WordPress is, by any fair standard, a revolution. WordPress powers 25% of all sites on the Web, and it holds a 59% market share among all content management systems (CMS).
More than 40,000 plugins, at least 10,000 themes, hundreds of thousands of “WordPress developers,” and thousands of hosting companies have all been inspired by WordPress. The most well-known of these is WPEngine, which has raised more than $41MM and boasts more than 23,000 customers and 200,000 sites. In 2012, Automattic, the for-profit hosting firm that supports the open-source WordPress project, hosted more than 70 million websites, generated over $45 million in revenue, and had funded over $317 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
Hosting, Google AdSense, WordPress themes, premium accounts, web hosting referrals, support, guided transfers, vaultpress (backups), videopress, akismet, and other income-generating services are only a few of WordPress.com’s many revenue streams.
Why would we ever have reason to think that WordPress won’t continue to be the leading web hosting platform of the future with this much momentum and an ecosystem that’s bigger than the population of Iceland engaged in its success?
Naturally, there are well-funded businesses on this list like Squarespace, which has a 0.4% online market share, $78 million in funding, and a valuation of more than $500 million. While Squarespace and Wix on the list below will continue to compete with Automattic, I’d argue that a much larger shift may be on the horizon.
Though GitHub Pages has a little more than 700K sites and WordPress has over 70MM, both platforms are rapidly expanding, and GitHub Pages’ publishing model is fundamentally superior to WordPress in many ways. If WordPress is unable to catch up to the accelerating static site paradigm, its enormous PHP ecosystem will be its undoing.
Best WordPress Themes may be broken down into 5 essential parts: A CMS, often known as an admin portal, is followed by a template engine, plugins, themes, and hosting.
For the time being, static site generators are still primarily a developer tool, hence why I highlighted “developers.” To move them along the maturity curve into the world of the hobbyist publisher, they need to follow the same path that WordPress has so indelibly trodden. That is, any given static site generator needs a lightweight content editor (I’m loath to say CMS if only for the irony it elicits), and a possibility for independent developers to produce themes and plugins for the SSG in question. What’s left then is smart hosting, and that’s where companies like Aerobatic (where I’m a co-founder), GitHub Pages, and others come into the picture. (By the way, in my opinion, a smart hosting company in this static world does much more than just host sites, but we’ll save that for another post — you can see Aerobatic’s docs for examples of what smart looks like in the meantime).
Static site generators’ peculiarities and difficulties with creating and editing will inevitably be resolved quickly, and emerging alternatives to WP Engine and WordPress.com that allow this static shift will appear. Will WordPress and WP Engine be able to adjust to the resurgence of static websites? One may contend that WP Engine’s entire value proposition revolves around WordPress’ flaws—slow speed, widespread security risks, and a semi-technical user base that simply wants those difficulties to go away. Will WP Engine and their competitors have the drive to change?
WordPress Is Not Stupid
So, yes. Perhaps you believe that the future is fixed. The WordPress team is not stupid, and they are not standing still. You may also think that it will be very difficult for WordPress to transition those self-described WordPress developers to something other than PHP. With the release of Calypso, they fully rewrote the WordPress admin portal using NodeJS and ReactJS, resulting in STATIC output!
What about the template engine itself, given that the WordPress admin portal is now static? And what would it imply for the plugin and theme ecosystem? The future of the web publishing industry depends on the answer to this multibillion dollar question.
Without a doubt, WordPress themes will look very different in five years. With such change on the horizon, Jekyll, Hugo, and other static site generators, as well as astute hosting businesses like Aerobatic and many more, have a huge chance. The end of WordPress? Despite the clickbait post title, that is highly unlikely with $140 million in funding; however, Squarespace has demonstrated that you only need 0.4% of the market to be worth > $500 million.
There are numerous opportunities for startups that are willing to make bold decisions without having to worry about upsetting hundreds of thousands of developers in this enormous and expanding market.
WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms among developers and users. Will you consider using it for future projects? Let us know in the comments section below.