discovering the world of eCommerce and how WordPress made that as easy as possible as well.

I love working with open source software. I love that our company Automattic not just uses open source CMSs, but has the philosophy for open source in its very core. On our landing page, you can read the following two quotes:

  • We are passionate about making
    the web a better place.
  • We don’t make software for free,
    we make it for freedom.

WordPress is not just a tool for sharing content, it’s a tool for empowerment. I feel very privileged I can be a part of this amazing movement.

📸 David Opati Aswani