It’s official—WordPress is all grown up. The world’s most popular blogging platform-turned-CMS (content management system) turns 21 years old in 2024, and there are plenty of WordPress updates and trends emerging to mark the occasion.
As the top WordPress development agency, we feel it’s our duty to highlight what’s new in WordPress this year so you can plan your birthday celebration accordingly.
Over 835 million websites use WordPress—roughly 43% of all websites—so it’s abundantly clear that the future of WordPress is bright. 21 years is a long time in any industry, but in tech, that’s some serious staying power. We should know—Coalition has been a premier industry leader ever since our genesis in 2009!
Without further adieu, let’s dive into the most anticipated WordPress updates and trends on the horizon in 2024.
Table of Contents
1. Headless WordPress
WordPress is typically used as a monolithic CMS, meaning it’s an all-in-one solution that includes both front-end tools for editing appearance and back-end tools for managing content. The term “headless” refers to the decoupling of the front- and back-ends.
The concept of a headless CMS isn’t brand new, but the adoption of headless WordPress configurations is gaining traction rapidly as more and more APIs, plug-ins, and frameworks focus on headless architecture.
Although WordPress isn’t likely to eliminate the traditional CMS model anytime soon, many headless devs are enjoying the increased freedom, flexibility, control, speed, security, and overall performance boost that’s possible to achieve by decoupling the front- and back-ends.
It’s worth noting that not all WordPress updates and trends are an ideal fit for all users. WordPress is famously a novice-friendly platform, but the hands-on approach required to reap the benefits of a headless configuration may be out of reach for the casual user. That said, it never hurts to have more options and room to grow!
2. PHP Support Changes
PHP (a scripting and programming language) certainly isn’t new in WordPress—the vast majority of WordPress software is written with it, not to mention over 75% of all websites—but there are some surprising changes being made as far as support goes. Don’t worry, the future of WordPress is still very much PHP-friendly, but if you’re still using PHP 5, it’s time to get current with the latest WordPress updates.
The major news is that WordPress has dropped support for all versions of PHP 5. This change occurred with the launch of WordPress 5.2, with the exception of PHP 5.6, which remained supported. However, with WordPress 6.3 came the nixing of PHP 5.6, too.
So, what does this mean for WordPress users? As you might expect, supporting the latest PHP versions will ensure that WordPress is able to keep up! Removing support for outdated languages opens new avenues for technological evolution. We’re likely to see some exciting new plug-ins and themes emerge in 2024 as the full potential of new PHP is revealed.
3. AI and Machine Learning Integration
2024 WordPress updates and trends will certainly include artificial intelligence and machine learning. Love it or hate it, ChatGPT and other “smart” algorithms are rapidly transforming not only the internet, but the world at large—whether for better or worse is yet to be seen.
Generative AI was already new in WordPress towards the end of 2022, and 2023 saw major leaps in the tech. This kind of technology inherently accelerates exponentially, so the AI singularity could be right around the corner! In the meantime, let’s take a step back and look at how it’s being used in WordPress.
Chatbots are among the most popular WordPress updates that are being incorporated into many websites as of late, usually in customer support settings. In fact, there’s a high probability that you’ve talked to one and didn’t even realize it! While chatbots are no substitution for genuine human interaction, they can provide assistance with surface-level inquiries.
AI and machine learning can also be used to provide relevant suggestions to users, such as recommending products or content that align with the user’s behavior and taste.
From a dev’s perspective, AI can be used for UI and UX design in a myriad of ways—both good and bad. In the right hands, AI-based WordPress updates can allow talented devs to do what they’re already doing, but more efficiently. In the wrong hands, it can allow e-litter to spread like wildfire as unscrupulous, blackhat opportunists turn the internet into a virtual junkyard in hopes of an easy payday.
At Coalition Technologies, we’re not anti-AI. Used thoughtfully by a skilled expert, AI can be a valuable tool to have in one’s kit, but we value the human creative process and believe AI is no substitute for the crucial human element. Like any other technology, AI and machine learning require deep proficiency to be used beneficially. Click here to learn more about our AI policy.
4. WooCommerce Scalability
One of the most thrilling WordPress updates for online retailers involves the platform’s world-renowned e-commerce platform, WooCommerce. Of course, WooCommerce isn’t new in WordPress by any means—it’s the world’s leading e-commerce platform, capturing 39% of the market share in 2023—but a recent game-changing update is setting the stage for explosive growth for both the future of WordPress and WooCommerce.
The plan for High-Performance Order Storage (HPOS) was introduced relatively recently in January 2022 when it was originally called Custom Order Tables. Following a beta phase that began in May 2022, the revolutionary database structure dropped at the end of 2023.
HPOS is one of the most exciting WooCommerce/WordPress updates for small and large business owners alike. Besides making WooCommerce more reliable and easier to use, HPOS makes it possible for e-stores to grow without being forced to make drastic changes or migrate to a different platform.
In the pre-HPOS era, once a WooCommerce website hit around 50,000 orders (depending on the site, this could take a week or it could take years), the site would become aggravatingly sluggish. There’s no worse time for website malfunctions than when you’re having a major influx of customers!
So, what does HPOS do? In short, HPOS provides dedicated tables for critical data, such as customer addresses and order information. This reduces read/write operations and declutters tables, drastically decreasing the load and allowing for ongoing scalability. In other words, you don’t have to dread success!
5. Full Site Editing
Not all WordPress updates are catered to the web wizards out there! Full site editing (FSE) is an umbrella term that refers to a set of tools that allows less tech-savvy users to engage with a user-friendly block editor to build all aspects of a website with no coding experience necessary.
FSE isn’t brand new in WordPress (the feature launched in January 2022), and it’s not perfect just yet, but it’s getting progressively better.
2024 is an exciting year for novice developers who want to build their own WordPress websites, but lack the skills, time, resources, or desire to learn how to code. Of course, an FSE-built website will have inherent limitations and drawbacks, but it’s a great starting point that drastically lowers the entry barrier.
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Which WordPress updates and trends are you most looking forward to this year? There’s a lot to think about in regard to the future of WordPress, but one thing is certain: the world’s most popular CMS is here to stay! Now is the time to board the WordPress train and get on track to success in 2024 and beyond.
Professional WordPress web development will give your business the competitive edge needed to stand out in today’s saturated markets. We’ve helped many clients hit and surpass their WordPress goals, and we can do the same for you.
Whether you need assistance preparing your website for upcoming WordPress updates, increasing your presence on search engines through WordPress SEO in 2024 (search engine optimization), or building a brand new WordPress website from the ground up, we can’t wait to work with you.Now that you know what’s new in WordPress for 2024, why not take the next step and take advantage of these exciting updates and trends? With a decade of dedicated WordPress experience, our team can bring your wildest dreams to life. Contact us today to get started.