In March of 2020, the world stopped. People were forced to go inside and our way of life changed completely. What started as two weeks turned into over a year and we continued to be apart from our loved ones. While things outside slowed to a halt, the WordPress community never stopped pushing and growing. While the rest of the world slowed down, WordPress hit the gas..
Now, in December 2021, we can see and feel hope. Things are opening up, people are traveling, and WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg presented his State of the Word to a room full of people. What seemed impossible just a few months ago, is now possible and we are coming back together as a community.
The presentation was held in New York City and was both virtual and online, and looked back at the year we had and forward to what we can do in the future, together.
The overall theme was coming together as a community to make WordPress bigger and stronger than ever.
A Year in Review
The presentation started with walkthroughs of WordPress News and the Openverse, which were both huge wins for WordPress in 2021. The functionality and accessibility are unparalleled.
Next, Mullenweg shouted out three programs that have been huge for expanding the diversity of WordPress users, Polyglots, Diverse Speaker Program, and Learn.WordPress. Each of these blew up in 2021 and made it possible for new users to get involved in the CMS. These three programs are part of the reason WordPress now powers 43.1 percent of the web. That’s more than any other CMS and more impressively more than custom platform builds.
Let’s dig into each one individually.
Polygots, the translation team, did an amazing amount of work this year. We saw a 76 percent increase in Language Packs in Core with 13,659 and a 25 percent increase in active translators with 15,900. This is a herculean effort.
Next Mullenweg talked about the Diverse Speaker Program which was started in 2021. This was created to get people who have never spoken at a WordCamp in front of an audience. The program had 135 participants in 66 cities. Such an amazing number but one we can absolutely grow in 2022 with the rise in live events. This is an incredible program that will only make WordPress better.
Though WordPress is getting better, it can still be tricky to get started with. That’s why Learn.WordPress was created. The site is geared toward getting beginners started online. This year there were 73 workshops, 70 lesson plans in 21 languages. The lower the barrier to entry, the bigger the developer pool will become.
Of course nothing in WordPress is possible without Core updates, of which there were two this year. 481 people contributed to 5.7, 24 percent of which were new contributors, and 530 people contributed to 5.8 with 25% being new.
Staggering numbers considering the lack of in-person Contributor Days in 2021.
After looking back on an impressive 2021, Mullenweg began to delve into what we can expect in 2022. The biggest thing on the docket is the release of 5.9 that was pushed to the end of January. We can look forward to things like duotone, being able to edit your site logo, creating headers and footers and more. Stay tuned for a full rundown early next year.
Mullenweg also briefly touched on how WordPress can adapt to Web3 saying, “For me Web3 means two things: decentralization and individual ownership. And those are both things that WordPress is well poised to be already doing.”
He also discussed the ever-controversial acquisitions in WordPress. While we had at least 42 big acquisitions in 2021, that is actually on trend for how the tech industry went as well.
Five for the Future
The bulk of this section looked at Five for the Future and giving back to WordPress. Without contributions from the community, WordPress would not exist. Because it is open source, it needs people to donate time to bug hunting, documentation, innovation, and more.
That’s why Mullenweg created Five for the Future. A campaign that encourages any WordPress user to give five percent of their time or money back into WordPress.
“The WordPress community is larger than ever. Some estimates put it at over $10 billion per year. So how do we get to that 5% of things being put back into the core,” Mullenweg said. “The beautiful thing about five for the future is it’s can be unique, if you’re an individual that 5% put back into the core of a 40 hour workweek is two hours a week. So two hours out of the 168 that you have in a week.”
The lack of in-person events and changes in lifestyle over the last year have hampered the amount of contributions in 2021. That’s why many companies including Torque, with Contribute2WP, made special times or days when people could come together and give back.
The more we come together, the more WordPress can do. We’ve all been through a lot this year but WordPress has managed to thrive due to the stalwarts of the community. Together we can conquer the rest of the web and make it a safe and fun place for everyone.
“WordPress cannot be written by one person or even one person. The quality and the robustness is all due to contributors. Not just this year, but ever,” Mullenweg said. “The core thing that makes WordPress belongs just as much to you as any other developer.”