Welcome back to the 15th edition of The Lab Report!
I know this is usually a weekend newsletter, but I made the classic mistake of thinking I could go back to my family's place for the weekend and still get some work done (it's Family Day long weekend here in Canada).
Instead we went mini-putting, had a rum & coke or two, and got a couple solid games of Red Alert 2 in.
That's ok though because we have a some good topics in this week's newsletter.
Let's dive right in!
🏆 The most popular WordPress plugins in 2021
Jack Arturo from WP Fusion published his 2021 In Review mega-post last week.
This is the first time I've come across one of his year-in-review posts, and I'm pretty upset I hadn't sooner.
It's really good.
Some interesting tidbits that caught my eye:
ActiveCampaign is still by far their most popular CRM integration, followed by Keap and FluentCRM.
It's impressive that FluentCRM was able to surpass GroundHogg for third spot in just their first full year.
The membership plugin chart is pretty surprising to me. I didn't realize more people use WooCommerce Memberships over MemberPress, Restrict Content Pro, WishList Member etc.
In terms of forms plugins, it went Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, and Fluent Forms in the top three.
Again, really impressive work from the WPManageNinja team that Fluent Forms has climbed the ranks so quickly.
I'd also like to see WS Form get on this chart next year 👀 (you can read my full review of WS Form here).
Lastly we have page builders.
Elementor Free was by far the most popular, followed by Elementor Pro, Beaver Builder, Divi, and then Oxygen.
There are two things that stick out to me here:
First, it's interesting that most people use Elementor Free with WP Fusion.
A free page builder with limited control paired with a premium plugin that's packed with a ton of power isn't exactly the combo I was expecting.
I'm surprised Oxygen isn't more popular, or at least Elementor Pro.
Second, it's clear Elementor still dominates the page builder market.
This graph has me wondering how much of it has to do with them offering the most capable free version out of any page builder.
I don't think every plugin should offer a free version, but it seems to be working in Elementor's favor.
You can check out Jack's full post here: https://wpfusion.com/news/2021-in-review/
You can read my blog post on it here.
🍃 Could full-site editing make ThemeForest themes relevant again?
*Editor's note: After writing this section, I realized I'm not totally settled on where I was going with it. Rather than deleting it, consider it my random thought of the day 🙂.
If you're reading this newsletter, it's probably been a while since you last touched a theme from ThemeForest.
They were incredibly popular among web devs five years ago, but lost their way when WPBakery stopped innovating and better solutions like Elementor and Oxygen came out.
In an attempt to keep up with the times, we then saw some themes integrate with Elementor Free.
This was always a clunky relationship, because most themes were just replicating the functionality Elementor Pro already offers. They'd also bundle in a bunch of extra plugins to add more value to their offer.
Now that WordPress' first iteration of full-site editing is out, I wonder if the major themes from the past have a chance of coming full-cycle.
Artbees just announced Jupiter X2 (Jupiter was my go-to theme before Oxygen).
It's still heavily integrated with Elementor, but they mention using WordPress' FSE as opposed to needing Elementor's theme builder.
It seems like they'd eventually like to do away with using a third-party page builder if they could.
I still think Gutenberg is years away from being a good alternative, but if one day the major themes are able to fully utilize FSE and the Block Editor, maybe they could once again become a relevant option for the modern web developer?
📝 A website best practices checklist
Kevin Geary from Digital Ambition put together a pretty epic website building checklist.
There are a lot of advanced things on there that I'd imagine aren't super obvious to the average web designer.
It's mostly targeted towards Oxygen users, but even if you're using a different page builder, most of these still apply.
I know big long lists like this can be daunting, but don't feel like you need to check every single box.
If you don't have every section perfectly structured, it's not the end of the world!
And a lot of what you should include in your website builds depends on the type of client you're working with.
Ultimately, lists like this can help you follow best practices, produce higher quality work, and give you the confidence to work with higher paying clients.
You can check out the full checklist here.
💬 Closing Comments
That's all for this week. Hopefully you enjoyed the newsletter!
If you ever want to discuss any of these topics, I post a dedicated thread each week inside of the NewPulse Labs Facebook group.
You can also suggest any topics you think I should cover there, so be sure to join 🙂
Stay warm and talk soon.