WordPress in Review – The Story of 2015

WordPress in Review – The Story of 2015

2015 has been an eventful year for WordPress. We’ve tried to summarize the biggest developments that have happened both with the CMS and with the WordPress community at large. Anyways, here are the highlights.

25% of all sites on the web are now powered by WordPress

Probably one of the biggest news this year was that WordPress is now powering 1/4th of all sites on the web.

The news came after W3Techs reported in November CMS usage statistics based on data extracted from the top 10 million sites on the internet according to Alexa.

Just to be perfectly clear, these statistics aren’t for websites that have a CMS; they represent 25% of all sites currently on the Internet.

What started out as a hobby project in 2003 has grown into a giant that now powers one in four sites that exist out there.

What does this mean for you? More developers getting into WordPress, resulting into more themes, plugins and overall more support for a platform that we all love to build our sites with.

Speaking of themes and plugins…

3000+ New Themes

We tried to make a tally of all the new theme releases to see just how active the theming community was this year.

Themeforest had 4853 themes for sale on December 15, 2015. This year, they have 5906 themes up. That’s an increase of 1053 themes for 2015. Not too shabby, right?

As for the WordPress.org repository, the number has actually gone down. Last year in December, there were 2926 free themes in the repository. This year there are only 2151.

Why the decrease?

The WordPress Theme Review Team has gotten a lot stricter with what they allow inside the catalog and they have revised their guidelines several times this year.

This is a welcome change as it means better integration with the latest WordPress version and a higher quality of experience for the end-user.

So even if there are less themes on the official WordPress.org repository, they are of a much higher quality now.

Speaking of which, the directory itself had a much-needed facelift in February.

The WordPress.com blogging platform has also seen an increase, from 319 last year in December to 372 this year.
But are these all the new themes that have been released this year? Not by a long shot!

These are only the figures from official repositories.

We estimate that there are anywhere between 100 and 300 WordPress theme shops out there that sell their themes directly from their own sites or through other platforms similar to ThemeForest.

But even if we cannot track these shops directly, we can say with a high degree of certainty that there were probbly anywhere from 1000 to 3000 themes released this year from standalone theme shops.

Speaking of which, our very own developers at TeslaThemes have released 18 new themes this year (and the year isn’t over yet! 😉
WP Themes image

15,000+ New Plugins

ThemeForest has added 806 new plugins this year for a total of 4022.

The WordPress.org Plugin Repository has seen an increase to 41,881 from 35,234 plugins, so 6647 new plugins.

The plugin repository has also passed the 1 billion downloads milestone in August, with 300 million downloads this year alone.

And like we said before, there are the many individual WordPress developers that released plugins independently, so we were to estimate we would say that at least 15,000 new plugins were released this year.

Notable mentions

The Postmatic plugin allows for your readers to subscribe by email while also having the ability to reply to any comments they get by replying directly from their inbox. A more in depth review about postmatic we wrote on Disqus vs Postamatic.

Also from Postmatic, Epoch is a new comment plugin that is an alternative to Disqus, offering real-time comments while also being compatible with page caching, CDNs, SEO best practices and other commenting plugins.

Twitter released their official plugin for Twitter, Vine and Periscope which allows you to embed their content on your site.

We also released the Tesla Login Customizer which allows you to customize the default WordPress login screen into something that fits the look of your brand, without having to resort to any kind of coding.
Login Customizer WordPress plugin

3 big releases this year

We’ve seen three big releases to WordPress this year: 4.2 “Powell”, 4.3 “Billie” and 4.4 “Clifford”. Some of the more notable features of 4.4 being:

  • Functionality for embedding custom types of content in your posts (any site that supports oEmbed) and for embedding your WordPress posts on other sites by only dropping the URL.
  • Speed improvements for the Theme Customizer.
  • A new default theme: Twenty Sixteen. Clean layout and unique image widths make this an excellent starter theme for beginners.
  • Support for responsive images out of the box. This also works for images that were added to the WP database prior to the update. This will decrease page load times for devices that do not need to load huge images right away (mobile)

REST API and Calypso

The 4.4 update has also added the REST API to the WordPress core.

What this allows is access to WordPress functions like posting, editing and updating of articles, users, comments and other data without logging into the WordPress backend.

So why is the inclusion of the REST API such a big thing?

Well put simply, it allows for other apps to interact directly with your WordPress site. This allows for more functionality as this means that mobile and desktop apps will be able to integrate with your WordPress install more seamlessly.

Speaking of which, Automattic has released an app called Calypso which allows you to edit and manage multiple WordPress.com and JetPack-enabled sites right from your desktop (Windows and MacOS X). Matt Mullenweg talks about Calypso and demos it in this interview.

The advantages of Calypso is that you can manage multiple sites (post, edit and update) and see your changes on the fly without having to open a browser window, type your address, enter your login details and so on for every site. It will definitely change the way bloggers interact with their sites and is a great proof-of-concept app that will inspire other developers to create tools that interact with WordPress.

Automattic aquires WooThemes (along with WooCommerce)

Automattic announced in May that it had acquired WooThemes, makers of the popular WooCommerce plugin (amongst other things).

There are an estimated 1.2+ million installs of WooCommerce on the internet.

When we look at the ecommerce space out there, this amounts to 29% of all ecommerce shops out there.

What does this mean for the WordPress community as a whole?

Well, let’s put it this way: when the “daddy” of WordPress buys the most popular ecommerce plugin out there, it can only mean that it won’t be long until WordPress becomes the #1 solution for shops on the web.

Watch out Magento. If WooCommerce was the ambitious karate kid before, he just got his master black-belt.

Also, since we mentioned WordPress’ anniversary, it would be unfair to not mention the 10th anniversary of its biggest driving force for its success – Automattic. Congrats to Matt and his 400 people team that have made this dream possible. This post would probably not even exist today if it weren’t for them.


WordCamps are informal, community-organized events held in different cities around the world where WordPress users and experts alike get to participate, share and communicate with each other.

Hundreds of WordPress developers, designers and other WordPress-aficionados from around the world get together to learn and talk about the platform they use and love.

There have been 89 individual WordCamps with 21,000 attendees across 34 countries, according to WordCamp Central.

1600 speakers presented 2100 sessions.

As for meetups, it is estimated that there have been over 2000 meetups all over the world with 40,000+ people attending.

As you can see, these numbers are testament to how big the WordPress industry is and how it continues to expand at a breakneck pace.

Also, if you’ve never been to a WordCamp, we highly recommend you do!

You’ll get to learn from real experts that teach anything from basic to advanced programming concepts, UI/UX design and development, best practices and lots of other interesting things that will either help you in your WordPress business or take your freelancing skills to the next level (you can find some of the talks uploaded on WordPress.TV)

Besides that, it’s a great place to network if you’re looking for your next employee, employer, business partner or just all-around cool people to talk and geek out with.

Other noteworthy stuff

Wired.com wrote a detailed article on how they migrated over 34,000 HTML files from their old archive to their main WordPress site successfully.

Cyber security company Imperva says that the biggest threat to WordPress’ security is spam.

GoDaddy has released a list of the top 100 WordPress themes and plugins used on their hosting network.

The team at Reddit has released Upvoted, a magazine based around the best stories posted by the community. And of course, the site is entirely powered by the WordPress.com VIP platform.

Google made some huge changes to their search algorithm emphasizing mobile-friendly sites. The Wordpress Theme Review Team took note of this and recommended developers that they make their themes responsive (1503 themes are tagged as responsive as of this moment). Here’s a guide on how to check that your theme follows these guidelines.

Also, if you’re a sucker for some good old internet drama, you might want to read about the public feud between Chris Pearson and Matt Mullenweg regarding Thesis.com, GPL and trademarks. Also check out the recent Yablon trademark infringement case.

Lastly, if you’re curious about the direction WordPress is heading, here’s a 10-Year WordPress prediction from a veteran WordPress developer. While it’s impossible to say with certainty that this is what WP will look like in 10 years, a lot of the changes have already happened (REST API) or are underway to being completed. If you’re in any way invested in WordPress, this should provide a small but interesting glimpse of the future.

Whew. This was quite a year for WordPress, wouldn’t you say so?

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Rachel, WordPress is not longer used just to create a simple WordPress blogs. It is used by millions of websites and many of theme are highly trafficked ones.

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