The State of WordPress—by Attendees of WordCamp Europe
Everyone has an opinion on WordPress—even those who don’t even use it. That’s understandable, given that it powers more than a third of all websites. But what do WordPressers think of the most popular publishing platform in 2019?
EasyWP was a proud sponsor of WordCamp Europe 2019, and our team also attended the event to meet in person with the community that keeps WordPress growing and thriving.
What follows are the insights coming from an anonymous survey completed by visitors to our booth. The survey was completed by just under 10% of the 2,700 attendees.
The goal of the survey was to get a perspective on what the attendees of the biggest WordCamp of the year think about WordPress, what they love about it, and what they hate.
Do You WordPress?
We wanted to understand if a big event like WordCamp Europe attracts people that do not use WordPress yet.
To our surprise, nearly 5% of the people who took the survey are not currently using WordPress, though. Among that 5%, 10% have used it in the past. WordPress’ market share keeps growing and so it does the interest in it—the answers to this question are a sign that events like WordCamps are bringing in people that do not use WordPress yet, but are interested in knowing more about it.
Tell Me About You
Most of the respondents use WordPress for developing or designing websites, themes, or plugins.
Also writing, editing, and managing content are quite popular among the respondents.
As we could expect from an event like this, 17% of the respondents declared that they contribute to WordPress. We will see in one of the next answers how important this is about WordPress.
A third of the respondents at WordCamp Europe manage between 5 and 19 websites. It is interesting to see that nearly 20% of the persons who answered oversee 100+ websites. Only a small minority takes care of a single website.
Nearly 30% of the respondents have been long-time users of WordPress, having used it for 6 to 10 years. 15% of the users have been using it for more than 10 years.
It was interesting to discover that only a minority started using WordPress less than three years ago.
What Do You Think about WordPress?
We asked people to rate WordPress on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest rating). Guess what? The average rating is 4.5!
Good job, WordPress!
We also asked them to rate Gutenberg, the new and much-discussed editor. In this case, the average rating is 3.3. Not as good as WordPress, but still a good result considering how Gutenberg is revolutionizing the experience of editing and publishing content on the web and that it was released less than a year ago.
Some questions in the survey were open-ended, letting the respondents answer in their own words. We asked them to tell us one thing that they love about WordPress and one they hate.
We’ve written many times about how easy it is to get online with WordPress, and the responses only reinforce this. We also know that WordPress is powered by its amazing community of contributors and volunteers, making it the second most-loved thing about this CMS.
Couple this with the flexibility that the CMS gives to site owners, then mix it with the magic of Open Source and the endless extensibility, and you will have found the recipe for conquering 34% of the web.
The love for WordPress is also shown by the most popular answer to what people hate: nothing!
The 2nd place for most hated thing about WordPress goes to Gutenberg. There have been many discussions around it, and, like any revolution, it will take time for it to become mature and also fully accepted.
The audience at WordCamp is quite technical, and among the most disliked things we saw was the quality of the plugins’ codebase and the presence of legacy code in WordPress. Our beloved CMS just turned 16 years old, and over time many plugins became outdated, as well as some parts of the WordPress core itself, that may have been developed a long time ago.
Also, governance is a hot topic right now, with questions around the current leadership structure. Having many contributors in the audience of WordCamp Europe, a common concern appears to be the decision process on the future of WordPress.
Matt Mullenweg, the inventor of WordPress, is currently leading the development of our beloved CMS, and there are growing discussions around the need for a change. WordPress now powers more than a third of the Internet, and so it is becoming vital to have a governance model that represents all of the users impacted by changes in the project.
What’s Important for your Business and Where Do You Struggle the Most?
Speed, security, and look and feel are the most important aspects of WordPress for the respondents. Making money with the website seems to be the least important aspect when compared to the others.
When looking at where people struggle the most, speed is again the first answer, followed by marketing and communication, security, and monetization. Surprisingly, no one seems to be struggling with the website’s look and feel.
Most of the respondents do not use any website builder plugin. For those that use one, Visual composer is the most used, followed by Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Divi.
We have seen from the previous answers that a large part of the audience at WordCamp Europe 2019 was composed of professionals that develop, design and build websites. This can explain why the majority of them are using a custom theme, developed internally, and not a site builder.
Let’s Talk Hosting
After discussing WordPress, let’s see what respondents think about hosting. We asked them to identify their single biggest frustration with WordPress hosting.
- Speed & Performance is the most-common source of frustration. As we have seen from previous answers, it is also what the respondents care about the most, so it is understandable that poor performance generates frustration.
- The second biggest frustration is support. No one likes waiting or not getting answers when their website is having issues.
- Cost is reported as the third most frustrating thing.
Other frustrations reported by the respondents include security, no SSH access, and caching.
Alternatives to WordPress
We wanted to understand if, in addition to WordPress, users have considered using other technologies or services to start their own project.
- Laravel, a PHP framework, is the most popular alternative that was mentioned, despite not being a CMS.
- Drupal is the second most common answer, followed by Wix, Gatsby, Joomla, Shopify, and Squarespace.
It’s interesting to see here how the competition to WordPress.org does not only come from other traditional CMS options like Drupal, but also from site builders and frameworks. WordPress is no longer “a blogging CMS” but much more than that. It can be used to build a wide range of applications, and having a PHP framework as the principal alternative only reinforces this.
Also, seeing names such as Wix and Squarespace, confirms that the competition comes not only from the Open Source world, but also from the so-called “walled gardens”.
Tell Us a Story about WordPress
We asked the respondents to tell us an interesting story about WordPress. Some of them are really inspiring and show how important the community is:
“WordPress is just amazing and a never-ending thing. It gave me an identity. I feel proud to be a part of WordPress.”
“I learned how to code by starting to write themes for a hobby, now I am part of a big community and I have a great job that allows me to travel around the world and meet great people.”
“WordPress is more about people than software.”
The quotes above confirm that the success of WordPress is also the result of an open, inclusive and supportive community that builds and improves the product every single day.
Some Good Lessons from the Survey
The survey helped us to learn more about the people that power the most-used CMS. We will keep repeating these surveys and sharing the results with the community, with the hope to fuel the discussions around the evolution of WordPress.
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What Do YOU Think?
Now it’s your turn. Even if you didn’t attend WordCamp Europe, we’d still love to hear from you. What do you like and dislike about WordPress? Do you prefer other site builders or platforms, or do you prefer WordPress? Let us know what you think in the comments!