WordPress Community Attributes Declining Market Share to Performance Issues, Increased Complexity, and the Lagging Full-Site Editing Project

For the first time in WordPress’ nearly 19-year history, the software’s usage stats are showing signs of declining market share. Its remarkable ascension to 43.3% market share took a turn in March 2022 and usage has slowly declined since then, according to a new WordPress market share report from Joost de Valk that references stats from W3Techs.

CMS usage stats since January 2011 – source: W3Techs

In a post titled “WordPress’ Market Share Is Shrinking,” de Valk highlighted the numbers from the last few months, which now conclusively demonstrate a decline:

source: Joost de Valk

de Valk’s analysis elaborates on how WordPress’ market share, and that of its open source contemporaries, is being eroded by competitors like Wix and Squarespace. He attributes this change to two major factors: WordPress’ lack of focus on performance, and the complexity of the unfinished full-site editing project:

If you look at cwvtech.report you’ll see that in the last year, sites on Wix and Squarespace on average have improved their site speed more than WordPress sites. WordPress has a performance team now, and it has made some progress. But the reality is that it hasn’t really made big strides yet, and in my opinion, really should. Project leadership still seems unwilling to focus on performance though, which has to do with the next point:

WordPress’ full site editing project is not done yet. Anecdotally, more and more people are having a hard time deciding how to build their site on WordPress. Wix and Squarespace are simply way simpler tools to build a site. As they improve their SEO tooling, there’s less and less reason to switch over to WordPress.

The post inspired rampant speculation in the community, and the discussion has splintered off into different pockets across the web – various Twitter threads, Post Status Slack, and a post in the Advanced WP group on Facebook that has already received more than 100 comments.

It’s not realistic to expect any CMS to make gains every month, even if it has grown steadily in the past. WordPress is still far and away the market leader, but many see the new decline in market share as a symptom of a deeper problem. No one can definitively say why WordPress is losing market share but the community has a few prevailing theories.

Performance is one of the contributing factors that is easier to measure than many others. According to data from HTTP Archive, WordPress trails its closest competitors when it comes to percentage of sites with good Core Web Vitals scores.

“I’m not excited to see the percentage drop, but it confirms even more that something needs to change,” Google-sponsored contributor Felix Arntz said. “It’s also worth adding that the growth rate of other CMSs like Wix or Shopify has already long surpassed WordPress even before this. My session at WordCamp Europe is precisely going to focus on this topic.

“All this is why we started the WordPress performance team a couple months back, we need to make more solid performance decisions out of the box for WordPress. Let’s work together so that we can turn this around over the next few years.”

Many saw the news of WordPress’ declining market share as an opportunity to weigh in on their pet grievances about WordPress and the Gutenberg project in general, but there are some legitimate concerns about the condition of the software when it’s rolled out to millions of users.

“Full site editing and its deployment into core before it has really been ready isn’t doing us any favors for newcomers to WordPress,” WordPress developer Daniel Schutzsmith said. “It throws them off and scares them because it feels broken in many aspects.”

WordPress’ increasing complexity is another strong factor many participants cited as a possible influence, particularly those who build websites for clients. The software has become more sophisticated, enabling users to do more things than ever before, but it’s not getting easier to use.

“I don’t do much WP dev anymore, but after needing multiple articles and a YouTube tutorial for me to understand the new Navigation block, I knew WP was in serious trouble,” developer Alexis Rae said. “That 5.9 pushed out full site editing as the only option (that I can tell) while it’s a beta is insane.”

Multiple participants in the discussions on Facebook and Twitter said they have recently been building some of their clients’ sites with other technologies to make it easier for their clients to manage their websites.

“From working with clients I notice that the quality of the admin interface is really becoming an issue that turns people off from WordPress,” Florian Fermin said. “On the lower end, this drives people to go to Squarespace and Wix instead. On the high end, I have now migrated multiple sites away from WordPress to CraftCMS and clients have been delighted with the clean interface it provides, and they’re confident to make small changes themselves, allowing me to put my energy in more exciting stuff.”

WordPress gained popularity early on by being the best free software available for blogging, and then later for its flexibility as a CMS. The transition into a nocode style site builder has been difficult with extensive periods of growing pains. As most of the energy and resources put into core seem to go towards Gutenberg, other older aspects of the software have gone neglected.

“WordPress has really developed into jack of all trades and master of none,” Fermin said. “In my experience, this has meant in the last years that when I have to recommend a CMS for the use case of a client, more and more often the answer has been something else and not WordPress.”

WordPress used to be one of the strongest solutions on the market for building small, simple sites but competitors are making it faster and easier to launch these kinds of sites. Meanwhile, WordPress themes are going through a rocky transition towards better accommodating full-site editing features.

“For my clients (mostly government), FSE is not the way to go,” WordPress developer Roy Tanck said. “I spend a lot of my time disabling new features now. If WP continues to become a ‘site builder,’ traditional CMS clients will likely start to look elsewhere.”

In his conclusion, Joost de Valk contends that the full-site editing project is taking far too long.

“That’s causing the rest of the platform to lag behind current web trends,” he said. “Without a drastic change in this approach I think WordPress will continue to lose market share for the next few years.”

Although some may agree that the project is taking a long time to reach a polished state, much of the feedback on social media indicates that developers do not find FSE user friendly enough for their clients.

“WordPress is just too complicated for the majority to use effectively,” development agency owner Jon Brown said.

“WordPress ought to be way more opinionated on accessibility and performance such that users should not even have to think about them. The problem with the current WP philosophy it is ‘let’s do as little as possible to leave options for the user or make the user rely on plugins’… No! Stop that. Do more by default and then give the user the option to override that if/when necessary.”

Brown said this applies to core WordPress but is most evident in WooCommerce, where, after ten years, “you still need 25 add-ons just to get a basic store up and running.”

“This is why Shopify is devouring e-commerce market share,” he said.

“And simple personal sites, way easier to setup a five-page site on Squarespace or Wix for laypeople than it is to navigate WordPress.

“How to regain market share? Simplify.”

Is WordPress losing touch with every day users? After two years of drastically reduced WordCamps and meetups, this is a genuine possibility. Many months before WordPress’ market share growth started leveling off, the strangely feverish push to return to in-person events during a pandemic seemed to betray an insecurity about what might happen to the community if required to continue on in isolation. WordPress usage numbers could be impacted by missing out on some of the grassroots growth and momentum that in-person events often generate.

WordPress’ relationship with the common user seems strained at the moment. It is no longer considered one of the easiest ways to get a website off the ground. Those who are eager to see WordPress succeed and grow can likely agree at almost any point in time that WordPress is not yet easy enough to use. A veritable army of Gutenberg contributors are working day and night to make full-site editing possible, but the project cannot afford to shelve usability concerns for too much longer, or it risks becoming software that is only used by an elite, knowledgeable few.

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69 responses to “WordPress Community Attributes Declining Market Share to Performance Issues, Increased Complexity, and the Lagging Full-Site Editing Project”

  1. “I don’t do much WP dev anymore, but after needing multiple articles and a YouTube tutorial for me to understand the new Navigation block, I knew WP was in serious trouble …”

    This. I’ve built two sites with FSE and I’m still not comfortable using the Nav Block. (I’ve done WP for 13 years now, all in all.) I do like many aspects of Gutenberg / FSE but it is woefully underdeveloped. Not being able to do separate designs for mobile (as far as I can tell) is a really big problem. In the short term, all of this probably won’t mean a significant loss in WP market share because too many ppl are locked in with WP, and with other solutions built on WP – like Elementor. But being locked in with an underperforming platform is not exactly a sound basis for future market growth. We’ll see what happens …

  2. I think a point that also needs to be brought up is how quiet all the major theme developers have been on this issue. I mean, you’d think that a lot of them would jump on the bandwagon of making FSE themes since it is the “hot new thing”, but to be honest – it’s more of a hot potato that nobody wants to hold for more than a few seconds.

    My gut feeling is that there are simply too many “youngsters” contributing to WordPress for the time being. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them host their blogs with Jekyll or a Headless solution, and have no idea that the Gutenberg editing experience is a steaming pile of, well, Brussel sprouts.

      • The problem is that the skillset you need to be a block developer is much higher than it was prior to Gutenberg.

        I develop custom sites for SMEs and when I started trying to build custom blocks realised that it would be a major blow to my productivity.

        • This was a huge stumbling block for me in adopting Gutenberg, but ACF has simplified it to a degree that it’s accessible to what I’d consider the average developer.

          That said, perhaps WP shouldn’t require an intermediary plugin to simplify their custom solution for long-time devs.

  3. “As most of the energy and resources put into core seem to go towards Gutenberg, other older aspects of the software have gone neglected.”

    That’s the key in all of this. Sadly, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

  4. I am saddened but not surprised at this news. For e-commerce, more and more people have been using Shopify (despite it being more expensive than WordPress to manage) because of the ease-of-use. WordPress is seen more as a legacy software than cutting-edge technology. WooCommerce needs to be more user-friendly and have functionality that most shops need (Google Analytics, etc.) BUILT-IN.

    Another factor that I think is more of a factor in this than the above is the roll-out of both Gutenberg and the Full Site Editing projects. In my opinion, both projects were rolled out too early for a solution that is used on 40+% of the web. There should be choice over enabling and disabling features that still has bugs and usability issues, such as the two projects mentioned above.

    Whilst performance is another factor, this is more to do with the user having to install loads of plugins to get features that should be built-in, such as SEO and analytics integration.

    • Actually the recent data also shows that Shopify has reached their peak market share and even started to decline as business are fleeing the platform. It looks like their marketing is making business owners curious but the product cannot keep them as customers in the long run

        • By the feedback here, and thinking on WP Tavern as a very good barometer of what’s going on, WP should be happy with so much passion. That’s good for creation. Someone has to grab this energy and put it in the right places.

          WP is an amazing tool. It’s flexible and it’s Open Source.
          It has ups and downs, even in strategic decisions, but it’s part of the process.

          We can keep complaining about this and that but the truth is the team=people behind WP are amazing. If something is going wrong we can contribute alerting for the fact and hope to be heard, in the middle of thousands of voices.

          When we hear one of it’s main leaders saying: “Yes, I want WordPress to be the best CMS. Yes, I want this community to be vibrant and engaged.” we should feel hopeful.

          Of course WP is still a product. And it’s used by “a lot” of different people. That as also to be taken into account.
          It must deliver some confidence and stability.

          I suppose it would also be beneffic to marketing that WP can be used in two distinct ways: as a Tool for building sites (FSE) and as a CMS.

          If these two are optimized individually, the potential is huge.
          I truly believe it’s possible to build websites both ways: via raw (PHP!), with a strong connection to a clean DB and via FSE. Forcing both doing the same maybe it’s too much – at least for a stable product, or for now.
          And no one would be left behind – it’s important to attract but also to maintain users / developers.

          Maybe it’s easier to decouple the two and have a stronger WP which doesn’t need that much maintenance?

          Maybe there could be an option to install a consolidated “FSE version” or a consolidated “CMS version”?

          I’m sure there are a lot of opinions and roadmaps that could be made or changed.
          Always for the benefit of users & developers of WordPress!

  5. I agree that FSE and the block editor complexity are killing WordPress.

    I ran a meetup introducing WordPress 5.9 FSE, and the screwed up faces, puzzled looks, and the barrage of “how do I” questions were damning.

    The block editor concept was simple, but the current solution is complicated and overly engineered.

    Creating menus, links and sub menus in a small 100px navigation block – seriously?

    Options are all over the place, on the block, on hover, on vertical dots sub menus, and in the properties sidebar.

    It’s too complicated, and I understand why many people are bailing WordPress for Wix, Squarespace and other easy to manage CMS solutions.

    • “Options are all over the place, on the block, on hover, on vertical dots sub menus, and in the properties sidebar.”

      That. Just that alone kills user experience.

      The WordPress management should stop living in echo-chambers and get in touch with real life users and developers. Gutenberg and FSE is nice but take your time to work on it. Then publish when it’s user friendly and all done.

      I’m starting my own business for SME sites and want to develop in WP but now I have serious doubts on where to go. If people start to complain about productivity and bad user experience, then things are going the wrong way.

  6. For me much of the excitement of new WP releases is gone. In the past, maybe not every release had goodies, but there were many releases that did have a lot of goodies.
    Now all I see in new releases is excitement about the block editor and FSE, hardly anything else. But I don’t use those, I use simple themes or custom themes for layout and styling together with the Classic Editor. I have to do extra work to even keep what I had, like installing the Classic Widgets plugin on all my sites.
    I see a lot of excitement about the new editing experience, but it all goes past me and I don’t get it. I do think feelings and experiences like this are important, even if only for marketing purposes and word of mouth.

  7. It’s a general feeling too.
    But WP already noticed it and are acting for sure.
    Despite being an open source tool, it’s still a product – which, for good and for worst, 40% of the web rely on – they know it’s not viable to keep experimenting things “live” – it can led to frustration and doubt.
    The users want solutions They need to know what they can rely on for a long period.
    WP could inform it more clearly – it’s a marketing thing, the main page could be a solutions timeline – about some general doubts:

    Developers already understood they won’t be creating websites the same way but can they still develop CMS driven ones? with PHP template-tags? And why not? PHP is a super templating language. Javascript? REST-API? Great! They can live together! How?
    When should I start building with FSE?
    Are/will there be a 2 ways for building with WP? Great! 2 downloadable versions? Maybe a 5′ guide to build a website with FSE and a 5′ one for a developer?

    These questions are all answered in the great and deep documentation, but users want 5′ stuff too.
    I’m a designer (that’s why I say so many programming rubbish but I also do some PHP & JS, I know something about it’s potential), I love FSE, I don’t feel it’s ready yet but I know it will be.
    I imagine myself building FSE websites & PHP ones & REST Apps – all built with a powerful CMS behind!
    Don’t forget about a clean and great performance CMS – no html embedded?
    But how do I make a production website now? There are a lot of tutorials and materials but I think that’s more a problem then a solution.
    There isn’t a 5′ solution yet.

  8. There’s so much we’re missing in terms of context. Who has left WordPress and why? Is it the person who wants a quick-and-dirty DIY site? Could it be that enough freelancers and agencies have migrated to something else?

    I think there are a number of factors at play. Perhaps the biggest one is that continuous growth is simply not realistic. It’s a miracle that WordPress, or any software, could have such a run of growth.

    Then consider all of the money that Wix, etc. are spending on marketing. This is bound to draw in some users – particularly those who aren’t professional developers.

    Still, there are plenty of places WordPress can improve. The dashboard is overly complex compared to other systems. For example, the page/post listing screens are one of my pet peeves. Sites with a lot of content can be a nightmare to navigate in the back end.

    For me, it’s about simplification AND retaining flexibility for developers. This is what drew many of us to WP in the first place. And there’s a sense that we are losing it.

    • There are so many variables at play here and it’d be interesting to get some concrete data.

      I do think that marketing and messaging is playing a role here. It’s difficult to know how many people are getting hit with competitor messaging but I get tons of ads for Webflow on social and on YouTube. They specifically refer to themselves as a WordPress alternative in the ad. I’ve come across several cool sites where upon inspecting the code I discover that it’s a Webflow site.

      Then you have Squarespace who also has been pouring a lot of money into TV ads, podcast ads, and social/YouTube ads.

      These platforms are also competing with each other but it feels like WordPress is the easier target for these platforms to frame themselves against: “No plugins, no complicated hosting and domain setup etc.”

      The combination of all this advertising may create the perception that WordPress is difficult to use and should be avoided. Basically make your site with anything as long as it’s not WordPress.

      I do think that WordPress and Gutenberg/FSE can compete with these other platforms but there’s a lot of work to be done.

    • Indeed, the articles about this stats are questionable. What nobody is talking about is that in 2021 WordPress increased its market share by 10% from 39% to 43% which is a huge growth and this should have been the actual headline of the original article that started this conversation. By the end of this year the stats will look a lot different, drawing any conclusion now with 4 months of data is a bit pointless.

  9. We do around $2m/yr on a Woocommerce site and it’s time to move on.

    Stripe is a rip-off. They absolutely should not charge fees on refunded orders.

    There are no shipping plugins that actually show when a customer should expect their product. They’re supposed to do shipping math and figure out when 2-day air will arrive if they order at 1:30 on a Thursday afternoon.

    Blocks is the worst example of f*** it ship it I’ve ever had to deal with. It’s always something from saved credit cards not approving to emails that start with a number throwing an error on a saved account.

    Now it’s showing sales tax for local pickups but it isn’t actually collecting it on about 40% of those orders. Thanks for that, it has cost us over $12k in uncollected tax that I’m still responsible for.

    Stripe orders with Apple Pay are so slow that customers refresh and cause duplicate transactions which, as mentioned, I get to pay Stripe for both of them even after I refund one.

    Getting these things fixed is always so much work. “Did you turn all your plugins off?” No, I have 5 people shopping now and I can’t just shut my site down. I’m not the only one with the same problems but they always try to say, “it’s your host” or “our copy works here”.

    I have pursued a few of these esoteric glitches and they have ended up actually fixing those so I know it’s not just my site. It just takes so much effort and I don’t have that kind of time.

    Woocommerce is bare-bones. It requires so many plugins for things that you would think all web stores would need. Inventory management and po’s, decent looking emails, basic CMS… it truly feels like ancient software.

    I could keep going but I have to go run my business. I have 11 orders to ship from last night and no more time for this but I have to move on to something more stable and reliable very soon.

    Does that exist?

    • “Getting these things fixed is always so much work. “Did you turn all your plugins off?” No, I have 5 people shopping now and I can’t just shut my site down.”

      I LOL’d at how relatable this is. Trying to set up and maintain a staging site for an active WooCommerce site is such a chore. At Beaver Builder, we (with help) built a tool that pulls down the production database, wipes all the customer data, disables automatic subscription payments, disables automatic emails, etc., etc.

      It’s crucial to have a staging environment when you’re using 40 different plugins by 30 different vendors that all release updates periodically and on their own schedules.

      Page Builders and Gutenberg admittedly complicated this process more by storing stylistic data in the database. Want to build a few new pages on your staging site write some corresponding CSS code? Have fun trying to push up those pages to your live site using XML code from WordPress’ import/export tool. Have fun uploading all the imagery twice. Have fun manually updating all the image URLs and praying that there isn’t some data corruption along the way.

      Shameless plug, this is a problem we’re trying to tackle with our new product, Assistant.pro.

    • The plugins are a huge problem. WP is a blog platform larping as anything else. You need so many plugins to make it do what you want and then trying to manage those plugins becomes a headache. I lost count of the amount of times a plug-in update has completely crashed my site. And to think the devs believe auto-updates should be the default is insane. I guess that means we all get to wake up to broken sites.
      Also the business model of the plug-ins themselves is flawed. I understand devs need to make money but the free versions of plug-ins always lock out features; which means you have to hope that the paid version is actually worth the money and does what you need it to do. A full trial would be a possible alternative but that might not be so easy to do.
      Frankly, WordPress is too fragmented and as its grown in size and “functionality” its only becoming worse. I started looking into Opencart and I’m hoping it can do what WP struggles with.

      • This is hilarious because your comment notification was the first email that popped up for me after I got an alert at 2am that our site was having issues and I spent 4 hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t edit my Blocks cart or checkout page on any browser. Turns out SEO Press had an update overnight that breaks Blocks. Blocks, for once, wasn’t the issue but don’t get me started on that piece of trash plugin.

        E-commerce sites need stability first and elegant simplicity as a close second. I feel more and more like I have neither with WP & Woo.

        Why, for example, in 2022 do I still have to present customers with shipping options that make them scratch their heads to calculate the day it will arrive? Why can’t any plugin properly show the day they can actually expect delivery instead of “2 business day air if you order before 1pm Eastern”?

        • Business days in the country of the seller or of the customer or both?
          – 1pm in which timezone? the seller’s or the customer’s?
          – what about caching, is this data safe to cache or does it have to fetch uncached data from the server.

          There is always a compromise being made betw. customisability vs sane defaults

  10. “I don’t do much WP dev anymore, but after needing multiple articles and a YouTube tutorial for me to understand the new Navigation block, I knew WP was in serious trouble …”

    ahhh, I’m not alone after all!! I was feeling really dumb that it took me so much time to figure out. On 5.9 I believe, it got a bit easier to understand but still….

  11. I am going to add in one more reason, the large number of crappy hosting sites and the attendant poor support they offer. I deal a lot with a variety of hosts the clients have chosen, and the choice is invariably based on price.

    Using a service like Wix or Squarespace or Shopify solves those problems and the price makes the performance worth it. Customers are paying for support and performance and getting it.

  12. the irony is Matt began the push for Gutenberg and FSE a couple years ago, ignoring all feedback to the contrary, specifically because of the rising popularity of Wix, Squarespace, etc. and after all this time, IMO, it was more of a detriment to WP than the competition was.

    whether the push was rooted in concern over threats to revenue streams from WP.com or a genuine belief that Gutenberg/FSE was needed, its absolutely time to take a pause and reset. not to mention as the WP foundation has grown its focus has gone in different directions and it is now a “bloated organization” requiring a different type of leadership than an open source project (IMO from a far away vantage point, I know nothing of the inner workings).

    unfortunately when downward spirals begin the wrong corrective action is usually applied and things simply accelerate from here. i predict a double-down on Gutenberg/FSE, more needless complexity, continued
    disregard for performance/simplicity.

  13. I’m not a developer, but I am an avid user. I may well be in the minority on this, but I think that WordPress’s current issues are in part a product of trying to build too many features into the core.

    When I was teaching, I couldn’t help noticing how limited student options were when they used CMSs like Wix for projects. It was possible to do far more in WordPress, even though some of the more advanced features required page builders or other plugins. That was okay, though, because not every user needed that level of sophistication. For most blogging purposes, the classic editor was fine. People who needed more could easily find builder or plugins to add the features they wanted, many of them for free.

    Another thing I learned as a teacher was that everyone’s brains don’t work in the same way. One size does not fit all. That’s why having a basic CMS that could be expanded according to user needs and abilities made more sense than developing a whole new way of writing posts and then gradually trying to force it on everyone. Blocks may be a natural format for programmers, but they aren’t necessarily for writers. Gutenberg could have been offered as a plugin for those who wanted it. If the demand had been great enough, it could have been adopted as core–but as an option, rather than a replacement for the classic editor.

    As for full site editing, I see how it would be handy for developers, but the average user probably doesn’t need it. For most people, the plethora of themes available would have been more than enough. Many of those themes have more options for customization than most people will ever use. I can’t offhand think of a single thing I’d change using full site editing.

    One of the things I liked about WordPress was the flexibility it offered. That’s now being chipped away for no good reason. Everything people like about Gutenberg, for instance, could have been available as an option rather than a mandate.

  14. I’m still a big WordPress fan. I don’t use Gutenburg for some strange reason… I installed the classic editor plugin on all my sites as it feels more “home”. Just my preference.

  15. I’ve been using WP since launch and have built numerous small sites for clients over the years. I now manage a rather large and complex WP build that has becomes much too difficult to work with due to the endless development cycle and focus on the flawed GB/FSE.

    I think the current issue with WP is we’ve forgotten who the target audience is, or perhaps with GB/FSE we’ve tried to be all things to all people. Most small businesses and orgs who have a WP site built by a developer or agency want nothing to do with building and managing content with blocks and who could blame them when developers are having a hard enough time doing it themselves. It’s become so complex that only the WP fanboys and promoters are able to keep up.

    The current state of GB / FSE has me planning for an alternative solution because I can’t see the WP experience getting anything but worse from here on out. I think I’d bail to ClassicPress tomorrow if I felt it was solid and would be here for the long term.

    • ClassicPress – thanks, didn’t even know it existed. One to consider in the coming months.

      • I’m not sure it’s missing anything meaningful other than the fact that it’s being run by a handful of contributors and I’m just not prepared to move a large production site to it just yet. They don’t do a lot of communication on the project so it’s really hard to trust that it will be around for the long term imo.

  16. If WP’s market share is indeed shrinking, and that is still debatable, I would personally put the blame someplace else. Where? On “monopolies” in the WP ecosystem.

    Being an independent theme developer and affiliate became almost untenable.

    A couple of companies dominate many aspects of the industry, like what Awesome Motive does. With their influence they can flood search engines with highly targeted content, thus dominating search result pages (and it’s not just them).
    So basically, when new users search for anything related to WordPress, there’s an incredibly high chance that they will go to one of 5 or 10 websites. Thus they became the gatekeepers.
    Other websites with good rankings in search engines don’t have the interest of promoting anyone as before, with an affiliate link. Many of them charge a yearly listing fee in a “Best themes for ______” post.
    To get some popularity or traffic from the .org repository is becoming less and less viable.

    All this leads to reduced innovation, dedication and involvement.
    When people see that their efforts lead to nothing, then they are moving on to other things, if they are lucky to have options.

    How to fix all this? And does any of this need fixing?
    If I were the WP Czar, I would look into ways to level the playing field in the theme and plugin industries. Find a way to highlight and send some traffic to independent products.
    But then someone will always bring up the fact that “promoting someone is not the repository’s role”. Maybe it should be?

    Do I have any hope that things will improve? Unfortunately I don’t 😦

    • There is some truth in this. The theme and especially plugin repository are broken.

      Big plugins get bigger even if they are crappy and search is completely broken. Search for a plugin by name and the first results are littered with popular but irrelevant results. You may not even find the plugin you want even if you match the name exactly.

  17. I’m in the minority in that I absolutely love Gutenberg, but I’m not buying FSE. The roadmap and experience are clunky, and might be that WP is prioritizing for both the developer and the user.

    If the product is moving in a user-centric direction, triple down on that. To Justin’s points several times over the last year, why isn’t a feature image in the content block not be among the first features in the FSE rollout? Why is there no placeholder featured image in a cover block when building a single page template?

    This isn’t so much a critique as a classic question: “Are we building the product for its intended audience?” If WordPress is being built to democratize website development and lowering the barrier to entry for amateur designers and newer developers, it doesn’t seem like enough of those people are participating in testing/feedback.

  18. When we look at the chart — most CMSs like Wix/Joomla are not growing. They are in fact shrinking.

    The only platform that’s growing is Shopify.

    For me — the indication is that when it comes to Websites/blogs — WordPress is still the leading choice.
    However, when it comes to eCommerce — Shopify is gaining on WooCommerce.

    WooCommerce has to be Automattic’s Achilles heel. It scares a lot of new webstore owners because it’s not straightforward to set up.

    The WordPress team should make it easier to purchase WooCommerce extensions. To compete with Shopify, they can launch a subscription service that includes extensions.

    The new WordPress 5.9 & 6.0 full-editing features and Gutenberg enhancements should IMHO help people move away from Wix or others.

    • This. WooCommerce is the issue. The cost of the plugins to do what Shopify is doing is making Shopify’s fees cheaper than WooCommerce. I mean paying for reCaptcha? A checkout system that doesn’t support PayPal? The shopify checkout experience and the Shop app for tracking just blows everything that WC does out of the water.

      • I setup a store to sell ebooks on my site. I leaned towards WooCommerce because I wanted to host everything on my site, as opposed to using a 3rd party software like Podia.

        But boy, was it a f***ing nightmare. Setting up on WooCommerce is an absolute pain-in-the-rear-end. I then hired a developer to fix the UI/UX to match my brand. This of course cost additional dollars.

        If they don’t fix this experience — then more and more eCommerce stores will go to Shopify.

  19. FYI you can’t compare WordPress to Wix and/or SquareSpace, one is a FREE SELF-HOSTED product, and the other is paid Software as a Service (Saas)

    Obviously the paid SaaS will always outperform the free self-hosted product.

  20. I remember when Joomla released version 1.5 in 2008, with a very big architecture change. The new version was a big challenge for website owners and developers who were already working with the CMS. It was easier to migrate to WordPress than to learn the new Joomla. I’ve worked on many sites that switched from Joomla to WP.

    Maybe the same thing is happening with WordPress now, we get better results(or more easily) migrating/learning to another CMS/SaaS than GB/FSE

  21. Joosts analysis is completely wrong, who listens to that guy anymore.

    Anyway, actual the reason for WordPress’ decline is obvious. WordPress has specialised in presentation and building a good looking brochure site is now trivial and commodified. Wix and square space have largely mastered delivering a cookie cutter website.

    But is that a bad thing. Not at all, where WordPress excels is it’s plugin ecosystem that enables WordPress to be flexible and solve problems that wix can never do. WordPress build on this and strive to be a high value cms.

    This highlights why the current obsession with Gutenberg is so unhelpful. Gutenberg is cool but at the end of the day it is just a presentational tool. And it is a distraction from the real work on apis that WordPress needs to continue improving as a cms and crm.

  22. I’ve been following these threads both here and on Twitter. I have a couple of thoughts that I haven’t seen mentioned yet.

    First, Joost published a blog post on this subject, but that seemed like an afterthought relative to the discussion that is taking place on Twitter. Blogging and the communities/discussions that used to take place in comment sections have largely moved over to social media sites. I recently started reading an active weather blog with a well-moderated comment section and I felt like I found a four-leaf clover. They are few and far between these days.

    Second, I truly believe that covid completely obliterating the in-person community around WordPress has to be a contributing factor. At WordCamps, I was always pleasantly surprised when someone would ask who was at a WordCamp for the first time and see a flood of hands go in the air. I am so excited that the tide is turning there and in-person events are starting to come back online!

    IE., I think there are factors beyond Gutenberg/FSE and the development direction of the core team, and it’s not totally fair to put all the blame on their shoulders. :)

  23. 5 Quick Fixes WordPress Can Make in 6.1

    So what’s the solution?

    Don’t even try to make WordPress a word-class DIY site builder?

    Reorg? Re-rearchitect? Try again?

    No — prioritize and deliver.

    6.0 has met its stated goal of “a conceptual wrap for Gutenberg: Phase 2 (Customization)”. Kudos! Quite a feat of in-flight rearchitecting.

    But for a DIY site builder/owner/dev like me, 6.0 is a timid, overly-incrementalist release that leaves too much hanging of what would actually help me.

    Now (and for upcoming Gutenberg phase 3 of Collaboration):

    I would so much prefer fewer, bolder, and value-on-front-end features on the present path and vision.

    In 6.1 I want these 5 buttons/features:

    1) Save Theme / Save as New Theme.
    2) Select Fonts.
    3) Staging View.
    4) Admin Pages.
    5) Export Site / Import Site.

    Small changes, but big impacts on collaboration, on-boarding, and workflow.

    And together an open-platform leapfrog over competing commercial site builders.

    What are your top 5 bold-but-doable features for 6.1?

    Notes:

    1) Save Theme / Save as New Theme.

    Really just a tweak on the existing Export Theme, but directly to theme folder. But this would make a world of difference in workflow.

    2) Select Fonts.

    You just can’t make a complete new theme in the site editor without this.

    3) Staging View.

    Come on, just let me (or designated user roles) preview my whole site in a new theme without having to switch to it.

    Won’t that be one of the pillars of phase 3 (Collaboration) anyway?

    4) Admin Pages.

    Just let me build a block-based admin page in the site editor.

    The hooks have been there, and this is the fast-path to revitalizing the admin area.

    5) Export Site / Import Site.

    Integral to collaboration, site building and maintenance, and with block themes a now-feasible, long overdue update to content import/export.

  24. As a post editor, Gutenberg is now (IMHO) better than the classic editor – but it took over a year to become merely usable, and significantly longer to actually become good.

    I’d be happy it they left if at that. But this would defeat Automattic’s game plan, which is to onboard new users in a way that locks them into building sites with Gutenberg/Jetpack before they spend their money on Divi, Elementor and a gazillion plugins, thereby transferring income from Elegant Themes, Elementor, Envato etc. to Automattic.

    So FSE will keep trudging along, and I suppose it will eventually get good. And they won’t care what you or I say, because they’re betting the farm on the next generation of publishers/developers who will have no memory of tinyMCE.

  25. WordPress is almost about to lose the top spot as most customisable CMS and when developers start leaving the CMS is when the alarm bells will ring. I have been working on a theme for close to 6 months now, which has both Elementor and Gutenberg FSE versions. There is way too much missing in the FSE. Although comparable with Elementor, there are things in FSE which is really not easy to deal with even for a developer. Many things are still upcoming, Custom Menu walkers , Custom Page templates, Custom Post type templates, Taxonomy templates etc. are missing. FSE is still a beta product for me. Plus there are bugs in the Gutenberg like the screen freeze or the blocks becoming unresponsive. If I try to understand for Gutenberg team, with so many negative ratings it is going to impact the morale of the development team and team starts lacking focus. Obviously this is a mess, the team needs to work and work really fast even more than ever now.

  26. It seems to me that it’d be more useful to know in which particular segments WP’s share is decreasing. We all have various bits of WP that we don’t like and think should be improved (for example, I tend to agree with those who’ve commented above to say that WooCommerce is a much less attractive proposition relative to the competition than it used to be) – but what does the data say about the overall picture?

  27. This article reminded me of why I’ve shifted my career away from WordPress development (I’ve been doing custom theme development since 2006).

    Despite the good intentions, Gutenberg seemed more like a response to competitors and not a focus on users (who were forced to be guinea pigs). Personally, I realized that if Gutenberg was this frustrating for me, it’d be even more frustrating for my non-technical clients. Not everyone is meant to be a layout designer!

    JavaScript front-ends were the right direction for performance, but I don’t think Automattic properly documented/educated the WordPress community to make that jump. I work in React regularly, but don’t know many WordPress developers that do.

    I hope they do right the ship. I also hope this spawns more open-source CMS competition.

  28. Automattic should have put its more energy toward woocommerce instead of Gutenberg (& FSE).

    Due to global lockdown induced, there’s surge in eCommerce demand. A offline store now wants a online D2C store. Shopify leads in answering their questions by providing a simple to use, more complete, rigorously tested product. What a shopkeeper wants apart from that.
    With Shopify,
    hosting done,
    performance done,
    security done,
    good eCommerce themes done,
    analytics integration done,
    excellent admin mobile app done,
    simple dashboard done,
    Basic marketing automation done
    etc done!

    With woocommerce,
    hosting separate
    performance – cache plugin, image optimisation plugin,
    Security – separate plugins,
    Good eCommerce themes – separate,
    Analytics – a separate plugin,
    Mobile – just good, not excellent,
    Dashboard – old school reminder (even other bulk editor plugin required for managing products & orders),
    Basic Marketing automation – another plugin,
    & etc – more paid plugins. (Which also needs testing their conflicting status)

    In the end, you might be paying more for far sophisticated experience you get with Shopify.

    Which one you choose – simpler, easy to use, tested or clunky, manual, plugin over non compatible plugins website.

  29. Of course WP market share is declining. The reason is obvious – wysiwyg “full site” builders are a failure. All of them. Gutenberg, Elementor, Divi. They all suck because the idea behind them is flawed. WordPress has turned into Microsoft FrontPage. Everything old is new again. Now we get to learn all over again why content and layout should be kept separate. Yay.

    In the meantime everyone will continue being frustrated with these tools.

    Clients, etc, end up hating wysiwyg builders because they won’t take the time to learn to use the tools effectively, and end up destroying their site.

    Developers become frustrated with wysiwyg builders because they make everything 10 times harder than it needs to be. Before what I could do with a few a few templates, and well thought out CPT’s , now I have to go in to the bloated backend and click a bunch of buttons like some kind of savage. Don’t even get me started on trying to test and stage this crap. I’ve come to loath wordpress development and dread taking on new wordpress projects. I suspect I am not alone…

    The only people who actually do like wysiwyg builders are those who get paid to fix up the mess that eventually gets made from these tools.

    • Well said!
      This single comment here summarizes the whole problem.
      WP has become like ordering your car in kit.
      Problem #1: nobody wants to assemble a car kit before actually hitting the road
      Problem #2: those who will be wanting to do so will end up with 5 wheels, 3 steering wheels and the garburator on the roof.
      Problem #3: the market will be flooded with “happy engineers” wanting to help, for a fee, those who messed up their kit

      Amen. Nobody listens to userbases anymore. They all think they know what “the market needs”.

  30. This article reminded me of why I’ve shifted my career away from WordPress development (I’ve been doing custom theme development since 2006).
    I hope they do right the ship. I also hope this spawns more open-source CMS competition.

  31. Frankly, I’m over WordPress. I have a handful websites (7) I run and it simply isn’t worth the headaches and bother as it has become to expensive for decent security plug-ins. Too many issues with hacking redirects. Looking at switching all of them over ReactJS on AWS Amplify.

  32. I find it hard to chew that the decline is technical in nature. Look at all the marketing from Squarespace and Wix. All of it is how easy it is to build a good-looking site, with ecommerce. Elementor is now lifting that torch, but nothing from WordPress. The more technically inclined will fall into WP, but that’s a much smaller market overall.

  33. As a writer and developer, i still enjoy blogging with block editor and truly addicted to it, especially when you can choose your preferred blocks with “/” hotkey. But on the developer point of view, i think WordPress block is quite complexity, sometimes i want only to override existing blocks with different class and realize the struggling to do it.

  34. There are some very obvious improvements they could make to the dashboard that would improve usability and UX greatly. For one, when there are so many plugins, the top space of wp-admin is always overly cluttered with alerts, banners, dismiss buttons that don’t always work — it’s a mess and it’s ugly. They could create a notifications panel and force all developers to match criteria for notifications, like fitting in the notifications panel, ensuring dismissing works, no custom notification styles — all one, uniform style in the panel. That’s just one of many small improvements they could make that would instantly reduce what feels like unnecessary complexity.

  35. WordPress is definitely used to be one of the most popular CMS platforms in the market. But most of its tools and strategies seem to be somehow traditional in many ways. And With the Advancement of no-coding solutions to build web sites or apps such as Bubble service, WordPress is still not making easy for its users to create their sites faster. The big problem with WordPress is that you have to install many plugins, try many themes till you can create a full basic site that can meet the minimum user experience needs.

    As a WordPress customer, what will satisfy me is that WordPress must focus on providing one high quality service with good prices. WordPress CMS must contact and cooperate with web developers to create good products that can solve ans replace many plugins and other tools.

    For the best sake, developers must create themes that are fully optimized for both desktop and mobile versions, focusing on high speed performance and user-friendly experience.

    Alternatively, as second suggestion, instead of coming up with the blocks technology where a user can just build his or her site by drag and drop clicks, I think it’s Ideal and preferred that WordPress offers a service that allows its users and customers, who are looking to build creative sites for themselves or clients, to just copy ready-made optimized codes for each part of the site. This way, the customer can learn how to design a web using codes and will definitely learn through time how to fix many future errors and issues.

    Hope it helps the WordPress developers team!

    Best regards

  36. Having read this article and the comments I can only add that I, as a dev for some sites big and small, can only agree to nearly all the criticism. Keeping a WordPress site up to date has turned into an endless chain of removing options from the clients interface and replacing abandoned plugins.

    And I remember well when Gutenberg had been initially discussed on wordpress.org right before the project started and how enthusiastically every criticism that now turns out to have become true had been wiped away.

    Thanks for the mention of craftcms, it looks like a reasonable solution for future projects. I‘ m not ready to avoid WP completely, but to me it surely has lost the position of the go to solution it once had been.

  37. Well, i thought that i would have to add a little comment.
    I run a quite complicated site (geodirectory, bbpress,bbforum,etc).
    I had to start a new site for a shop (as adding woo commerce would simply have made it too slow and update issues, etc.).
    I spend a lot of time just doing website admin (things breaking, why??? etc). Which should have been on content creation.
    Also i created the woo store, then realised after that that you cannot import video urls from a 3rd party (like you can in lots of other commerce software).So, a huge time waste.
    And in terms of cost, for funtionality you need… every plugin costs money…for a small thing you may need… this then runs into costs every year which adds up across multiple plugins.
    In terms of the plugin store… i always look for performance orientated plugins, which takes time as many simply bloat the site. Yoast- rankmath, contact form plugins, etc, etc.
    Simply look at pagepipe.com and understand why he is able to get so many interested to understand this.

  38. I see it in a different way. Maybe I hold a different perspective of looking at things.

    I find no comparison between WordPress and others like WIX or Shopify.

    WordPress offers complete freedom and flexibility in terms of features, ownership as well as budget. With WordPress it is up to me as a user –
    What do I want ?
    What Do I want?
    And how much do I want to spend?

    WIX and Shopify is like a rented house for me. I can’t think of expanding my business in those restricted environments.

    Can anyone tell me what are the options available at wix and shopify to extend features and who will do that for me at what cost?

    With WordPress I still have a client who is happy running a business website at just $29 per year and another client who spends around $15000 per month. I can’t think of this much flexibility on any other platform.

    I love the concept of gutenberg and FSE. Writing a blog with gutenberg editor is awesome experience. The concept of block as a development and designing tool is again a master work. I agree it’s complex for development in comparison with classic editors. But the choice is again mine. Classic editor still works. That’s the beauty.

    Kudos to the WordPress Team and all the contributors.

    Lastly, WordPress is completely open source and open for contribution. So if I am not happy with something I will start contributing to make it better as per my wish. That option is also open.

  39. FSE is an unholy mess. Every time I try and do something with it I end up confused, and that’s me a WordPress developer for 17 years now! It’s also still buggy as hell, I must encounter an issue almost 50% of the time. It can’t be trusted.

    I build sites that are as easy and un-scary for users to maintain content on as possible but I just can’t release FSE on many of them as it would just put them off ever updating the site.

    My current solution is to use ACF for everything, switch back to the classic editor and do ever more deeper integration with Divi, which comes with its own downside of then having 2 entirely separate editing experiences on the same site which also isn’t a good look. Just feels like I’m making compromises to work around FSE & gutenberg.

    It is all a bit of a mess right now and we need to find a way through it, and fast.

  40. I went to ClassicPress in 2018. I continued experimenting with WP however. WP was my first love, I learned the web through WP. And I am gratefull for that.
    But really I don’t appreciate FSE and the block editor, I prefer the old but gold publishing experience.
    I can understand why WP focused on changing the editing experience, they are after the kind of customer that needs it.
    I don’t, and I think that the only solution for me is not using WP. This is the very sad, very harsh truth.
    Avalanches start with a small stone, we won’t know what caused the market share loss untill we have more statisical data and more time passes under the bridge.
    Trying to be positive about the loss is ok, ignoring it occurred not so good.

  41. As someone who is not that tech savvy and uses WP mostly just to publish blog posts while others do the magic behind the scenes, I must say it is very often laggy, especially if I compare it to my private blog that runs on Wix. Then again, I’m sure Wix does not feature so many customization options, but in all honesty if you just need a sink for your writing you don’t need a lot of fancy stuff on the page.

  42. From a dev perspective, I wish WP was as easy as Laravel. A few weeks back I just installed a package in Laravel I had no previous experience with. Worked like magic in one or two minutes.
    Each time I try adding a plugin in WP, it is very trying. Does it break something? Does it really do what I need, or does it just appear to do so? Is it scalable? If I change my theme, does it still work?
    All these things go away for me with Laravel. Granted I have to do more on my own. But it is far more reliable and friendly in the end.

  43. I’m a WordPress developer at an agency that designs and develops custom WordPress sites for B2B clients. FSE and to a lesser extent Gutenberg are useless to us. Our clients hire us to design and develop a custom website, they obviously don’t want to have to worry about the design themselves. WordPress used to be a simple CMS that could handle content management on the backend and we as an agency could handle design on the frontend via our custom theme. Our clients don’t want to mess around with design, they just want to be able to easily update content and add pictures. We’ve used ACF for years to customize the backend to easily facilitate this but FSE and Gutenberg just over complicate the whole thing. WordPress doesn’t need to be overly complicated and turn into another Wix or Squarespace.

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