WP Data Dashboard Tracks WordPress.org Themes Ecosystem

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Over the weekend, Hendrik Luehrsen, owner of a Munich-based digital agency, introduced WP Data Dashboard as a solution to the challenges he encountered while monitoring the usage of themes tagged with FSE (block themes). Initially, Luehrsen relied on a spreadsheet to collect data from the WordPress.org API, but as the volume of information grew, managing it became unwieldy.

Now, WP Data Dashboard serves as a centralized hub for exploring, analyzing, and visualizing data across the WordPress landscape. With a comprehensive database that tracks 6,017 themes hosted on WordPress.org and includes 250 snapshots, the platform offers valuable statistics and data-driven insights. It caters to individuals keen on gaining a holistic perspective of themes available in the official directory.

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“At present, the WP Data Dashboard primarily serves one key function: It scours the WordPress Theme Repo (API) and meticulously analyzes the data to discern emerging trends,” remarked Luehrsen. “By storing this data in my own database, I gain the flexibility to conduct in-depth analyses and explore novel correlations.”

One standout feature of WP Data Dashboard is its provision of two distinctive statistics derived from the available data. The first of these is the “Usage Score,” computed by comparing a theme’s active installations to its total downloads:

A high score indicates a theme that has not only been frequently downloaded but also retains active installations across numerous sites. Conversely, the score undergoes significant decay when the proportion of active installs to downloads is low, suggesting that while the theme may be popularly downloaded, it fails to maintain user retention. This metric offers valuable insights into both the initial appeal of a theme and its sustained utility to users, providing a comprehensive understanding of its overall performance and longevity in the WordPress ecosystem.

The second distinctive statistic is the “Diversity Score,” which evaluates the downloads of a particular theme author in relation to the entire theme directory or a specific tag. This score is then scaled from 0 to 100, providing a measure of the author’s contribution to the diversity of themes available:

A high score suggests that downloads are distributed among numerous authors, reflecting a diverse and competitive marketplace. Conversely, a low score indicates that a small group of authors dominate the downloads, signaling a lack of diversity. This metric offers valuable insights into the variety of theme offerings and the distribution of influence within the theme marketplace, shedding light on the dynamics of competition and innovation among theme authors.

The Usage Scores are prominently displayed on the List page, serving as an index of all the themes, as well as on the Tag pages, providing users with valuable insights into the popularity and utility of each theme across various categories.

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The Diversity Score is exclusively showcased on the Stats page, offering a comprehensive perspective of the entire WordPress.org ecosystem. This score is presented as a percentage, reflecting the level of diversity among theme authors within the platform. Additionally, the Diversity Score increases when the statistics are computed without including the default themes, which typically receive a substantial number of downloads from the same “WordPress.org” author annually. This exclusion enables a more accurate assessment of diversity within the theme marketplace, providing users with valuable insights into the distribution of downloads among various authors.

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In a recent discussion on X, Luehrsen shared intriguing insights gleaned from the dashboard data.

“Fun fact: Did you know that the most downloaded themes ever are Twenty Seventeen, Twenty Fifteen, and Astra?” he revealed. “Each has surpassed 10 million downloads! However, only Astra has managed to retain its user base and remains one of the most widely used themes today.”

Luehrsen also highlighted a notable trend regarding the decline in downloads for newer default themes. “What’s somewhat surprising is the decrease in downloads for the latest default themes,” he observed. “While Twenty Twenty garnered over 8 million downloads, Twenty Twenty-One managed only 6 million, and Twenty Twenty-Two a mere 3 million.”

This trend may be linked to the slow adoption of block themes, which continues to stagnate as of the end of October. Although the number of block theme active installs experienced a decline from August to September, it is now gradually rebounding to previous levels.

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“Did you know that only 2% of overall theme downloads come from themes tagged as ‘Full Site Editing’?” Luehrsen shared. “Given that they’re relatively new, it’s not too surprising!”

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When questioned about the inclusion of numbers for themes such as Elementor and Divi, which constitute a significant portion of the commercial theme market, Luehrsen expressed his interest in integrating external data. However, he noted that the compatibility of such data would be severely restricted, consequently limiting its comparability with WordPress.org-hosted themes.

The WP Data Dashboard serves as a valuable tool for monitoring trends in WordPress.org themes over time, with the potential to expand its scope to include plugin data in the future. To enhance its utility, providing calculated data at a glance—such as the insight that 2% of overall theme downloads originate from Full Site Editing tagged themes—would be immensely beneficial for visitors. Additionally, there are numerous possibilities for visualizing this data through graphs and charts as the database evolves and accumulates more information over time.

The project’s hosting on GitHub under a GPL license enables transparency and collaboration. Interested individuals can delve into the code to understand its workings or contribute to its development, thereby extending its capabilities and fostering community engagement.

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