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Biden Administration Chooses to Stick with WordPress CMS to Launch White House website

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With a change in administration comes a new website, and after Joe Biden was sworn in on Wednesday, Jan. 20, the brand new White House website Whitehouse.gov made its debut. The previous administration switched from Drupal to WordPress in 2017, and the technologists working with the Biden administration decided to stick with the same CMS.

In keeping with the multilingual and accessibility features implemented on the Biden-Harris transition team’s website, whitehouse.gov was launched with buttons for contrast and font size, as well as a Spanish language selector. The relaunched site also includes an accessibility statement with a commitment from the administration to work toward compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.1, Level AA.

Much of the content and design of the transition website has been preserved. The transition site now redirects to whitehouse.gov, while links to the former administration’s pages result in a 404 page with a link to archived presidential websites.

Astute observers may notice that the typography has been updated from the transition site, reversing the Mercury and Decimal fonts. Hoefler & Co, the font design firm that created these fonts for Biden’s 2020 campaign, tweeted about how “the Mercury serif looked more like the voice of the institution. Decimal sans-serif works more in a supporting role on the site.

Some Web professionals have noticed that the site has fairly decent scores on Lighthouse, an open source, automated tool for measuring Web page quality. It can be run on any web page, public or requiring authentication. Google Lighthouse checks the performance, accessibility and search engine optimization of web pages.

Under the hood, the curious noticed in the code an advertisement for the US Digital Service (USDS), the group of technologists that manages many of the federal government’s public digital services.

In addition to the USDS message, the site’s source code includes a link to the US government’s analytics program at analytics.usa.gov. Tim Lowden, who manages the federal government’s aggregated web analytics initiative, said the data is available for the first time since late 2017.

The analytics service records more than 2.5 billion page views on federal government websites each month. The data is publicly available, but it does not track individuals and anonymizes visitors’ IP addresses. The analytics service displays information about visitors’ devices, browsers, operating systems and location, broken down into cities and countries. Many of those visiting the site today are from countries other than the United States.

WordPress usage is exploding

At the end of December 2020, the W3Techs Barometer reported that WordPress CMS usage continued to grow: the CMS was used on 39.5 percent of websites worldwide as of December 29, 2020.

W3Techs explores the top 10 million websites determined by Amazon’s Alexa rating service and seeks to determine what technologies they leverage. Detailed reports are sold on its findings. But W3Techs also offers public data on its findings. These are usually offered in the form of a chart that comes to show the percentages of websites using various content management systems.

This time, W3Techs has offered annual statistics from 2011 to 2020.

Right off the bat, it says that on December 29, 2020, 38.4% of sites are not using a CMS. The information is interesting, because on January 1 of the same year, the percentage of sites not using a CMS was higher than the percentage of sites using WordPress (43.1% and 35.4% respectively).

Shopify, which was still in third place at the beginning of 2020, moved into second place with 3.2 percent usage share. Joomla dropped to third place with 2.2 percent usage share. Drupal, meanwhile, retained its fourth position with 1.5% usage share.

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