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Apr 17

Filed Away: WordPress

The Future of WordPress Design: Part 1

I recently sat on a panel at WordCamp NOLA alongside Matt Thomas (Creative Director, Automattic) and Ron Domingue (Ron Domingue Studios) to discuss the future of WordPress design. We covered a variety of topics and received some pretty good questions from the attendees. But now I’d like to hear what you have to say about some of this stuff. I’d love to have a dialogue about these things, so please leave your thoughts below, or hit me up on Twitter.

Grandma’s got a blog.

With each release, WordPress is progressively lowering the bar for entry to the blogging arena closer and closer to zero. Literally anyone can have a blog up and running on WordPress.com in a matter of minutes. Or a self-hosted WordPress.org site in not much more time. This means that the market for themes is going to continue to grow. Many of these new users take their writing very seriously, and see their blog designs as their online business cards. These beginners are going to be on the lookout for themes that are not only eye-catching, but easy to use and well-documented & supported.

Activity Streaming

Recently we’ve seen a huge shift of emphasis from longform writing to shortform content publishing on the web. Naturally, people are going to want their blogs to serve as a funnel for all this content they’re creating. Microblogging like Twitter, and other media like Vimeo and Flickr are obvious additions. However I think things like Asides and Miniblogs (See Below) are going to becoming more and more commonplace as well.

WordPress = CMS

Even if WordPress wasn’t meant for it, it already has the ability to serve as a viable Content Management System. As time goes on, and as features are added and refined, I think we’ll start to see it fill that role even more often. What’s this mean? It means that corporations are going to stop spending thousands and thousands of dollars on custom CMSs and start downloading WordPress for free. For us designers, it means we’ll have a whole new market of WordPress users looking for unique themes solutions for their corporate sites. Since they’ll now have a CMS that cost them $0, their budgets should be wide open for some great design.

WordPress in 2009 is going to be huge. More to come.

WordPress Logo

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8 comments so far on this post:

  1. Bob Pease |

    Great article! I agree 100%, especially with the CMS aspect. I am constantly suggesting that WordPress be used in this manner to manage a website. It’s turning into my go-to-platform for many projects.

  2. Aaron Irizarry |

    The CMS aspect of wp continues to grow! time to brush up on my wp skillz!


  3. Nick |

    I think that WordPress as a CMS is entirely possible, but wrangling it into that beast takes a skilled developer willing to put in the time to develop a solution AND train the end user. I find that second part to be the more challenging of the equation, actually.

    While the WordPress interface is great for the blogging work flow, making sure that the user always fills in the right fields in the right meta boxes on the page or post page that correspond to the content type they’re publishing is challenging. That, combined with the fact that there is no easy way to prevent a post from being published even if custom data is missing makes combatting bad user behavior difficult when using WordPress as CMS. I’d love to hear your opinions on this in a future article.

  4. David Link |

    Nick, I totally agree.

    One of the biggest struggles, currently, is using custom field meta data to try to bridge that “CMS” gap. In fact, that was one of the things I mentioned during the panel. But I think that as WordPress (the project) grows we’ll see better methods for integrating that meta data. Hopefully as soon as WP 3.0

  5. kyle steed |

    Well for one I’m excited about the future of WordPress in terms of integrating more CMS features in to it. Just last night I met with a new client and he mentioned he would like to be able to edit some of his own content on the site. So I said; “great, we can set you up a WordPress site and I’ll show you how to do it.” Now I know it’s not as easy as 1, 2, 3. But far better than just creating him a simple HTML site that he might get the “lost in translation” symptom from.

    I’ve seen a few article around the ol’ interwebs about using WP as a CMS lately, so I’m gonna go back and brush up on them for this new project. Other than that, I’m really looking forward to the Dallas Wordcamp coming up in June. Can’t wait to meet others there and learn a thing or two as well.

    Take care.

  6. Flash |

    Thanks for letting us know the importance of Wordpress in coming times. It is ,in fact, revealing. But i still have an opinion that corporates will still be using custom CMS services ( Branding is more important than few bucks)… I hope what you said is true for small or medium level enterprises

  7. web tasarım |

    thanks for sharing

  8. cache $$ click(); |

    Wordpress as CMS … mmm….

    What about the importance of learning a programming language (not php) and building a client-tailored solution. Wordpress is GREAT, dont get me wrong, but the time it takes to wrangle a client(not the browser, the money-paying kind) ready solution is >= what it would take to just learn a framework(rails, django), or better yet a language(thoroughly). So where is the money?, if there is the budget at least use EE, if not you are hacking for hacking’s sake.(which is cool unless you need to pay bills, and meet needs).

    just my II cents. peace:)

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