In Zeno’s paradox, the tortoise must always be one step ahead of Achilles. Likewise, staying ahead of the curve in the fast-expanding orbscape of web development is all-important. In this post, we will be looking at some of the major development-related advancements gaining traction on WordPress. So, without further ado, let’s press ahead.
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1. A Shift toward Headless WordPress Development
A headless WordPress is a “decoupled” instance of WordPress. “Decoupled” refers to the separation of the frontend and backend departments. It allows WordPress developers to create and manage the frontend of a website independently of the backend incidentals.
Now this is advantageous in at least two ways. First, it provides flexibility to developers who can now create highly dynamic, interactive websites and apps by using modern libraries such as Angular, Vue, and ReactJS. Second, it confers more robust website security because the backend is hidden from public view, curtailing the possibility of any backend maneuvers.
2. Increasing Relevance of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
It’s much easier to build Progressive Web Apps or PWAs using the libraries we just mentioned in the previous section. But the reason why PWAs will be on the rise is thanks to users’ increasing expectations of improved speed and performance.
Just to really nail it home at the risk of echoing the obvious: the need for speed is being felt like a blade-prick! Pingdom’s latest survey reports that the average load speed of a website stands at 3.21 seconds – which is already 1.21 seconds higher than the ideal load time.
This is where PWAs can quicken Zeno’s tortoise via faster loading times, improved performance, and offline accessibility.
3. Integration of AI Plugins and Tools
Last year, the subject of WP-wide AI integration was widely discussed among WordPress contributors. The dominant concern was how AI might fit into the WordPress ecosystem. The majority view was opposed to hard-coding AI into the very core of WordPress, favoring instead the integration of AI through external plugins.
To give an instance, here’s what one contributor remarked: “At what cost would the project chase an AI integration?… I find it hard to imagine pursuing the current roadmap with excellence and stability AND adding a huge AI integration as well.”
(According to the 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, 44.17% of developers are relying on AI tools, and 25.88% intend to take the leap very soon. Similarly, the 2023 JetBrains State of the Developer Ecosystem Survey states that 77.7% of developers are using ChatGPT in some form or another.)
Now AI is not foreign to WordPress. Popular plugins such as Yoast, JetPack AI, and Akismet have been in use for quite some time. It’s generative AI, the alpha hornet this year, which is leading the buzz. (In fact, it was only in August last year that Yoast introduced gen AI.) Gen AI plugins will assist in website content optimization, keyword research, text generation, spam comments handling, and so on.
4. Block-based Themes to Have The Edge
The introduction of the Gutenberg Editor triggered a shift toward block-based website design, which will, in all probability, peak in 2024.
The block architecture facilitates more flexible design structures, helping developers to create complex layouts without having to custom-code from scratch. You can also customize colors and typography using Global Styles, generate accessibility features, and improve site speed since block themes load styles only for the rendered blocks on a page.
Like the Gutenberg Editor, WordPress’s Full Site Editing, introduced in 2021, will also play a role in reinforcing the block trend. Notably, the next WordPress release scheduled for March 2024 will feature a new block-based theme appropriately named Twenty Twenty-Four.
“Twenty Twenty-Four,” informs Jessica Lyschik, “will be a block theme fully compatible with all the site editor tooling, and it will surface new design tools like the details block or vertical text. Another key intent for the theme is to properly present whole page patterns and template variations so that users don’t need to assemble whole pages themselves, thus easing up their site building process.”
If you want to know more about Site Editor Tools, head over to here.
5. Multilingual WordPress Plugins
Multilingual WordPress plugins will be on the radar in 2024. A multilingual website will allow users to choose their preferred language, read articles and blog posts in their mother tongue, translate any part of the website to their native language, etc.
The point of using a multilingual website is to reach a larger audience, whereby is a significant plus for any brand.
Contrary to popular opinion, offering a non-English website need not be as problematic as herding cats. Popular multilingual WordPress plugins such as Polylang and WordPress Multilingual Plugin or WPML simplify the installation process to a considerable extent.
6. Implement Stricter Security Measures
Enhanced security measures will be topmost in the minds of WordPress developers. WordPress is increasingly vulnerable to DNS attacks, brute force attacks, cross-site scripting, SQL injection attacks, and so on. Keeping that in mind, please consider:
- Upgrading your website’s PHP to the latest version
- Updating WordPress security keys from time to time
- Foolproofing your website against unauthorized login attempts using the Limit Login Attempts plugin.
- Keeping close tabs on user activity logs
- Updating plugins regularly. (This can only be done manually.)
- Implementing SSL encryption to secure bulletproof data transfer between browser and website.
Apart from these, you can also consider disabling PHP execution when not needed; disabling script injections and file editing; putting website backups in place; and limiting directory access.
The WordPress Agenda in 2024: In A Nutshell
In 2024, WordPress is scheduled for three core releases, as proposed by WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy. WordPress 6.5 will be released on March 26, followed by 6.6 and 6.7 in July and November, respectively.
“Given that 2024 will hold a bulk of the work for Phase 3, I expect that 6.5 and 6.7 will be focused on those Collaborative features. I would like to propose that 6.6 be held specifically for maintenance and general polish of the software (as was wished for earlier this year),” Chomphosy wrote.
If you recall, last year the WordPress core team decided to delay the release of the Font Library feature. We can reasonably expect the same to be released this year in March. Apart from the Font Library, WP 6.5 will also include server-side @font-face CSS generation and printing, enabling WP developers to browse fonts in the admin.
In his annual State of the Word 2023 address, WP co-founder Matt Mullenweg drew attention to the following updates:
- Addition of the “Nearby Events” widget in WP Admin dashboard
- Relaunch of the WordPress Showcase for designing high-quality, high-performing sites
- Editor Block, in-browser information retention, web workers, additional PHP extensions in the WordPress Playground Project
- Gutenberg Phase 3, titled “Collaboration”, will facilitate real-time collaboration within the Editor, transforming the way users interface with Gutenberg
- Zoom Out mode, pattern swapping, and the application of Theme JSON files for pattern customization in Site Editor and Patterns
- Data liberation, with a view to give users autonomous control to transition from various platforms to WordPress.
- AI integration with WordPress Playground for creating websites using Natural Language Processing (NLP)
Among the many exhortations of Mullenweg, one was to “learn AI deeply.” WordPress is heading forward with a vengeance. From collaborative editing to performance upgrades to AI integration, site building on WordPress will never be the same.
As WordPress pros ourselves, we are excited to explore the possibilities of web development this year. It is undoubtedly the best time to leverage WordPress and propel your brand to stratospheric heights.
Needless to say, we will be your trusted guides along the way. Engage our WordPress experts to discuss your vision and translate it into reality!