WordPress User Survey Indicates Rising Frustration

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WordPress unveiled the findings from its yearly user and developer survey, revealing a blend of sentiments regarding the software’s trajectory and a growing perception of exclusion within the broader WordPress community.

The Gutenberg Editor

Gutenberg represents a modernized iteration of the default WordPress site editor, introducing a visual editing paradigm to the WordPress core.

Third-party visual WordPress editors have transformed the website-building process, offering intuitive interfaces that simplify the creation of websites.

The aim of Gutenberg, launched in 2022, was to provide a comprehensive site editor. Over the past two years, the WordPress core development team has made continuous enhancements to the user interface and added new features to enhance its usability.

However, the 2023 annual survey revealed a shift in user sentiment compared to the previous year, with users expressing less confidence in Gutenberg. Despite this, there has been an increase in the number of publishers using Gutenberg, indicating its growing adoption within the WordPress community.

Which Editor Do You Use?

Question nine tracks the percentage of users adopting Gutenberg, revealing a consistent rise from 37% in 2020 to 60% in 2023.

However, in response to question 10, which inquires whether WordPress fulfills their needs, 29% of users disagree and only 45% agree, with 26% expressing neutrality.

These findings indicate that 55% of WordPress users did not affirm that the platform meets their needs. Since this question was introduced for the first time this year, there is no comparative data to ascertain whether this represents an increase or decrease, but it nonetheless presents a disappointing outcome.

Less Users Believe WordPress As Good As Others

Question #19 inquired whether WordPress was as good as or better than other site builders and content management systems.

In 2022, 68% of users agreed that WordPress was as good as or better. However, this figure decreased to 63% in 2023.

Conversely, the number of users who disagreed with the statement increased from 9% in 2022 to 13% in 2023. Additionally, the percentage of respondents who were neutral rose by 1% to encompass 24% of all respondents.

Thus, in 2023, 37% of WordPress users participating in the survey did not concur with the assertion that WordPress is as good as or better than other platforms, representing a five-percentage-point increase from the previous year.

The findings regarding users’ sentiments toward Gutenberg and WordPress overall clearly suggest a decline in confidence among users.

This outcome is likely disappointing for the core development team, especially considering that the 2023 version of Gutenberg is purportedly more user-friendly than ever before, and WordPress performance metrics have reached record highs.

So, what exactly is causing this downward trend in user satisfaction signals?

Why User Satisfaction Is Trending Downward

A potential reason for the declining trend in user happiness and confidence in WordPress might be attributed to users exploring alternatives such as Wix and Duda platforms, which boast significantly better performance scores and offer easier website building experiences.

Conversely, third-party website builders like Bricks Builder, Breakdance Website Builder, and Elementor, along with WordPress hosts like Bluehost, provide an arguably superior website building experience. These options cater to developers seeking advanced flexibility and users who lack coding knowledge.

Exploring the responses to question 20, which asks about the three best aspects of WordPress, could potentially reveal insights into why user satisfaction is dwindling.

The most significant declines were observed in:

  1. Ease of Use:
  • In 2022, 32% of users considered Ease of Use as one of the top three best things about WordPress.
  • However, by 2023, this figure dropped to 21.7%.
  1. Flexibility:
  • Flexibility was ranked at 31% in 2022.
  • By 2023, this rating plummeted to 18.5%.
  1. Cost:
  • Cost was cited by 37% of users as one of the best things about WordPress in 2022.
  • However, by 2023, this percentage collapsed to 17%.
  1. Block Themes:
  • The popularity of Block Themes also experienced a decline, with only 10% of users considering it as one of the top three best things about WordPress.
  • This figure dropped further to 5.3% in 2023.

Users’ enthusiasm for WordPress appears to be waning, a sentiment reflected in the market share data provided by W3Techs. Over the past two years, there has been a noticeable downward trend in WordPress’s market share. According to W3Techs, WordPress’s market share decreased from 43.3% in 2022 (as reported by Joost deValk) to 43.2% in February 2023, and further declined to 43.1% by February 2024.

Conversely, there has been a rise in the usage of other platforms. Wix’s usage increased from 2.5% in February 2023 to 2.6% in 2024, while Shopify experienced growth from 3.8% in 2023 to 4.3% in 2024.

Joost deValk, one of the co-founders of Yoast SEO, raised concerns in 2022 about the declining market share of WordPress. He attributed this trend to the sluggish pace of performance enhancements and the challenges associated with using WordPress. In his article, Joost highlighted the existence of a performance team within WordPress and acknowledged some progress made. However, he emphasized that significant strides had yet to be achieved, suggesting that WordPress, after a decade of dominance, was now being surpassed in terms of innovation.

What Frustrates WordPress Users

Another indication of the growing dissatisfaction among WordPress users is revealed in question 21 of the survey, where respondents were asked to identify the top three most frustrating aspects of WordPress.

The percentage of respondents citing “too many plugins (finding the right one)” as a frustration experienced a staggering 133% increase, rising from 8% in 2022 to 18.6% in 2023.

Key sources of frustration with WordPress included the site editing experience (17%), security concerns (16.4%), and performance issues (16.2%).

Encouragingly, there was a notable decrease in the number of respondents frustrated by the difficulty of learning site editing, dropping from 26% in 2022 to 15% in 2023.

Similar sentiments were reflected in question 25, which inquired about the areas of WordPress that require more attention. The top five areas identified by users were as follows:

  1. Performance: 19%
  2. Security: 18%
  3. Developer resources (examples, demos, docs, tutorials, etc.): 16%
  4. Design/UI: 14%
  5. Core functionality/stability: 13%

The Future Of WordPress

Two years ago, WordPress faced a critical juncture concerning site performance, prompting actions to tackle these issues. However, competitors have since surpassed them, not only in site speed but also in user-friendliness, SEO capabilities, and feature enhancements.

The findings of this survey offer valuable guidance to the WordPress community, known for its responsiveness to user needs. Addressing the concerns highlighted in the survey is essential. Additionally, it’s crucial to acknowledge the influence of search marketing, affiliate marketing, and publishing communities, which may not have been adequately recognized in past surveys.

Having personally reviewed last year’s survey, I provided feedback to the core development team regarding question number five, which inquired about respondents’ usage of WordPress.

The choices provided in the survey were:

  1. A personal or passion project
  2. A service offering for my clients
  3. A platform for running my business
  4. A website for my employer or place of work
  5. School or academics or research
  6. None of the above

However, notable categories such as content publishing, affiliate marketing, recipe bloggers, and local businesses were missing. Grouping WordPress users, ranging from large corporations like Disney to small family-run restaurants and recipe bloggers, under the broad category of “a platform for running my business” lacks specificity and fails to offer actionable insights. This oversight reinforces the perception that WordPress may not fully understand the diverse needs of its millions of users.

Fortunately, WordPress is not indifferent to these concerns. The survey feedback sheds light on the sentiments of the publishing community. Moreover, my email exchanges with members of the core development team indicate their eagerness to embrace all users and acknowledge their diverse needs within the broader WordPress community.

Original news from SearchEngineJournal