Periodic Table of WordPress Plugins Showcases 108 Most Popular Plugins

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

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

“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 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.


14 responses to “Periodic Table of WordPress Plugins Showcases 108 Most Popular Plugins”

  1. 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.

  2. Some of those plugins are popular because they come with the package.
    I wonder how many people would actually download Hello Dolly or Akismet, would they be at all popular if they were not included in the .zip file? I just downloaded it right now to check again.
    Yes both Akismet and Hello Dolly are there.

    The smaller players get drowned by the bigger players.

    I use AntiSpam Bee by the way instead of Akismet. Yes I did fork Hello Dolly to show Spock quotes (Star Trek, not the doctor).

    Yoast SEO is popular because whenever you ask for SEO plugin advice…….Yoast SEO is the one. Forget the other players. Over the years I tried Rank Math, Slim SEO and AIOSEO.

    Same for Security plugin. Same for other categories.

    The usual: Only (xyz) is the one you should use. Rarely can you have a discussion of the pros and cons of each plugin.

    People download because others just mention the name.

  3. Honestly from a usability perspective, more than half of these plugins are what I call, Scam plugins that are almost worthless. as others have said, some of these plugins come prepackaged, others are just worthless

    • No, you would not believe the number of WordPress warrior “developers” on Reddit, that have a client and are asking how to implement the most basic features with a plugin, I mean they are so clueless that they cannot even research the proper plugin for a certain functionality. And there are many many plugin creators that take advantage of newcomers to WordPress by recommending plugins that cause plenty of issues down the line.
      it is disgusting.

    • ” It continues to be difficult to maintain any popular plugin without some funding.” – I still maintain Redux Framework. It’s strictly a developer’s tool. I can say, unequivocally, this statement is true. Developers are cheap and don’t want to pay for anything (or donate), even when the tool saves them countless hours. I know. I am one. 😉


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