Episode 036: Does WordPress need to grow? The Future of WordPress I

Aired: 11/01/2016

The Future of WordPress is filled with many different paths to take. Right now WordPress powers over 25% of the Internet, and that is amazing. Somewhere along the lines a 50% goal was set and we wanted to ask why. Why does it need to grow? And if it does, how does it do that?

Mass vs Niche Appeal

WordPress has always been unique in that as it has evolved, it has always been true to itself. This has really helped the community itself flourish, and brought in 3 big target demographics. The user or person who uses WordPress to power their site (bloggers, journalists, etc.), the designers & implementors who sells their services to build websites without using much code, and the developers who build themes and plugins from scratch. In no other tech community will you find these 3 demographics at the same conference, usually tech conferences are geared towards the developer, while marketing and small business conferences appeal the other two. Moving into the Future of WordPress we may see a shift, because it is already happening.

New CMS’s are hitting the market and are using newer technologies as well as refreshed UI/UX that really cater to one individual group. For example a CMS focused on the user target may refresh their UI so it looks and feels better for adding and editing content. They can also modify the dashboard to show what users care about more, instead of being a catch-all dashboard for every user. Things like visitor analytics, share counts, etc. can really help a user or blogger with their site. Not saying that is not available with WordPress and some plugins, but it isn’t out of the box. Medium is a good example of a new tool that is taking users away from WordPress as it may be easier to use, and overall is a better experience for the content creator.

There are many examples of newer technology based platforms also appealing greater to the younger developers, something that the WordPress community is lacking. Newer technology that doesn’t need to be backwards compatible to the standard of 10 years ago, means college-aged developers are more likely to learn to use it. Currently WordPress doesn’t really appeal to this younger generation, more-so the “second-career” developers, which aren’t really what WordPress needs to grow to that 50% goal.

The Talent & Project

One thing that Carl brought up in the episode is that WordPress needs to appeal to younger developers. He mentioned what he saw at WordPress Miami, a KidCamp, or a room dedicated to teaching kids about WordPress. This is a great idea because if even 1-2 enjoy it enough to continue, that could potentially help the community grow in the long term.

Legacy Project

Carl brought up another good point that we don’t think about much. WordPress has evolved, but its still a 13 year old platform, making it a legacy project. The technical know-how on how to develop for it and with it requires a skill set that is dying out in younger developers (as mentioned), and the people joining the community may not have the technical knowledge to really make the platform better.

WordPress will get close

For sure WordPress will get close to that 50% mark, none of us have a doubt about that. At this time I don’t want to think about it, because right now we are in a growing trend, but as soon as it peaks, then WordPress use will go down and it will signify a potential downturn in the community as well.

For the next part of the series, we want to focus on what happens then, or what happens when it doesn’t grow.

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