For the first time in WordPress’ nearly 19-year history, the software’s usage stats show signs of declining market share. Its remarkable rise to 43.3% market share took a turn in March 2022 and its usage has been slowly declining since then, according to a new WordPress market share report from Joost de Valk that references statistics from W3Techs .
In an article titled “WordPress Market Share Declines,” de Valk pointed to the numbers from the last few months, which now conclusively show a decline:
De Valk’s analysis explains how WordPress’ market share, and that of its open source contemporaries, is being eroded by competitors like Wix and Squarespace. He attributes this change to two major factors: WordPress’ lack of focus on performance and the complexity of the entire unfinished site editing project:
If you look at cwvtech.report, you’ll see that over the past year, sites on Wix and Squarespace have on average improved their site speed more than WordPress sites. WordPress now has a performance team, and it has made some progress. But the reality is that he hasn’t really made great strides yet, and in my opinion he really should. Project management still seems unwilling to focus on performance, which relates to the following point:
The full WordPress site editing project is not yet complete. Anecdotally, more and more people are struggling to decide how to build their site on WordPress. Wix and Squarespace are simply much simpler tools for creating a site. As they improve their SEO tools, there are fewer and fewer reasons to switch to WordPress.
The post inspired wild speculation in the community, and the discussion splintered into different pockets on the web – various Twitter FeedsPost Status Slack and a post in the Advanced WP group on Facebook which has already received more than 100 comments.
It is unrealistic to expect a CMS to make gains every month, even if it has seen consistent growth in the past. WordPress is still by far the market leader, but many see the further decline in market share as a symptom of a deeper problem. No one can say for sure why WordPress is losing market share, but the community has a few prevailing theories.
Performance is one of the contributing factors that is easier to measure than many others. According to data from the HTTP Archive, WordPress lags its closest competitors when it comes to the percentage of sites with good Core Web Vitals scores.
“I’m not thrilled to see the percentage drop, but it’s further confirmation that something needs to change,” said Google-sponsored contributor Felix Arntz. “It should also be added that the growth rate of other CMS like Wix or Shopify has already surpassed WordPress for a long time, even before that. My session at WordCamp Europe will focus precisely on this topic.
“All of this is why we launched the WordPress Performance Team a few months ago, we need to make more solid performance decisions for WordPress. Let’s work together so we can turn the tide over the next few years.
Many have seen the news of WordPress’ declining market share as an opportunity to weigh in on their pet grievances about WordPress and Project Gutenberg in general, but there are legitimate concerns about the state of the software when it’s deployed to millions of users.
“Editing the site completely and rolling it out to core before it’s really ready is a disservice to us newcomers to WordPress,” said WordPress developer Daniel Schutzsmith. said. “It confuses them and scares them because he feels broken in so many ways.”
The growing complexity of WordPress is another important factor that many participants cited as a possible influence, especially those building websites for clients. The software has gotten more sophisticated, allowing users to do more things than ever before, but it’s not getting any easier to use.
“I don’t do much WP development anymore, but after needing several articles and a YouTube tutorial to understand the new nav block, I knew WP had some serious issues,” said developer Alexis Rae. said. “This 5.9 pushed the full site edit as the only option (that I can tell) while it’s a beta, that’s crazy.”
Several participants in the Facebook and Twitter discussions said that they had recently built some of their client sites with other technologies to make it easier for their clients to manage their websites.
“Working with clients, I’ve noticed that the quality of the admin interface is really becoming an issue that turns people off from WordPress,” says Florian Fermin. “At the lower end, it drives people to go to Squarespace and Wix instead. On the high end, I’ve now migrated several sites from WordPress to CraftCMS and customers have been delighted with the clean interface it provides, and they’re confident to make small changes themselves, which I allows me to put my energy into more exciting things. ”
WordPress gained popularity early on for being the best freeware available for blogging and later on for its flexibility as a CMS. The transition to a nocode style site builder has been difficult with long periods of growing pains. Since most of the energy and resources invested in the core seem to go into Gutenberg, other older aspects of the software have been neglected.
“WordPress has really become a jack of all trades and a master of none,” Fermin said. “In my experience, this has meant over the past few years that when I have to recommend a CMS for a client’s use case, more and more often the answer has been something else and not WordPress.”
WordPress was once one of the most powerful solutions on the market for creating small, simple sites, but competitors are making it faster and easier to launch these types of sites. Meanwhile, WordPress themes are going through a tough transition to better full-site editing features.
“For my (mainly government) clients, FSE is not the way to go,” said WordPress developer Roy Tanck. said. “I spend a lot of time disabling new features now. If WP continues to become a ‘site builder’, traditional CMS customers will probably start looking elsewhere.
In his conclusion, Joost de Valk argues that the full site editing project is taking far too long.
“It causes the rest of the platform to lag behind current web trends,” he said. “Without a drastic change in this approach, I believe WordPress will continue to lose market share over the next few years.”
Although some may agree that the project is taking a long time to reach a perfect state, a large part of the comments on social media indicate that the developers do not find FSE user-friendly enough for their customers.
“WordPress is just too complicated for the majority to use effectively,” said developer agency owner Jon Brown.
“WordPress should be much more savvy about accessibility and performance, so users shouldn’t even have to think about it. The problem with WP’s current philosophy is ‘let’s do as little as possible to leave options to the user or make the user rely on plugins “… No! Stop that. Do more by default, then give the user the option to override that if/when needed.”
Brown said this applies to core WordPress, but is most evident in WooCommerce, where after ten years “you still need 25 add-ons just to set up a basic store.”
“That’s why Shopify is eating up e-commerce market share,” he said.
“And simple personal sites, much easier to set up a five-page site on Squarespace or Wix for laypeople than it is to navigate WordPress.
“How to regain market share? Simplify.”
Is WordPress Losing Touch With Everyday Users? After two years of dramatically reduced WordCamps and Dating, it’s a real possibility. Several months before WordPress’ market share growth began to level off, the oddly feverish push to return to in-person events during a pandemic seemed to betray an insecurity about what might happen to the community if it were to continue in isolation. WordPress usage numbers could be hurt by missing out on some of the grassroots growth and momentum that in-person events often generate.
WordPress’ relationship with the common user seems strained at the moment. It is no longer considered one of the easiest ways to get a website started. Those who are eager to see WordPress succeed and grow can probably agree at almost any time that WordPress still isn’t easy enough to use. A veritable army of Gutenberg contributors is working day and night to make full editing of the site possible, but the project can’t afford to put usability issues aside for too long, or it risks becoming software that doesn’t. is used only by an elite and a few connoisseurs.