There is a lot written and said about how important it is to have your business website being supported and protected on a regular basis.

At Agile Digital, WordPress website development, maintenance and support is part of our service pack. We get client inquiries about supporting their existing websites. In those cases we analyze the website and propose a support plan. What we often find out is that their WordPress version is quite outdated and there are already various issues with that website.

The question

In regards to the above we asked ourselves:
How does small business online presence look like? Do they use WordPress, do they keep it up-to-date and more specifically how many WordPress websites in a chosen industry and region are outdated? How old they really are? What does this mean for their security and performance? We thought that if we knew this we would have a clearer picture of which businesses are at higher risk of having a compromised website.

We tried to find any specific information online but we couldn’t. There is a general statistics page on the official WordPress.org website where you can see the overall share of WordPress versions but that’s all.

What we needed was to have a look at a specific business industry and region and see how the WordPress versions picture looks like. Since we had a few London based clients coming from the legal industry we decided to take a snapshot and do a research on how this industry is presented online, how many businesses use WordPress and most importantly what WordPress versions they are currently using. This would give us an idea of how many of them really value their online presence and support their websites on a regular basis and what percentage of the business does not consider this as a priority.

First we decided to browse the solicitors companies listed in Yell.com for the London area, identify websites that were built on WordPress and try to find their version. Obviously, that was going to be a very slow process. This is why we developed our own WordPress Version checker tool. What it does is to analyse a given URL and, in case this is a WordPress website, it will provide you with its version. We crawled all the solicitors websites listed in Yell.com for London area and then ran them through our tool to check their WordPress versions. 

What we found

We have identified and analysed 381 website URLs of solicitor businesses in London area (*February 2019). This is what we have found in a nutshell:

184 WordPress websites (51.4% of all studied websites)
174 Non-WordPress websites plus 1 hacked website
22 URLs that lead to non-existent websites
40+ listed businesses didn’t have a website listed 

If we discard all non-existent or hacked websites we get to this overall picture.

Solicitors in London - WordPress sites share

Apparently, the London legal industry prefers WordPress for their online presence with more than half of the active websites built on it.

Now the interesting part - the WordPress versions breakdown.

Before we move on, a note that we were not able to identify the version of 4 websites (2.17% of all WordPress websites) although we know they are definitely WordPress.

In the following breakdown we are using Prof. Rogers stages of Diffusion of innovations to distinguish a few groups depending of how old the website versions are.

This is how the WordPress versions of London solicitors websites look like.

Solicitors in London - WordPress versions breakdown (Feb 2019)

29.9% of all websites are updated to the latest two WordPress versions 5.0.2 and 5.0.3 (as of February 2019). We may call them the ‘early adopters’. They seem to ‘embrace’ the newest versions as soon as possible. That would mean a third of London solicitor firms takes a good care of their WordPress website and they clearly realize the importance of keeping their online presence secure.

A similar percentage (29.3%) of WordPress websites goes to version 4.9.9 which was released in late 2018. This is the latest one before 5.0. Obviously this ‘early majority’ group also keeps their websites up to date. For one reason or another they are not in a hurry to jump to version 5.0 (aka Gutenberg). I would assume these businesses realise the importance of having secure and stable online presence. However, they are careful with switching to a whole new version and give it enough time before joining the ‘Gutenberg’ party.

Slightly older versions 4.9.5 to 4.9.8 take another 11.41%. These versions were released between April and August 2018. We see these companies haven’t done any steps towards updating their websites CMS in the past 6 to 9 months. This is already a red flag for security and performance issues. But they are not so much behind and chances to catch up are good. These businesses shouldn’t wait any further as there have been a couple of security updates since 4.9.5. If we keep following Prof. Rogers stages, this group could fit into the so called ‘late majority’ although not really a majority.

The remaining websites fall under the last stage defined as ‘laggards’. They comprise an impressive 27.17% of all studied websites. The range of WordPress versions in this group starts from version 3.3 up until 4.9.4. We have put them all in one group as these versions are too far from the latest ones. The risks for compromising those websites are extreme.

WordPress adoption groups depending on how outdated websites are

Since we studied all websites in the list, here is a breakdown of all other CMS and platforms we managed to identify.

Solicitors in London - Other CMS and frameworks

  1. Unknown or no CMS 76
  2. Joomla 16
  3. Duda CMS 15
  4. Wix 13
  5. Drupal 7
  6. Squarespace 7
  7. Adobe Dreamweaver 4
  8. DNN CMS 4
  9. ExpressionEngine 3
  10. 1and1 website builder 3
  11. CodeIgniter 2
  12. GoDaddy Website Builder 2
  13. Hibu CMS 2
  14. Mobirise Website builder 2
  15. Perch 2
  16. Sitecore CMS 2
  17. Umbraco 2
  18. Weebly 2
  19. Adobe Muse 1
  20. Craft CMS 1
  21. October CMS 1
  22. ProcessWire 1
  23. RapidWeaver 1
  24. Typo3 1
  25. Webflow 1
  26. Webs website builder 1
  27. Zope CMS 1
  28. Laravel 1

Conclusion

With the above experiment we have taken a snapshot of how small business in a specific industry and location is presented online. In future, we may expand this study to other industries and/or geographical areas to compare and build a clearer image.

So far, this snapshot looks like this:

WordPress dominates the online presence for the London law industry with more than half of the websites using this CMS.

On average every one of six websites in the sector is a freshly updated WordPress website. On the other hand every other one of six websites has not been updated to a higher WordPress version for more than 9 months. 

Thanks to knowing the WordPress version of those websites we were able to identify a number of businesses that have somehow ignored the good practices of keeping their websites up to date. This gives us a better understanding on what portion of these companies are threatened with potential risks of security breaches, slow performance, poor search ranking, bad user experience. There is another question arising from this: Why are businesses allowing this to happen? Do they underestimate their online image or aren’t they aware of those risks? Feel free to comment below.