How Many Websites Use WordPress? I’ve asked myself this question several times during the last months. Finally, one day I decided to investigate and I was dumbfounded. I just couldn’t believe that number. 3%, sure, 8%, maybe. But 32%? A third of the world’s websites run on one CMS, yeah, fat chance. So, naturally, I went to Google and began searching in what would become a rather feeble attempt for me to validate my skepticism.
Even as my searches became more and more desperate, I was still only finding evidence in support of this claim. Sure, a few sources claimed 30.6% and a few (mostly outdated sources) claimed 27.5%, but nothing much lower. So, it seems to be true that almost a third of the internet is run by WordPress.
In this article, I will attempt to address how this is possible, and what the future holds for this CMS giant. First of all, why is WordPress so popular? What advantages does it have over other methods of web design?
How Many Websites Use WordPress
WordPress is cheap, quick to build websites on and easy to use, that’s why it controls so much of the market. For people without any technical experience, WordPress allows them to have a website in just a few days. More importantly, WordPress allows them to have a website for free (albeit with limitations)
Namely, WordPress has drastically lowered the barrier of entry into web design. Take a look at the kind of people who need websites. They are generally small and medium business owners. Look a little further and you’ll notice they share a few qualities that match up pretty well with the strengths of WordPress. They usually aren’t highly technical. They are busy and stretched for time. And, finally, they desperately want solutions that are cost effective.
Compare these qualities with the strengths of WordPress and we’re beginning to get a much clearer picture of why WordPress runs 32% of the internet.
While there are many benefits to using WordPress, it doesn’t take a genius to work out there are also some negatives. Let’s discuss that next, what disadvantages does WordPress have compared to other methods of web design?
Disadvantages of WordPress
Creating a website from scratch is, in almost every technical way, superior to creating one with WordPress. WordPress itself is largely a “questionably designed” piece of software. This “division of code” that we call WordPress is at best in dire need of optimization and at worst in need of a near-complete doover. Further, the popularity of WordPress also creates many issues as it attempts to cater to so many needs. While WordPress can do many things adequately, it can’t compete with the flexibility that offers a custom-made website.
The security of most WordPress installations is also quite poor. Many plugins that users lean on for support and features also contribute a lot to these security issues. These plugins and the general mixture of WordPress components creates a significant bloat on websites. This leads to significantly longer load ties compared to alternatives.
Despite all these negatives, WordPress continues to hold such a large market share. Again, how many websites use WordPress?
Why is WordPress so Successful?
We must take a look at the people actually purchasing websites. Imagine Joe the plumber. Joe owns his business and is making a decent living from it. He’s earning enough to get by but is still conscious about his business’s spending. Joe is not very tech savvy and is looking into having a website made to give his business an online presence. Joe represents the small-medium business owner. People like Joe make up a lot of the business for web developers. Now let’s compare Joe’s choices.
Joe can purchase a WordPress website that will be adequate and provide info on his business and where to contact him. Note: it is assumed that the WordPress designed site is much cheaper as it would take the developer much less time to create. Alternatively, he can choose to purchase a custom designed website for a much higher price. This website will be done to a higher standard and will have all the features of technical superiority we discussed above. Which site do you think Joe would/should choose?
My money is on the WordPress site. All these technical benefits are very real and definitely important to some. But frankly, why would Joe care? Joe doesn’t need anything much outside of a few basic pages (think: landing, about, contact us etc.) and some pretty pictures. WordPress is plenty capable of delivering that. Security is also not a significant issue here, especially if some basic care is taken to keep the install and plugins up to date. Joe isn’t doing anything of any special interest to a hacker. Both Joe’s chances of facing security issues and their resulting problems are lowered significantly.
And that’s how WordPress holds such an unreasonably large market share. They provide a simple service that makes it quick and easy to throw together a basic website. The thing is that this basic website is all most businesses need. So, where to from here?
The Future of WordPress
Honestly, I don’t see WordPress collapsing anytime soon. On the contrary, I’d expect significant growth in their market share for at least the near future. This prediction is based on a few things. First of all, some of WordPress’ main limitations seem to be working themselves out. For example, as internet speeds continue to increase, bloat matters less and less. Is there really a difference (to the average user) between loading a website in 400ms and 500ms? Not really.
Further, the longer WordPress hangs around the harder it is for someone to topple them. Though there are many, many issues with the underlying structure and framework of WordPress, it won’t be easy for a competitor to take their market share. WordPress’s size is itself one of its biggest strengths. For everything you want to do on WordPress, there are three dozen plugins for it and a dozen forum posts explaining how to do it. The next biggest CMS is Joomla. Good luck finding anything close to that for Joomla. The availability of outside resources for WordPress just completely eclipses that of their competition. This makes it that much harder for users to jump ship, and therefore, that much harder for other CMS platforms to take hold.
Recent data also backs up my prediction. From 2010–2017 WordPress grew significantly while the 2nd and 3rd most popular CMS platforms both shrunk. Simply, things are looking very good for WordPress.
How many websites use WordPress? A third of the Internet. And we just saw why.
The story of WordPress and its success can be summarized as the defeat of ‘technical superiority’ at the hands of ‘business needs’. While other web development methods provide a technically superior product in nearly every way, WordPress is able to provide an adequate product at a fraction of the cost. For most small-medium businesses, the benefits gained by custom design either don’t matter or are outweighed by the increased cost of development. These benefits and WordPress’s sheer size indicate that WordPress isn’t likely to go anywhere but up in the near future.