Working on developing a core of WordPress classes for Clark College and preparing for the next “Introduction to WordPress” college course in a couple weeks, I’ve put together some statistics on WordPress you might find helpful – and stunning. WordPress continues to break records set by others, but more often lately, break records set by itself.
As of a moment today, WordPress 3.3, the latest version, has been downloaded 12,179,538 times, continuing to break previous version records for downloads and upgrades. There have been 98 version releases of WordPress, and the release numbers have stayed fairly consistent since the version 1.2 to 1.5 jump.
Key releases of WordPress are named for jazz musicians and so far include Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Billy Strayhorn, classical, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Carmen McRae, Thelonious Monk, Django Reinhardt, George Gershwin, and Sonny Stitt. Among all the jazz legends is the name Ronan Boren. This was the first child born within the WordPress core development team family, son of Ryan Boren. He was born October 10, 2006, and WordPress 2.0.5 was released October 27, 2006, and named for this future WordPress developer. Few people also know that WordPress 0.71 was named “gold” and version 1.0 was named “platinum.”
WordPress is an Open Source web publishing, content management system platform. It consists of a free self-hosted version for those with independently hosted servers known as WordPress.org, a free hosted version on WordPress.com, and a WordPress Multisite (MS) version for publishing multiple sites under a parent site, such as WordPress.com and many companies and educational institutions use to offer “departmentalized” content under their umbrella. WordPress installations are extended by the use of WordPress Plugins which add additional features and functions, and WordPress Themes, the easily set design layer for the site.
The WordPress Foundation is an independent non-profit, supported by the volunteer WordPress Community and Automattic, considered the “commercial” side of WordPress. Automattic staff work on core WordPress development, support, and extensibility, and administrate WordPress.com, in addition to other duties with the company.
From within the WordPress Community, more than 100 books have been published about WordPress since 2006, covering all aspects of WordPress from installation, core programming, Theme and Plugin development, SEO, business and marketing, ecommerce, social media, and making your site “pretty” for the world.
In July 2011, WordPress 3.2 was released and had 500,000 downloads in the first two days, representing the fastest upgrade velocity ever in the history of WordPress. WordPress 3.3 was released December 13, 2011, and broke that record with one million downloads in the first two days. According to founder, Matt Mullenweg, WordPress has been downloaded over 65 million times since version 3 in June 2010.
Who Uses WordPress?
WordPress is responsible for 14.7 percent of the top million websites worldwide representing small, medium and big business. If you are using WordPress, you are in good company alongside The New York Times, Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy, Ford, New York University Library, CNN, Harvard Law School, Ben & Jerry, People Magazine, NASA, General Electronic (GE), Gigaom, CNN Political Tracker, AllThingsD, MTV Newsroom, I Can Has Cheezburger?, Time Magazine (blogs), Spotify, NFL, Honda, Nikon Pressroom, Lexus, TED, BBC Top Gear, Pepsi, Harvard Gazette, TechCrunch, GOOD, Startup Weekend, Undergraduate Admissions for Boston University, Jay-Z, National Geographic, The Toledo Museum of Art, Forbes, The Official Star Wars Blog, Kobe Bryant, SearchEngineLand, Carnival Cruise Line News, Herman Miller, Groublogpon for Groupon, Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, Administrative Conference of the United States, Her Royal Majesty (Paris-based literary arts magazine), Mixergy, Boing Boing, Courvoisier Cognac, PAC-MAN, Joe DiMaggio, AIGA Portland, United Nations University, Lollapalooza, Jack LaLanne – Blog, Reader’s Digest, Beetle Bailey, Foursquare, CBS New York, The Economist (Chinese version), Kim Kardashian, Marines Magazine, Adobe Blogs, Best Buy, Inside BlackBerry, Comedy.com, Mozilla, Ebay, Wired, Samsung, Yahoo!, Flickr, Web Worker Daily, Le Monde Newspaper, Number 10 Downing Street, and many senators and representatives of the US Congress. You can find more in the WordPress Showcase.
According to Google Trends, WordPress is the fastest growing web publishing platform worldwide. While English speaking countries may appear to dominate, WordPress is being used extensively in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Colombia, Spain, India, Romania, South Africa, Netherlands, Peru, Brazil, Philippines, Mexico, and Portugal. According to Google Trends, WordPress is being used in Indonesian at almost triple the rate of English, and nearly the sum total of English, Swedish, Dutch, and Romanian.
The WordPress Community
Few other publishing or web-based projects have the viable and diverse community that represents the WordPress Community. Founded in 2003, the WordPress Community represents hundreds of thousands of people around the world working on all aspects of WordPress. Volunteer tasks include developing the core code itself (with over 200,000 code commits since 2003), writing and publishing documentation, video tutorials, and screencasts, writing and releasing over 25,000 WordPress Plugins that extend the functionality of WordPress, designing and developing over WordPress Themes, the design “overlay” or “skin” of a WordPress site, and developing international translations of WordPress for people to blog in their language.
There are hundreds of WordPress Meetups around the world that meet regularly, most monthly, sharing with each other their experiences and expertise in WordPress. Topics range from personal blogging techniques to web design and development to tips for online businesses. Members are novices, new to everything on the web, and others are core contributors to the WordPress core, staying in touch with the community by continued involvement in their local WordPress Meetups.
Many WordPress Meetups fuel WordCamps, annual conferences where participants gather by the hundreds to meet and learn about all things WordPress. Organized regionally world-wide by volunteers, these one to four day events present speakers and keynotes on a wide range of WordPress topics including development, design, code, SEO, and multimedia publishing.
The world’s largest official WordPress Meetup is the long-time Dallas/Fort Worth WordPress Meetup in Texas with almost 1,300 members, competing with its close neighbor, The Austin WordPress Meetup Group with over 900 “WordPress enthusiasts,” proving that you can have a healthy and active WordPress meetup group in a neighboring community. Another example is the San Francisco area with multiple WordPress Meetup groups all within a short distance of the main city, each serving their own community’s passionate WordPress users.
In January 2012, Jane Wells of the WordPress Foundation declared 2012 as the “Year of the WordPress Meetup,” celebrating the power and diversity in the WordPress Community around the world. They are working with Meetup.com to make an official WordPress Meetup section free for WordPress meetup groups to promote their events.
Can WordPress Handle It?
I’m asked daily if WordPress can handle whatever web designers, developers, and publishers dish out. Let’s look at some WordPress.com stats to see if WordPress can handle it.
WordPress.com is run using the Multisite version of WordPress and estimates are that more than 32 million sites are active on a single installation of WordPress MS.
Over 352 million people view more than 2.5 million pages each month, on average, on WordPress.com. An average day sees about 500,000 new posts and 400,000 new comments on WordPress.com. Content on WordPress sites is published in more than 120 different languages including Esperanto.
Many social networking and multimedia publishing platforms are tightly integrated with WordPress.com. WordPress.com social networking and multimedia partners include Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Photobucket, Polldaddy, Vodpod, SoundCloud, Gigya, Google Maps, Slideshare, and Dailymotion. Twitter embeds, access, and submissions can total over a million a week. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Flickr images are embedded in WordPress.com posts weekly. Polldaddy integrates with WordPress to allow creation of custom polls and surveys. Thousands of polls are generated on WordPress.com every week. In the first week of March, a new record was broken and more than 826,000 YouTube videos were embedded in WordPress.com sites.
At any time a WordPress user can change the look and feel of their site by switching WordPress Themes. WordPress.com features over 100 different WordPress Themes with a variety of customization features so rarely do more than a few sites look alike. On an average week, users of WordPress.com switch WordPress Theme 225,000 times – not all on the same site.
I’m also asked frequently if there is a maximum number of posts that can be published on a WordPress site. The number of posts is not limited by WordPress but by the configuration of the MySQL database. I’ve thousands of posts on any individual WordPress site and had no problems. There are many sites with over 10,000 posts, and while not as many, I’ve worked with clients with 50,000 or more published posts. One client uses the P2 WordPress Theme, a Twitter/Tumblr style Theme that allows posting form the front page, as a forum, often publishing over 100 posts and 2-4 times that many comments daily. No reports of problems except when it comes to site migration. Some sites have problems migrating huge content sites due to server and database limitations, an issue that has nothing to do with WordPress, easily rectified by dividing up the export/import files.
When it comes to comments, the popular blogger Raincoaster reports a post with more than 1,700 comments on a single blog post. You can also set a limit on the number of comments – just in case.
The self-hosted version of WordPress has been integrated with other publishing platforms and static websites, a variety of forum programs, live chat services, a wide mix of database types and functions, and many APIs and web tools. It’s really up to your imagination and some good coding and anything is possible with WordPress.
Building a Business on WordPress
Millions of people are building their business sites on WordPress, and WordPress-specific web designers, developers, and coders is growing to meet their needs. They are choosing to build their business around WordPress, trusting WordPress to continue as a solid web publishing platform into the future. WordPress is becoming a vocation not just a publishing platform.
Many web design and development companies are promoting themselves as WordPress shops. Programmers are turning to WordPress-only services to create custom WordPress Plugins and functionality for the enterprise market. Such projects include membership sites, exclusive and limited access to content and information, directories, database input and manipulation, customer orders and input management, telemarketing and customer support services, and more, whatever a business needs to improve and automate their online business.
The demand for WordPress educated freelancers, contractors, and direct hires is expanding rapidly as businesses globally embrace WordPress as their publishing platform. A growing number of employment services are demanding WordPress skills from their web workforce, potentially representing an estimate of $30M in projects the 2012 year, expected to double within the next two years.
Students in the first Introduction to WordPress college course reported that having WordPress on their resume and within their college courses was a key reason to taking the class, making their WordPress training “official” so to speak – beyond self-taught. They know that employers are going to be asking for WordPress experience.
A survey of over 18,000 WordPress users by the WordPress Foundation this year found:
- The median hourly rate of a WordPress project is $50.
- Of those participating in the survey, 6,800 of the self-employed respondents were responsible for over 170,000 sites personally.
- 22 of every 100 active domains created in the U.S. are running WordPress.
The following are estimate statistics from a variety of employment services and job shops for WordPress jobs. Numbers may include one time contract or freelance work or full-time hire positions as some companies do not separate them.
- oDesk reports over 30,000 WordPress developers and 61,795 WordPress jobs posted, an average of 5,415 jobs per month.
- SimplyHired.com estimates the salary range for a typical position in the US web industry is $55k to $74k. This spans general web design and development through to specialist niches such as user interface design. According to SimplyHired, the average salary for WordPress “jobs” is $45,000.
- Elance currently features 20,000 active WordPress-centric programmers and designers available for jobs and 3,200 WordPress jobs posted in the past month.
- Freelancer lists almost 90,000 WordPress Developers worldwide and reports USD $2.9M WordPress projects completed.
Example jobs include:
- Total Website Development and Design
- HTML to WordPress Conversion
- PSD to WordPress Conversion
- Custom WordPress Theme Development
- Custom Plugin Development and programming
- Development of Magazine Site
- Development of Corporate Site
- Development of Content Management System
- Marketing and Social Media Integration
- Technical Support for Site Maintenance
- Content Generation
- Article Writing and EditingMultiple Author Management (Editor)
- Site Transfers and Migrations
- SEO Customization and Optimization
- Ecommerce Development and Implementation
- Site Redesign
- WordPress Training
- Payroll Integration
- Membership Integration
- Podcast Design and Development
- Integration with Social Media Networks and Services through API
- API Integration with Other Services
WordPress is also essential to the typical business person. WordPress Training is also high in demand and a growing field. Many people are building their resumes and portfolios on WordPress. Journalists, authors, and writers need to learn WordPress to publish and promote their work online. Sales people, public relations, advertising, ecommerce, reviewers, editorial writers, medical professionals, administrators, secretaries, photographers, actors, storytellers, podcasters, video producers, poets – WordPress is an easy platform upon which to build any website and all of these and more need to learn WordPress as they incorporate web publishing into their lives and business.
What Do They Have to Say About WordPress?
While I’ve been a WordPress evangelist since 2003, what are others saying about choosing WordPress and its impact on the web world?
In the book “WordPress in Depth” by Bud E. Smith, Michael McCallister, he states:
In less than a decade, WordPress has become the most important tool around for blogging, which itself is the channel for one of the great uncensored, unedited, unrestrained outpourings of creativity in human history. WordPress blogs often serve as a home for breaking news or insightful comments that affect other media. As such, WordPress is important to people who don’t like blogs, and even to people who don’t like computers.
WordPress is a serious and tremendously flexible tool – and also a framework for creating more tools…
…Another powerful feature of blogs in general, and WordPress blogs in particular, is the strong community that’s formed around them. That’s partly because of the popularity of WordPress blogs and partly because of the open source nature of WordPress software. The WordPress Community seamlessly intermixes reaction to blog postings with advice and help on technical aspects of running a blog. It’s often hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, but that’s part of the fun.
Engine Creative’s “Open Source CMS Solutions: Why WordPress” white paper states:
WordPress is structured such that your content, its design (the theme) and any additional functionality (plugins) are separated. That means if you want a redesign in the future your content can stay as-is and if a cool feature comes along it can quickly and easily be added without changing the design. This separation makes your site future proof and easy to maintain and update.
WordPress has a massive share of the open source CMS market. Popularly used for personal blogs, WordPress is also becoming a common tool for government and education sites. The UK government has released an “Open Source Action Plan” and there is a dedicated group for people involved in WordPress for education.
WNET.org Thirteen and Tierra published a project white paper on “How a Non-Profit Media Company Profits from Building Open Source Online Publishing Platform” describing the benefits of choosing WordPress for their project showing the various inherent features as:
- Standard templates provide a consistent overall user experience, resulting in improved brand perception and audience retention.
- Flexible enough to support all kinds of different websites: program-specific, station portals, corporate, educational, etc.
- Eliminating the need to design, develop, and maintain each individual site frees up significant manpower and reduces the time and cost to create websites.
- Allows broadcast content producers and others who do not have advanced technical knowledge to publish websites directly.
- Broader participation in publishing web content resulting in more and increased frequency of new content, resulting in increased traffic.
- Facilitates audience building and engagement through social media.
As I wrote a very personal birthday message to Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, I tried to explain how WordPress changes lives and what makes the community around it thrive. I still don’t have all the words, but I understand the pieces of the puzzle and just described a lot of the facts around WordPress. Still, this doesn’t explain the whole picture.
As you present these facts and figures to bosses and clients and others to convince them to use WordPress, pause for a moment and consider yourself the big picture of what makes WordPress such a powerful force for communication on the web. Honestly, it is just a publishing platform, nothing more, nothing less. Yet it is so much more.
The people it has brought together represent the global village Blankton Belk, the founder of Up with People, dreamed of – a world that acts like a village where everyone knows each other and their business, thus depends upon the whole to raise its citizens.
As I faced my students at Clark College for the last time after finals last week, I realized I was looking at true representatives of the ecosystem of the WordPress Community. A comic book artist who lost his way and is now finding a voice to share his passion for music and radical comic art with the world. A woman who lost her husband of more than twenty-five years in Iraq after returning for yet another round of service. She is using her new WordPress site to share her recovery and to walk through the grieving to help others know they are not alone. A recovering addict discovering a knack for coding and programming even though he only worked blue collar jobs for decades. A long held-back artist unleashing his creativity through web design and development after being a victim of cut backs. A school employee discovering that a WordPress site is an excellent tool for helping students and teachers connect with each other as well as for teaching. A newsletter and magazine writer, editor, and publisher learning how to turn traditional paper media into a powerful virtual communication device with WordPress. A fashion guru who discovered he could be a local rock star in the fashion industry by letting his own fashion sense shine on his blog. So many representing all walks of life and skills found their voice through their WordPress sites. Many will take those skills to their own personal sites as well as their clients and employers sites.
They found joy in having their say, and WordPress made it easy. Maybe that’s what defines the WordPress Community better than the numbers.