Today’s Internet is a far different place than it was 15 years ago, when the prospect of building a website was far out of reach for the average user. With advances in web technology and the widespread availability of high-speed connections, it’s easier than ever before to build a website for any purpose and carve out your own little corner of the World Wide Web. Some of the most popular platforms for building websites today don’t require any knowledge of coding at all to get up and running—but all of them rely on the hard work and expertise of web developers (like our graduates!) to keep the Net spinning.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular website platforms that define the modern web. Where did they come from, and how did they become the accessible and widespread platforms they are today?
- Creators: Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little
- Original Purpose: An offshoot and replacement for the b2/cafeblog blogging platform
- Market Share: Over 27 million live websites
When the original creator of the popular b2/cafeblog platform was forced to give up maintenance work on the project, college student Matt Mullenweg decided to take the reins. He developed his own fork of b2 with the help of Mike Little and released WordPress 1.0 in early 2004. From the start, it was a different kind of blogging platform that had an approachable dashboard and features that would set it up as an excellent website platform in the years to come. These included permalinks friendly to search engines, the ability to upgrade and add plugins, and easy comment moderation. Today, WordPress is the single most popular website platform on the Internet, powering an estimated 38.8% of all sites on the Internet.
- Creators: Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan
- Original Purpose: Result of a frustrating experience trying to build a website for a different startup
- Market Share: Over 3.8 million live websites
In 2006, three young men sat on a beach trying to build a website for a new startup venture. As they worked to navigate the trappings of websites at the time—design and development software, file transfer protocols, and the like—they learned the hard way just how difficult it was for someone to build a website. That experience sparked the creation of Wix, which was designed from the outset to provide anyone, even non-developers, the resources they’d need to build websites for any project.
- Creator: Anthony Casalena
- Original Purpose: A personal blogging platform
- Market Share: Over 2.2 million live websites
University of Maryland student Anthony Casalena built Squarespace for his own personal use as a way to host his blog. After sharing with friends and family, it wasn’t long before he began exploring ways to grow his side project into a full business. With investments from his father and a university incubator program, plus the support of an army of paying beta testers, Casalena launched Squarespace the business from his dorm room—and was earning $1 million in annual revenue by graduation. With that kind of success, it’s no surprise that he was able to move to New York City, hire a team, and secure additional investment to grow his drag-and-drop platform. Since then, Squarespace has taken considerable market share thanks to creative and visible marketing.
- Creators: Andrew Eddie, Brian Teeman, Johan Janssens, Jean-Marie Simonet, and others
- Original Purpose: A fork of Mambo designed to stay true to the platform’s original open-source values
- Market Share: Over 1.5 million live websites
Joomla is the modern descendent of Mambo, an open-source content management system that was designed to build websites with an online dashboard. By 2005, the group managing Mambo had begun diverging from the platform’s core values of remaining free and open-source for all to use. As a result, many Mambo developers began forking their own platforms off of Mambo, including the team that would go on to build Joomla. Today, Joomla is known for its highly customizable nature. The platform is supported by both internal developers and an external community who use its open-source documentation to build extensions to help Joomla users build websites for any purpose.
- Creators: Dries Butaert
- Original Purpose: A small news site for a group of college friends to post updates
- Market Share: Over 560,000 live websites
Reliable Internet connections were hard to come by at the University of Antwerp at the turn of the millennium. Students Dries Buytaert and Hans Snijder took matters into their own hands and built a wireless bridge to share Hans’s modem with a group of eight students. Buytaert then built a simple news website for the group where they could share updates about their days or the status of the network. When Buytaert graduated, he took their news board to the web as drop.org, where it gained a bigger following of engineers interested in experimenting with Internet technology. Enter Drupal: Buytaert’s content management system that powered drop.org. WordPress might power the most websites by number, but at the enterprise level, Drupal is a commercial powerhouse.
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