State of the Word 2012 – Where WordPress Has Been and Where It’s Going

State of the Word 2012 – Where WordPress Has Been and Where It’s Going

Every year now for the past six years, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg has given a “State of the Word” address – i.e. a report on what’s happened with WordPress in the last year and a look forward to the year ahead.

This year’s State of the Word took place at the San Francisco WordCamp a few days ago.

We have embedded a video of the talk below; however, because it’s long (nearly 48 minutes), we’ve also pulled out some of the major points and put them into text (along with an approximate matching time point in the video).

In the talk, Matt tends to jump back and forth between where WordPress has been and where it’s going. Rather than re-order the points, the notes below stay faithful to the timeline of the video.

We have also embedded the slideshow that goes along with the talk and point out some of the slides along the way as well.



Beginning of Video

At the beginning of the video, Matt goes over a few interesting statistics:

  • WordPress is 9 years old now
  • In 2006 there was 1 WordCamp
  • In 2011 there were 52 WordCamps
  • In 2012 there have been 31 so far with over 10,000 attendees
  • There are 44 more WordCamps planned for this year, which will add up to a grand total of 75 WordCamps for the year Improvements/Accomplishments – 3:45

Plugin headers (slide 8, 9 &10)


Favorites – If you’re logged in, you can favorite a plugin. WordPress developers are now talking about making your favorites available in the dashboard of your blog, so you could, for example, install all your favorite plugins at once for a new site.

Support ThreadsThe highest impact improvement was to make it easier to create forum/support threads from the plugin pages. Those threads also become tied to the plugin itself. Since instituting this change just three months ago, there have been more forum threads resolved in the last three months than in ALL of 2011.

Unit Tests – A system for testing the code.

SOPA – The fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act.


Going Forward – 7:50

Plans to Make the Plugin Directory More “Amazon-like”

  • Show how many stars at the different levels of ratings
  • See reviews from people at different levels
  • Make it easier for plugin authors to respond to reviews

More International Community Involvement
– Plans to bring WordPress to the “international  community” in a stronger way. The bulk of the growth for WordPress is coming from the international community.


Improvements Since Last Year

(This was listed in the Going Forward section.)

New User Experience (NUX)  (slide 19, 20, 21) –

  • User notes about what’s new
  • Tool tips
  • Tweet embedding
  • Media uploads
  • Customizer (customize while looking at your site)


These improvements brought 44 million downloads (that’s several downloads per second). That 44 million brought the grand total up to about 145 million downloads since WordPress started. Therefore, about one-third of the downloads in the whole history of WordPress were within the last year.

These download statistics don’t count one-click installs coming from web hosts or one-click upgrades from web hosts.


Version 3.5 Preview (Available on December 5) – 11:00

  • Twenty Twelve theme (slide 28)



  • Full retina support


  • New Welcome Screen (slide 31)



  • New Media Uploaders (slide 33, 34)




Looking Back at Last Year’s Predictions – 17:20

  • Feature parity between .com and .org – their solution was Jetpack (which got to 1 million downloads in 13 months and then in the next 4 months doubled the download total to 2 million)
  • Better reading/consumption and writing
  • Mobile – just passed 5 million downloads of the mobile apps


Preview of New iOS App – 21:30

Moving to more of a panels interface, things have been re-done to take advantage of touch gestures (slide 61-70)


User Survey – 24:15

  • 27,000 responses (up from 20,000 last year) from 158 countries with two-thirds of the responses coming from outside the U.S.
  • 66% of respondents said they were using WordPress just as a CMS, not as a blog


Client Types (who are developers working for?)  (slide 85)

A lot of overlap, but this is the basic breakdown (refers to the image above)

  • Small businesses and individuals – most (blue circle)
  • Non-profit, government, education – second most (purple/red)
  • Large businesses and enterprise – least (white)


Average Costs for a WordPress Website

  • Average small business website costs $2,500
  • For non-profit, government, and education, the average cost was $2,000
  • For large business and enterprise, the average site costs $4,200



People Working with WordPress

  • Number of people making a full-time living from WordPress or a large chunk of their living from working with WordPress was 20,000 of the 27,000 respondents. (Last year the number was 13,000 out of 20,000 respondents.)
  • Examples of what some people are doing with WordPress  – 31:40

WordPress Now and in the Future

  • WordPress started as a blogging platform. It is now becoming a CMS. And in the future, Matt predicts it will become an app engine – a framework used for applications.
  • 16.7% of the top million sites use WordPress


What WordPress ISN’T Doing Well – 37:40

  • Need better media – need to “look at it as a first-class citizen with WordPress”
  • Need more timely releases – the average over the last few years has been closer to 2 releases per year (rather than the preferred 3 releases per year)
  • Need more user interface testing

Community Summit – 41:10

The idea of the Community Summit is to bring people from all parts of the WordPress development team together to talk about things in a more holistic way (not everyone confined to their specialties).

Coming for WordPress

  • A lot of the larger web hosts are switching to a system that keeps your WordPress software up to date automatically unless you specifically opt out of automatic upgrades.
  • More simplicity (without being simplistic) – easier for first-time users
  • Although he doesn’t know how they’re going to do it, he would really like to get “real time editing.” In other words, if two people are editing a post, each can see the other’s cursor, the changes they make, etc., in real time (as is possible in Google Docs).


The video can be found here.

The slides can be found here.