Who doesn’t want to start their Monday morning by finding out which content management system (CMS) celebrities use on their websites? I blame the full moon – well kinda. I didn’t sleep well last night so naturally spent a couple of hours designing my dream home extension and planning this blog post. When I mentioned it to my barista/friend, he said that the full moon is to blame. Damn you, moon.
This blog article has actually been on my mind for years. It started back when I was in big(ish) agency world, and dealt with clients who visibly balked at the idea of having a website built on WordPress. “Isn’t that for blogging?”, “I think my niece uses that for her Twilight fanfic”, eugh.
Despite powering around 30% of the internet, and being the fastest growing CMS over the past 8 years, there has always been an awful lot of snobbery around this simple and scalable platform.
However, I knew the clients I worked with were all about the ego. When tasked with the job of selling the WordPress solution, I knew I had to demonstrate how the biggest and the best loved WordPress too.
If it’s good enough for Queen Bey, it’s good enough for [insert local accounting practice]
That line was literally all I needed. Through some not-very-hardcore Googling, I found that Beyoncé powered her website with WordPress. I can’t find the article now which legit breaks my heart, but it’s amazing how quickly you can convince a managing director head of marketing when you name drop a real-life Goddess.
“If it’s good enough for Queen Bey, there’s no way I could handle it”
My marketing agency, Studio Cotton, builds every new website on WordPress. I’m still a massive advocate of the platform (because it’s the tits) and always recommend that any small business owner with even an inkling of technical know-how and a smidgen of patience, gives it a proper good go.
But because life is life, for every medium enterprise or local accountancy practice who didn’t think WordPress was good enough for their brand, I’ve probably met 5 small creative business owners who hate on the platform for being confusing, time-consuming and too darn technical.
Poor WordPress can’t win. Except it totes is winning all the time, remember I said it powers like 30% of the Internet.
Back to the celebrities and their CMS choices
Damn you, moon. I had that Beyoncé line running through my head when I woke this morning, and I just had to find out if that was still true – and also find out what CMS platforms are most popular with modern celebrities.
After my morning chat with my wonderful friend/barista, I headed to the studio, set out some rules, and went web-stalking.
You can’t have fun without criteria, disclaimers and rules
I am a riot at parties.
I used the free Chrome extension Wappylzer to review the tech behind just over 60 celebrity websites. It would have been more but I got bored and hungry. If Wappylzer couldn’t pick up the CMS, I counted the site as ‘Unknown’ – even if I could probably work it out from the code. Gotta level the playing field and all that jazz.
I only counted websites that were about the human celebrity person, their activities (like upcoming shows) or word art things (shoutout to Billie Eilish). This discounted straight-up ecommerce websites, like Kim Kardashian West with her beauty line, Serena Williams’ clothing store, Karamo Brown’s bomber jacket emporium, and Ellen DeGeneres’ own version of YouTube.
I excluded anyone who was clearly sponsored by their website platform of choice, like Idris Elba, John Malkovich and Keanu Reeves for Squarespace, and Jonathan Van Ness with Wix.
For this reason, I also didn’t include any YouTubers or drag performers as Squarespace sponsorship is prolific in their communities.
And here’s the disclaimer. As a 32 year-old straight white British woman, I might have a very different idea of who is a celebrity to you, the lovely person reading this. And yes, that is the real reason I didn’t include YouTubers.
Lastly, it seems like actors don’t really have websites (unless ofc they’re sponsored by Squarespace) so my celebs are basically all musicians, comedians and the cast of Queer Eye, excluding Karamo and JVN.
I analysed the results in an Excel pivot table which I remembered how to use all by myself. That’s a flat-out lie, I actually followed this YouTube video from the past.
I was actually pretty surprised by the lack of variety in content management systems for celebrity websites. Of those detected by Wappylzer, I only found 6 different platforms – WordPress, Drupal, Squarespace, Dreamweaver, ExpressionEngine and WIX.
WIX then fell off my charts as the only user was the glorious Jonathan Van Ness as his podcast is often sponsored by WIX. I hate WIX almost as much as I love JVN, so have very conflicting feelings here.
30% of sites had undetectable content management systems, most of which were musicians who were probably all doing something cool and arty with their code.
A tale of 3 platforms
WordPress was pretty uniformly popular across professions with 62% of Comedians, 47% of Musicians, and 50% + of the others.
Drupal, a less used but hella robust CMS, was pretty dang popular – but only with musicians. All 7 Drupal users fell into the musician category, which probably means some record company somewhere has a big ol’ exclusive contract with a Drupal website provider.
BTW – RuPaul doesn’t use Drupal, which seems like a MASSIVE collaboration opportunity missed. C’mon fellas/ladies/queers/queens/everything in between.
Squarespace.com may only power 1.6% of the internet, but it powers 23% of my celeb’s sites. Most popular with comedians (47%) and Lorde, creatives are giving the Green Light to this platform built for Royals. I love Lorde.
Wildcard website platforms for rebels
I don’t know about you, but when I imagine the biggest celebrity rebels, I always think of acclaimed comedian, actor and rat voice, Patton Oswalt, and literal hero and recent triple-doubler gymnast Simone Biles.
I’m a little in love with Oswalt’s OMG-he-hasn’t-updated-his-website-since-2014-oh-no-wait-he-has-and-he’s-still-going-with-that-ok-sure vibe. It’s both a relic and a mess, dead and up-to-date, ugly and still ugly. This babe of a site uses Adobe Dreamweaver, looks to be at least 7 years old and has a site credit for Mission Media, who for some reason are missing this bad boy off their portfolio.
EDIT: I’ve been asked by my husband (and Studio Cotton’s technical director) Alex to clarify that Dreamweaver isn’t technically a website platform, it’s just a designer. It spews out some code that you can then pop on the internet somewhere.
In conclusion, me, Rihanna, Hasan Minhaj and Megan Rapinoe all agree on what’s best
WordPress is the most popular website content management system among people named Aime Cox-Tennant and celebrities. My favourite platform is flexible, scalable, sexy, and some other positive adjectives.
Big businesses shouldn’t be put off by a tech solution embraced by the most popular people on the planet, and small businesses should reach for the stars, literally, and take advantage of a website solution that’s open to literally everyone.
Appendix (hehe, dix) 1: Full results
|George W Bush||Politics||Unknown|
|Lil Nas X||Musician||Unknown|