I don’t remember it very well, but I do remember my first WordPress website. A blog, started back when that was WordPress’ primary function. I remember installing the theme and tinkering with the code for it in WordPress’ built-in theme editor. Soon after I needed to do ‘more’ with the site. I think it may have been the need to add an email signup widget or something like that. So I looked to plugins – the way you added ‘more’ to your WordPress site. Moments later I had a .zip file that I installed on the site and success was mine.
Years later the flow of installing a WordPress plugin has improved greatly, with each WordPress installation having direct access to the plugin repository and it taking just a few clicks to install any plugin you can dream of.
Things are good. In fact, things are great, especially if you used WordPress many years ago when it was first released and began its path to where it is today. But every single new WordPress user doesn’t remember the WordPress of the past because they never experienced it to begin with. As more and more people use WordPress than leave WordPress, that number of new users will keep growing. So let me repeat myself: The future of WordPress is not a in Zip file.
The future of WordPress – at least, the future we can see and help shape – is seamless. It’s powered by a REST API, much like the rest of the internet. Applications and improvements won’t just be files you install on your site and do your best to update. Whether or not your site or ecommerce store can survive excessive traffic won’t be determined by the code you installed on your site late at night while trying to add just one more feature or the risk you took hitting the update button without 100 backups on standby.
The future of WordPress is apps. It’s the experience of entering your site’s URL, hitting a button and then having all the hard-work done for you without any follow-up or maintenance or stressful decision making. It’s complimenting the freedom that hosting your own site gives you with the comfort of less responsibility. There’s a future for plugins, without a doubt, but it’s a shared and less dependent future.
And while I realise that this future means less immediate open-source code (through free plugins) and less transparency into how sites are made, I hope that we’ll see more open-source apps. Long term though, while there may not be as much open-source software overall, my belief is that it will lead to more people running WordPress, in turn having ownership of the core software that they build businesses on and significantly, their data.