WordPress has truly been a major player on the marketing stage lately. Local business owners, marketers, and startups have all benefited from its interface, easy to master even with zero code knowledge, and an impressive range of features. As of 2019, 33% of all websites on the Internet are hosted on WordPress.
The hosting service was fast to outrun Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, and other platforms by the userbase, the variety of SEO plugins and functionality features, and the interface of the builder itself. However, in 2019, is WordPress still the best choice for developers? What should you know if you’re considering hosting a website there?
In this post, you’ll find out more info about the state of the platform after the release of the current WordPress version 5.
Pros of WordPress
- No fees. WordPress was free from Day 1 - things are to stay this way in 2019 as well. Unlike other alternatives (Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace) that only have free plans limited in the range of supported features, the platform gives developers the full control of the website. Also, the provider is not tied to a web hosting provider - you’ll be able to move the website to any company that fits the bill.
- A large library of plugins and extensions. WordPress has an open library of plugins and add-ons, with regular updates. You’ll be able to choose from thousands of tools to make a powerhouse out of your website. The good news is, while the tools are fully customizable, you won’t have to write a single line of code to add a feature to the page.
- High website speed. Due to their minimalistic and to-the-point layouts, WordPress websites show an above average page loading speed. The pages perform well in terms of SEO as well as all the blocks are designed with optimization practices in mind.
- Most third-party services have WordPress integrations. This includes domain name providers, project management software, marketing tools, CRM, and so on. By 2019, WordPress has become a force to reckon with - that’s why most service providers provide integrations with the platform.
Cons of WordPress
- All the aspects of website management have to be handled manually. On one hand, WordPress provides developers with independence and customization. However, it might be challenging for beginners to tackle security, updating, mailing backups, and so on singlehandedly. You might have to contact a developer every once in a while to ensure the website is maintained properly.
- Basic HTML and CSS skills are recommended. It’s not necessary to code in order to use WordPress. However, if a business owner wants to make the most out of the platform, it’s recommended to acquire basic HTML and CSS skills. Luckily, there are dozens of WordPress tutorials that would teach you all the programming basics to manage the website on your own.
- Limited space for creativity. While there’s a broad choice of design themes, ultimately, all the websites powered by WordPress will have a similar structure. If you’re looking forward to creating a catchy and innovative design, going with a custom design might be a smart move.
What’s New in 2019?
2018 has been one of the most fundamental years for WordPress. Some of the changes presented during the last year - such as the Gutenberg plugin, will be defining the way we approach WordPress in 2019 and beyond.
Let’s take a look at the most impactful changes that will be around the corner for WordPress.
1. Block Editor
WordPress is known for its heavy use of PHP. In fact, the advocates for the language have often mentioned the WordPress website builder as proof of how much PHP code can do. Well, looks like it’s in the past for the next decade.
It looks like the block-based structure will be taken beyond blog editor - it’ll be implemented in the ‘Widgets’ panel, WordPress blog search, for interface and menu customizer. In the future, it will make WordPress yet more intuitive and easier to use. The team’s ambitious goal to create a website builder that would consist of dragging-and-dropping blocks entirely will save developers a huge deal of time and allow WordPress to surpass most of their competitors. Following this trend, it's predictable that many plugin authors will try to develop plugins to create custom Gutenberg blocks.
2. Improved feedback system
There has been a promising movement within the WordPress team lately. Back in January, Matt Mullenweg - a founder of WordPress - has announced a new development vector for the WordPress foundation - the team expansion.
For website owners, it’s a possibility to have improved communications with the management of the platform. The marketing and communication team has already surveyed the community as to the changes we’d love to see on WordPress - the number of suggestions was enormous.
There’s a higher chance of positive community-related implementations on WordPress - project-level documentation, a payment system for contributors, and so on.
3. PHP 5.6.20 - new minimum
At the WordCampus US 2018, Mullenweg has announced that starting from April 1, 2019, PHP 5.6.20 will be the minimum PHP version for WordPress users. In case you haven’t updated to the recent version of the language - a platform will offer guidance on doing it.
The WordPress founder forecasted that, from December 2019, the platform will raise the bar yet again, with the new minimum of PHP 7. This has tremendous implications for plugin developers as they will not have to support the older versions of PHP because the core doesn’t support them either. As a result, both QA and support loads will be reduced greatly - WordPress will become an attractive platform for contributors.
For developers hosting their website on the platform, transferring to the later versions of PHP will be a change for the better as well. To start with, the 7.0 version of the language is the fastest one written, with plenty of features regarding code syntax that will improve both its performance and readability.
4. New UI elements
It has been officially announced by the WordPress team that the new 5.2 version of the platform, expected for a release in April, will be updating UI elements. Here are the most noteworthy changes the next version of WP will offer:
- Dashicons update - the system font will be transferred to the WOFF 2.0 format instead of WOFF 1.0. For developers, the change will mean improved compression and lower network consumption by the website.
- 13 original icons were added to the library, along with 18 existing ones that were included back in 5.0 but lacked a CSS declaration. This way, WordPress aims to make the library broader and more inclusive.
5. Improved error protection
A fatal error has been one of the main reasons why a fair share of websites is abandoned after a short period of use. The platform used to deny website managers the access to the admin panel - in order to restore it, you would have to access the page with an FTP client and undo latest changes or contact a hosting provider for help.
The good news is, a fatal error is another major update WordPress will roll out in the next version. As soon as the website experiences a fatal error, an administrator will be notified by the system. WordPress will send an email with a link to the admin dashboard login tab. Website managers will be able to access the admin panel and restore the damage that triggered the error.
Improving as a WordPress Developer
For developers seeking improvement in managing WordPress websites or those wondering “How do I update my WordPress website”, going through official handbooks is a good way to get a boost in skill as well as additional knowledge. Here are a few of those worth checking:
- Gutenberg Handbook - a must-read for WordPress users who face trouble getting used to the Gutenberg plugin pushed by the platform. The significance of this feature has been repeatedly stated by the team - the block-based structure is likely to become commonplace all over the website.
- Theme handbook. This one is helpful when it comes to exploring the basics of installing WordPress design as well as more advanced details on theme functionality and security.
WordPress is actively changing throughout 2019. New themes and plugins have been added, the team is working on security improvement and ensuring there’s a steady pace of feedback between business owners and the platform developers.
So far, the added features have built upon the expectations of the user base and have proven to be reasonable. WordPress, without a doubt, will remain a stable and reliable website builder during and beyond 2019.
Adapting to changes might be challenging for developers at first. However, in the long run, business owners will reap the benefits of new features and improvements.
Anastasia Stefanuk is a passionate writer and a marketing manager at Mobilunity. The company provides professional staffing services, so she is always aware of technology news and wants to share her experience to help tech startups and companies to be up-to-date.