WordPress is by far the most popular CMS. It has come a long way since it was created as a blogging platform back in 2003. According to the latest WordPress statistics, it powers 835 million websites, or 43.3% of all websites globally.
Despite its popularity, not a lot of people outside of the WordPress community know exactly how it came about to be the most powerful website builder out there.
In this article, we will track the progression of WordPress over the years, and outline some of the key WordPress statistics to keep in mind in 2023.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into a journey through WordPress’s history – hold on tight and enjoy the ride!
How It All Started
Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little created WordPress back in 2003. This turned out to be an event that would eventually set in motion what would be the start of a web development revolution. The first version of the platform was a fork of b2/cafelog, a type of blogging software that had been around since 2001.
Michel Valdrighi, a French programmer, developed b2/cafelog in the early days of 2001. This technology enabled users to generate web pages directly from MySQL databases. Thus, it would give WordPress a unique edge over its competitors later on.
In January 2003, Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg set out to create an advanced personal publishing system based on the technology of b2/cafelog. In fact, the main reason WordPress came to be was that the developer’s support of b2/cafelog had been suspended. The collaboration between the two future WordPress founders started with a comment from Mike left under one of Matt’s blog posts:
So, in 2003, Little and Mullenweg saw the need for a new platform. It needed to have the same ability and flexibility as MovableType, yet be hackable like b2/cafelog. With this in mind, they utilized the source code of b2/cafelog to create WordPress and added additional features – such as TextPattern parsing capabilities and an effortless setup process mirroring Blogger‘s usability.
The first stable release of WordPress (version 0.70) arrived on May 27, 2003, with features like link management, formatting shortcuts, and the ability to create multiple users with different privileges.
In May 22, 2004 WordPress 1.2 (named after Charles Mingus) was released. It offered users the opportunity to develop their own plugins to add features to the WordPress plugin architecture that was available to the whole community. This open-source, contributions culture is at the core of WordPress to this day.
The 1.5 WordPress version (February 17, 2005, the Billy Strayhorn release) introduced Pages, Themes and comment moderation:
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WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com – Let’s Bust the Myths
In a nutshell, both WordPress.org and WordPress.com are solutions that use the WordPress software and are owned by Automattic Inc., a company founded by Matt Mullenweg in 2005. However, the difference is that while WordPress.com is a turnkey hosted platform that beginners can use to build a website, with WordPress.org a.k.a. “the real WordPress”, you use the software but have to host it yourself. Thus, you need a bit more in-depth coding experience to benefit from it.
WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two different versions of the popular content management system (CMS) WordPress. While they share many of the same features, there are some key differences between the two platforms. Take them into consideration when deciding which one to use for your website or blog project.
One of the main differences is that on WordPress.com, users do not have full control of their website. This is because Automattic (the company behind WordPress) owns and manages it for them. On WordPress.org however, users can customize it as much as they want with plugins and themes available in the repository or from third-party sources.
Another key difference is that on WordPress.com hosting is part of the package. However, on WordPress.org you will need to purchase it separately from a third-party provider such as Bluehost or GoDaddy to get started with your website or blog project. In addition, WordPress.org users also have access to a larger repository of free themes and plugins. However, they are responsible for managing their server environment – whereas Automattic takes care of all this for users on WordPress.com.
Additionally, on WordPress.com users have access to a wide range of features including free themes and plugins, SEO tools, automated backups and security updates – all without having to worry about managing their own server or hosting environment. Furthermore, users can upgrade their plan for additional features such as custom domains and eCommerce functionality if necessary for their website or blog project.
However, on WordPress.org, in addition to free themes and plugins available, users can also purchase premium themes and plugins from third-party sources. Mind you, this will require an additional cost outside of what is offered by Automattic on WordPress.org.
Let’s now explore a few important WordPress statistics for both versions.
WordPress.com Stats 2023
- Over 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages each month.
- 77 million new comments each month
- Users produce about 70 million new posts on WordPress.com-based websites.
- 71% of them are in English, followed by Spanish (4.7%), Indonesian (2.4%), and Portuguese (Brazil) – 2.3%
- Some of the most popular websites based on WordPress.com are TechCrunch, Microsoft Blog, TED, CNN, and Spotify
WordPress.org Stats 2023
- 56.43% of WordPress.org users have the 6.1 version
- 44.3% of WordPress.org-built websites are in English (US), followed by Japanese (5.87%), Spanish (5.84%), German (5.67%) and French (4.38%)
Some of the most popular WordPress.org-based websites are Rolling Stone, The White House, Sony Music, Vogue, and of course, DevriX!
Release History 2021 – 2023
If you want to know more WordPress statistics about the releases up to 2020, we’ve already covered them in our article “WordPress Statistics for 2020”. However, let’s have a look at the WordPress release history within the past two years.
Keeping your WordPress version up to date is essential for the security of your website. Minor updates usually patch holes in the code that hackers could exploit. Major releases often contain features and improvements requested by the WordPress community. So, stay up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress. This way, you can ensure your access to all of the current features available.
There have been 5 major WordPress releases over the course of 2 years. Here is a breakdown of them:
- The Nina Simone WordPress 5.6 release (December 8, 2020), used by 75.4% of WordPress users in 2023. The release boasts improved video captioning, enhanced layout flexibility, and better control over auto updates. It also introduces built in patterns for block creation and support for PHP 8, as well as updates to jQuery which affected previous 5.5 installations.
- The Esperanza Spalding WordPress 5.7 release (March 9, 2021), used by 10% of WordPress users in 2023, .introduces font size adjustment, reusable blocks, a buttons block and a drag-and-drop inserter. It also offers a one click switch between HTTP and HTTPS, lazy loading for iFrames, a simpler color palette, a social icons block and a new Robots API.
- The Art Tatum WordPress 5.8 release (July 20, 2021), used by 4.7% of WordPress users in 2023, offers improved functionality, power, and support for blocks, as well as new blocks and patterns. It also provides improved template editing, a List View update, additional design features like suggested patterns and duotone filters. In addition, it offers Global Styles and Global Settings APIs, but drops IE11 support.
- The Joséphine WordPress 5.9 release (January 25, 2022), used by 13.3% of WordPress users in 2023. Its key features include full site editing, site-wide blocks, navigation blocks, enhanced lazy loading, the Twenty Twenty-Two theme and several performance improvements.
- The Arturo WordPress 6.0 release (May 24, 2022), used by 54.3% of WordPress users in 2023, and is by far the most used version. The Arturo version offers a new Web Fonts API, improved editor performance, extensive bug fixes, new design tools, and expanded block editor functionality.
- The latest WordPress release is 6.1, the Misha version, released on November 1, 2022 and was created by 800 contributors from at least 60 countries. It features full site editing, expanded templates and patterns extended to all post types, a Table of Contents block and improved existing blocks. Also, it offers the Twenty Twenty Three theme, performance improvements and improved accessibility. In addition, there are new functions and hooks to improve the development experience.
Also, WordPress is already working on the 6.2 release that is expected to launch on March 28, 2023. It will include 10 Gutenberg releases.
WordPress Usage Statistics 2023
- WordPress holds the biggest market share among all other CMS platforms, currently at 64.2%.
- 28.7% of the top 1 million sites based on traffic use WordPress open-source software.
- The WordPress CMS market share has increased by 8.9% since 2011.
- It is three times larger (45%) that the most popular CMS platforms.
- WordPress hosts a staggering 60 million blogs.
WordPress Plugin Statistics 2023
Plugins are one of the features that make WordPress so unique. They allow users to extend and customize their websites in countless ways. Here are some interesting stats for 2023:
- There are 60,207 plugins on the WordPress Plugin directory to date.
- The top four most popular WordPress plugins are: Yoast SEO, Elementor Website Builder, Classic Editor, and Contact Form 7.
- Among them, Yoast SEO has the biggest review-to-install ratio: 0.6% (out of 5 million users, only 27.537 left a review).
- There are 13,439,977 websites that use WooCommerce (the WordPress eCommerce plugin).
WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world and it’s only getting bigger. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to know the latest WordPress statistics.
In this article, we’ve shared 30+ must-know stats about WordPress from how it all started to its release history. In a combination with usage and plugin statistics, this post has everything you need to know about WordPress in 2023.