The results are in! For at least one kind of race, that is. Content management systems, or CMSs, play a vital role in making it easier and easier for companies and individuals to develop compelling, responsive, and easily navigable websites on the Internet.
We’ve made leaps and bounds in website design and convention since the inception of the World Wide Web, and innovations in web development are showing no real signs of slowing any time soon.
Yet that doesn’t mean that a fair share of the Internet’s content, even some of the most popular content, is hosted on websites that are generally subpar when it comes to the standards of the modern user.
To incentivize pushing away from poor accessibility and towards a new age of web convenience, Google has reiterated and solidified its Core Web Vitals, a series of user experience and interfacing criteria that can affect ranking in Google search results.
Recent data taken from a Core Web Vitals Technology Report shows which content management system (or web publishing platform) offers the best in performance and user experience, on a generalized level. The four competitors on the market are WordPress, Drupal, Duda, and Wix. So, let’s look at which performed the best.
What are the Core Web Vitals?
Before we begin, it’s important to summarize what Google’s Core Web Vitals actually are. They are three basic criteria that serve as metrics for website performance, in the field of user experience. These are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The speed at which the majority of a page’s content is loaded. Ideally 2.5 seconds or less.
- First Input Delay (FID): The responsiveness of a website when interacted with. Ideally, the website should provide feedback on the first user action after 100 milliseconds or less.
- Cumultive Layout Shift (CLS): A measurement of visual stability, of common website errors or inconveniences such as content shifting around as it’s being loaded in, and visual consistency. Aside from inconvenience, this can lead to users clicking things they didn’t mean to – causing serious damage.
Results of the Core Web Vitals Technology Report
The Core Web Vitals Technology Report is compiled from the CRuX and HTTPArchive Lab Web Technology Detections datasets of CWV performance across CMS services. The report took a look at how the four largest web publishing services generally handled CWV criteria, by analyzing eligible websites and sorting out ones with a passing score.
The final rankings after a year of compiling data stand at:
- Duda (69.3 percent)
- Wix (55.3 percent)
- Drupal (50.2 percent)
- WordPress (31 percent)
You can review each platform’s individual metrics here and here.
WordPress interestingly started ahead of the competition, but quickly lagged behind once commercial alternatives (and open-source rival Drupal) started making concerted efforts to invest in responsiveness and CWV.
Does this mean WordPress is a bad CMS, or that any of the others are a much better option in every way? As always, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Each of these web publishing platforms offers a unique value proposition and caters to a different audience.
While there is significant overlap, Duda (for example) is more focused on providing a website building platform for professionals, versus the wider offering and customization behind WordPress.
A lot of these changes are also rather dramatic. Commercial platforms like Duda and Wix were known for being behind WordPress on SEO and page speed, but picked up considerably in the last year.
Will WordPress Stay Behind?
Another important core argument to consider is whether or not these findings will be true in a year or two. Can you afford to go through the work it takes to completely change the platform your website is built around for what might be transient gains? While WordPress is the largest and most uncoordinated CMS service among the ones tested in the CWV data collection effort, it’s also important to note that they are well aware of this.
We’ve established that being open source is not a hindrance for good overall performance and consistent performance gains when observing Drupal, so the fact of the matter remains that WordPress simply hasn’t made a coordinated effort to focus on CWV at the time, unlike many of its competitors. It’s probably unfair to judge a platform on a single metric like performance, especially given that it isn’t as though your entire ranking on Google hinges solely on how fast your website loads, or how responsive it is.
But that doesn’t make it irrelevant, either. And WordPress are aware of that, too. They’ve responded by hinting at the potential for a coordinated performance improvement effort in the near future, as per a comment by WordPress core contributor and software engineering manager at Google, Thierry Muller.
He goes on to say that: “to better understand which area are hurting most WordPress sites, we* have conducted analysis on the 100 most popular themes and various real WordPress sites (from small to large).
“Depending on the number of contributors we will be able to work on multiple projects simultaneously. By “we”, I mean my team at Google.”
Can You Afford to Get Hung Up on the Details?
There’s a great argument to be made against losing the forest for the trees. This information might be great for someone trying to get a new website off the ground in 2021.
But ultimately, obsessing over the average core web vital scores for websites built on your CMS or platform of choice does not necessarily translate to actionable data for your project’s own performance, or more importantly, for the quality of your content and the quantity of your traffic.
There’s more that goes into making a good pie than baking it well. You still need the right ingredients for an amazing pie dough, ripe fruit, and a great recipe. Do not let core web vitals distract you from creating value for your existing customers and potential leads, as well as readers everywhere.
If you’re having trouble allocating resources and prioritizing development for your website and digital marketing efforts, let us help you out. We can go over your performance metrics together, review past campaigns and draft new ones, and bring you better results through a data-driven effort.