Gone are the days when people used to say that WordPress is just another CMS. In 2003, I’m sure even Matt Mullenweg didn’t expect that WordPress would grow to power more than 24% of the Internet.
Since its release, WordPress has cultivated a growing community of enthusiasts, users, and developers. It is a recent trendsetter in work ethics and principles, where people are making contributions in the form of plugins, themes, frameworks, and more.
WordPress was about five years old when I first learned about it. During the seven years I’ve been a part of this community, I’ve seen people selflessly contribute to core. I’ve also seen companies hire employees with the sole job to improve WordPress in favor of five for the future, and witnessed the community’s unfettered ability to share everything.
Recently, a seemingly endless debate has commenced around the future of WordPress. Having built many complex responsive and CMS-based websites with complete strategy, wireframing, design, and development, I now have the familiarity and understanding of WordPress to predict what it might be like in the next 10 years.
Let’s take a look at some of the changes that a WordPress fanatic, like myself, is looking forward to seeing in the coming years.
WordPress Will Have Custom Dashboards
For as long as most of us can remember, WordPress has used only a single interface for its main administrative area (i.e. the Dashboard). Once you’ve logged in, the same dashboard appears for everyone. It definitely has iterated through the updates but not as many as one would expect. Now, it’s time for us to build custom dashboards in WordPress. The question is how?
Though it seems likely this will happen in the near future, I am including it here anyway. If you follow WordPress-related news regularly, then you probably already know about the inclusion of the WordPress JSON REST API in core. Even Matt Mullenweg says, “I’m hugely excited about the REST API.”
Many people in the WordPress community predict that this new addition will turn the tables for WordPress. Right now predicting the importance of WordPress REST API is beyond the scope of this article. But, it’s worth mentioning that if it gets included in core, then we’ll definitely witness custom dashboards in the WordPress market soon.
Again, why do we actually need Custom Dashboards? Well, while the admin panel is not really something in WordPress’s future, it is slow and can use a lot of improvement. Just imagine that you are able to install a custom dashboard triggered for a particular niche — or for example, a restaurant dashboard, where you add dishes and not posts. Thus, one common denominator here is getting rid of the current feature-rich admin dashboard which can be a hurdle for non-technical users.
That said, I don’t find any logical point in displaying this complex interface to someone who actually does not need it. This is the point where the concept of custom dashboard steps in.
WordPress Will Have Custom Panels
I think that the next big thing in the WordPress community will be custom panels — something I’m really interested in building myself. Custom panels will be similar to the custom dashboards, but focused at a specific task for the website.
A custom panel would be niche specific, and include only the necessities. This is basically how SaaS (Software as a Service) will work in WordPress.
Example 1: A hosted custom panel could serve as project management system; all you have to do is connect your WordPress website with it.
Example 2: What if you want to build a membership site with WordPress? You could get a membership panel (sort of a plugin) that connects with your WordPress blog and you could deal with all the membership-related settings on your website.
Example 3: How about connecting all of your WordPress websites with a Marketing Custom Panel, which could help you take control of all the A/B testing, email marketing, onboarding, etc? You could add and collaborate with team members or hire marketers without giving them any access to your websites (except for the stuff related to marketing, of course).
Example 4: Consider a WordPress theme developer who offers 10 different WordPress themes. As an end user (and his client), you want to upload one of the themes to five of your websites. Today, if you encounter a situation like this, what do you do? You download that particular theme only to upload it on five of your websites.
With the concept of custom panels, you surpass the download and upload philosophy. One possible approach could be that the developer makes a custom panel for the themes — something like an app (i.e. Restaurant Themes App for WP). So, whenever you need to install a theme you just connect your WordPress sites to that custom panel and click install (and copy the configuration from one site to another).
These examples might not make much sense right now, but wait until you find one in production.
WordPress And Mobile Apps
I suspect that, in the future, creating a mobile app with WordPress will be as easy as setting up a WordPress site. Looking at the current pace of development, I can predict a bright future for WordPress app development. Using the REST API, ReactJS, AngularJS, Cordova, Ionic Framework, just to name a few, WordPress will be used to build apps for Android and iOS.
With such an approach, WordPress themes and plugins will go hybrid, they will work both for web and mobile. Thus, WordPress will make mobile easy, just like it does with the web. Both a power-user and an end user would enjoy building mobile apps with WordPress. Developers would be able to code intelligent custom endpoints and APIs to create unimaginable interfaces with WordPress as the data layer.
WordPress Will Have A Strong Notification API
Extending on the concept of building WordPress mobile apps, I’d like to see a very strong notification API in WordPress, in the near future. I think this is needed now, so, the sooner it gets baked into core, the sooner it starts helping our content find users.
Today, there is hardly any notable development for handling notifications both at the admin and the user end. There are a few plugins though I am not happy with their direction. At the end of the day, WordPress is all content, and, in the future, content will find the reader, not the other way around.
Plugins like WooCommerce and EDD could make the most out of it. For example, in case of any sales, the business owner would be notified about them via a mobile app. You could even push a coupon code notification to loyal customers when they are at the checkout page. The possibilities are infinite!
I can imagine the notification API being consolidated first at the admin level — where business owners or administrators could get a complete mobile experience out of their WordPress site — and then at the end-user level, where the users could keep track of particular sites they like — for example, a handicraft online store or a blog app from your favorite author.
To cut the long story short, together with the native apps and notification API, users will be able to set up and manage their online businesses through mobile phones.
With the WordPress REST API being a hot topic of discussion, the pitches I’ve listed are likely to happen if the WP-API gets merged into the core. All the points which I’ve discussed above are inspired by thoughts from the WordPress community and my personal experience or problems I encounter in my day-to-day workflow.
Matt Mullenweg said, “In five years I think that WP will be infinitely easier to use for both power-users, developers, and newbies. You will be able to have a full experience of core, plugins, themes, docs, and support in several dozen languages that will be as large or larger than English. There will be over a million people making their living on top of the platform. Most people will be creating from touch devices, and their content will mostly not come from keyboards (virtual or physical) as an input device.”
To simplify, a user ten years from now could install a WordPress instance and connect it with any eCommerce solution (WooCommerce, EDD, etc.) to build an online store. After configuring it all, they’ll be able to sell through the web and auto-generate mobile apps at Android and iOS app stores. They’ll be able to connect a custom marketing panel where they could collaborate with marketing resources and then a custom panel built just for the user to manage business on the go. They’ll get notified and will notify others just in time to make them smile. Content will find users, not the other way around.
So, what’s your vision for the future of WordPress? What do you think about the growth of WordPress in the upcoming years? I’d love to hear your views in comments!