As of the last year, WordPress is responsible for almost a third of all sites on the web. The reason, of course, has to do with the ease of using themes that someone else has created. As a result, discussing trends within this platform pretty much determines how much the internet itself will look and behave.
So let’s take a look at a few interesting developments which are coming down the pike for this year.
First of all before we get to anything else, a new major version of WordPress has just been released, which is always a pretty big deal. The way of managing content on the back-end is changing drastically. The Gutenberg block editor enables people to create customized blocks of content, which can be edited directly on the page, and reorganized, in a way that is much closer to the way people think. Also as a result of these blocks, it will become easier to create interesting new themes, including for those without as much programming experience.
WordPress REST API
The WordPress REST API will make it a lot easier for developers to connect data from a blog or website with other external resources. This is particularly useful for firms that no longer want to be wedded to the PHP that is the inherent backbone to WordPress. With the use of the API, developers can theoretically manage your backend with the well-known WordPress CMS, but use an entirely different, and potentially faster front end. The API will enable integrating WordPress’ backend with other potentially faster frameworks such as Django, Ruby on Rails, or Go.
Yes, these have been around for a while, and there’s nothing particularly new about the “mobile-first” philosophy. However, the grids offered in frameworks such as bootstrap are starting to become a lot more popular, where the layouts of many sites are moving beyond traditional newsprint models The easy-to-use functioning that comes with the popular Bootstrap framework (which has, since its creation, emphasized “mobile first”) will likely find its way into more and more themes.
They are those little callouts asking you if you have any questions are starting to become much more common. Chatbots that are integrated with WordPress will help many businesses provide better customer support. Many of these integrate well with well known CRM (such as Infusionsoft, or Salesforce), and will help website owners to keep a record of contacts and use them as lead-builders.
All those emojis you are seeing in places like Facebook, where you can pick ones associated with moods? Those are starting to appear in far more places. People have moved far beyond simply giving a “thumbs up” and want to express a responses, without actually having to type anything. These are not about to lose steam any time soon. You’ll see more of these.
However there’s more to these than emojis. You can do things like select text and share it on various social media platforms. Expect these sorts of things to appear in a lot of WordPress sites.
If you are a graphic designer, or have some quality members of your staff itching to demonstrate their illustration abilities, there are new themes are cropping up which allow designers to be able to hone their graphical skills, and are designed specifically for that market. These themes tend not to be “ready-to-go” out of the box, but can create a nice pallet for designers wishing to flex their creative muscles. (Example)
Simple designs are becoming more and more popular. This is in contrast (and possibly a reaction to) flashy video and sound-driven sites dominating much of the online world. Amid the noise, a simple clean design feels very refreshing. Beyond the graphic appeal, these pages will load much faster, vastly improving at least one type of user experience.
Rich Color Combinations
In contrast to the minimalist approach mentioned above, there will also likely be many more colorful themes appearing. It used to be limited to the 216-256 pallet of “websafe” colors. CSS3 makes it possible to apply full gradients and levels of saturation that were previously only available by using tools such as photoshop. Themes making use of this functionality are making it possible to create much subtler color blends to match individual tastes and styles.
As a developer you may notice that the technology behind many of these trends has existed for some time. This may have something to do with the space between technological capability and usability of the tools. As new enhancements occur for WordPress, expect that gap to narrow. If you’re building new WordPress sites, it’s worth your while to look over some of these, particularly the functionality available from the source itself. It will be interesting to see what crops up as a result.