What to Watch for in WordPress in 2020

What to Watch for in WordPress in 2020

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2020 in the WordPress world. At Impress, we asked developers, Automatticians, bloggers, and many other WordPress community members what they had up their sleeves for the coming year. This is what they told us. 

A new year, a new decade. In the past ten years, we have seen significant and notable growth in the WordPress ecosystem. The past year alone held some of the best of it, and so we were curious about what 2020 might bring. From WordPress Core itself to events to new products and company news, here are some of the biggest and most exciting things to look forward to in 2020. 

What to Expect in WordPress Core

WordPress Core is the nucleus around which everything else rotates. It’s the heartbeat that keeps everything else flowing. That makes the 2020 Core Roadmap one of the most exciting and impactful things coming this year.

At this time, there are 3 major Core releases planned for 2020: March, August, and December. We can expect new and powerful things like: 

  • a navigation menu block,
  • custom block-aware content areas for themes,
  • widget areas to support blocks,
  • block directory search and install,
  • automatic plugin, theme and major code updates,
  • synchronous post editing,
  • and more.

We asked Josepha Haden, WordPress Executive Director, about her take on the most significant developments for Core in 2020.

“Full-site editing for Gutenberg is projected for 2020, which has been under construction for quite a while as it tackles some complex parts of the user workflow. Will change the way we look at themes – hopefully in a good way!”

Josepha Haden

For plugin shops like us, the prospect of a dedicated Block Directory is particularly interesting and is a potential game changer. When the Block Directory is in wp-admin (with contributions from great folks like Mel Choyce), you’ll be able to submit and download individual blocks from a new directory, similar to the theme and plugin directories.

We’ll be watching closely for the requirements to get blocks listed in this directory. The question of whether blocks must be Javascript or React driven is a big question. If the Block Directory does not include blocks that depend on other existing plugins (like GiveWP) or need server-side logic (like from PHP), it will severely limit how useful or practical the Block Directory is. 

WordPress Events and Conferences to Look Forward to in 2020

One of the most robust parts of the WordPress community is found at events like WordCamps. 2020 brings with it another major regional WordCamp and more online conferences. 

WordCamp Asia is premiering in Bangkok, Thailand in February. It’s set to be a phenomenal inaugural event with speakers from all over the world, volunteers from 16 different Asian countries, and Matt Mullenweg as keynote speaker. Joining the ranks of WordCamp US and WordCamp Europe, it’s predicted to draw over 1,000 attendees from all corners of the globe.

In 2020 we can also expect to see more WordPress-funded conferences online. Most will focus on “specific topics rather than a virtual WordCamp type thing.” (Josepha Haden) This has a significant impact on WordPress community members who don’t have WordCamps nearby, or who can’t travel to WordCamps. 

Other Industry Conferences

In addition to WordCamps, we can expect to see a lot more industry-related conferences this year. 

Git Merge Conference

If you develop with WordPress, you probably use Git. To use it well, structured, focused training and insight on how to make the most of it is essential. Learn from the people who use it every day at Git Merge. Git Merge is a one-day conference dedicated to the version control tool that started it all. The content ranges from technical talks to hands-on workshops and is geared toward developers of all experience levels. 

De{Code} Virtual Conference

Organized by WPEngine, DE{Code} is dedicated to helping developers build better WordPress experiences faster. Look for these 8 live-streamed sessions in January. Speakers include Joost de Valk, Naomi C. Bush Syed Balki, Aurooba Ahmed, Karim Marucchi and many more. We’re eager to hear what comes out of this strong line of speakers.

WordSesh and WooSesh

Virtual conferences WordSesh and WooSesh return again in 2020. Organized by Brian Richards, WordSesh is actually a total of 3 regional events this year. One for APC in March, the Americas in May, and EMA in September. WordSesh is most closely compared to an online WordCamp, which is ideal for those who cannot travel. WooSesh – the e-commerce focused sister conference – will follow in October.

Products and Company News:

We’re no stranger to the feeling of announcing the launch of a new company or product. Looking into 2020, we’re filled with that same excitement for the products and companies coming this year.

Devocate

Devocate is a new endeavor for Tessa Kriesel. She’s releasing a software product that helps you create, grow, and manage a developer advocacy program. Import your customers through one of many CRM integrations and let Devocate recommend your top customer advocates based on their product usage, social influence, network reach & love for your product. 

What we find most interesting about Devocate is its use of gamification and creative rewards to encourage challenges, participation and engagement among your advocates. It also focuses heavily on reporting ROI around your advocacy program & individual campaigns & challenges. At the end of the day, Devocate will help you better target your developer audience through authentic developer-to-developer marketing.  

Sandhills Development 

Pippin Williamson, founder at Sandhills Development, always has something up his sleeve when it comes to product news. So we were excited to learn that Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) 3.0 has a confirmed 2020 release.  

The EDD release has two primary focuses: 

  1. A complete migration of data from the WordPress default tables into custom database tables that offer significant performance and flexibility improvements. 
  2. And a complete rebuild of the reporting tools offered. This addition provides store owners with accurate and actionable reports of their store’s eCommerce activity. 

Another major feature to come soon: a full refunds user interface, including partial refunds. 

Gatsby Source Plugin

News of the rise of Gatsby.js comes quick. The new Gatsby Source WordPress plugin is of particular interest because it renders a much faster static version of your WordPress site for your visitors. 

The Gatsby Source Plugin  will use WPGraphQL and deprecate Gatsby’s use of the WP REST API. Alongside this plugin, we can expect a release of WPGraphQL v1.0, and WPGraphQL Subscriptions, which would allow for real-time interactions with WordPress using GraphQL.

GoDaddy

One of the biggest priorities at GoDaddy, for 2020 and beyond, is the Makers Of The Web Unite initiative. It focuses on bringing people together, online and offline, to learn about and create solutions on the web. Makers of the Web is heavily inspired by Matt Mullenweg’s Five For The Future campaign. The initiative aims to provide more support – not just to WordPress communities, like WordCamps and meetups – but to all communities who make things on the web.

LiquidWeb

According to Chris Lema, Liquid Web is planning to launch auto-scaling across all their WordPress and WooCommerce plans so that customers can get huge traffic hits without the need for assistance. This is a big deal for membership sites, online courses, and of course, online stores.

14-day Free Trials are also coming. Given how much buzz has been building around Managed WordPress and WooCommerce plans, free trials are in popular demand for 2020.

Gutenberg blocks from Themeum (Qubely) will roll out across the entire network. Finally, you can expect to see some new pricing / packaging that will make high performance plans even more accessible at lower price points.

ShePress

Still under a shroud of secrecy, we’re heard word about a WordPress women’s retreat that might be coming in Fall of 2020. Stay tuned for more information!

WebDevStudios

WebDev Studios is preparing some big changes for 2020. Co-Founders and COO and CEO, Lisa Sabin-Wilson and Brad Williams, respectively, are planning to release new additions of their highly-coveted WordPress books. They also plan to enhance the maintenance and support division of their company alongside running promotions to benefit small businesses and bloggers. 

Wordfence

To help site owners better measure performance problems in the face of new Google updates coming in 2020, Wordfence is launching a free SaaS in January. The tool is a standalone utility that better measures site performance and speed. 

WPAudit.Site

Aurooba Ahmed has a few things going on this year. First, she’s launching a course on Theme Development. She’s also working on creating a SaaS around WPAudit.site to help people better audit their WordPress client sites. We love the idea of stronger tools, built from the ground up, that help everyone make better and stronger WordPress sites.

WP Contribute Podcast

Christina Workman’s wp_contribute() podcast was created to showcase how people with different backgrounds and skill levels are contributing to the WordPress project. Her podcast:

  • highlights people in our community and the awesome things they are doing, 
  • demystifies what it means to contribute,
  • debunks the still all-too-common myth that you need to code in order to contribute, 
  • and inspires others to start contributing by introducing them to a variety of options they may have never considered. 

It’s a relevant new show that highlights the diversity and power of the individuals in our community.

Yoast

The team at Yoast has quite a few updates planned for their SEO plugin this year. In the first few months of 2020, we’ll see “Indexables,” a rebuild of how metadata is stored and generated. They’ve planned  enhancement and dramatic improvement to the premium internal linking suggestions functionality. 2020 will also see a slew of new schema enhancements and new schema-oriented blocks.

A rebuild of the XML sitemaps was just completed and will be shared after Indexables are released. This year the Yoast plugin will start storing URLs in a custom database table to greatly improve performance.

Updates From the WordPress Community 

Company news aside, our community is the lifeblood of WordPress! Here are some direct updates from individual WordPress community members about the things they are currently working on for 2020.

“I for one plan to launch a couple of developer tools that will make it easier to maintain your plugins and themes in more automated and continuously integrated manner.” 

Ahmad Awais

“If you’re interested in running high performance WordPress sites on AWS using Lambda, I’m working on something that might blow your socks off. It might even be woo-ready!”

Carl Alexander

“I’m launching a new improved Diverse Speakers training workshop and taking it global. We’re also working on translating the workshop material into new languages. And finally, I’m excited to turn our WCUS workshop into a new form that will be accessible to the WordPress public!”

Jill Binder

“I’m going to be pretty hyper focused on site building over at Creator Courses and have a curriculum that’s Gutenberg, Beaver Builder, Astra Pro, and Ninja Forms. Give people enough tools to build WordPress websites without code.”

Joe Casabona

“I’m excited for solid leadership training available now in so far as contributors [to WordPress] being able to lead from whatever position they find themselves in.”

Josepha Haden

“I am really looking forward to Gutenberg’s emergence as a full-fledged page builder alternative to the current ones on the market. […] In 2020, my company, gravity+, is going into its 9th year and I am extremely proud of what this little company, that built the first paid Gravity Forms add-on and literally started the whole business ecosystem around Gravity Forms, has been able to contribute. This is going to be a big year for us:

1) expanding our work with Stripe and payments, empowering business owners to get paid for anything,
2) continuing our support of the Salesforce ecosystem with the Gravity Forms Salesforce Add-On, the most powerful WordPress Salesforce integration right now, and
3) more community contributions.”

Naomi C. Bush

“The Privacy team has been looking at incorporating some sort of cookie management for WP… and between Osano, iubenda, and CookieBot… There are a lot of privacy solutions taking off and developing technical solutions to assist website owners with global privacy compliance. Which is VERY exciting to me. Agency owners can and should look to affiliate and get paid to assist their clients in getting compliant. And I shared my prediction in my US talk that I believe more states are going to adopt CCPA like privacy laws… so these solutions/need for compliance is here to stay.”

Rian Kinney

“With podcasting growing as large as it is, I do have an idea for something I’d like to create that would allow us to save podcasts to our WordPress installations. And that sounds really weird at first, but when it comes to data ownership and media management, I think WordPress offers us something that I know I’d like to build so I’m going to try to do a bit of work on that project throughout the year.”

Tom McFarlin

What else are you looking forward to in 2020?

In addition to all the things coming down the road that you can see, download, or visit… we know that the overall WordPress ecosystem is shifting. In 2019, we heard and participated in dozens of conversations, brimming with predictions and analyses of where the community as a whole is headed. 

Visit the second part of this series, “WordPress in 2020: Hot Takes from the Community” next week to find out where people believe the wind is shifting for WordPress in 2020. 

Did we miss a launch or event that you’re looking forward to in 2020? Leave it in the comments below.

Special shout-out to our whole Impress.org team for this piece. This truly was a team-effort.

One thought on “What to Watch for in WordPress in 2020

  1. Excellent post! Great to see the WordPress community flourishing as we enter a new decade – I’m especially excited about the trend of virtual and online conferences, and GoDaddy’s Makers of the Web initiative.

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