The Future of WordPress

Apr 16 2014 by Marko Heijnen | 12 Comments

Starting with just a simple line of code 11 years ago, WordPress has evolved to become the platform of more than 74 million websites.

Even with a vast array of competitors offering similar functionality, WordPress still dominates the CMS market with a 21.9% market share.

I have had a more detailed look at WordPress than most.

I have contributed to 6 releases of WordPress, including work in the XML-RPC API (in 3.4) and WP_Image_Editor class (in 3.5). I have also been involved in an upcoming release (3.9).

As we look toward the future of WordPress, it is important to evaluate current practices and trends within the WordPress user base, as well as the industry as a whole.

Comparison of WordPress.org home page

In this article, I will discuss my predictions and opinions regarding the future of WordPress.

Moving with Demands

Recently, the demand for advanced features has been increasing as more and more developers are using WordPress to build mobile apps and complex e-commerce websites.

While WordPress already delivers many solutions for advanced use-cases, changes in consumer behavior will consistently affect the demand for unique plugins and ongoing enhancements.

WordPress as a Mobile App Backend

The uptake of mobile technologies is on the rise. 58% of adults in the U.S. currently have smartphones according to the Pew Research Internet Project.

Emerging solutions such as the AppPresser plugin — a finalist in the 6 About to Break competition at MacWorld 2014 — are allowing users to create mobile apps using WordPress.

This current consumer trend towards mobile presents an opportunity for WordPress to capitalize on the shift toward mobile development.

By incorporating a RESTful application programming interface (API), current WordPress apps could be supported, as well as mobile apps that use WordPress as a backend.

WordPress as a Development Framework

WordPress has been placing a large focus on providing the best user experience possible. And, in my opinion, it has succeeded in this goal.

Moving forward, I see the concentration shifting toward evolving WordPress into a full CMS and application framework.

Right now, WordPress does a splendid job as a content publishing platform, as evidenced by its use by the major online magazines, journals, and blogs. Time magazine, CNN, Forbes.com, Wired, and TechCrunch are just a few examples of web properties that rely on WordPress.

However, more complicated use-cases like online stores, mobile app development, and web app development require plugins, heavy customization, and development.

The next step is to evolve the platform to make it a more robust CMS/app framework that can make more complicated use-cases easier to produce for developers.

Dealing with Legacy Code

While the system currently offers users a wide range of features and possibilities, WordPress will update its legacy code and deliver new APIs to ideally fit the needs of web developers.

If an emphasis is placed on this area, the biggest challenge will be streamlining the codebase while building a solution that ensures backwards compatibility.

Considering the first version was released over 10 years ago, achieving this objective is likely to be quite a huge undertaking.

Where WordPress Doesn’t Need to Change

The past few years of success have truly proven the knowledge, experience and passion found within the WordPress community.

We have worked together to accomplish great milestones and made the impressive strides that have advanced WordPress to become the most popular Web platform across the globe.

The WordPress community will play a large role in the continual development of the platform to best suit its users’ needs.

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About the Author


Marko Heijnen is a 1&1 WordPress specialist and a contributor to the WordPress community. He’s had a hand in developing 6 releases (3.0, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, and 3.8) and the upcoming 3.9. Some notable contributions include working on XML-RPC API and WP_Image_Editor. He’s also the main core developer for GlotPress and is currently creating a better open source tool for translations. As a 1&1 WordPress specialist, Marko is committed to improving the platform by contributing back to the community. Visit his site markoheijnen.com and follow him on Twitter: @m arkoheijnen.

12 Comments

Steve

April 16th, 2014

I feel there are some conflicting items in here that need clarity:

1) WordPress is so successful because it has kept things extremely simple. It has caught the designers attention because you can create a nice design and theme it easily.

2) WordPress is in a stuck state. It will always ever only be a blog with other items bolten on. The principal of WordPress being a framework is laughable at best. WordPress is built on basic global PHP, with hardly any OOP. It’s frankly a mess. Other than the nice admin interface, WordPress doesn’t offer anything but pain for a developer to try to make WordPress into an app. Yes it’s great at some content sites with some basic extra’s. I would not put my startup on WordPress.

3) By trying to change WordPress to be an application framework, WordPress will dump everything they have been building up to this point. They have a reputation for being simple, and the code is easy to understand because you don’t need to grasp OOP. If WordPress is to change, like how Drupal 8 is changing into a framework, they will have a very difficult challenge.

4) There are so many good options for building apps out there today people are simply leaving for new technologies. Entirely new languages have been developed and dont’ think “WordPress” right away. Use the right tool for the right job. If you’re building a REST backend only, WordPress is a horrible fit.

5) We’re already seeing WordPress.com – the service that generates a profit having things the community version will never have. If anything I can put my money on that. It would be wise to avoid all the hosting hassles for customers and have Automattic take care of that along with service.

Cadu de Castro Alves

April 16th, 2014

Hi Marko!

I’m a early adopter WordPress using it since 2003. In the past 6 months, I built two mobile apps using WP as a backend (basically, using the JSON-API plugin). Both of them fully native (iOS and Android).

The experience in both projects was amazing to me and the team involved in because everything related to content management was much more easy.

In my opinion, mobile apps (native and hybrid) will be the next big trend in the WP market. I’m putting all my efforts on it.

In May 19th, I’ll have a talk at WordCamp Belo Horizonte on it. It will be recorded and should be published at WordPress.tv. Would you like to be notified? =)

Best wishes for you!

Tim

April 17th, 2014

Can they please give us a checkbox on the settings page to disable auto-updating?

Tim

April 21st, 2014

Version 3.9 is a step in the wrong direction. Not just my opinion either. Check out the comments section here: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/04/17/what-you-need-to-know-about-wordpress-3-9/

Mark Wilston

April 22nd, 2014

Its very true that support of wordpress community can’t be denied in the success of wordpress as a whole. In future as well, wordpress community is going to play a major role in success of wordpress

Shawn Rubel

April 24th, 2014

It’s us, ourselves, who over-complicate the simple things. It’s one of the reasons why there are so many bootstrapped frameworks being relased out in the open, to give developers a chance to learn and explore.

Brian

April 27th, 2014

Fully agreed on your final acknowledgement. The WordPress development community has undergone just as an important and impressive progression as the platform itself. Only bigger and better things are in the future…

UAE Studio

April 29th, 2014

If wordpress continues to keep things simple and clean as it has done until now, and offer more free and quality themes, it could even win a greater share of market in the future…

Swapnil

April 30th, 2014

Hey Marko Heijnen,
I am using WordPress from 2 years and its very awesome platform for blogging. WordPress community is going to be the best blogging platform in the future.
Because of having so many themes and plugins it has been growing so fast.
Developers are also earning well by developing plugins and themes.
Thanks for sharing such nice post bro.

James

May 12th, 2014

I started using WordPress in 2007 or so, hadn’t seen that 2003 screenshot before. Thanks for the interesting post and do agree with Steve on the framework side, hope it steers away.

We use the excellent Advanced Custom Fields on most projects, but really tend not to go too much deeper, as its feels like going against the grain and not as light to work in as a true framework.

Either way, its a great community and hope that continues.

Serkan

May 15th, 2014

Totally agree. It can only get better. I use WordPress for nearly every website I build. Plug-ins saves so much time and easy dashboard is such a great thing for clients. They use it with ease and we get the good points :)

Srikar

May 16th, 2014

I started using WordPress 2 years ago, comparing now and then, WordPress has evolved hugely, in the future may be 3 years from now WordPress can completely knock off its competitors

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