Why are most websites made with WordPress?

As of this writing, WordPress powers 43% of the World Wide Web. And, of websites using a content management system, market share is 64%. Why are so many websites made with WordPress?

This article is part of the WordPress Curriculum on WebDevStudents.com.

There are three big reasons why most websites are made with WordPress.

  1. WordPress has a Content Management System
  2. WordPress is great for SEO
  3. WordPress is open source, free to use, and is well-documented

Content Management Systems (CMS)

Most websites are not coded directly with HTML and CSS. While browsers can only read HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, most website creators use a tool to generate the required browser code. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) which allows users to create and edit web pages without code. With WordPress, adding and editing website content does not require the services of a web developer or an understanding of HTML and CSS. For adding, changing, and deleting web pages, WordPress has a learning curve that is about as difficult as word processing or creating slideshow presentations.

WordPress and Search Engine Optimization

In addition, WordPress is great for SEO. Since so many websites are made with WordPress, Google and the other search engines know how to interpret the structure of WordPress. On top of that, there is a free plugin, Yoast, that gamifies SEO and makes it easy and fun. The article, Search Engine Optimization with Yoast (Lesson 5), will teach you how to use Yoast on a WordPress website.

WordPress is Open Source

Last but not least, WordPress is open source and free to use.  Most competitors to WordPress charge for their software. 

There are alternative Content Management Systems that can be use to make websites. However, none of these receive enough usage to be well-documented. It is much more difficult to find solutions to the types of functionality you may want on your website.

Here are some good articles on the marketshare of WordPress:

Overall Market Share: https://www.cminds.com/blog/wordpress/wordpress-or-wix-cms-market-share-stats-2021/

E-commerce Market Share: https://www.statista.com/statistics/710207/worldwide-ecommerce-platforms-market-share/

WordPress is the Choice of Businesses and Bloggers

Corporations use WordPress

  • Small and medium-size companies use WordPress to run their businesses. With plugins, WordPress can be used for e-commerce and even specific meet specific business needs like scheduling appointments.
  • Large corporations use WordPress for their customer-facing websites. While they generally will have large IT departments supporting their businesses with IT solutions that are not using WordPress, they often still use WordPress for their front-facing websites. (The front-facing website may be managed by Communications/Marketing rather than the IT department.)

Agencies, freelancers, and bloggers use WordPress

  • Freelance designers and developers sell WordPress websites to clients. If you are interested in self-employment, knowing how to support WordPress websites will help you find clients.
  • Web design and marketing agencies sell WordPress websites to their clients, possibly as part of a package to manage social media and search optimization for their clients.
  • Bloggers use WordPress to write and earn money from advertising revenue. WordPress is universally used by professional bloggers. (Bloggers who start on other platforms move to WordPress.)

Developers Love WordPress

Many web developers gravitate to WordPress for custom development projects. Part of this is because customers request WordPress, but a key part of this is the efficiencies that come with using WordPress.

Faster Development:

When developers bid on a website project, they can bid lower because development time is less. They are more likely to win the website bids because they can win the bid with a lower price.

Well-documented:

Because WordPress is far and away the largest CMS for web development, it is well documented and there is a lot of free software to support new functionality. It is easy to Google and find solutions. When I work on a different other website CMS tools, I run into barriers in finding solutions.


Open Source:  

All the code can be accessed and modified in WordPress. Because its competitors are not open source, parts of their code bases are locked down. 


Higher Level Work:

With WordPress, developers can focus on solving problems rather than adding and modifying content. The customers add their own website content with the WordPress CMS. Even so, website users need developers who know HTML and CSS to help them. Even though you can do the basic work in WordPress without knowing how to code, in order to make many design changes you need to write custom CSS. 


Ongoing Work:

WordPress websites require maintenance, and that is a source of ongoing revenue for developers. 

When is WordPress NOT the Best Website Solution

Very simple websites

WordPress websites require regular maintenance. If a company simply wants to make a website once and never change it, they could do it with HTML and CSS. I have some small business websites I made more than 5 years ago that I haven’t touched in 5 years. That isn’t possible with WordPress. 

Student websites

If you are learning programing languages, it is easier to integrate code you find on the Internet into an HTML/CSS website. 

Software as a service

A company that is selling software as a service may make their own CMS. For example, Facebook, Amazon, and Google don’t use WordPress. They have teams that build their software. 

Large Corporations

Mega corporations build out their own software solutions instead of using WordPress. Even so, corporations may still use WordPress for their front-facing websites and e-commerce sites. 

Well-funded e-commerce ventures.

A company starting an e-commerce company may choose a plan like Shopify Plus ($2000 per month). These companies are pre-purchasing custom development services. 

Web-Design Agencies Using a Proprietary CMS

While most web-design agencies use WordPress, there are some that have their own proprietary CMS. The use of proprietary CMS makes it more difficult for clients to leave their agency for a different agency. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is WordPress the most popular way to make websites?

WordPress has a Content Management System (CMS) which allows users to make many changes without code. In addition, WordPress is great for SEO. Since so many websites are made with WordPress, Google and the other search engines know how to interpret their structures. And last by not least, WordPress is open source and free to use.  Most competitors to WordPress charge for their software. 

Who uses WordPress? 

Small and medium-size companies use WordPress to run their businesses.
Large corporations use WordPress for their customer-facing websites. 
Self-employed designers and developers sell WordPress websites. 
Agencies sell WordPress websites to their clients.
Bloggers use WordPress to write and earn money from advertising revenue. Professional bloggers universally use WordPress. (Bloggers who start on other platforms move to WordPress.)

Why do web developers choose WordPress?

Developers use WordPress for several reasons. Because it is faster to develop websites in WordPress, they can sell websites for a lower cost. WordPress gives the clients the ability to do their own content work, which can be tedious for developers. In addition, WordPress is well-documented which makes it is easy to find solutions on the Internet.

When Wouldn’t You Choose WordPress?

Very simple websites. WordPress websites require regular maintenance. If a company simply wants to make a website once and never change it, they could do it with HTML and CSS.
Large Corporations. Mega corporations would build out their own software solutions instead of using WordPress.
Well-funded e-commerce ventures. A company starting an e-commerce company may choose a plan like Shopify Plus ($2000 per month). These companies are pre-purchasing custom development services. 
Web-Design Agencies. While most web-design agencies use WordPress, there are some that have their own proprietary CMS. 

Aren’t all of the tools for making websites about the same? What would go wrong if I used Wix or SquareSpace instead of WordPress?

The problem with using a small player is that there isn’t online documentation to solve problems. You can’t Google for solutions or find free software. Because WordPress is open source, it is easier to find shared solutions to the problems you encounter. When your client wants to add a feature, if you Google it, you are much more likely to find a helpful plugin.

The other key benefit of WordPress is the reduced cost. WordPress itself is free. You will still need to purchase a domain name and pay for hosting, but you are much more likely to save a lot.