Open Source is one of the buzz words in the tech world today and almost synonymously used with big projects like Wikipedia, Drupal, AND WordPress.
It is now common knowledge that WordPress powers about 27% of world's websites which roughly amounts to 74.6 million. But do we know that the number one feature that sets WordPress apart from other Content Management Systems (CMS) is – its 44000 plugins?! These plugins have been downloaded 286,000,000+ times and the number is continuously growing. So what makes WordPress plugins so powerful?
Being open source makes WordPress and its plugins powerful because it just means that users of the software are free to do whatever they want with its source code, even redistribute it after altering it as a different product.
But it sounds scary right?! That anyone can use your hard work, modify, and even resell it? So what's the benefit that a software developer gets out of creating it? And what advantage do you as a business owner get from using open source WordPress plugins?
Let's look at how open source plugins benefits both businesses and developers:
Versatility & Superior Quality
If you are running a business, open source software and plugins provide for you exactly what you need for your business. It is FLEXIBLE and ensures QUALITY. You can tailor and modify the application as your company goals demand, as needed by your customers, and as required by changes in your external business environment. There is no restriction for using software or plugin as it comes. You can change to add features that you need and omit features that you don't. Users and developers contribute to the solution to make it to something that they would like to use. This makes open source solutions technically superior.
The vast majority of WordPress plugins are AFFORDABLE and priced in such a way that anyone can buy. Open source software and plugins are also seems to be free most of the times. This reason alone should be enough for businesses to adopt the open source plugins of WordPress. Not only do you save on your financial expenditures but you are also getting the same benefits as professional and proprietary licensed software, such as Microsoft Windows and Office.
Highly Secured & Reliable
Open source plugins and software are also SECURED. They are free from the vendor's vision, dictates, requirements, and timetables. And they are constantly under the supervision of many other developers who help each other out. When this happens, a problem is likely to get noticed and fixed quickly. Enhancements get implemented speedily. The more users and developers are using and testing an open source solution, the more evident it is that the plugin is updated and any problems present can be resolved relatively fast. Not only are more bugs discovered in open source plugins but they are also resolved before they can cause serious harm.
On the other hand, licensed software can only be modified by authorized personnel. People outside the company are most likely to not even be aware of the bugs and problems present. Closed source alternatives also run the risk of a new bug discovery after a major release. They can take a long time for the fix to be applied since outside developers make no contribution.
A Helpful Community That's Always Active
Open source plugins are built by an ACTIVE COMMUNITY of qualified, knowledgeable and passionate people, both teams and individuals. These people believe in the philosophy of software innovation and growth of software through openly flowing creative ideas. Consequently the help they provide in developing the software is always free and out of free will. End User satisfaction is their focus, instead of profits.
This does not mean that open source plugins don't cost anything. Many of them do. But what it means is that since the source code is open for all to modify, users learn to value the product enough to willing to pay for it, however much it costs.
Developers who create open source plugins, care about the importance of freedom in innovation and want their software to be usable and approachable by all. You will find support, documentation, videos, webinars, email lists, forums, wikis, newsgroups, and even live chats for every popular open source project. When others in the WordPress community contribute together, the passion, knowledge, ideas and speed it brings in building the plugin is unmatchable.
Developers Earn Recognition
From the point of view of developers, the WordPress repository grants an immense opportunity and platform to GAIN EXPOSURE AND APPROVAL for their plugins. The user base in the WordPress repository is about 1000 times larger than anywhere else. Thus, developers can put their plugin there and make it downloadable for free and the code should be available for the end user to modify. Customer value should be created in such a way that users feel the need to come back and purchase the pro/paid versions.
It also feels good to give away something as large and sophisticated as a plugin away to anyone and everyone to customize. Developers and software engineers FEEL ENTITLED and a sense of pride in contributing to the community of open source software. Developers can also choose to make their product strong with attractive presentation, marketing and reliable support to make it long lasting.
As a business owner you also feel good that you are utilizing something in the best way possible because you can customize and fit it to how you like.
Have you had any experience using WordPress plugins or any Open Source solutions? Share with us your experiences, good or bad, in the comments below!