Happy 20th Birthday, WordPress!

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a view from below of white and gold balloons, tied together with gold curly ribbon, against a clear blue sky. Overlaid on this image is a 20% transparent shot of WordPress javascript code. Photos thanks to Felipe Santana and Shahadat Rahman via Unsplash.

Back in 2003, before D’nelle had completed her undergraduate degree and while Chris was still cutting his teeth as a young drum & key tech out on his first year with LeAnn Rimes, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little were busy forking. The resulting baby, born on May 27 of that year, would go on to practically take over the internet, giving birth to innumerable children of its own. That baby — the software known as WordPress — is, without a doubt, the parent of today’s Berry Interesting Productions, Inc., alongside millions of other creations, including businesses, community organizations, and websites.

When Berry Interesting met WordPress

Berry Interesting did not start as a web development company; after many years in the Adobe Creative Suite trenches publishing newspapers, magazines, and journals, D’nelle started BIPi with a focus on primarily typesetting and design for print purposes. But the internet had put the writing on the wall for the traditional publishing industry for all to see — digital publishing would not be ignored.

On top of that, D’nelle’s work was never truly about the final, published piece; it was always about helping people to communicate and supporting their big-picture goals. Through sheer happenstance, she was introduced to WordPress in 2005 as part of her role as the Digital Media Manager at a small newspaper in Franklin, TN. After several years of webmastering and participating in development as a project manager for firms across a variety of industries in Nashville, TN, she took the plunge into development and built Berry Interesting’s first WordPress site for an eCommerce client in 2009.

Our Official Origin Story

Get the full story of how BIPi started, and how we got to where we are today

What WordPress helps us to make

The most straightforward answer to what WordPress helps us to make at Berry Interesting is “websites for our clients.” But to leave it at that would not be doing the platform justice. First of all, WordPress being a free software licensed under the GPLv2 license allowed us to use it for free. This meant that, when we were but poor 20-somethings, just starting out and still pinching pennies to afford Adobe tools, we were able to learn to use WordPress without any barrier to entry except our own time. That license also gave our clients — other microbusinesses, freelancers, artists, and entrepreneurs — the benefits of a powerful tool with no overhead directly associated with the software.

Of course, over the years, we’ve all learned that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. The WordPress software is available for anyone to download and manipulate to their own ends at no cost, but today, no one should practically consider WordPress to be free. From where we sit now, the value of that GPLv2 license is that it lowers the barrier to entry to owning and using a WordPress site while enabling a vast and rich landscape of paid developers, paid tools, and revenue-generating operations.

When we build a WordPress site for a client, or a client delegates ongoing support of that site to us, we view that site as a means to an end, a tool for making other, more esoteric things. Novo Fitness Studio doesn’t have a site for the sake of having something pretty that the owners can point to when bragging on their business; their site does work on the studio’s behalf, 24/7, bringing in recurring revenue, supporting the community they’re building in their classes, and automating work that would otherwise have to be done by a human.

WordPress isn’t just something that lets us make things. WordPress enables us to dream, create, build, and do.

What WordPress helps us to do

In large part, what WordPress helps us to do is also what it helps our clients do: run and build businesses that support the lives we want to live and the ideas we want to make manifest in the world.

To be a creator, someone who brings forth new and beautiful things to share with the world, is no small task. From the songwriter finding just the right rhyme for their next single, to the yoga instructors tapping into the perfect sequence of movements for their next class, creators are our most precious resource. WordPress helps us at Berry Interesting to support people who choose to be creators as they do the hard work of building the world.

At this 20 year mark, we find ourselves in a world that not only needs creators more than ever, but also makes being a creator incredibly difficult. WordPress mitigates that difficulty. For us, personally, it allows us the freedom of independent employment and the joy of direct and meaningful relationships with our clients. We are able to balance our work with the rest of our day in a flexible and autonomous way, putting us in the position to achieve true work-life balance, independent of time or location. It has also put us in the middle of a vibrant and world-wide community that supports our values of independence and autonomy.

What WordPress continues to do for us

The WordPress software itself might be the least important part of what WordPress the concept does for us, our clients, and the world; the WordPress community is, without a doubt, the most important result of Mullenweg and Little’s creation.

It wouldn’t have been possible for D’nelle to learn how to build WordPress sites without support from other folks using the software, and it wouldn’t have been possible for Berry Interesting to see stability, longevity, and success without the encouragement and embrace of WordCamps, local WordPress communities, and other WordPress-based agencies. We’ve met life-long friends and colleagues through planning and attending WordCamps… found new resources and educational opportunities through local meet-ups and slack workspaces… and welcomed some of our favorite clients thanks to referrals from other agencies.

Without WordPress, Berry Interesting — along with thousands if not millions of other businesses — would be hard pressed to continue operations as they stand today.

We’re just ever so glad that WordPress was born

With over 42% of the internet’s top 10 million websites using WordPress (as of 2021), it’s affected your life whether you realize it or not. So, this spring, as the 20th birthday hoopla crescendos to its peak in May, take a moment and consider how WordPress has changed the way you live. Has it connected you with others through blogs, podcasts, or networking sites? Has it supported you in running your own business? Has it given you the opportunity to learn new skills and further your professional development?

Follow along with what others have to say about how WordPress has impacted them over at Post Status – they’re going to be keeping a running list of stories just like ours in the run-up to May 27th.

​​If you’re curious about how Berry Interesting Productions can help you with your WordPress website, Drop us a line or book a consultation directly with our fearless leader, D’nelle. You can also sign up to get emails from Berry Interesting, and we’ll keep you in the loop.

by | Last Updated: Jan 11, 2023 | community

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