January 2019 analysis

I do these analyses biannually. The latest one can always be found here: CMS market share analysis.

As I’m getting into my new role as Marketing Lead for WordPress, I was doing an analysis of the CMS market share numbers. The first thing I noticed was that, according to W3Techs, WordPress’s market share had yet again grown, to now have 33% of the top 10 million sites. As I was diving deeper, the numbers in the W3Techs research show some very interesting trends. I thought I’d share what I’m seeing.

WordPress’s market share is huge

The first thing that’s obvious when you look at these numbers is that WordPress’s market share is absolutely huge. At 33% it’s now 11 times bigger than the number two in the market, another open source CMS: Joomla. I’ll be very happy when we add another .3% and can say that we’re “a third of the internet”.

When you look at the raw numbers, it’s clear that only a few of the CMSs are making any real moves. I’ve highlighted the growth and decline per month over the last year in the screenshot below.

Market share table, the data in this screenshot can also be seen in the sheet that's linked in the article under Data.

Note that the “None” group in this data, with 45% market share, doesn’t mean that 45% of sites are coded by hand. It means that W3Techs did not recognize the CMS (and it recognizes a lot of them), and the CMS is thus probably bespoke. The trends are very consistent though: people are moving to known CMSs and very few CMSs grow one month to decline the next. You’re either growing, or shrinking, with very little exception.

Because WordPress is so big, looking at absolute growth only tells you so much. If we start looking at relative growth, we can see who our new competitors really are. As soon as you start looking at relative growth for the top 20, three systems jump out:

  • Squarespace, which grew 114%.
  • Wix, which grew 150%.
  • Weebly, which grew 120%.

It’s noteworthy that Prestashop, an eCommerce system / CMS, also grew its market share by a very respectable 67%. WordPress grew by “only” 13%, which considering the marketshare it already has, is still massive. But what I was looking for was in the next step: what if all these systems maintained the growth or decline they had in 2018 for another year? If they do, the top 10 of CMSs would look starkly different to today:

CMS2020 forecast2019 ranking2018 ranking

While WordPress will remain number 1, the rest of the top 10 will change dramatically.

Open source on the decline?

At the beginning of 2018, the top 4 CMSs by market share in the world were all open source: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and Magento. So I also dove in and checked whether Open Source as a whole was losing or winning. The numbers are clear, based on the top 25 CMSs (including all the sites that fit in W3Techs “None” category, classified as closed source):

20182019Forecast 2020
Open source37.8%41.0%44.9%
Closed source57.1%53.0%51.7%

On the whole, Open Source marketshare is growing, but really only because of WordPress and a tiny bit of help from Prestashop. I think this is worrying. We’re losing diversity in the CMS market and with it we’re losing open source alternatives.

Financial ramifications

Consider this:

  • Shopify expects to do about 1 billion USD in revenue in 2018, with 1.5% marketshare.
  • Wix expects to do about 600 million USD in revenue in 2018, with 1% marketshare.
  • Squarespace reportedly had 300 million USD in revenue in 2017, when it was still much smaller.

I think it’s not unfair to extrapolate these numbers for theses CMSs and compare them to WordPress’s 33% market share. If we do that then WordPress as a whole is indeed, as Matt said in his State of the Word, a $10 billion industry. In fact when he says that he might even be on the low side.

There’s one difference which we may need to address though: WordPress doesn’t spend a percentage of that $10 billion on marketing. The CMSs that are growing their market share so aggressively are spending a lot of money on marketing, and it’s clear that it’s working. It’s not a problem yet, but we’ll need to be more creative and keep an eye on this.

CMS Market Share Data

I imported all this CMS market share data from W3Techs into a Google Sheet. The sheet, including some of my highlights and forecasts is public and you can view it here. I’d love to hear what else you see that strikes as odd or needs attention.

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