When it comes to life online, we all use content management systems in one way or another: blogging, building websites, maintaining websites, marketing them, etc.
If we are not web experts, we usually just use software tools to develop websites. We may not even know what it is that powers the websites—what is actually doing the back-end work. Now it’s time to discover Content Management Systems (or CMS systems), and which ones are used most frequently.
I came across an interesting study about who are the leaders in open source content management systems market in the year of 2008.
The study was just released to the public and it was conducted by Ric Sheves from Water & Stone web development company (cool name, by the way). The company specializes in open source content management systems, particularly Drupal, Joomla!, Mambo, osCommerce and WordPress. Ric lives in Bali, Indonesia (talking about working from cool places).
At 50 pages, there is a significant amount of data in this study that should be of use to developers or to anyone who is looking to commit to a web publishing system. You don’t want to bet on a dead horse, do you?
But first let’s see WHAT is a content management system.
According to Wikipedia a content management system is:
- …a computer software used to create, edit, manage, and publish content in a consistently organized fashion. CMSs are frequently used for storing, controlling, versioning, and publishing industry-specific documentation such as news articles, operators’ manuals, technical manuals, sales guides, and marketing brochures. The content managed may include computer files, image media, audio files, video files,electronic documents, and Web content.A web content management system is a CMS designed to simplify the publication of Web content to Web sites, in particular allowing content creators to submit content without requiring technical knowledge of HTML or the uploading of files.
Because the theme of this site is web software (software which runs on a web server and in a browser – not desktop software) we will concentrate on web content management systems. And because we do like free things (who doesn’t?) we will present this study which took in consideration only the open source web content management systems (and only the publication-oriented CMSs, not e-commerce like osCommerce and not enterprise portals like LifeRay). Commercial or hosted products are excluded too.
Below are more details about this study.
This whole exercise began by brainstorming through various methods of assessing popularity and adoption rates. While there are a number of indicators, there is no standardized metric to gauge market share in this particular segment — there is simply no way to get an accurate fix on how many systems are actually in use on the web right now.
For this survey the research results were broken down into two broad categories:
• Rate of Adoption
• Brand Strength
In each of the areas, they used a multi-faceted approach, assessing a wide variety of measures to identify broad trends and patterns from which we can draw conclusions with some
degree of confidence. Among the many metrics they sampled are a number of non-traditional indicators, such as Twitter Prominence and Social Bookmarking statistics.
Rate of Adoption
The team began their examination of the open source CMS market by attempting to measure the relative rates of adoption of the systems in the sample set. For reasons discussed below, direct evidence alone is not sufficient to allow them to draw firm conclusions.
As a result, they were forced to look at a variety of metrics in hopes of building a more complete picture of the current state of the market:
- Third Party Support
- - Developers
- - Publishers
All these three metrics are explained in details in the study.
In this section the team turned to assessing the intangible — brand strength. Measuring the brand strength of open source products presents challenges: not only is this particular market lacking in maturity and commercial sophistication, but in general there is also no easy way to establish the value of the brand associated with noncommercial products used by a geographically diverse audience.
In response to this challenge, they casted their net wide and tried to capture a broad sampling of data (including many Web 2.0 indicators).
Then grouped the results into the following categories:
- Search engine visibility
- - lnbound Links
- - Search Engine Ranking on Relevant Keywords
- Popularity metrics
- Evidence of mindshare
- - Search engine query volume
- - Twitter prominence
- - New & blog mentions
- - Demo site traffic
- - Fan Activity
- Evidence of mindshare
- - Awards received
- - User ratings
- - Social bookmarking activity
All these four categories are explained in details in the study.
Conclusions of the study
Based on the data derived during the survey the conclusions were broken down in two categories:
- Who are The Market Leaders (who are taking the crown)
- Systems to Watch (who are in danger of going down)
Who are The Market Leaders(who are taking the crown)
The data gathered during this survey makes a persuasive case for the identity of the Top 3 leaders in the open source CMS market. In almost every metric, the Top 3 spots were held by
Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress. Moreover, not only did these systems consistently finish at the top of the comparisons, in many cases the gap between those three systems and the rest of
the pack was significant. In key Adoption and Brand metrics these three names showed not just strength, but dominance.
Historical search performance
• Joomla! took the lead in this metric early on and has never looked back.
• Q2 of 2008 sees WordPress narrowing the gap on Joomla! and, at the close of the period, pulling away from Drupal.
• Drupal shows consistent growth over the past four years.
• Note that news reference volume (the lower portion of the chart, above) shows WordPress consistently outperforming both Joomla! and Drupal.
Project site reach
• WordPress enjoys a clear lead in U.S. market reach in 2008.
• Note the back and forth battle between Joomla! and Drupal — with Drupal enjoying a slight (though not sustained) advantage.
Project site page views
• WordPress moved ahead of Joomla! at the end of the first Quarter of 2008.
• Drupal appears to be narrowing the gap with both WordPress and Joomla!.
Project site visitors
• Consistent with the Alexa stat, above, WordPress moved ahead of Joomla! at the end of the first Quarter of 2008.
• The gap between WordPress and Drupal is increasing.
• The gap between Drupal and Joomla! is narrowing (slightly).
See also the chart immediately below (slicing the data for the same period but this time analyze it for number of visits).
At this point in time, the battle for market dominance has yet to be settled. Indeed, it rather looks like the battle is just about to heat up!
WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal share a significant lead over the other products in the open source CMS market.
This is not expected to change in the near to medium term. Whether one will emerge as the market leader remains to be seen.
Systems to Watch (who are in danger of going down)
The survey revealed a number of systems that deserve to be watched in the near to medium term. Several of the systems in their survey group showed significant weakening in market share over time and may be threatened. Several other systems show signs of weakness and forced the team to ask whether their day has passed. At least two of the newer systems in their survey showed increased brand recognition and engagement together with signs of improved market share.
Below are discussed briefly each of the three categories:
- Projects at risk?
- A closing window of opportunity?
- New names worth watching
Projects At Risk?
The results obtained for this group of systems are cause for concern regarding their market share and ongoing relevance.
Below, the team looked briefly at:
- • CMSMadeSimple
CMSMadeSimple fared worse than possibly any other system in the survey. It was a laggard in the vast majority of the categories discussed. Still there were bright spots for the system, user
ratings placed the system right in the middle of the pack and the system does manage some visibility in the search indices. Given a poor showing in both the Adoption and Brand categories of the survey, this project has a difficult struggle ahead.
The appearance of a direct competitor — Joomla! — in late 2005 corresponds with the Mambo project’s steep decline in market share. Despite numerous changes in the Mambo team over the last several years, the trend has not reversed, or even slowed. While the survey showed some promising signs for Mambo, like increased user ratings and continued brand strength, the mindshare numbers indicate that Mambo is not succeeding in capturing user attention. And recently another project spawned from Mambo: miaCMS (core developers deciding to step away from the Mambo Foundation and start an independent project). This could only spell even more trouble for Mambo.
Once the powerhouse of the open source CMS movement (what days were those!), php-Nuke’s early mover advantage has not translated into staying power. Increasing competition over the years has chipped away at php-Nuke’s market share. While the numbers seem to indicate that the project maintains significant brand strength, one has to question whether that data reflects the reality of today, or is merely a testament to past glory.
The survey showed few encouraging signs for phpWebsite and it is hard to put a positive spin on the data as it relates to the project. The system was a laggard in nearly every category excepting Alexa ranking and search engine visibility. Real weakness across the entire range of mindshare metrics presents a major challenge for this project.
A Closing Window of Opportunity?
Survey data indicated that several systems were struggling to maintain market share.
In the section they looked briefly at:
- • b2evolution
b2evolution’s use of a system badge45 on it’s sites and the inclusion of the name in RSS feeds brings b2evolution a prominence in several metrics and certainly shows the advantages of using your distros to build brand. Unfortunately, aside from strength in that area, the system shows mediocre performance across a wide range of other metrics. There is one notable bright spot: User ratings at OpenSourceCMS.com place b2evolution in the number four position — right behind Joomla!. Between solid brand strength and good user satisfaction, the system has the possibility to rise in prominence, but will they capitalize?
Plone shows strong performance in both fansites and in books in print. A look at traffic patterns, mentions and queries, however, shows that the system’s market share has been in a slide since mid-2007. Goodwill indicators are mixed and at this time the team wonders whether Plone’s window of opportunity is closing, at least in terms of market share. There’s no doubt about the Plone project’s vitality, perhaps what is seen is Plone moving away from a mass market offering and to a niche market position(?).
While MediaWiki came on strong from 2004 through 2006, Google search query volume for MediaWiki has been in a slide since the beginning of 2007. The sustained 18-month decline in query activity causes the team to place MediaWiki in this category. Another reason of concern was the interest level indicators, which showed lower than average performance for MediaWiki. These trends are particularly troubling given that MediaWiki brand indicators show strong recognition; the system receives a lot of exposure courtesy of its association with WikiPedia. It would seem, however, that MediaWiki may be having problems translating brand prominence into market share. A large number of other systems are now offering wiki publishing as part of their offering — is MediaWiki suffering from the increase in competition?
SPIP’s search query volume has been in decline since early 2007, with 2006 showing weakness as well. Alexa rankings place SPIP’s project site at the bottom of the survey group.
Another troubling stat is the lack of third party support, with SPIP finishing dead last in both stats measured. Nonetheless, SPIP still shows signs of life with recent activity in the blogosphere, so we cannot count them out of it yet.
New Names Worth Watching
Elgg and MODx arrived on the scene in 2006. Both systems fared relatively well in the survey, showing some surprising strength in several areas.
The Elgg project has shown increasing mindshare and brand strength since inception. Recently publishing activity and awards can only boost name recognition. The evidence shows in the social bookmarking metrics, where Elgg finished near the top of the list. Yet despite those positive signs, engagement in the blogosphere is sadly lacking — a troubling statistics given that this system is focused on Web 2.0 social interactivity. Elgg also faces challenges in terms of developer support, though this is perhaps not yet a source of concern given the relative youth
of the project.
This system showed more mixed metrics than any other in the survey. MODx picked up the “Most Promising CMS” nod at the Packt Awards in 2007; yet oddly, outside MySpace, MODx has been unable to build much show of support. Moreover, while the system has solid search engine rankings, it was the big loser in the Alexa rankings in our survey. Perhaps even more disturbing is that MODx was the only system in survey whose user ratings declined during the test period. It looks like MODx is managing to attract attention but failing to convert the attention into users. Does MODx risk slipping into irreversible decline or will they manage to capitalize on the many advantages they have in placement? If they are to make a go of it, they will need to repair their user ratings and improve their performance in goodwill indicators.
I hope you enjoyed this study made by by Ric Sheves and his team at Water & Stone web development company.
I want to thank him for this in depth analysis of the open source content management software (CMS) market.
It surely be useful for many people, especially developers who are choosing these CMS for building websites for their clients.
To download the full survey please follow this link (PDF file, 5.2 MB in size)
Tell us your impressions in the comments!
And if you liked this study tell your friends about it.