WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. With WordPress powering 26% of the world’s websites it’s also one of the most preferred ways to publish content. What makes it so popular?
While there may not be a perfect CMS (Content Management System), WordPress comes pretty close currently to being the best one. At least it is the most popular one by far. Search trends on Google show that there is considerable daylight between WordPress & other CMSes out there. This is, at least, to say that WordPress generates more interest than other platforms.
The popularity of WordPress represented by search trends is reflected in the usage rates of the CMS, with WordPress being used nearly ten times as much as its closest competitor, Joomla. While WordPress tops at 26.7% of websites using the platform, Joomla is used by about 2.8% of websites. This difference in usage rates only becomes more stark when you take a look at the market share of the CMS. WordPress has nearly 60% of the market share.
While the WordPress community across the world was growing, and more and more people were building WordPress sites for varied purposes, only the recent release of statistics has managed to shine a light on how big the CMS has actually become. About 26% of websites in the world are said to be powered by WordPress.
This number is said to grow to 30% in a few years as WordPress is not just the most popular content publishing option on the web, it is also the fastest growing CMS. It is simply the most popular option for building websites. With this, the mission of “democratizing publishing” as Matt Mullenweg phrased it, seems to have been realized. However, this realization only seems to be the beginning of something bigger.
Here are some reasons as to not only why WordPress is big now but also why it is expected to continue to grow.
WordPress is Open-source
WordPress is an open-source CMS and will remain so in the future as well. With WordPress being open-source, a private company cannot decide to delete your content on their own, regardless of reason. This means that you’re unlikely to lose your content when you publish it using WordPress, such as in the case of Dennis Cooper’s blog on Blogger.
This means that WordPress is not only the most viable option economically, it gives you (the user) complete ownership over your content and and puts the power of publishing squarely in your hands.
WordPress In Your Language – Inclusive
WordPress communities have actively participated in translating the CMS into various languages. Currently according to WordPress.org, WordPress has been completely translated into more than 60 languages. Despite the fact that over 70% of WordPress sites are in English, translation makes the WordPress mission of democratising publishing a real possibility as websites and blogs can be produced in many, many languages and the platform instantly becomes relevant to a truly global audience.
Although WordPress was largely seen as a blogging platform for long, it has been used to create all types of websites. For this to happen not only is it important to have power over content but also the form in which it is published. WordPress was built to be fully customizable, and being an Open Source project, it welcomed contributions– core, plugins and themes, that made it flexible to suit different needs. This is one of the key reasons why the platform has become popular.
The showcase section of WordPress.org is proof of how effective WordPress has been for various purposes along with being a good blogging platform.
WordPress Plugins & Themes – There is a plugin for that!
Themes help enhance the design and functionality of WordPress sites (header:image+text, body:video, sidebar:archive, footer:about company). They provide different templates. Plugins help customize these templates to add more functionality (to make header a carousel, to help site load faster), widgets usually help only appearance (eg: to add footer, sidebar to site).
Plugins and themes are what make it possible to employ WordPress is for building website for various purposes. This is also why there are so many contributors to plugins and themes. While many contributors are professionals, or companies, there is also a large community of amateurs and hobbyists working to make WordPress conducive for every need.
WordPress Plugins & Themes
- Plugin Repository -47, 211 Plugins
- Downloads – 1,432,006, 605
- Spoilt for choice
- Thousands of free themes on WordPress.org
- 85 commercially supported GPL themes
- Themes for every purpose
- Themes changed – In August 2016 – Nearly 2 million times
The interest in WordPress and growing repository of plugins and themes has also encouraged many third-party companies and developers to produce premium themes, plugins and services professionally.
The power wielded by social media platforms is huge. One only needs to take a look at the number of users on social media platforms and their importance becomes clear; particularly for large businesses looking to find a portal to engage their target audience. There are more than a billion users on Facebook alone. Combine this with the growing importance of Twitter as a promotional and engaging platform for large business, and you realise why the ability to embed these posts in your WordPress is such a big deal. As this article on Business 2 Community mentions, “Twitter is the place to engage with companies: While just 20 of the of Fortune 500 companies actually engage with their customers on Facebook, 83% have a presence on Twitter— as do 76% of the NASDAQ 100, 100% of Dow Jones companies, and 92% of the S&P 500.”
Being able to provide an experience for users to engage with authoritative long form content & instantly share it with their connections in bite size form to start a conversation all on a single platform can be a powerful tool for businesses.
While WP gives users control over content it also understands that the real power of content is amplified through connections, which is what social media platforms are all about.
Embedded in WordPress
- Google Maps
WordPress Is A Rising Star
As more people use a platform, chances are that its following will increase because their interest has been roused. If so many people are choosing WordPress then there must be use value from the CMS. The continued growth of the CMS however can be attributed to the initial inklings that pushed them to use WordPress proving true. The scary or exciting part is that all the points that make WordPress useful are only growing bigger and stronger market-wise. We have seen this in the growth of the WordPress market.
People who contribute to the CMS:
- Amateurs & Hobbyists
All contribute to the WordPress community and make it richer. There are also many areas for contributions with:
- Theme designs
- Website design
- Building plugins
- Content management
“WordPress Hacked!”: Strengths As Weakness
All this interest will definitely attract some unwanted attention too. It is already a concern for many that the top Google search suggestions for– “Is WordPress…” are “Is WordPress free”, or “Is WordPress secure”. The popularity of WordPress makes it a target for hackers or at least is perceived to do so. When a platform runs more than a quarter of all websites, the payoffs from being able to hack it will also be big.
- I/5 of the top half a million sites on Alexa are run on WordPress
- Many Dedicated web hosts
- WordPress is a target rich environment with many players at every level coming on board
- Development of themes & plugins done by amateurs
All of these points make WP websites an attractive option for hackers. It is inevitable isn’t it when a platform offers so many opportunities and is so popular that it will attract the those who are nefarious.
However, this perception of the most popular CMS, also being the most insecure one is simply not true. WordPress Core has been very secure, and more and more spotlight is being shone on hardening and securing WordPress sites than ever before. The growing market share and popularity has brought about the challenge of scale. It has converted WordPress’ most cherished tools– plugins and themes into double edged swords; if only in part. This is because most of the vulnerabilities exploited in the last few years have come from issues dealing with plugins and themes or WordPress site maintenance issues. Scale and an unregulated, fast-growing market have contributed to the many strengths and weaknesses of WordPress.
This is not mentioned as a warning sign but for the sake of spreading information. Awareness of pain points can lead to resolving or managing them more efficiently. WordPress is a community driven project & is based on informed users taking action.
You too can take some steps to put in place best practices for your website and not make it easy for hackers. Chances are that all it takes to protect you site is to make it a little bit harder for hackers, but it is interesting to see how many people miss out on the easy steps.
- Harden WordPress security
- Use tools like firewalls & antiviruses– choose reliable options
- Employ automatic hack cleaners to reduce your burden and worries
- And always, always make backups
With all these points considered there is no doubt that WordPress is here to stay; and if anything, it will only grow bigger in the coming years. Being part of its community and this open source project may seem like a double edged sword for some, but if you stay informed and put in basic best practices in place then you will not only be safe with your WordPress site, but happy as well.