WP Tavern’s 2021 Year in Review

Abstract Lights by Marcus Kazmierczak

A friend prompted me to fix an issue with the WP Tavern archives page a few days ago. Not all of 2021’s posts were visible. As I glanced over the updated list, I realized our team put in a lot of work for the year.

In the day-to-day mix of things, it is easy to forget how much you have written during the year. Some of the articles are memorable and stick with you for a while. Much passes by in a blur. But, I felt a sense of pride in the work our team has put in as I scrolled through the posts.

These year-in-review posts tend to take about two days’ worth of work, gathering up all of the stats and notes and formatting them so that they are presentable. However, they are always one of my favorite articles to put together every year.

We should always take some time to remind ourselves where we have been on this journey. This makes sure we are better informed before taking our next steps. At the Tavern, that means paying attention to what content people are reading and how they are engaging with it.

So, let us just dive right into some of the 2021 highlights.

The Year in WordPress

WordPress turned 18 years old in 2021. That is a massive feat for any software, especially a CMS that consistently faces competition from newer web technologies.

Unlike last year’s three, the platform only saw two major releases this year. WordPress 5.9 was initially slated to land in early December, but it was postponed until January 25, 2022. This should give contributors more time to smooth out several wrinkles with new features.

The Gutenberg plugin was a consistent force, driving new features that would eventually make their way into core WordPress. We have covered its releases throughout the year here at the Tavern.

Matt Mullenweg recorded his annual State of the Word before a live audience in New York City in mid-December. The address focused on WordPress’s growth in the past year, a decentralized web, and version 5.9 features. He also focused on contributing to the commons. He introduced Openverse, formerly Creative Commons Search, and noted the beta launch of the WordPress photo directory.

Favorite Plugin

Newsletter theme design screen from the Newsletter Glue plugin.
Newsletter Glue’s theme designer.

One of the best things about writing for WP Tavern is covering a range of new plugins every year. Unfortunately, we cannot get to them all. However, there are always a few projects that stand out in the crowded field.

Maybe it was nostalgia for a bygone era of printed family newsletters. Perhaps it is just a neat idea, but my favorite plugin of the year is Newsletter Glue.

It showcases how a small team can get a complex project off the ground via the block editor. Newsletter Glue is just over a year old, and Lesley Sim and Ahmed Fouad have created a solid product.

Favorite Theme

Homepage of the Eksell WordPress theme, showcasing a three-column portfolio grid with the site navigation/sidebar to the left and an intro and category nav above.
Eksell theme homepage

This should come as no surprise to Tavern readers. I have touted its well-rounded design and architecture on multiple occasions. Eksell by Anders Norén is my favorite theme of the year. Twenty Twenty-Two would be a close second, but it has not officially launched yet. Maybe it will reign in the year to come.

I have been on the lookout for a block theme to win this for the entire year, but none of them quite lived up to Eksell. Not even Noren’s own attempt with Tove.

Eksell plays well with blocks, supporting all current, stable advancements in WordPress theming. It is far more modern than many other classic-supported themes. And, it is just beautiful.

WP Tavern Stats

Over the past couple of years, we have increased our content output. Engagement via published comments is down, but “likes” continue climbing. The following is a table of the past three years of stats. Note that averages are per post.

2021 2020 2019
Total Posts 443 406 382
Total Comments 3,151 3,699 2,864
Avg. Comments 7.1 9.2 7.5
Total Likes 4,508 3,589 2,676
Avg. Likes 10.2 9.0 7.0
Total Words 324,842 317,231 225,117
Avg. Words 733 791 589

Of course, we moderate comments here at WP Tavern. We could let things run wild for a bump in commenting stats, but we want to continue creating an environment where people feel welcome to participate.

I am the champion of comments this year with a total of 81. I would still like to engage a bit more. That is something I will work on in the new year.

Props to the five people next in line for total comments in 2021:

  • Miroslav Glavić
  • Eric Karkovack
  • Andrew Starr
  • Steven Gliebe
  • Paul Lacey

Without you and other readers, there would be no Tavern. I hope to see more of you all and others in 2022.

Top 10 Most Viewed Stories

Sarah Gooding pretty much single-handedly broke our all-time daily views record in January, a record that had stood since 2015. It now stands at 24,887. I contributed a bit, but her coverage of WordPress.com’s website building service did the heavy lifting. And, it was not even the overall most-viewed story of the year.

The following are the articles Tavern readers viewed the most in 2021:

Top 10 Most Commented Stories

You would think that our most-read articles are those that receive the most comments. However, that is not always the case. While there is some crossover between the two lists, our readers sometimes need to be vocal on a particular topic.

Here are the top 10 most-commented posts of 2021:


I look forward to another year of delivering stories to all of our readers. The Tavern staff will see you all in 2022 for the next steps on this journey.

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8 responses to “WP Tavern’s 2021 Year in Review”

  1. Grzegorz says:

    Congratulations on another successful year! For me personally, this was my first 12 months with WP, which has become one of the most important transformative elements of my career as a whole. Here is hoping that 2022 will bring more positive changes. Wishing everyone a lot of health and fortune in the New Year.

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  2. Thanks for the write up – happy new year to the Tavern staff!
    Certainly enjoyed the Newsletter Glue “reminder” having missed it through the year … looks like they’re doing great things and with the recent “movement” in the membership plugin market their MemberHero plugin looks very promising.

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  3. Greg O’Donoghue says:

    Justin , always read his articles , for tips , and ideas , a really good writer , and picks out the useful stuff.

    I really enjoyed those articles , and no doubt he has given wordpress a stage , for people to work off.

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  4. I am a big fan and an avid reader of Wptavern. WordPress is my favorite CMS as I am doing blogging since 2015. WPTavern is a one-stop site for all WordPress-related updates, news, and announcement. Thanks for making it more useful. Happy New year Team

    Regards,
    Vishwajeet Kumar

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  5. auditor says:

    Dear Justin Sarah
    Happy new year.

    I just shocked seeing this on the face of WordPress news page:
    https://wordpress.org/news/2021/12/people-of-wordpress-collins-agbonghama/

    Compare it with the first post in WPtavern’s top 10 most-commented posts of 2021:
    ProfilePress Rebrands and Repurposes WP User Avatar, Now a Membership Plugin, Users Revolt via the WordPress Review System

    Is it something wrong with WordPress marketing team / HeroPress?
    What is the proper action + corrective action?

    Best Regards

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    • Guido says:

      My thoughts exactly! Guess the author of that article doesn’t read The Tavern..

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    • The original HeroPress article came out almost three years ago, so it pre-dates all of this.

      As for the WordPress.org article, I think it would have been a good opportunity to talk to the plugin author and get his thoughts, allow him the chance to share what he learned from the experience. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with featuring Collins, but good journalism would have meant touching on the ProfilePress issue, even if it was secondary to the story.

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  6. This Tavern is on fire!!!

    It’s amazing how much useful information a person can absorb merely through osmosis. Thanks to the entire team for your commitment to accuracy, transparency and your consistent prolific output.

    Cheers!

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