WordPress World of Change

Like the World in  general, change is taking place at an accelerated pace in the World of WordPress. And WordPress Developers can see it in the first downturn in WordPress market share in 10 years.

And one of the biggest drivers of change in the WordPress World is the  rapid growth of its CMS market share [currently 43% of the top 10 million websites throughout the World] .What is striking is the rapid growth of WordPress in the past 5 years by more than 3% /year as seen above. But all of the rival Web Builders like Shopify, Squarespace and Wix see monster 2000% growth in this same period. But traditional CMS like Joomla and Drupal have declined by 40 to 50% in the same period. Some of the recent spurt in WordPress growth can be attributed to Internet’s steady increase [7%/year]  over the past decade. Thus there has been a near doubling to 4billion active  web users worldwide as shown in the graph below,

More recently the pandemically induced shopping surge and virtual meetups have added to Web and  WordPress usage.
PageBuilders/Theme Builders Deliver “No Coding Required”

A major factor  in  growth has been WordPress vendors  adding more to their  “easy to use with point click simplicity”  page designers with a broader “no coding required” layout and capability. In 2018 tAutomattic’s Gutenberg Roadmap was announced  to deliver “no coding required” universal block-based enhancements as part of the WordPress Core. But the irony is that 3rd party  PageBuilders like Beaver Builder, Divi, Elementor and Visual Composer had already achieved enhanced “no coding required” tools and thus  had already taken  the lion shares of the “no coding required”  market.

This phenomenon has been noted by key WordPress vendors and observers such  as MonsterInsights, Kinsta, WPBeginner and WPEngine . WordPress itself has been late to provide a better UI editor with its Gutenberg Block Editor and recently FSE-Full Site Editing. But both of these Gutenberg projects have been hampered by the  initial MVP-Minimum Viable Product strategy used to bring Gutenberg Blocks to market. It was ambitious, chaotic, and striving for discipline. But at the outset to set  the Tiny MCE Classic Editor as the MVP was to gloss over the many UI innovations of the potent armory of existing PageBuilders

In fact Gutenberg still trails the top PageDesigners and ThemeBuilders  for simplified styling and WYSIWYG editing [see Gutenberg Editor: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly for details]. Thus much of the growth of WordPress in the past 5 years can be chalked up tnot to Gutenberg but o the top  PageBuilders as cited above. In contrast,  Gutenberg has languished in comparison over the past 5 years seen in Gutenberg’s WP Rating of 2.0/5.02
In stark contrast, Elementor has gone from just under 2 million active website users in 2018 to over 10 million now.

Gutenberg Tools Impose New Constraints

So perhapsElementor’s success is the reason that Automattic/Gutenberg have been adding new development constraints in WordPress. In 2018 at the launch of  WordPress 5.0 the Core  made Gutenberg blocks the default editor. If users wanted to use popular and familiar   WP Editor they had to download  the Classic Editor plugin [so now there are  5+ millions active users]. Developers have also were advised that  familiar tools such as meta boxes, jQuery, shortcodes, and  the Customizer were subject to  change.

Continuing peremptory mandates, WordPress 5.8  replaced the Classic Widget editor with the Block Widget editor. Again,  users wanting to rescue their sometiimes substantial  old Widget editor routines  were required to load the Classic Widget Editor plugin to return to their  familiar widget  editing. Finally , WP5.9 with new FSE-Full Site Editing and Block Themes has limited use of  the Customizer. As well Block themes have dropped two PHP code segments for JavaScript. This effects Web Developers who now have to code for two WordPress themes – FSE Block Themes plus classic themes. In sum, WordPress UI interface is undergoing major changes.

But perhaps the biggest factor effecting WordPress is the huge financials accruing in the WordPress Economy:

WordPress delivers half-a-trillion$/year in revenues  worldwide. See the WPEngine study where these   numbers were derived. The huge growth  in annual revenues is spread across a wide swath of WordPress vendors including hosting services, theme/plugin/app developers, consulting agencies, and other WordPress service suppliers.

What makes this rapid financial  growth and surge in  usage so demanding on the WordPress community   is the range of challenges that WordPress users now face:
1 – WordPress sites are a top hacker target because of its many security vulnerabilities;
2 – With so much development effort directed to Gutenberg, major work remains on Media library, Admin interface, cross platform integration and messaging services;
3 – Rival Web Builders like SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly and Shopify are riding speed gains to faster market share growth
4 – “No coding required” feature is being under cut by active use of dynamic content and conditional/complex display stylings requiring more cases of advanced WordPress  coding in CSS & JavaScript;
5 – Even with “no coding requird” tools being used and adhered to, web development workflow has become more complex as WordPress takes on more sophisticated systems and business wide systems;
6 – The switch in 2016 – 2017  from desktop to mobile users being used in 55% of daily Internet transactions is still having impact on WordPress shops;
7 – Enterprise software developers want a piece of the “no coding required action and their LCAP-Low Code Application Platforms tools are advancing in specialty computing systems segments.

In sum, though the  Gutenberg GUI User interface has been the focus of WordPress attention & change for the past decade, the rise of WordPress as a source of  half trillion $ annual revenues has and will continue to impact WordPress profoundly in the next decade.
If this review has been helpful,  buy me a cup of coffee  or attend our CSS Style Editor free meetup where we explore tools that simplify tough Page Layout and Design tasks.

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