Parkway relies solely on the WordPress content management system, so the updates WordPress announces each year shape how we design and develop websites for our clients. This year’s WordPress trends are both a continuation of past years’ changes and driven by social distancing. We’re excited to see how the platform’s roadmap for the future will help us build bigger and better! With 2020 behind us, here’s where WordPress is taking its users in 2021:
Expanding on Gutenberg
In 2018, WordPress released version 5.0 which included the Gutenberg Editor for the first time. The drag and drop editor helps WordPress compete with more DIY-friendly website builders like Squarespace and Wix. At the time, the blocks could only be used to edit posts. Now, as WordPress enters phases two and three of Gutenberg, the blocks will become even more flexible. Full site editing will allow users to design pages, menus, widgets and other elements using blocks native to WordPress.
The expanded functionality of the Gutenberg Editor will (slowly) begin to replace third-party drag and drop plugins like Elementor and Divi. WordPress will also offer the ability to “discover and install” pre-made elements in a “block directory,” similar to how we currently use the WPBakery Page Builder.
This WordPress trend won’t change how we design websites right away. It’s simply not flexible enough right now. However, eventually, full site editing via the Gutenberg Editor could mean less reliance on prebuilt themes and third party plugins. WordPress theme trends may soon favor minimalist, multipurpose themes that can be customized for any client.
Phase three of Gutenberg is not currently available, but that won’t stop us from getting excited about it! When phase three launches, we’ll be able to co-edit pages in real time, which could make a big difference for our team and our clients, especially while working remotely.
Boosting Digital Economies
Ecommerce grew more than 30% in 2020, accelerated by COVID-related restrictions on in-person shopping. This isn’t just a phase; experts believe consumer behavior has changed permanently. For retailers, ecommerce is essential in 2021 and beyond. This is one reason WordPress continues to gain market share; it currently powers over 39% of the internet. We’ll also see ecommerce become more sophisticated this year, with retailers looking at accepting cryptocurrencies and keeping their customers safe from fraud and theft online.
Last year, WordPress began automatically updating themes and plugins. While we recommend opting out of this feature in most cases, we are intrigued by it. Many of our clients rely on multiple plugins and custom code for enhanced functionality. Without a careful eye on theme and plugin updates, these customizations can break when they’re updated. However, updates are essential for a secure, functional website. Automatic updates may be helpful for website owners who maintain simple sites and often forget to update their plugins.