With over 455 million websites built on WordPress, it has firmly established itself as the world‘s most dominant content management system and publishing platform. Approximately 40% of the web now runs on WordPress, fueled by its open source roots and vibrant commercial ecosystem.
As a data analyst who has worked with WordPress extensively for over 5 years, I‘ve witnessed firsthand the relentless innovation from commercial plugins, themes and services that make WordPress such an appealing option for a diverse range of users. From bloggers to eCommerce store owners to tech startups, WordPress can efficiently power online presences of all sizes and scales.
In this comprehensive guide, we will analyze the 28 most impactful WordPress focused companies across key categories:
Page Builders Usher New Era of Customization
WordPress began as a blogging platform, which worked well for basic website structures. But as usage grew for more complex sites, limitations of standard templates and themes became apparent. Enter page builders, who empower greater layout flexibility and eliminate the need to code when crafting custom page designs.
As per WP Engine‘s 2021 WordPress Economy report, over 7 million websites now actively use page builders, indicating the massive demand. The most popular options, Elementor and Beaver Builder account for close to 5 million sites.
Page builders have quite literally changed web design on WordPress. The visual drag and drop interfaces allow users to try multiple configurations conveniently until they arrive at layouts that best showcase their content. Pre-designed page templates further aid rapid prototyping.
While all builders share the common base principle of visual design, their offerings differ in their feature sets and ease of use. Let‘s analyze the frontrunners:
Elementor – The Benchmark for Usability
Launched in 2016, Elementor quickly ascended to dominate the market with over 5 million active users. The intuitive drag-and-drop page builder works fluidly across devices allowing for responsive mobile-first design.
Abundant templates and integrations with popular themes and plugins make Elementor extremely versatile. The active developer community has built a library of over 300 addons to further extend capabilities.
- Live page builder for desktop to mobile preview
- Lightning fast performance
- Developer ecosystem with addons
For an easy to use page builder with extensive design options, Elementor sets the benchmark.
Beaver Builder – Simplicity and Depth Combined
Beaver Builder strikes a balance between simplicity when starting out and powerful functionality for advanced users. The elegant interface appeals to beginners while tools like the Style System cater to experts.
With over 1.7 million installs, Beaver Builder is a proven foundation for all types of sites – portfolios, online stores, business sites, blogs and membership communities.
- Responsive editing across devices
- Style System for fine grain design control
- Module Library with professionally designed content blocks
For those seeking simplicity when starting out and depth for customizing further, Beaver Builder is an excellent choice.
WPBakery Page Builder – Cornerstone of Many Sites
Formerly Visual Composer, WPBakery powers over 5 million sites with its easy to use yet highly customizable page builder. The minimal interface focused on usability makes WPBakery popular among WordPress experts and agencies.
- Lightning fast frontend editing
- Drag and drop simplicity
- Huge library of templates and elements
For developers and agencies building complex, high traffic sites for clients, WPBakery offers proven performance.
The dynamic evolution of WordPress towards custom layouts and designs has been facilitated by these page builders that have unlocked greater creative expression. Businesses are no longer limited by pre-designed themes and can craft pages optimized to their brand identity and content types.
Shopping Carts Expanding eCommerce Possibilities
Leveraging its content management strengths, WordPress has grown to become a leading platform for eCommerce with the help of plugin shopping cart solutions. Over 5 million online stores now run on WordPress, with market leader WooCommerce powering a majority of these sites.
The Fact Company‘s Digital 2022 report found social commerce gaining strong interest, with 41% of internet users saying they purchased something on social media. TikTok has joined the eCommerce bandwagon through partnerships with WooCommerce and Shopify.
With Gen Z consumers flocking to TikTok, integrating commerce is the logical next step. And once again WordPress shops stand to benefit thanks to the flutter_woocommerce_tiktok plugin that deep links to products.
As consumer behavior and technology continues to evolve, WordPress and WooCommerce demonstrate the agility to keep pace through their unrivaled ecosystem of extensions. Let‘s examine the leaders in enabling eCommerce sites on WordPress:
WooCommerce – The Open Source Hero
True to WordPress‘ open source ethos, WooCommerce emerged as the most popular shopping cart plugin. Now powering over 5 million online stores, WooCommerce owes its phenomenal rise to its free availability and passionate open source community developing hundreds of extensions.
- Free and open source
- Supports physical/digital/variable products
- Numerous payment gateway options
For those seeking maximum flexibility benefitting from collective open source efforts, WooCommerce delivers.
Easy Digital Downloads – Selling Digital Like a Pro
Catering to creators and developers selling digital downloads like ebooks, audio, software and more, Easy Digital Downloads serves a more niche need. With a simple interface and smaller codebase focusing only on key digital selling functionality, EDD offers a lean eCommerce solution for membership sites, bloggers and developers.
Over a million times downloaded, EDD brings welcome innovation to monetize digital goods.
- Lightweight code optimized for speed
- Simple purchase variable pricing
- Recurring payments module
For anyone selling digital downloads, EDD provides tailored eCommerce functionality.
Specialized Tools Expanding Possibilities
Part of WordPress‘ appeal to power so much of the web is its flexibility to build in new capabilities. Offerings like OptinMonster for conversion rate optimization and WP Rocket for performance help users get more from their sites. Gravity Forms does the simple job of contact forms exquisitely well, with over 5 million users.
Such innovation expanding what‘s possible with WordPress allows users of all skill levels to achieve online success on their own terms – be it artists sharing their creations, consultants offering their advice or entrepreneurs building their business ideas. Let‘s see how these specialist tools facilitate unbridled ambition:
OptinMonster – Smart Campaigns Made Easy
Growing email lists and converting website visitors into subscribers is vital for any site owner. Yet designing optin forms and popups from scratch and monitoring their performance is challenging.
This is where OptinMonster brings easy high conversion campaign creation and management to over 1 million sites. With integrated analytics and A/B testing built-in, site owners can experiment to optimize lead capture.
- Create timed popups, email forms, sidebars easily
- A/B test and optimize conversion performance
- Integrate analytics across email providers
For campaign driven customer acquisition, OptinMonster brings powerful convenience.
WP Rocket – Premium Performance Made Easy
Slow loading websites have real business costs in lost sales and opportunities. Yet most users struggle to manually tune sites for faster performance. This is where WP Rocket brings enterprise grade caching and optimization to improve site speed up to 10X faster for over 900,000 WordPress sites.
By optimizing coding, leveraging browser caching and deferring non-essential assets, WP Rocket minimizes server requests and bandwidth usage. The lightweight plugin optimizes WordPress performance with no need for specialized skills.
- Site speed improvement up to 10X
- Easy setup and management
- Premium support options
For those seeking to maximize their site‘s speed and conversion performance, WP Rocket is an essential tool.
Gravity Forms – Build Any Custom Form
Visitor engagement begins when users submit forms for downloads, queries, newsletter signups and more. For over 5 million sites, Gravity Forms provides an easy way to build unlimited form types while integrating data across leading CRMs and email marketing platforms.
Drag and drop form creation is coupled with extensive options for partial form submissions, multi page forms and conditional logic to offer personalized experiences adapting in real time.
- Intuitive drag & drop interface
- Conditions and entry management
- CRM and mailing list integrations
For unlimited forms with tailored interactions, Gravity Forms is the proven choice.
This diverse mix of focused products fulfilling common user needs as well as innovative developers pushing boundaries illustrate WordPress flexibility. Together they expand what users can achieve when empowered by the right tools for their specific goals.
Catering to Diverse Needs at Scale
A key factor powering WordPress‘ rise has been its ability to cater to diverse needs from personal bloggers all the way to Fortune 500 companies managing millions of web pages. Developer focused products from WordPress hosts like WP Engine to optimized web server stacks from LiteSpeed provide enterprise grade performance and reliability to support the most demanding sites.
Simplified website security from Wordfence and iThemes make protection accessible for small sites without dedicated IT teams. Premium themes like Astra offer hundreds of professionally designed site templates suitable for all niches and industries.
This range of commercial offerings tailored for mainstream users as well as market subsets has scaffolded WordPress adoption, cementing its position as the dominant content management platform.
Below we highlight innovative purpose driven products that have filled platform gaps enabling wider access:
> Wordfence – Robust Yet Easy Security
Wordfence brings enterprise grade malware scanning and firewall protection to over 4 million WordPress sites via a lightweight plugin without needing security expertise.
> WPML – Multilingual Magic
WPML by OnTheGoSystems powers translation capabilities for over a quarter million sites, enabling global brands to easily scale across markets reaching local audiences.
> AMP – Mobile Speed Wins
The official AMP plugin makes it easy for any WordPress site to leverage Google‘s AMP project for near instant mobile page loads, key to mobile conversion rates.
Democratizing capabilities through commercial plugins and services to users across the spectrum has been integral for WordPress, by closing platform gaps nimbly. Negating the need for custom development helps mainstream adoption.
This partner ecosystem driving innovation is why WordPress is often described as an operating system for the web – where the core platform focuses on content management while market forces build additional site functionality.
The Future is Flexibly Open
Analyzing the state of the WordPress ecosystem in 2023, there are clear signals towards what the future holds:
Continued Expansion of Commerce – More physical product retailers drawn towards unified content and commerce management under WordPress, driving greater innovation in native features like menus and navigation.
API Driven Integrations – The WordPress REST API ecoystem matures allowing seamless integration between WordPress sites and external apps and services across tech stacks.
Accessibility and Inclusion – Increasing policy and societal expectations require better accessibility and multilingual support, driving commercial solutions.
International Growth – Sponsoring WordCamp conferences across Africa, Asia and Latin America brings more diverse voices to the open source project expanding usefulness.
As the above trends play out, WordPress flexibility will adapt to bridge new gaps in the open source spirit by fostering an ever expanding commercial ecosystem. This symbiotic relationship between the platform and innovating partners has been the secret recipe behind WordPress reliably powering over 40% of the web for the past decade.
WordPress now firmly dominates global web publishing, proving an integrated content management system and developer platform can democratize web technology. Central to its winning strategy has been WordPress‘ open API available for commercial solutions to deliver focused capabilities – be it contact forms, SEO or security.
Companies big and small have developed long term business models building atop the Core WordPress system supplemented by commercial themes, plugins and services highlighted in this guide. As user needs grow more diverse and nuanced with enterprises adopting WordPress at greater scales, the partner ecosystem rises to the occasion delighting users.
It is this ultimately this thriving marketplace that provides the economic fuel powering WordPress evolution from its humble open source blogging origins towards an integrated web operating system promising to power over 50% of sites by 2024.