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One Month Left To Take the 2021 WordPress Annual Survey

Last month, Josepha Haden Chomphosy announced the annual WordPress survey. If you have not gotten around to participating, it is still open for the rest of 2021, leaving everyone another 30 days to answer.

The survey is relatively short. I finished it in 16 minutes, but I also took screenshots in case I needed to loop back to anything. There is also an optional WordPress contributors survey at the end, which took another 10 minutes to complete. However, it has more open-ended questions and could take much longer to complete for those with a lot of feedback.

The annual survey is available in the following six languages, but more may be considered for 2022:

In the announcement, Haden Chomphosy stressed the importance of participating for WordPress users and professionals:

Key takeaways and trends that emerge from this survey often find their way into the annual State of the Word address, are shared in the public project blogs, and can influence the direction and strategy for the WordPress Project.

Simply put: this survey helps those who build WordPress understand more about how the software is used, and by whom. The survey also helps leaders in the WordPress open source project learn more about our contributors’ experiences.”

Haden Chomphosy also announced that next year’s survey would take on a new format. She did not reveal any information outside of saying the included segments and questions would be included in that format change. That is still a year out, so we will have to wait and see what it looks like.

I would welcome some changes for what feels like the same-old-same-old survey that I have responded to in much the same way. My professional usage of WordPress has changed in the last two years, so I can now answer some questions from a different perspective. But, part of me feels like I am not adding as much value as newer voices.

One of the changes I would like to see is a separation of the annual and contributor surveys. By the time I finished the first, I had mostly lost interest in the second. It would be easier to come back to the contributor survey with a fresh mind at a different time.

Haden Chomphosy also linked to a 164-page PDF of the 2020 survey results. It includes breakdowns and insights into the data.

After a poor showing for the 2019 survey results, 2020 had nearly triple the respondents and was the highest since 2015. Here is a look at the last six years, excluding 2018, of completed surveys:

  • 2015 – 45,995
  • 2016 – 15,585
  • 2017 – 16,245
  • 2019 – 6,203
  • 2020 – 17,295

Open-Ended Questions

My favorite questions from the survey are those that are open-ended. These allow people to provide unique or more nuanced answers in comparison to checkboxes and radio inputs. Of course, it can be a mess to wade through the results when you have 1,000s of replies. I tried to keep these short in the survey. However, wanted to expand a bit on some of them below.

What’s the best thing about WordPress?

The community is always what is best about WordPress. You do not need to be a lead developer or a well-known business owner to make waves in the project. There are ways of contributing, making a living, or having an impact through dozens of avenues.

I started out blogging about things I learned in my development pursuits and building free plugins/themes. I never thought about whether I was making any sort of real change for the overall project. I just found a home with people who liked what I was doing. As I think back upon my early years, the WordPress community has always been welcoming.

Everyone has their own onramps into the WordPress ecosystem, and the more pathways we can carve out for other people, the better.

Select three essential plugins from the 20 most popular.

I almost feel like I am missing out. I have rarely used any plugin from the most popular list on sites I have worked on in the last few years.

Akismet is almost a given. WP Tavern uses Jetpack as an essential tool, and I have deployed it for various reasons with some builds. But, I am a bit of an outlier. I typically use stock WordPress with custom plugins. There are not many that I consider essential.

In the survey, the list was made up of September 2019’s top 20 most popular plugins. I reached out to Haden Chomphosy to verify if that was the correct date. She confirmed it was and said that the list has not changed substantially since then.

For your next website project, which platform would you choose?

The available answers to this question, such as Squarespace, Medium, and Wix, seemed geared more toward end-users than professionals or developers. While they represent popular alternatives, I would also like to see how the data might look if we overhaul this question in future surveys.

What happens if we split this question between users and developers? For example, are devs also building projects on top of Laravel, Symfony, and other frameworks or technologies outside of WordPress?