Wordpress is popular, the most popular application for creating small Web sites and the collections of Web pages known as blogs. Wordpress won another survey of content management systems this week. Most of the surveys have weaknesses and it is only the overall trend from the surveys that we can use.
Millions of Web pages are in blog systems based on Wordpress but are not true web sites by themselves. You might have 20000 blogs on one web site. When they are on Wordpress, they are often reported by their users in surveys as web sites. The result is counted as 20000 Wordpress based Web sites. If the same Web site, with 20000 blogs, is set up on other content management systems, it is counted as one Web site. As a result Wordpress can report 10 times more Web sites than other popular content management systems despite having far fewer pages published, far fewer users, and almost no shops or significant businesses.
Think of your first Web site as your first vehicle. Wordpress started as a scooter, quick acquire and easy to park. Now Wordpress is a motorcycle and growing into a small car. The main competitors are already trucks capable of carrying a heavy load anywhere. The latest Drupal can use used as a helicopter and almost as a lunar lander.
Drupal and Joomla usually fight over the next place. When you count full web sites and business sites, Joomla and Drupal fight over first and second place. five years ago, Joomla beat Drupal. Today Drupal beats Joomla in most surveys. Surveys of new Web site projects show Drupal beating Joomla by more than five to one.
Surveys of users
Users report what they use now, not what they will use next. If a survey mentions a brand, users of that brand will find they survey and vote for that brand. People working on new projects are generally too busy to vote in surveys. Surveys at this time of the year, toward the end of the year, indicate what people used this year and not what will be used next year.
Surveys of Web sites
Surveys of Web sites are biased toward blog pages where each page owner has registered a domain name for the page. They do not show the extent of use or the work performed by they site. Wordpress will win here for several years.
Counts of users
User counts are exaggerated to impress advertisers. The work performed for a logged in user may be a hundred times more complex and important that the work performed for an anonymous user but both are counted the same. The anonymous user might receive a pregenerated Web page no more complex than the static Web pages of 15 years ago. The logged in user might request a page combining the services of several servers in different businesses across many countries. The pregenerated page might not need a content management system. The more complex application for the logged in user might use hundreds of modules with many of the modules available for only one content management system, a system that is not Wordpress.
Some CMSs require a whole new download for trivial updates while others require a download only for major updates. The Drupal style approach of keeping the core download small and letting you choose exactly what you want from separate add-on modules means a typical site might download a Drupal core update only one each three months while another CMS requires a download almost every week. You might download the same number of files for both systems but most of the Drupal downloads will be for add-on modules and not be reported as downloads of Drupal.
There are more people with Wordpress and Joomla skills than people with Drupal skills. The Joomla and Drupal people have worked on more complex sites that the average Wordpress developer. If you want a shop or a business to business web site, you will find people with that type of experience among the Drupal developers. Business experience is less common among Wordpress developers even though there are far more people with experience of installing Wordpress.
Documentation, books, etc
There are more books in print about Wordpress than about any other CMS. In 2011 most new books were about Drupal. It shows a trend. The online documentation for Drupal is really varied in quality and is made more difficult by the recent version change. Some of the other CMSs struggle to have documentation anywhere near as extensive despite having stable releases for several years.
In the open source world, you pay for the products through the time spent by developers trying to find documentation and perhaps contributing some documentation back to the community. Drupal has one of the easier to use documentation systems for contributors and has automated testing of code, a great leap forward. I prefer code that works over code that is well documented and fails.
The open source products are trivial in cost compared to writing everything yourself. Using any of the major open source CMS products is cheaper than starting from nothing or from a bare framework.
Every add-on for Drupal is free. Wordpress and Joomla share one problem. Some of the Joomla and Wordpress add-on modules have an entry level product you can use for free but then you need the better version that costs money. Some of the add-ons costs hundreds of dollars per year for the professional versions. Your site might require 20 of the products. That totals $4000 per year for a Web site that might return only a few hundred dollars per year from advertising. It is a long term cost you need to investigate up front.
If you are not using Drupal, you need to look at the total cost for the completed site in the future when you implement everything you want. Look a second time at anything with an ongoing licensing cost or a cost for updates.
Look at the other products outside the top three. DotNetNuke is the top .Net CMS but is just an
also ran compared to the update of PHP. Considering that DotNetNuke is a translation of a PHP Nuke CMS to .Net, there is very little work on content management in the .Net world. There are about ten unpopular PHP based CMSs with similar popularity to DotNetNuke. You would use .Net only if you are stuck with windows on your Web server but Microsoft has already approved Drupal as a CMS on Windows, pushing DotNetNuke down the list for future projects.
Plone is based on Python plus some other odd software, is less popular than DotNetNuke, and is in the also ran category. If you are a Python developer and you want to build your own Web site and you are happy to learn to use unusual Web servers and databases, Plone could be for you. Do not choose Plone as a career opportunity.
Liferay is the top Java based CMS but is way down the list compared to DotNetNuke and Plone. Liferay, and all Java use for Web sites, is falling fast. There are really only two open source CMSs in the Java world and neither has the numbers to be a long term bet, either for a business owner wanting a Web site or for a Web developer wanting long term employment. The only thing of interest to Web developers in the Java world is a search indexing program named Apache Solr.
Wordpress is increasing in popularity as Wordpress adds modules to take Wordpress into the CMS market. Facebook has almost killed off the Web site as first choice for bloggers and is more of a danger to Wordpress than any CMS. Youtube is working hard to take over the video blog market and is another danger to Wordpress. Wordpress has to grow into a full featured CMS to survive. For a slow moving web site, Wordpress is expanding fast enough to keep existing customers.
Drupal is expanding this year despite a big new release slowing the implementation of new projects and focusing many developers on upgrades to existing sites. drupal expansion is limited only by the availability of people with business Web site experience.
Joomla is down again this year compared to the overall market. Wordpress and Drupal are drying up the market for new Joomla work. While Joomla sites might slowly increase in numbers, they are falling behind the overall market growth and developers are switching away from Joomla.
Every other CMS has such a small market share that small changes look big compared to their existing numbers and are impossible to use for predicting long term growth. If you want to see where people are really looking for productivity increases in this part of the market, you have to look at Moodle, ERP, and other dedicated applications. Many of those applications can now deliver a full web site even if they are inflexible or difficult. When you want ERP first and a Web site second, you can select an ERP package that can deliver the full Web site. Schools choose Moodle first then use Moodle for the rest of their Web site.
Android apps are now the biggest thing on smartphones and whole businesses want to run on smartphones. Expect Android apps to outstrip Web sites in the new job market. Web sites will focus on delivering the web services for the Android apps.
Google and other suppliers are out to replace Web site developers with things that make money for them, not you. When your customers use a Google Web site, the advertising will be automatically supplied by Google. You will be forced to advertise through Google to attract those customers and Google can charge more to advertise on those sites. The same will happen when Facebook based shops dominate the Web.
Development time will be sucked away from the CMSs. The free open software will slow down and cost more in the long run. Experienced developers will be harder to find and cost more. When the current two million developers lose their jobs, that will be two million fewer people who can afford the product you want to sell through your Web site. The flow on effect of their reduced spending will remove another ten million shoppers from the Web.
Google and Facebook already suck tens of billions of dollars out of local economies, including yours. When they finish their moves into the Web market, they will take hundreds of billions of dollars out of local economies each year. They want to replace all the current directory services and online shops with online shops and services they control.
Your best chance to compete in the medium term is to use a flexible CMS. Instead of looking at what was most popular last year, look for a CMS with the flexibility to provide every new gimmick for the next few years.
Wordpress wins in the starter site market for first time users and Facebook is taking over that market. Joomla used to be the step up from Wordpress but now Wordpress can do much of what Joomla does and Drupal makes that type of expansion far easier, leaving Joomla as an also ran that will die over five years. Google apps, Moodle, Android apps, and Facebook will distract people from building web sites.