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Asset Management

The top 10 most-used WordPress Themes

Olle Vastbinder
  • about 2 months ago
  • 5 min read

WordPress has been the go-to CMS for many businesses, organizations, and individuals ever since its conception in 2003. Anyone can set up a WordPress website in a few hours. Part of the appeal of WordPress is the option to customize it as much as you want in a user-friendly interface. Both plugins and themes play a central role in that. We already took a look at the fifteen most popular plugins, and now we're focussing on the ten most used WordPress themes.

WordPress is a great baseline for any website, be it personal or professional. With plugins, it's possible to customize functionalities to suit your needs. And with ready to-go themes, you can have a great design instantly. A theme is an essential part of any WordPress installation, as it's key in displaying your input from WordPress' backend on your live website. Without a theme, content has no way of being displayed. As with plugins, themes come in all shapes, sizes, and price classes. To better understand our numbers, it's important to first take a look at how WordPress themes work.

Why WordPress themes make the difference 

Although it's possible to create your own unique theme, WordPress has a great marketplace for themes, offering just under 11.896 free themes ready to download.* That's why most creators use an existing theme as the base for their own design. You can keep the default design for a theme, and even adapt it to your needs. The most popular themes often offer separate options for settings, making tweaking and editing the design easy for all users. And more demanding users can even edit the theme code themselves.

When someone wants to modify the theme code, it's recommended to create a so-called child-theme. Without a child theme, theme updates can overwrite any customizations of the original theme code. With a child-theme, you create a sub-theme. That sub-theme has all the functionality of the main theme, but updates to the main theme will not overwrite your design.

Where a WordPress theme dictates the visual design of any given page, a website builder offers more functionalities. There is a very fine line between themes and page builders, but the most popular WordPress themes all offer numerous page builder functionalities and are typically considered page builders too. These extra functionalities can be design improvements on the one hand, making it a theme, while offering extra technical functionalities on the other, making it a page builder. That's why companies typically offer both themes and plugins that work together to give you full control of your entire WordPress website. The three most popular WordPress themes according to our web data are all considered to be both a theme and a page builder.

The most popular WordPress themes

Now we have a better understanding of what themes are, we are taking a look into the popularity of WordPress themes. Currently, we detect 30.4 million websites that are using WordPress as their CMS. Of those, 44% (13.4 M) have a known WordPress theme installed. And when you look at our data, it's immediately clear who is leading the pack here: Hello Elementor. With 7.3 million installs, they have 44.9% of the market. In second place, Divi still has a very respectable 1.99 million installs (12.2% of the total), with Astra a very close third with 1.97 million (12.1% of the total) installations. The gap between Astra and the rest of the top ten is significant, with GeneratePress netting around 500k installments (3.1% of the total). You can see the entire top ten in figure 1.

The top ten of most-used WordPress themes. The top ten goes as follows: 1. Hello Elementor 44.9% / 2. Divi 12.2% / 3. Astra 12.1% / 4. GeneratePress 3.1% / 5. OceanWP 2.9% / 6. Twenty Seventeen 2.0% / 7. Twenty Twenty-One 1.5% / 8. Kadence 1.2% / 9. Neve 1.2% / 10. Twenty Twenty 1.1%
Figure 1. The top ten shows there is a large difference in usage of the different WordPress themes.

Free, adaptable and fast

The dominance of the top three can be explained using three simple words: free, adaptable and fast. First, almost all themes offer a free version. These are usually more basic, lacking certain premium options. Notable is that the top three all also offer paid services, giving users more control, more default formats to choose from and more support.

A highly adaptable theme offers numerous extras for designing on functionalities. These can be simple improvements, like forms or pop-up creation. But they also add more expert options, like user management. Paid versions often offer more adaptation and styling options than the free versions. You regularly have a flotilla of styles and adaptations to pick from, making it easy for anyone to create a unique style.

Speed is an essential part of any website. Because anyone can create and share themes, there can be a huge difference between them. Not slowing WordPress down is a requirement for any successful theme. 

Popular WordPress themes sorted by language 

When we take a deeper dive into our data. We see minor shifts in popularity of each theme when we look at a websites' language. For Japanese language websites, for instance, the most popular theme is Lightning, outscoring Hello Elementor by almost 50%. Lightning is a Japanese built theme, so that preference seems logical, as users can use it in their own language with full language support.

For English, Spanish, and Portuguese, Divi has to cede its 2nd place to Astra. And where it's a small margin for English websites, Spanish and Portuguese websites are favoring Astra by quite a margin. 

The top 3 most popular WordPress themes taking language into consideration. English: Hello Elementor 43.3%, Astra 13.6%, Divi 13.3%. Spanish: Hello Elementor 47.7%, Astra 16.3%, Divi 14.3% French: Hello Elementor 41.1%, Divi 19.1%, Astra 8.5%, Japanese: Lightning 27% Hello Elementor 19.1%, Twenty Seventeen 5.9%, Portuguese: Hello Elementor 66,3%, Astra 6.3%, Divi 4%, Indonesian: Hello Elementor 48.4%, Astra 12.4%, GeneratePress 5.4%.
The top three most used WordPress themes when looking at the websites language.

WordPress default theme takes 4th

One last interesting statistic to look at is the number of installments of the WordPress default theme. When you perform a fresh WordPress installation, you automatically get the newest version of the WordPress default theme. These are always named 'Twenty X', where X stands for the year of release. So for fresh installations in 2023, the default 'Twenty Twenty-Three' theme would be used.

If we tally all the default themes up, you get to an impressive 1.4 million. This puts WordPress itself firmly in fourth place globally. The Twenty Seventeen (the first theme aimed at businesses and not blogs) and Twenty Twenty-One versions are the most used default themes, even making it into the global top 10 from figure 1. The different WordPress themes have a captivating history, following online design trends through the last two decades. And while using the default theme might seem an odd choice, both WordPress' adaptability using plugins and the option to edit any theme to your needs, using the default as a base, is not a bad idea.

WordPress themes a growing market?

Adaptability is key for a WordPress theme to become popular. All popular WordPress themes are easy to modify and use. The global top three are known for their versatility. But at the base of that popularity for every theme is a basic, free version. While offering less options than the paid versions, after a free version is installed, they can constantly show the extra possibilities the paid version offers.

As WordPress continues to grow, the theme and plug-in marketplace will also keep expanding, making that into an interesting market to keep track of.

*For this blog, it's important to note that we cannot detect unique themes that were created from scratch.

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