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Word on the Future

November 2018 | ~ 7 min read

Welcome to the fourth edition of Word on the Future. Thank you for being here with us.  

Keywords: AI-powered platforms; smart solutions; Gutenberg; WordPress 5.0
tl;dr
  • The way organisations are using WordPress is changing dramatically, and WordPress is changing as a result.
  • With increased access to specialised tools and solutions, WordPress has transitioned from an all-in-one solution to one tool in a larger technology stack, and one that is required to provide demonstrable business value by driving traffic, engagement, and conversions.
  • The announcement of a WordPress 5.0 release brings the Gutenberg editing experience to millions of websites and propels WordPress to the forefront of modern digital publishing.
  • The 5.0 release continues to push WordPress towards a React-oriented development stack, and following on from a recent post on Our React Tools for WordPress, we're sharing some of the techniques we’re using to bring familiar React-ecosystem developer conveniences to WordPress and Gutenberg.
SENTENCES

Smarter WordPress: A look at WordPress in 2019

Gutenberg illustration
At Human Made, we’ve watched WordPress’ growth from a humble CMS to a foundational platform capable of complex integrations: a central hub consuming and aggregating content from other tools and services. Earlier this year, I gave a presentation at the world's biggest WordPress conference about my predictions for WordPress in 2019, including some of the key trends that will help shape WordPress into a solution fit for a new and increasingly connected web.

Today, the way WordPress is used varies widely from how it was being used 10 years ago, and this follows rapid changes in the digital environment. With increased access to specialised tools and solutions such as Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS), WordPress has transitioned from an all-in-one solution to one tool in a larger technology stack.

This is partly due to XaaS solutions being more adept at exposing complex business logic to non-technical users; so your Marketing Director doesn’t need to rely on a technical team to provide this insight, which is not only more efficient, but also fulfils a growing need for organisations to find business solutions that drive value.

While it’s true that WordPress has achieved a massive 32% market share, this growth can be attributed beyond the product and to the wider WordPress.org ecosystem: a marketplace where hundreds of thousands of people meet to exchange ideas and knowledge.

Disruption, and the Growth of Platforms 


As products and services – like WordPress – mature, and the connections they are capable of making become more sophisticated, platforms are built around them. These aim to deliver value by connecting individuals and organisations together and facilitating transactions between them, like Uber and Airbnb. But these can also be – as The Centre for Global Enterprise describes – ‘innovation platforms’, a technology, product, or service that serves as a foundation for other organisations to build complementary technologies, products, or services.

This has long been a core staple of WordPress.org, and it has already demonstrated itself as massively ahead of its time, given the sheer number and depth of interactions and exchanges happening on this single platform, every day.

Platforms are also defined by the fact that they own both the transaction, and the customer, and they provide a fully integrated solution: delivering strong onboarding and user experiences, and a marketplace of curated third-party plugins for core business and marketing needs.

The Digital Experience Platform

 
Today in enterprise organisations, the ‘digital experience platform’ (DXP) is being presented as the new hub of business innovation and as an evolutionary next step from the CMS, promising to deliver ‘AI-powered personalised experiences at scale’. And while the CMS remains a huge part of DXP, it’s not necessarily the main driver.

The underlying motivation driving DXP is to provide smart solutions capable of offering interoperability with other technologies and services to help drive engagement, conversion, and business value. And as demand for more specialised tools grows, WordPress can differentiate itself by focusing on its own specialism: creating, ingesting, distributing, editing, analysing, and manipulating content. Combined with a range of microservices and tools embedded inside WordPress, it can deliver the ‘smart CMS’ solution with all the benefits of open source software.

At Human Made we’re already investing in initiatives to create a smarter WordPress better fit for the web of the future. This is also happening across almost all other areas of WordPress. The AWS Rekognition plugin we’ve been using automatically tags images inside the WordPress Media Library, a useful feature in editorial and SEO use cases. And Gutenberg’s ‘copy+paste’ feature auto-detects the web application the text has been copied from: a simple and smart solution that saves people time, and drives value.

Gutenberg, the native block editor in WordPress 5.0

WordPress 5.0 will bring the Gutenberg editing experience to millions of websites. The new block-based page building approach replaces WordPress’ legacy editor that has helped drive the adoption of WordPress to a market share of 32%. To this day, Gutenberg has been installed on over 1.1 million websites as a plugin and has seen more than 8,600 commits from 336 contributors.

With its brand new block editor, WordPress finds itself at the forefront of modern digital publishing, although not all websites will be able to use the block editor from ‘merge day’ on. For sites relying on incompatible third-party components, or publishers whose editorial workflows require a fully accessible user interface, the Classic Editor plugin will be officially supported until the end of 2021.

Human Made have taken a ‘Gutenberg-first’ approach early on, and we're actively exploring how the new editor can inform solutions we build for our clients. Recently, we’ve worked with a leading global travel search site implementing Gutenberg to support their content marketing needs. This has helped them consolidate their suite of tools and develop more efficient processes to support their growth marketing teams. 

The block editor’s merge into WordPress 5.0 pushes the ecosystem towards a React-oriented development stack – a transition Human Made actively continue to contribute towards. Read about the techniques we are using to bring familiar React-ecosystem developer conveniences to WordPress and Gutenberg.
QUOTES


Noel Tock

Partner and CGO at Human Made
on WordPress and the Digital Experience Platform

‘DXP is a concept specific to enterprise today, and the underlying motivation is for solutions to drive engagement, conversion, and business value. It’s about using large sets of data to predict what users want, and make smarter decisions in an automated manner.

If there’s a specialised tool for every need inside a tech stack then WordPress’ specialisation is content: ingesting, creating, editing, analysing, manipulating, enhancing, and distributing content.’
 
HEADS UP

Celebrate with us: Human Made is celebrating recent growth in the Asia Pacific region and launching a translated version of the official website in Japanese. This follows the appointment of Shin Nishikawa as our Director of Client Services in Japan. 

Meet us: at WordCamp US, Dec 7–9 where we will be represented by John Blackbourn, Senior WordPress Engineer, and Jenny Beaumont, Senior Project Manager, on stage, as well as several other members of our team.

Forward to a friend

Until next time!



Noel Tock
Partner and CGO at Human Made

November 2018 contributions from: Ana Silva, Barbara Marcantonio, Caspar Hübinger



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