WordPress in 2015

Our ecosystem shows no sign of slowing down, here are some thoughts and predictions for the upcoming year.


Updated — WordPress in 2016 — Read here

Going into WordPress’s 12th year, we have a lot to be excited about. I don’t consider myself a developer much, but rather enjoy the product and design side of the web. In 2014 I started the digital nomad thing and was fortunate enough to attend 12 WordCamps and speak at 11. I also helped organise WordCamp Switzerland and WordCamp Europe. Being with so many different communities has been an incredibly empowering and humbling experience. At Human Made, growth and hiring also just keeps pushing on. 2014 has been such an incredible ride, I can’t wait to see what 2015 holds.

Based on everything I’ve experienced, here are some thoughts and predictions for the big year ahead of us.


Custom Dashboards

I used to consider the terms WordPress and WP-Admin as being one and the same. Nowadays, it makes more sense to describe WP-Admin as a way to visualise WordPress. This is an important differentiation as it implies what has been already happening for some time now; WordPress is being buried deeper in the stack. It’s becoming an engine on which you can build almost anything on top of.

In 2015, we will see WordPress morph into an incredible amount of different experiences. Here’s what I’m expecting:

  • With the impending inclusion of WP-API within WordPress, custom dashboards will be all the rage in 2015. We’ll see very different use cases as well as an increase in educational material supporting it. One of the largest hurdles will be learning some of the front-end JavaScipt libraries used for interactions and managing data (Knockout.js, Backbone.js, AngularJS etc.).
  • The experience other CMSs provide could be replicated quite easily (and in turn partially cannibalise them). For instance, ghost with Just a Blogging Platform.
WordPress.com took the leap recently, feels like a heavily modified WP-Admin.

Our custom dashboard on Happytables via a custom REST API and Knockout.js. Left the admin bar in to show you it’s just another theme.

Jetty — Modified WP-Admin with parts using REST API and Backbone.js
  • As custom dashboards become more of a trend, we’ll observe numerous unnecessary implementations for use-cases which simply don’t require something different than WP-Admin. Sometimes, all it needs is a few tweaks to the existing solution.
  • For the most part, premium custom dashboards will fail. If it’s too generic, it likely can’t compete with WP-Admin (which actively pursues one size fits all). On the other hand, if it’s too niche or not very extendable, it won’t be of much use either. A minimal small business dashboard with front-end editing will likely be the most popular seller.

If you decide to experiment down this road, do it, but be careful. Don’t create a custom dashboard because you want to change the way it looks, change it because you significantly want to improve the experience of your users.


“But maybe what we need isn’t theming for all of WP-Admin, maybe what we need is a way for a thousand different WP-Admin’s to bloom…”

Matt Mullenweg


Front-End Editing

2015 is going to be the year of front-end editing for WordPress. I write on Medium all the time because it’s so easy to find flow creating content, I never set out with the intent of publishing. Rather, I have a few ideas and start writing. For a tool to carry so much influence is incredibly empowering.

For WordPress, the same way MP6 was built and gained momentum, we already have a Front-end Editor plugin in the works (for what we can only assume is supposed to land in core at a later point).

My notes on this subject for 2015:

  • FrontKit is in my opinion the most robust and beautiful editor out of the pack. It will be released in February, watch Adrian’s WordCamp talk on it to better understand where this is all going (and why). I look forward to it being used with WordPress.
  • WordPress.com will start using a front-end editor by Q4, this will certainly inspire others within WordPress (even if some other website builders are already there today).
The front-end editor currently in the official repo. It works quite well, but I’m not convinced it’s the one I would be using yet.
  • Front-end editing in our ecosystem will be used primarily on personal blogs and small business clients. It will be one-two years before it hits enterprise or big media in any meaningful way.
  • It will be a much bigger deal then it is currently made out to be, some of your clients will likely enquire about it.
  • Other libraries out there include medium.js, Dante, medium-editor, grande.js, ZenPen and Pen.

I think many of us share the hope that dashboards (as something separate to your website) will cease to exist when it comes to creating content. Narrative should be able to be created in a contextual manner, not in a disconnected way (i.e. TinyMCE).



139 Languages

With the majority of WordPress sites being used in a language other than English, a larger spotlight will be cast on the polyglots team for 2015, as well as the tools it uses.

GlotPress, the translation management tool for WordPress, will become more important then ever and will need to be able to adapt to the growing requirements of this global community. One of them being the pledge of complete localisation for the official plugin and theme repository. This will attract thousands of new translators and validators in time.

GlotPress on WordPress.org

GlotPress has the ability to empower all of these new contributors or alternatively become too large of a bottleneck. GlotPress will get a big push this year, I’m hopeful on a complete rebuild (follow development here and see the new wireframes for it here).



Decentralising Community

There’s still this aura of uncertainty (sometimes bordering on negativity) in the community when an individual or group organise an independent event other than a WordCamp or local meet-up. And that is a problem. The foundation (with everything they already contribute) cannot handle all aspects of the community and more importantly, shouldn’t.

We have an incredibly diverse community and everyone should be empowered to create events or community tools for whatever aspect of our ecosystem they’re passionate about.

New community events I’m looking forward to in 2015:

  • Community events for charities. In the spirit of the WordCamp contributor day and contributing back to the open source project, I foresee a more organised effort with regards to assisting other non-profits too. With just a few hours of our time, we have the ability to significantly help out organisations in need of our skills. PressJam down in Australia has already lead the way (15 project submissions, they chose 4 and matched them up with 35+ people, organised into 4 teams):

As have some of Woo guys in South Africa:

  • A European business-focused conference for WordPress. The challenges our organisations face aren’t limited to WordPress, so it would probably be inclusive of other open source CMS’s. Many people talk about a European Pressnomics, but no one has done anything. Any takers?
  • Niche conferences. WooThemes just had their first (and very successful) WooCommerce Conf in SF. We have LoopConf next year and I think we’ll see at least two other new conferences brought to life by known names/companies.
  • Retreats. We need a lot more of these! Scott and I kicked off DawnPatrol.io not too long ago and one of the things we’d like to do are focused retreats. The first one we’re planning is Product + Surf down in South Africa. The name implies it all, let’s surf in the morning, ship code in the afternoon, grill and do lightning talks in the evening. If you’re interested, just let either of us know.

Flights are cheap, internet is becoming more reliable, let’s get together more often to create cool shit and share our experiences on anything and everything.



Centralising Professionals

It goes without saying that WordPress was already big before 2015, it’s hard to fathom that 23% of the net is powered by WordPress. Despite this, professionals in our ecosystem are poorly indexed.

WP Candy gave it a try with a section called Pros. Automattic’s Code Poet is closed for new applications (and doesn’t seem to have been updated in a while). Sortfolio is too broad and sites like Elance are hardly what we’re looking for. We’re left with the VIP Partners page and a few smaller or hyperlocal sources. WP Talents is probably the best contender to date

Update: Pascal has now written a post Centralizing WordPress Professionals: What’s Coming Next for WP Talents

The Clutch.co index for WordPress developers

We (Human Made) were quite impressed with Clutch as they carry out some due diligence before listing a company. We had to submit references which were then contacted and verified by them. It’s an authentic approach, but one that only targets larger service providers within various industries.

We need an independent index of WordPress professionals listed with relevant skills and experiences (for large and small agencies alike). One that poses no conflict of interest and is monetised purely through the listings themselves. I’m surprised we didn’t have one three years ago already, which makes me doubtful for this year, but it can’t hurt to hope.



Your Thoughts?

I’d love to hear what you think. Medium has inline comments, so comment away by highlighting text and I’ll approve them. Alternatively, feel free to hit me up @noeltock.


Florian Ziegler (@damndirty) is the talented photographer behind the #wcch and #wceu images above. Thank you for continuing to shoot WordCamps and posting high resolution photos on Flickr under the Creative Commons license, you rock.