Stack Overflow Survey Results Show WordPress is Trending Up, Despite Being Ranked Among Most Dreaded Technologies


Stack Overflow published the results of its 2016 Developer Survey, summarizing responses from 56,033 developers in 173 countries. The 45-question survey collected answers from more than twice as many developers as the previous year.

The results were published along with a disclaimer recognizing that the survey is “biased against devs who don’t speak English, or who don’t like taking English-language surveys.” Nevertheless, since the survey captured responses from such a large number of developers on a site that receives 40 million visitors per month, the results are definitely worth a read.

The average age of developers surveyed was 29.6 years old and 92.8% of the respondents were male. Most of them are at least partially self-taught (69%) with 45% of them having acquired degrees in computer science or a related field.

A quick developer profile of those surveyed shows that the largest section (28%) is made up of those who identify as a full-stack web developer.


Developers Value Diversity

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the respondents were male, the results indicate that developers value diversity. In summarizing 42,156 responses, Stack Overflow found the following:

Overall, about 73% of developers tell us they think diversity is at least somewhat important in the workplace. 41% of developers say diversity is very important. And developers who most often influence hiring decisions are more likely to believe in the value of diversity than other developer types.


Visual Basic and WordPress Top the List for Most Dreaded Technologies

WordPress moved up one spot from last year in the ranking of most dreaded technologies that respondents would prefer not to use. This is not surprising given that the most popular tags for posts on Stack Overflow are JavaScript, Java, Android, and Python.


On the other hand, when surveying the most popular technologies per developer type, WordPress is currently used by 24.1% of front-end developers. As a side note, this also corresponds roughly to its current market share (26%).

WordPress and JavaScript Technologies Are Trending Up


Newer technologies like React, Node.js, and AngularJS are trending, with the above percentages representing the change in share of Stack Overflow votes between January 2015 and January 2016. All three are also among the top-paying technologies per occupation for both full stack and front-end developers.

It’s worth noting that all of these trending technologies are also becoming more readily integrated with WordPress, and will be more widely used when the REST API is finally merged with core.

Despite the fact that WordPress ranks second in the most dreaded technology category, it is also trending up 18.5% from 2015. According to these results, WordPress’ popularity is increasing at a rate similar to that of many JavaScript-based technologies.

Job Title and Remote Work Are Important Priorities for Experienced Developers

The 2016 results found that 91% of developers surveyed worldwide are “gainfully employed” (full-time, self-employed, or freelance). Developers are in high demand, with just 15% of respondents actively looking for a job. It’s also interesting to note that 78% of developers surveyed are interested in exploring new employment opportunities.

If you’re trying to hire a developer, one of the most important things to consider is that they highly prioritize being able to work remotely. Responses from 49,521 developers indicate that as they gain more years of experience, both job title and remote work options are increasing priorities.


Only 30% of developers currently work remotely part-time or full-time, but Stack Overflow found that remote developers are more likely to love their jobs than other developers. If you own a company that hires developers, chances are that you will attract a larger, more experienced pool of applicants if employees are allowed to work remotely.

Developers who want to get a better understanding of the broader industry’s work challenges, salary expectations, and most popular technologies will want to review the full results of the survey.

The document includes some important feedback for the WordPress community to consider. Although WordPress is among the technologies that are trending up, the broader development community still does not seem to enjoy working with it. How can we make the software more developer-friendly without compromising user friendliness?


6 responses to “Stack Overflow Survey Results Show WordPress is Trending Up, Despite Being Ranked Among Most Dreaded Technologies”

  1. I think that WordPress rising in market share would also drive the being dreaded number. In the 90’s and 2000’s Perl was all the rage, but if you asked anyone now they’d be loathe to deal with Perl. So to some degree, I think it comes with the territory of being more popular.

    How can we make the software more developer-friendly without compromising user friendliness?

    Here is the root of the issue presented. I have seen several core/lead devs say that WordPress isn’t built for developers, its built for users. This has effected many decisions such as not allowing frameworks in the plugin repository, pulling options out of wp-admin, and heavy emphasis on improving the customizer, the way certain functions in WordPress behave, etc, etc, etc.

    Decisions must be made with the developer in mind as well. As Otto frequently says, it’s just code. We can write code that is easy for developers to consume and users to, well, use.

    That being said, I do think more preference should be given to the end user. Because in the end, they are the people dealing with it. There’s a reason they are called the end user. However, it shouldn’t be that hard to strike a good balance.

  2. I’m a self-taught WordPress developer, and find it fascinating that WordPress ranks as a ‘dreaded technology’. I guess it depends on your starting point in web design. I’ve always loved design – was never a computer geek and didn’t even own a computer until into my twenties, so coding was never considered.

    I started making websites directly within the WordPress framework, so haven’t had the programming side of things to refer to. Along the way, I’ve learned PHP, JavaScript, CSS, etc., but have always considered WordPress to be fairly easy to use. Sure, there was a learning curve, but it never seemed too difficult, especially with all the tutorials & resources online.

    I think from a programmer’s perspective, you’d have to learn to wrangle your code into place for bespoke theme customisation, and that can be a pig, which is I guess why it’s ‘dreaded’ in the eyes of those who are used to building from the ground-up. The trickiest part for me, as a designer, is learning to code, and troubleshoot PHP when it goes wrong, or to customise a theme/plugin .

    I think the ‘dread’ will trend down as more people approach WordPress as designers, not coders. And this can only change going forward because it’s only now a valid option for those new to website design, only lately become something of an industry standard. Youth will be presented the option of becoming a programmer or a designer, with both able to design websites, and this will fork into two distinct paths of bespoke coding, or learning WordPress from the start. Maybe the designers/WordPress developers aren’t reliant on stack overflow, so don’t take their surveys.

    I guess it will depend on customers and what they want in the long-run, and at least WordPress can give them true ownership of their websites, which is another reason I only develop in WordPress. I do think designers have the advantage over coders, but that’s probably because I’m a designer. Thanks for an interesting article!

    • No, it is hard to know why it is dreaded, but there are many many reasons for that, and being a snob programmer is probably not one of them. True programmers with some experience probably saw code which is worse then WordPress’s code and much less documented and they are having a laugh at all the numerous WTF moments wordpress has to offer.

      I guess the dreading comes from people that think that all you need to do to have a working website is to maybe install some plugins and copy & paste some code they can find over the internet. It probably wasn’t true even 5 years ago and for sure it is not true now, technology advances and the requirements from sites advance as well.
      For those the gotcha moments that core presents, and plugins and themes present even more, are simply devastating, especially when you take into account that the clients expects a site built over wordpress to be cheap to build and be built fast therefor you don’t have much margin in which you can leisurely figure out a problem.

      My prediction is that the dread will just increase (last year it was 68%) as more people are forced to move by their clients from hand coded PHP to wordpress as it is perceived to give a better quality result faster. WordPress core, against the wishes of most developers that actually bother to comment on its state, is actually doing almost everything possible to keep those people in business by sticking to old technologies that are easier to understand.

      This situation can actually continue like that as long as wordpress is the de-facto monopol in web cms. You will probably see wordpress gaining more traction and people complaining more about it as long as there is no real competition to it.

  3. I think most developers who “dread” working with WordPress are those who are comfortable working beyond WordPress itself, which could mean other frameworks and/or languages.

    I’ve worked with WordPress even before the 1.0 days, and what I don’t like about WordPress now is that there are too many WP-specific knowledge a new dev has to learn to implement simple things. Before, you can simply play with the theme’s files and use plain PHP/HTML to get exactly what you want; now you need to understand how to enqueue scripts and styles, learn WP_Query, etc.

    WordPress used to be a simple tool to get a basic blog or CMS running, now it demands a bit more from the developer. To some people, the “re-learning WP-specific things” part is what they simply don’t care for.

  4. I totally agree, Markku – There is a lot of ancillary knowledge that goes along with just installing a theme/plugins these days, and every time a new update comes out I sigh a little.. still trying to work out how feasible it is to keep sites up to date vs. charging the customer and hope new automatic updates for really old versions don’t break sites. Between Erickson’s Display Post shortcode and Condon’s Advanced Custom Fields plugins, I can create anything within WordPress, but I’m still learning js and php as I go.

    I also wish there was better integration between WordPress and Bootstrap, since that’s my go-to for responsiveness. Have a couple of default themes I use now, but it can be a real pain. So I guess even I have some ‘dread’… and I think in the future it will split, and the people who only develop in WordPress won’t mind learning WP-specific things as much, because that’s their jam… But the great thing about WordPress is that it is evolving. Part of being a web developer is keeping up with changes in the industry, including WordPress.

    Mark K. – I get it. I think I was projecting into a far-off future, rather than the now, but I do agree more and more clients will expect WordPress for their web builds, as it has become a web standard now, and it does give them the freedom to change developers if the developer quits trading, or they move. The problem is with more and more WordPress developers, the prices get pushed further and further down, and it can be hard to compete. But it’s not WP’s fault there is no competition. Technically for web cms, there has been plenty of competition, but the reason WP has become so popular is because it’s open source, free, and overall, a pretty easy CMS to learn (compared to having to build/use a bespoke CMS). In the old days, clients couldn’t just go in and edit text, they are forced to go to their developer and have them fix it – possibly another reason why clients want it now.



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