08-20-2018, Web Development
by Bartosz Bielecki
Where is WordPress Headed in 5 Years?
WordPress has been the go-to Content Management System (CMS) for years. With the constant changes to web development, however, can the future hold a major overhaul in the approach to web content creation and management? After all, we’ve seen popular technologies, like flash animations, die out and get replaced with new ones.
WordPress (WP) is currently by far the most dominant software for web content management. Over 27% of the modern web runs on WordPress. Take that for data!
Fancy some more numbers? WP has over 60% of the CMS market share (more than its main competitors, Joomla and Drupal, combined). All pages built with WordPress get a staggering 175 million views per month. Moreover, 40% of all online stores are powered by WooCommerce, WP’s add-on for e-commerce.
All pages built with WordPress get a staggering 175 million views per month
Why is WordPress so big? Because it can suit your needs no matter what they are. WP powers high-traffic e-commerce sites, pages of large enterprises and blogs of both influencers and blogger-wannabes.
They all use this software as it is very intuitive and simple to use, especially for adding new content. In most cases, it doesn’t even require creators to know the basics of HTML. WordPress made publishing content online a piece of cake that anyone with rudimentary computer skills is capable of.
But WordPress doesn’t only make things easy for content creators and managers. It’s an easy way to set up a website from scratch.
Once you get a domain and hosting, you simply download and install WP. It can be done directly from your hosting management dashboard.
Then you have to select a theme for your WordPress, either a free one or a paid one. After installing a theme in WP, customize it to your needs and start creating unique content. It’s as simple as that.
Of course, setting up WordPress so it fulfills all your needs requires both time and knowledge of the software. There are millions of themes and plugins that make WP customizable. Each of them can have its own set of settings. You can always hire an interactive agency to set everything up for you. It won’t cost you much and will save you tons of time. Once set up, you are able to add, edit and manage content easily.
WordPress templates are an easy and quick fix.
However, if you need an original product and a highly customizable web presence, you will be better off with a custom website that uses WordPress as an engine.
We have a vast portfolio of such projects, including one we delivered for Aon, one of the largest enterprises in the world.
Do not hesitate to reach out if you need guidance when it comes to web development.
The Ongoing Evolution of WordPress
WordPress was first launched in 2003 and has been undergoing constant developments ever since. Let’s see what its history tells us.
The first public version, the 0.7, as you can imagine was extremely basic. It wasn’t until the 1.0 version that users could even use permalinks, categorization or moderate comments.
Plugins(!), post previews and subcategories were introduced soon after, but we had to wait until 2005 and WordPress 1.5 to see themes that could differentiate WP sites.
Other today-essential tools, like widgets, user roles, autosaving, tags and the ability to switch between visual and text editing were introduced in the following three years.
In December 2008, WordPress’s dashboard finally started to look similar to today’s version. In 2010 developers were able to vastly expand WP’s customization capabilities, thanks to the integration with a few more APIs.
The 3.1 version brought us the familiar admin bar at the top of managed WP pages. In December 2013, WP’s dashboard interface underwent further changes, making it look pretty much the same as we know it today. Later iterations brought upgrades like distraction-free writing, menus edits in customizers, and the possibility to use video headers for websites.
At the moment of writing this post (which of course I’m doing in WordPress), WP community is awaiting the 5.0 version, codenamed Gutenberg. The update is going to bring us a revolutionary new text editor, called (you guessed it) – Gutenberg.
As the folks responsible for WordPress are saying, “the editor will endeavor to create a new page and post building experience that makes writing rich posts effortless and has ‘blocks’ to make it easy what today might take shortcodes, custom HTML, or ‘mystery meat’ embed discovery.”
This quote may not explain a whole lot, but the video below will certainly help you better understand the content creation process using the newly introduced blocks.
And here’s another example of Gutenberg in action, this time used for e-commerce purposes:
All of this shows us that WordPress has been developed by a group of dedicated professionals. The updates over the years made it easier and easier to adapt, and greatly expanded its customization abilities.
With time, also more and more plugins and themes were created. You can now browse through millions of themes to make sure your site stands out.
What Does the Future Hold for WordPress?
Let’s get this off the table: WordPress isn’t going anywhere but forward in the foreseeable future. The percentage of WP-powered sites continues to grow, and so does its CMS market share.
People are devoting more time to the development of the entire WordPress ecosystem. New theme stores open every month, new updates are planned and introduced regularly, and finally, new people get hired all around the globe to fill the roles connected to CMS.
Whether they are content creators, managers, web developers or support people, companies ranging from small startups to large enterprises keep investing in WordPress-related positions. Even with the ongoing marketing automation and the developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence that starts to replace journalism, these people will stay relevant, as WordPress’s impact on web content is still enormous.
The introduction of WordPress 5.0 will require those people to invest time mastering the new editor. It simply won’t be worth it to suddenly jump to a new, unproven solution for web content management, even if such pops up in the coming years.
Moreover, I could see WordPress becoming even bigger than it is now. The recent additions of internal stock photo library, podcasting support, and save for later option might indicate that WordPress is going towards a one-stop-shop for web content consumption.
Just with these three additions, WP is taking steps to turn three popular services obsolete (think Shutterstock, SoundCloud, and Pocket). I predict more changes like that to come with the future iterations. What do you think WP could bring to replace even more services? Audio library? Maybe a paywall solution for seamless pay-per-view experience? Take your guess!
But WP’s evolution certainly won’t be just about expanding its capabilities, but also about simplifying the experience for people who use it professionally.
For instance, the previous addition of distraction-free writing and the upcoming Gutenberg editor certainly make life easier for content writers. More features that will make content creation, optimization, and management effortless are expected to come.
WP will also make things more interesting for the developers. The recent inclusion of REST API already allowed them to connect WordPress with virtually any application to power non-WP frontend. So be on a lookout for more dynamic web experiences.
Finally, just get ready for more of the same. Even the biggest players start to migrate to WordPress. Just look at the cases of Microsoft and Greenpeace. We’re going to see more WP pages and more themes and plugins that will also get translated into even more languages.
WordPress Is Here to Stay. It’s High Time You Invest in It
Companies and brands all across the world keep investing in WordPress. It’s a huge sign that this solution for web content management isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s going to grow even larger.
Its history shows us that the ongoing developments keep making content creation and consumption better at every angle. The recent and planned updates point toward a brand new WordPress experience, which large brands, like Microsoft have already noticed.
But like with everything related to web development, if you’re going to invest in WordPress, do so with an agency that sees the future and can make your website ready for the years to come.