All the world’s a popularity contest. That holds true whether we’re talking about movies, cars, or even content management systems (CMS). Everyone wants to come out on top.
But, unlike those first two items, the number one entrant in the latter dwarfs all others. That would be WordPress, which happens to hold more than 40% of the CMS market as of this writing. It can confidently look down as the others scramble to make a dent in the race.
We won’t go over all of the reasons why WordPress is the top dog – that’s been covered previously. Instead, let’s think about the rest of the pack.
Even the second-place app (Shopify) is still firmly in the single-digits. The best of the rest (Wix, Squarespace, Joomla) can barely scrape half its number.
But, if you’re looking for a CMS, how much should market share factor into the decision? Should it matter at all? Let’s attempt to answer those questions and more.
When choosing a CMS, how much should market share factor into the decision? Should it matter at all? We attempt to answer those questions and more.
The Benefits of Being Popular
To be sure, some real benefits come along with popularity. Quite often, it means that a CMS has attained a certain level of respect within the industry. That shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s also likely to have a dedicated community that has a stake in the app’s success. With that, you’ll find tools and resources to help you learn the ins and outs of development. It’s also a great way to discover new features and best practices.
A popular CMS may also promise a bit more stability. Tools with a large user base have better odds of being actively maintained over the long term. That is a big advantage, as you want to be sure that bugs and security holes are regularly patched. Beyond that, seeing a project abandoned is not in anyone’s best interest.
When it comes to working with clients, a well-known CMS may even be easier to sell. This could be particularly relevant for larger organizations. They might not be willing to experiment with more obscure systems.
Finding the Best CMS for the Job
Another piece of the puzzle involves determining the best fit for your needs. This can be a difficult choice as it relates to design, functionality, and other technological factors. These are all areas where market share isn’t necessarily the best indicator.
For example, if you’re looking to build an eCommerce website, there are a plethora of options. WordPress is more than capable, but there are also niche systems that may provide a more straightforward path to launch.
Then there’s the whole idea of content ownership and portability. Many open-source CMS offers the ability to take your site with you to any web host. On the other hand, a proprietary app usually means having to stay put no matter what.
Maintenance responsibilities also play a role. A managed SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider such as Wix will apply software and server updates for you.
One area where popularity may count is the potential for extensibility. With a large community, big players in the CMS market have more resources to build new features. This allows the software to grow along with your website.
Otherwise, you’ll either have to build the feature yourself or wait on the development team to add what you’re looking for.
Betting on the Future
There are no guarantees in either life or the web. Apps that were once wildly popular can fade away over time. And there is no shortage of surprising successes.
In terms of market share, bigger is not always better. However, there can still be a risk when adopting a little-used system. How can you be sure that it will continue to grow, or still be around in five years?
We don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future of any CMS. But we do have historical usage trends, which can offer some guidance. Ideally, you’ll see those numbers rise (even if slowly) over time. That’s a sign of a budding community.
It’s also worth looking at the history of any CMS that interests you. How long has it been in existence? Does it have a track record of steady development? Have there been ownership changes?
Even a system with less than a 1% share could be a viable option. But finding out requires a closer look.
The bottom line is that market share is but a single factor when choosing a CMS. It shouldn’t be ignored, as it can tell you a lot about the community behind the software. And it also has something to say about future potential as well.
But there are several other considerations. How a CMS fits into your project, whether it can grow alongside your business, and what it offers in terms of features should all play a part in your decision.
There’s nothing bad about running with the top dog. Yet, it doesn’t mean you should fully ignore the others. After all, the perfect solution can come from anywhere.