TL; DR: Since 2009, W3Techs has been on a mission to provide an extensive source of unbiased data on web technologies and their usage. The site, which helps tech journalists and business executives alike make more informed, data-driven decisions, provides regularly updated and highly accurate information. With information across 24 categories — from content management systems to web servers — W3Techs is one of the industry’s most extensive and reliable resources on tech usage available today.
As a tech writer, it can be challenging to wade through the fog of fact pollution — made up of sponsored content, thinly (or thickly) veiled advertisements, and opinion pieces — before finding clear, unbiased information online.
So when I got the opportunity to learn more about W3Techs, I was excited. The site is one of my most trusted resources for market research and surveys on popular content management systems, server-side programming languages, and hosting providers. It’s a place I know I can turn to for tech stats without having to worry about ulterior motives.
According to Matthias Gelbmann, Founder and Owner of W3Techs, a commitment to high levels of accuracy set the site apart from its competition. It also doesn’t hurt that Mattias is a self-proclaimed perfectionist.
“I believe it’s important to have the most accurate statistics you can get,” he told us. “Our strong point is that, whereas others concentrate on providing leads for marketing purposes, we focus on providing accurate statistics. Our company has no affiliation with any of the technology providers that we cover in our surveys.”
Its monthly market reports, available at an affordable rate as single reports or monthly subscriptions, contain more in-depth information, including historical trends, growth rates, and new site usage, among other data. Journalists, business executives, and tech leaders alike can reference this data, whether they’re using it to report on the top web hosting providers or using it to make informed, data-driven business decisions.
Providing Insight into Web Presence Tools Since 2009
W3Techs came to life as a spinoff from a project that Q-Success, a provider of software management consulting, was working on more than 10 years ago.
“We were tasked with selecting a content management system for our customers, and we needed to know which were the most popular overall and in our area,” Matthias said. “But at the time, there weren’t many statistics on this topic — not reliable ones, anyway.”
So Q-Success took the responsibility of gathering the data on its own. In 2009, once the company had assembled a full dataset, it published the information online — and never stopped adding to it.
“We started with five categories, including content management systems, operating systems, and programming languages,” Matthias said. “Now, we have 24 categories and are working on two or three more to be published later this year.”
Surveys examine the technologies used by the top 10 million websites on either the Alexa top 10 million or Tranco top 1 million list to provide a representative sample of established sites. The company does not consider subdomains as separate websites and omits redirected domains from its data.
All reports are updated daily, and W3Techs clearly lays out all possible limitations to its methodology to ensure transparency.
Survey-Based Statistics Across 24 Tech Categories
W3Techs boasts a broad value proposition. In addition to serving as a great resource for media outlets, the site offers a look at market trends that’s valuable for businesses doing research on competition. The company’s web technology market reports are especially useful for market research because they present a detailed picture of each technology broken down into multiple variables.
For example, the W3Techs Content Management Systems Market Report — a nearly 9,000-page PDF with easy-to-navigate hierarchical bookmarks — covers a wide range of information. In addition to a list of the more than 650 content management systems W3Techs monitors, the report includes information on the popularity of each system, changes over time, and current growth rates.
The report also includes a list of sites that do not use the content management systems the company monitors, popular systems based on market segmentation, and data on geographical distribution.
“For example, you may know that WordPress is used by 35.7% of all sites, representing a market share of 63.1%,” Matthias said. “But those numbers are extremely different across different markets. The data on WordPress in Canada isn’t the same as Russia or South Africa.”
And, because the company has more than a decade of experience tracking data, it’s easy to see how trends have changed over the years. “We can show you what’s growing more or less popular, what combinations are becoming more or less popular, and so on,” Matthias said.
Committed to Providing Updated, Highly Accurate Information
While W3Techs acknowledges that providing 100% accurate data on web technology usage is an impossible feat, the company aims to be as precise as it can.
“There is no way to be absolutely sure not to get some errors in technology identification,” W3Techs states on its website. “We try to find ways to balance the false-positives and the false-negatives (after eliminating as many as possible), and we try to make sure that none of the remaining errors are clustering on one technology rather than another.”
When tracking information on hosting providers, for example, Matthias said that what may seem like a simple question — Who is hosting this site? — can send a researcher down a rabbit hole. For example, a developer who creates WordPress sites for his customers may say he’s hosting their sites for them, but does that make him a hosting provider? In many cases, no.
“Perhaps he doesn’t own any servers — he just rents five of them from a hosting company,” he said. “The company that provides those servers could be the hosting provider — but what if they don’t have any servers, either? What if they rent their servers from a data center?”
What starts as a simple question doesn’t always lead to a simple answer, but W3Techs has found ways to take such complexities into account. To further illustrate this, Matthias pointed to Cloudflare, which offers a managed DNS service.
“If a site uses a DNS like Cloudflare, the IP address behind the site makes it look like the site is hosted by Cloudflare, but it’s not,” he said. “So we have a separate category for reverse proxies, and we don’t combine it with our hosting provider statistics because that’s misleading. We would rather provide good answers than simple ones that are inaccurate.”
Additional Perks via Registration
Users can sign up with W3Techs for free to enjoy several advantages, including registering as the webmaster of their sites.
Once complete, users can receive quality alerts, request a recrawl of their sites, subscribe to a monthly survey email, participate in forum discussions, and make proposals for technologies to be covered in future surveys.
Between these resources, the company’s surveys, and its in-depth market reports, W3Techs is one of the industry’s most extensive and reliable resources on tech usage available today.
“We provide the full picture,” Matthias said.