Everyone knows WordPress is a big deal in the website building/content management world.
As if that weren’t enough, a LOT of the most popular and reputable sites use WordPress.
Obviously part of why it’s popular is because it’s good. So good that you probably use it or are strongly considering it.
But that popularity also raises questions:
How do you stand out with your WordPress site? Is WordPress worth using in 2021, or is it a giant of the past? How do you avoid the common mistakes?
Well, don’t worry. This list of trends and insights will answer those questions — and more.
Item #1: WordPress accounts for about 34% of all websites.
You might have heard things in this vein before, but let me show you the numbers:
As you can see, WordPress DOMINATES the CMS and site-builder world by powering 34% of websites in 2019.
When I first saw this chart, I was surprised by how many sites the next competitor — Joomla — powered.
And then I realized something:
Joomla powers 2.9% of sites, not 29% of sites. I was seeing it wrong…the gap really is that big.
So WordPress absolutely dwarfs any other entity in terms of the number of sites powered by it.
The same goes for its percentage of the CMS market, at a massive 60%, which makes for an even larger gap between it and the next largest competitor.
Item #2: WordPress is not just the largest CMS, it’s also growing the most.
It’s easy to expect that the biggest player would find slower growth after a certain size, a peak.
But this isn’t the case with WordPress, at least not yet:
Before you say it, yes — there are slight differences between these numbers and the previous figure I showed you.
But if you look closely, you’ll find the numbers are nearly the same. With a difference of a tenth of a percent or so, I’d say this only corroborates the first stat I showed you.
But the main reason I’m showing you this is because of the percent change since early July: only WordPress and Shopify have had significant enough changes to even be worth noting.
And between the two, WordPress’ change is significantly higher than Shopify’s. Even though Shopify is a flashy and newer competitor, WordPress is still maintaining solid growth.
To be fair, Kinsta points out that on a bigger scale — from 2018 to 2019 — some of the smaller site or ecommerce builders have had the most growth: Squarespace and Wix more than doubled their market shares.
BUT, Wix, Shopify, and Squarespace are a little more limited than WordPress and are more “site-builders” than “content management systems.”
So yes, there is overlap between those two categories, but at least among CMS, WordPress is still growing the most.
And more importantly, the key thing is that WordPress is still growing at a strong rate, even if it’s not the absolute strongest for all website-creating software.
Item #3: A MINORITY of WordPress sites are using the latest version of WordPress.
You might think this is boring at first, but it’s a great way of figuring out where you stand in the WordPress crowd.
Best of all, these stats come straight from the MOST REPUTABLE source of all: WordPress.org itself!
As you can see, less than 40% of WordPress sites are running the latest version of WordPress (5.2).
Some people don’t update because of laziness, some may genuinely prefer older versions of WordPress (especially as the newer ones have a new editor called Gutenberg).
And it’s true, the number of users on version 5.2 will increase over time. But the key takeaway?
If you are good about updating your site, you’ll be one of the FEW to take on WordPress’ latest updates and thus have best performance (usually).
Item #4: An even smaller MINORITY of WordPress sites are using the latest PHP and MySQL versions.
This comes from the same source as the last one, but the numbers are even starker.
That’s because while nearly 40% of sites are using the latest WordPress version, BARELY ANY are using the latest PHP versions or MySQL versions.
Seriously. Here’re the stats:
To break it down: less than 7% of users are using the second-to-latest version (7.3) and the number of people on the latest version don’t even show up because there are so few of them.
And with MySQL…
A supermajority of users are on versions 5.5 – 5.7. The number of users on the latest versions is astonishingly low: 5.8% are using versions 10.0 – 10.3.
Once again, the amount of people on latest version is so small it’s not even represented in the infographic.
I should clear something up quickly: this doesn’t mean that a huge amount of WordPress sites are doing something really wrong. It’s normal and not that bad to use an outdated version of PHP or MySQL.
PHP is the programming language that WordPress uses. For most people (especially those who aren’t programming) using the latest PHP version won’t matter much.
It’s kind of similar with MySQL databases in that for most users, what they have will appear fine.
But the thing is, it’s not that difficult to upgrade to the latest MySQL or PHP version.
And when you do, the support and resources you can find will be better and your website will be faster and more secure.
So there you go: by working on these two SIMPLE things (I’d prioritize PHP) you can become part of a very tiny minority experiencing better performance and support!
Item #5: WooCommerce has almost 30% of the ecommerce platform market.
Yeah, WooCommerce is no joke: to be precise, by the latest count WooCommerce holds 29.25% of the ecommerce platform market.
This means that WooCommerce is sort of like WordPress, but for ecommerce: it holds more of its market than any other platform, at close to a third of the sites in that area.
For perspective, Squarespace has an 18.79% market share and Shopify has a 10.38% market share at the time of this writing, and those are the second and third highest market shares.
The implication? You’re in good company if you use WooCommerce. TONS of people use it and have used it, and so there’s also a TON of resources you can consult to make the most of it.
This is also a pretty good indicator of how effective it is. Not only is it popular, but it’s GROWING. So it’s still definitely worth investigating, if not using.
There are some risks to it — but I’ll talk about that later. Before then:
Item #6: It’s gotta be minimal.
I almost don’t need to tell you this. Almost.
There’s about a 100% chance you’ve seen a site with a minimalist design recently. This means a site with…well, minimal stuff on the page.
Simple colors, straight-to-the-point text and pictures. A visitor can understand your site almost immediately. Navigation is simple and smooth. Typically there will be a small number of pages — sometimes, only one.
It’s not just an “overall” trend in site design, it’s also a particularly strong trend in WordPress design. If you look through WordPress themes, you’ll find a lot are minimalist or on the minimalist spectrum.
One of the under-appreciated signs that minimalism is a trend worth investing in for your WordPress site:
Design activists, ethicists, and engineers who are fed up with the way the modern internet and modern app design is psychologically manipulative have been looking at minimalism as an upgrade from distracting, content-heavy sites.
You might think that’s unrelated, but it means two things. First, your minimalist site is HEALTHIER for your visitors, not just less frustrating.
Second, even the people who stand far apart from the rest of the tech world are embracing minimalist designs.
This shows how strong the minimalist trend is — everyone is getting behind it.
Let me put the nail in the coffin. A survey by hubspot found that the VAST majority of people just want a site that’s easy to understand and navigate through.
So it’s no wonder that a lot of WordPress sites have been frontrunners in the minimalist design trend. All I’m saying is…no need to join that trend at the last minute.
Item #7: WordPress sites are BY FAR infected more often than sites on other platforms.
You know that WordPress is very popular — and that means it’s popular for hackers and viruses, too.
A quick note before anyone complains: yes, the Sucuri report was for the year 2018.
But it was published WELL INTO 2019. Why? ‘Cause Sucuri was looking at an insane amount of information and it took a while to synthesize.
And you better believe this is SUPER relevant for 2019, especially as WordPress continues to dominate the CMS and site-building market.
Anyway, let me clear some things up first:
First, this was taken from requests received by Sucuri. Meaning it’s not all security or cleanup requests, not by a long shot.
Second, Sucuri has a WordPress plugin, which increases the likelihood that people will request Sucuri’s help.
Third, a lot of this is due to mistakes or neglect from the people running the sites, mixed in with bad luck. Plus, WordPress is just in general way more popular than the other CMS analyzed.
BUT in my opinion, this is still really important data: it shows without a doubt that WordPress sites are HIGHLY TARGETED.
Even when you take into account the other three things I just told you, this is STILL a HUGE percentage.
It’s not that WordPress is inherently less secure. But I’ll talk about that in a sec. Because I want to build on this stat with another one, first…
Item #8: WordPress infections have been INCREASING.
This also comes from the aforementioned Sucuri report. Except this will put the other figure into a bit of a sharper perspective:
Not only is WordPress far and away the most commonly infected CMS (which you could have guessed anyway), infections have been increasing.
Like I said last time, the key takeaway isn’t that WordPress is less secure fundamentally than other CMS platforms.
The key takeaway is that WordPress is popular and commonly targeted, but as long as you take care of your own site, you can avoid most security problems.
For example, the report points out that nearly 37% of the requests were from people running an outdated version of WordPress.
We, at Half Pant Hippo, help our clients by updating their WordPress to the latest version and also make sure that their plugins are update to date too.
So you shouldn’t avoid WordPress, you should just remember to be cautious and detail-oriented!
Item #9: These are the plugins with the most vulnerabilities…
This builds on well to the last statistic, not just because it’s about security: the source for this number is WPScan, a free WordPress vulnerability scanner sponsored by Sucuri!
The WPScan Vulnerability Database is updated DAILY and counts over 14,000 vulnerabilities.
Anyway, here’re the LATEST numbers on plugin vulnerability. This chart lists plugins in order of the number of vulnerabilities they account for:
This doesn’t mean you should avoid WooCommerce, by the way. It just means a mix of things:
It means that hackers target these plugins because they’re popular, the same way they target WordPress above other CMS because WordPress is popular.
It also has to do with the management of site-owners and webmasters.
The takeaway: be wary and exercise caution, not only for sketchy plugins but the most popular ones as well!
Item #10: WordPress.com is pretty good at protecting sites from DMCA takedowns.
First, yes: this is specifically in reference to WordPress.com, not WordPress.org. That’s because WordPress.com is the host as well as CMS, so intellectual property requests and strikes are in its purview.
Now, it’s not exactly that WordPress.com is GREAT at protecting your site from copyright infringement claims.
And naturally, ultimate responsibility falls to you…but it’s absolutely common for law-abiding, non-plagiarizing creators to get content removed because of a background song (stereotypically).
In the last 6 months of 2018, WordPress.com only oversaw removal of content from 13% of copyright or intellectual property-infringement notices.
The numbers really do vary month-to-month, and in the past the averages have been higher. You can view more in-depth numbers from their transparency report here.
Nonetheless, lately WordPress has been doing a good job (from the perspective of site owners) in being a pretty safe place to be creative online.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of things about WordPress trends and insights. You’ll keep hearing them.
But the thing is, some of these aren’t super reliable. I’ve noticed a lot of people will just repeat whatever WordPress-related thing they hear.
In fairness, the numbers here aren’t brought to you by hard scientific research, and they’re not perfect. Some of them are limited or influenced by certain factors.
But that’s inevitable in this field, in this industry.
And nonetheless, at the moment, they represent some of the most current and well-founded insights about WordPress around.
So just to recap:
WordPress is popular, and still going strong. The same goes for WooCommerce. That being said, you’ve gotta be very attentive with your site and plugins.
WordPress is a powerful platform with popularity based in fact, not fiction. But the best way to make the most of it?
Paying attention to the facts!
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I know, I know — you’re not interested in reading fake news. Well over here at Half Pant Hippo, we’re not interested in delivering fake news.
So here’s our list of resources. Once again, remember that this stuff is never hard science — that being said, I think these sources have solid foundations and are good, recent research.
So here you go: