A common question we’re often asked is whether or not WordPress really is free and if so what are businesses paying for when they opt to go with a WordPress website?
The short answer is WordPress is sort of free. WordPress is an opensource content management framework that is developed and supported by a community of developers. Yes, you can download and install the default WordPress installation on your web server and use it without charge.
That said, when a business decides to go with WordPress, they will often incur costs above and beyond what’s offered by the framework. This can include the cost for custom design, developments, plugins, hosting and so on.
Again, that’s the short answer and often this explanation is enough for most clients but time and again we’re required to give a more detailed explanation of exactly what our clients are getting for free and what they’re paying for.
What Does WordPress Provide For Free?
As mentioned above, WordPress is an opensource framework that’s developed by a team of core developers and has been contributed to by thousands of community developers and supporters. It has grown to become the largest, most stable, powerful and flexible content management system available anywhere.
At it’s core WordPress offers users the ability to setup and run their own content management website or blog. Features include a highly manageable administrative control panel, theme and plugin architecture. An estimated 20% of the web is powered by WordPress.
Naturally, after praising the power of WordPress to our client’s the question then becomes why aren’t the developers of WordPress charging for this software? I suppose there’s a feeling that something this good can’t be free. There must be a catch?!
Simply put WordPress isn’t controlled by one company or entity so it can’t be sold as software. The project was started by co-founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little as an open source project and licensed under the GNU license model. It started as a free project and will remain free!
What’s Not Free with WordPress?
It might seem like an obvious answer but customization is not free with WordPress. Developing a website that runs off of the WordPress platform will require the development of a custom theme, plugins and additional functionality. In other words, the need for web design and web development services aren’t negated by using WordPress. If anything they are enhanced!
WordPress really takes website developments to a whole new level. Clients are able to use WordPress’ standard feature set to manage their websites and developers are able to add additional functionality by building on the robust platform. It really is a win-win!
Of course if you wanted to stick with the base WordPress installation, you can always find free themes to install and free plugins to add additional functionality. Then again, you get what you pay for. Free is free but to truly get real power and flexibility out of WordPress, it’s best done with customization.
WordPress is free and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. It’s a great tool for bloggers and small businesses with a tight budget but WordPress is far more than a free content management platform. It’s an evolved web development framework that can be used to build complex, easily-managed and equally amazing websites.