WordPress: the latest insights

I recently listened to an insightful podcast interview with Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress and the CEO of Automattic. Mullenweg of course is the most prominent face of the greater WordPress community, and its biggest proponent of the open-source WordPress web creation and content management platform.

Matt doesn’t give very many interviews, but whenever he does, the WordPress community always pays attention, as often does the wider tech crowd. He also delivers a yearly State of the Word keynote to update on what’s been happening over the past year, and get everyone excited by previewing new things to come.

In this most recent interview, with The Verge, I came away with some rather interesting insights which I’d like to share with you.

Massive popularity that only continues to grow

To date, WordPress is said to be powering 43% of all websites out there on the internet. That is astounding, given that not too long ago, it was something like one-third of all sites which I thought was already unbelievable. WordPress continues to grow and grow in influence, gaining new adopters every day while sustaining the confidence by its vast community, and countless professionals and agencies that serve up WordPress-based websites around the world.

When I started dabbling with WordPress in 2013, some 25% of websites were built on it. The one-third figure was reported about three years ago. The accelerated growth as of late is especially notable considering fast-growing competition from platforms such as Wix and Squarespace. If that wasn’t enough, Matt is boldly predicting the market share for WordPress will reach up to 85% in the next decade.

WooCommerce is growing really fast, too

WooCommerce is the online selling companion to WordPress. It too is open source. Matt stated that WooCommerce is now growing about as fast as Shopify. That’s remarkable given that Shopify is basically the king out there when it comes to e-commerce hosting and implementation. It’s long been thought that Shopify would overtake WooCommerce as the preferred platform for online merchants.

Shopify provides a lot of powerful conveniences, but it’s a closed platform and you do pay for it. WooCommerce is open source and free (though there are paid add-on extensions to enhance its capabilities). I’ve been hearing as of late from WordPress community members that they’re getting more and more client requests to migrate their online stores from Shopify over to WooCommerce.

Matt has corroborated on that as well, and noted that many high-end merchants have switched over because of the need to bring down costs, while desiring the detailed customization that only WooCommerce can provide as an open platform.

WordPress.com is seriously getting legit

The conventional way to get a WordPress site up and running is to find a web hosting service of your choosing, grab a free download from WordPress.org, and install WordPress in your host account. But there’s a much easier way if you don’t want to do the legwork, by opting for the WordPress.com service that’s basically ready to go once you sign up and create an account.

WordPress.com had always been known for its simplicity and user convenience, but without the freedom of installing themes and plugins as you could with your own WordPress install. However, I learned from the podcast that you can now use WordPress.com both as a full-service host, and also be able to bring in themes and plugins of your choosing. The price of the WordPress.com service, with site customization flexibility is actually comparable to many third-party services that manage WordPress for you.

Automattic has put in a lot of investment into WordPress.com, to make it a bonafide web creation and hosting platform, and compete aggressively with the likes of Squarespace. And they’ve flexed a lot of their marketing muscle behind it, which should be evident from all the television commercials you’ve seen.