WordPress core committer Pascal Birchler has published a Periodic Table of WordPress Plugins to celebrate the software’s upcoming 20th anniversary. The table showcases 108 of the most popular free plugins on WordPress.org.
Ten years ago Birchler created a website that showed the most popular plugins in a similar table layout, ranking them by number of active installations. This chart has been updated and is now available at plugintable.com.
“Today, I am actually ‘re-introducing’ this project, complete with a modernized look and feel, more curation, and more useful information than before,” Birchler said.
The website is interactive, so cards can be expanded to see more information about each plugin, including the author, install count, star rating, and the date it was first published.
Approximately 57% of the plugins included have 1 million or more installs, so it gives you a chance to see all of the most successful WordPress.org extensions at a glance. 600k is the lowest number of active installs for plugins included in the chart.
After making the chart, Birchler noted that he was impressed by the stats for the Really Simple SSL plugin, which has more than 5 million active installs and a 5/5-star rating. He also highlighted Site Kit by Google as being the youngest “element” first released in October 2019, with 3+ million active installs in just over three years in the directory. The XML Sitemaps Generator plugin is the oldest among those included, released in 2005 just before Akismet.
“Another plugin that has caught my eye is WP Multibyte Patch by @eastcoder, which offers improvements for Japanese sites,” Birchler said. “With over 1+ million installs it makes me wonder why WordPress core itself doesn’t have better support for multibyte characters.”
If you like the Period Table of WordPress Plugins and want to see it hanging on your wall, Birchler has set up a Shopify-powered store where you can purchase a high-quality print version. The poster comes in light and dark modes and is also available framed. He plans to donate the proceeds of the store to the WordPress community.
An interesting list and a great way of displaying things. But a concerning one, the top 5 plugins all owe their position to marketing, preferential placement, and first mover advantage
Let’s look at it:
Yoast, a good plugin but overkill for most. Brilliant marketing though and was the first in the field
Jetpack, has useful features but all features have better alternatives. It has its position simply through preferential placement.
Akismet, an outmoded plugin that only has its position due to preferential placement
Elementor, an okay product when it was best in a niche, now outmoded by Gutenberg. Great marketing though
Contact form 7, okay plugin but now outmoded. No one would seriously suggest it is the best solution today. But has the first mover advantage
The repository has serious problem, you can search for a plugin by its exact name and it won’t appear on the first page of results. Instead popular plugins appear at the top. This is worrying for WordPress as plugin developers are doing great work but are not getting the attention they deserve.