For the last several months we've begun to use Wordpress on a number of projects, first simply for blogs, and eventually as a full-blown content management system. This was something as a change in mindset for OSS, we previously shunned off the shelf software in favor of building our own solutions for every project. Usually when creating a site with off the shelf tools there is always some manner of customization, unless there is very little unique functionality. Most times it took more work to modify the code than it did to write it from scratch and hence why we always used our own tools.
Wordpress began its life as a blogging platform and as it matured we began to use it for projects that needed a robust blogging solution. Using it for anything more than blogging would involve serious hacking of the code base and would run into compatibility issues at each version upgrade. Fast forward several years and Wordpress has matured into a solid content management platform for small and medium sized business websites. What this means is that a business owner can have a fully featured website with a variety of tools such as rich media, email marketing, and complete control of editing content faster and cheaper than before.
Wordpress also benefits from a very active developer community that delivers an array of plug-ins. Think of plugins as "apps" that add functionality not included with Wordpress out of the box, plug-ins can do everything from creating images galleries to providing firewalls, protecting your site from malicious attacks. Plug-ins allow us to add commonly requested features more easily than if we had to create them on our own, we can then pass these savings back to our clients.
As great as Wordpress is, we don't use it on every project for a number of reasons. Wordpress is just one possible tool that we can employ and isn't always the right one. Some projects such as social networking sites are better suited to other publishing platforms such as Drupal or require an exotic database setup not optimized for Wordpress. Large enterprise based projects are also out of the picture for Wordpress at this time due our concerns regarding scalability and perceptions of using a "blogging" tool for "serious" projects. On November 9th, Wordpress was awarded the 2009 Open Source CMS Award beating out heavyweights Drupal, Joomla and Plone.