The New Rules of Cool: Retooling the Top 20 Most Popular Software Reports

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Capterra has been ranking the Top 20 Most Popular since 2011, and we’ve decided it’s time for an update.


As of today, we’ve launched a brand new scoring system and design for our reports across four software markets. We’ll continue to launch this new scoring and design (seen below, left) in tandem with the regularly scheduled updates across all of our Top 20 markets over the next several months.


What is the Top 20 Most Popular Series about?

The Top 20 Most Popular Software Series is exactly what it sounds like: a report ranking the top vendors in a software market according to the number of customers, users, and social presence. It seeks to answer one of the most common questions software buyers ask when beginning their search, “which is the most popular option?” We chose to rank the top 20, however, because the most popular isn’t always the best fit.

You may already be familiar with our methodology for ranking the Top 20 Most Popular vendors in some of our biggest software categories. But if you’d like to read a little more in-depth, here is more information.

What makes this report different?

Most reports on the market use revenue as a primary metric to determine market share, which gives an advantage to higher-priced software solutions. Our report forgoes revenue data in favor of “people metrics.”

Capterra’s Most Popular Report is the only report–online or offline–which provides key data points on users and customers, determining market share based on how many people and businesses use the software. In Capterra’s experience working with software buyers, this is the true popularity metric buyers want to understand about the market before making a purchase decision. This is real data that we collect from the software vendors themselves.

We use a unique Popularity algorithm to score vendors on their overall software reach. The algorithm produces a weighted score based 40% on number of customers, 40% on number of users, and 20% social presence.

Our general process has not changed with this redesign, and the reports are still open to all vendors in the space. The vendors provide customer and user numbers directly. However, if a vendor is unable to submit the data, we provide our own estimates based on public information, industry averages, and other market reports. We trust our vendors to submit accurate information, but if anything looks inflated or suspicious, we investigate to ensure that the numbers we receive reasonably represent that vendor’s business.

So what did we change?

You’ll immediately notice we gave the page a facelift, added more color, and refreshed the design.

The biggest change, however, is the addition of our Market score. This number is a simplified representation of their market share. It is taking a complex measurement, non-revenue based market share, and converting it into a score out of 100. The closer a vendor’s score is to 100, the more that vendor has market dominance.

Under the bars, we now display all of the raw data that goes into the calculation. This is for the sake of complete clarity. We want to be as transparent as possible, and this is another step to be even more upfront about what numbers are going into the ranking

The social element (20% of the total score) was previously made up of 6 metrics. We have removed 2 of them and made up the difference in weight with the remaining 4 metrics. Our social presence portion now includes: Facebook likes, Twitter followers, LinkedIn followers, and number of Capterra reviews.


Why does it matter?

Our goal is to be as helpful as possible to software buyers.

The added transparency of the Market Score to the popularity reports provides the buyer a more informative picture of the market; buyers are now not only able to see the order in which the solutions are ranked in terms of popularity, but just how close to one another the solutions are. For example, in a heavily divided market, the market score would show buyers that while the solutions are ranked from first to twentieth by popularity, the twentieth solution is within striking distance of the top solution.

We also updated our scoring metrics to give a more accurate picture of the market, using a more modern set of measures to determine the most influential systems. Some metrics that were important when we first launched in 2011 are less relevant to the market (in our opinion), and thus no longer necessary as indicators within the market. By updating our social scoring, we’re able to provide a better picture of today’s market to today’s buyer.

I’d love to hear what you think of the update. And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments, or reach out to

Looking for software? Check out Capterra's list of the best software solutions.

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About the Author


Michael Ortner

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Mike started Capterra in 1999 as the first website dedicated to helping people find the right software for their business. Today, Capterra lists over 30,000 software companies, displays more than 250,000 software reviews, and receives over 3,000,000 monthly visitors. He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Fox News, and Inc. Magazine, among other publications, where he's spoken on topics ranging from the business software industry to running and growing a business in the 21st century. Mike received a business degree from Georgetown University and a philosophy degree from the University of London. He lives in McLean, VA with his wife and six children.


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