The CMS Wars: Why WordPress is Winning

Not that long ago anyone who needed a content management system (CMS) had to shell out a ton of money for a custom developed system. But things have changed over the last few years haven’t they?

Today, three CMS solutions dominate the landscape. W3Tech’s most recent numbers show WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal as the leaders. This is supported by data from BuiltWith. Both W3Tech and BuiltWith monitor current websites to estimate their actual usage.

W3Tech's CMS Market Share Report

Wordpress currently has 53.8% market share according to W3Tech which monitors the top 1 million Alexa sites. However, they say that over 70% of the 1 million don’t use a CMS that they monitor. So in reality this is 53.8% of about 30% of the websites they attempted to check. BuiltWith’s numbers put WordPress just over 60% market share out of the millions of sites they monitor. Even if you discount the raw numbers, the trends for the three CMS tools are consistent across studies. Joomla and Drupal both trail Wordpress in usage significantly.

Visit any blog or forum with a post on CMS and you’ll likely find a trail of comments espousing the benefits of one or the other, regardless of the conclusion of the post. Often it looks like a Mac vs. PC kind of war, only with three fronts rather than two. But here’s what most developers are missing when it comes to their CMS loyalties: It isn’t about the platform.

What makes CMS so popular is the “C” – Content. The internet runs on content, businesses succeed based on their content, and people engage with content.
WordPress is leading because it makes it easy for anyone, with just a little bit of knowledge, to create a website and fill it with content (we’ll put content quality aside here). The backend is about as easy to use as Word for creating posts and pages. Any program that gives that kind of power to an average user is going to succeed.

Not that Joomla and Drupal aren’t succeeding. They do round out the top three most popular CMS platforms. But for businesses or organizations that don’t have the funds to invest in custom development and maintenance Wordpress is the perfect option because they get what they want easily, without adding a developer to their staff.

It would seem then that the “best” CMS platform is whichever one gives the end user the best experience, whether it is content creators or the website visitors. For the majority of websites today Wordpress meets that criteria, or it wouldn’t be number one.

What do you think makes WordPress number one?