WordPress is almost 20 years old. And through its long and storied history, it has changed quite a bit, with each WordPress version introducing new and improved features. That’s not changing anytime soon.
With WordPress running over 40 percent of all websites on the internet today, the WordPress ecosystem is massive — and its future is looking bright.
To better understand where WordPress is headed, we spoke to WordPress experts and users from all over the world.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some WordPress trends expected to emerge in 2023. Keep reading to learn about the future of WordPress.
23 emerging WordPress trends
- Drag and drop page-building
- Block themes
- Improved navigation
- Adaptive media and responsive design
- Parallax scrolling
- Minimalist design
- Custom post types
- Surface texturization
- 3D elements
- Dark mode
- Retro menus
- Nostalgic design
- AI and machine learning
- Individual illustration
- Social proof
- Video and animation
- Chat bots
1. Drag & drop page-building
The no-code movement remains on trend for 2023.
A key example of this is the Twenty Twenty-Three theme, introduced with WordPress 6.1, which utilizes drag-and-drop elements along with style variations that make it quick and easy to personalize sites.
“Page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi, and Visual Composer provide a drag-and-drop approach to content creation, empowering users to create beautiful and original pages without ever touching the code,” says Sam McGraw, CEO of Design Hub.
We’re likely to see continued interest in drag-and-drop options as it enables amateurs and pros alike the ability to spin up a unique site in little time.
2. Block themes
Block themes have quickly become a favorite among site builders, as they let you customize each area of your site.
iBoysoft manager Jessica Shee predicts block themes staying in vogue for a long while.
“Incorporating the Gutenberg block builder into WordPress themes and designs will become increasingly popular over the next few years. This will allow developers to create visually stunning and interactive page layouts with minimal effort.”
At the 2022 State of the Word, Matt Mullenweg reported that as Gutenberg continues to develop, you’ll be able to create entire themes solely with blocks.
3. Improved navigation
Site navigation isn’t just important for visitors – it can affect your page rank in search engine results.
David Zhang, CEO of Kate Backdrop, says “the most innovative trend in WordPress design is the integration of an intuitive user interface (UI) and interactive user experience (UX), which makes it easier for users to navigate the site.”
Model Chic Creative Director Raine Gui says there will likely be “a shift toward a more modular, user-friendly structure for the site's navigation,” in 2023.
“Launching a more intuitive interface for editing global concepts like styles, templates, and navigation will take up the bulk of the time,” continued Gui. “With a more robust navigation block and shortcuts for template browsing, we hope to streamline both the template and post-editing processes.”
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4. Adaptive media and responsive design
Great content doesn’t matter if your site is designed poorly. For example, the size of page elements varies depending on how you access a page. That’s why adaptive media and responsive design continue to be a consideration for developers in 2023.
“Adaptive media allows you to deliver a different experience based on what device your users are using,” says Michael Miller, CEO of VPNOnline.com. “For example, you might have an ad that's a video on desktop but a banner on mobile, or you could have a call-to-action button that's bigger on desktop and smaller on mobile.”
“Responsive design is about making sure your website looks good no matter what device it's being viewed on,” says Miller. “If you've ever had to scroll horizontally to read all of the content on your screen, then you've seen how frustrating it can be when your site doesn't respond well to different screen sizes.”
Making sure your site works well regardless of where someone views it ensures the user experience is keeping visitors engaged.
5. Parallax scrolling
“Parallax scrolling is a common web effect that is utilized to make areas of a website more dynamic,” says CEO and Head of Content Rikin Shah of GetSure. “It is most commonly utilized in full-width applications with picture, video, or texture imagery that lends depth to a page.”
“As the user scrolls past a picture or video, the scrolling behavior creates the illusion that the image or video is located behind the adjacent portions. This tiny characteristic makes the text more intriguing.”
Parallax scrolling is not a new effect, but it is being utilized more and more. The faux 3D effect has a modern, sophisticated feel where words “float” over imagery, creating a more immersive experience than scrolling over a fixed background.
6. Minimalist design
Everyone knows less is more, and the same is true for website design. Jacob Briones, CEO of Headphonesblog.com, thinks we’ll see a lot of simplistic design in 2023. “Users no longer have the patience or the time to slog through a convoluted website with ambiguous navigation or pages that take forever to load because of heavy motion graphics. The future of web design is straightforward, and we mean in all aspects.”
Web design expert Peter Manzano from RizeReview.com tells us, “Minimalist design involves using clean, simple, and uncluttered layouts to create a sense of order and focus. This trend can be seen in the use of white space, clean typography, and simple color schemes.”
Harrison Acha, CEO at Primegate Digital, says minimalism is on the rise “due to the growing popularity of responsive design, as well as the need to create faster-loading pages. Minimalistic designs can help with both of these issues, and they can also be easier to manage and update.”
7. Custom post types
Not all posts need to look the same, and it shouldn’t be hard to customize. While your site should look consistent, you might not want a page to look like a blog post, a product page, or a navigation menu.
WordPress Custom Post Types are the answer for that. Primegate Digital’s Harrison Acha predicts increased interest in custom post types.
“Another trend we're seeing is an increase in the use of custom post types. This allows developers to create custom content types that are specific to their needs, and it can make it easier to manage and display content on a website.”
Customizability is synonymous with WordPress. You can look at your favorite sites and edit blocks to replicate your favorite features. You can make styles all your own. Whatever you want to see – you can make it with WordPress.
“The ability to easily customize your website to match your brand and meet your specific needs is one of the main benefits of WordPress. As a result, many WordPress designers are focusing on creating customizable themes and templates that allow users to create a unique and personalized website easily,” adds Manzano.
WordPress meets you wherever your expertise level may be. Deepti Boddapati from TotalOnlineMarketingSystem.com says full site customization benefits all site owners regardless of their comfort with coding.
“If you’re a small business with a low code website, full site customization means that you’re not limited to what is implemented by the theme developer. If you’re an enterprise business with a high code website, you don’t have to use up development resources on these foundational things.”
9. Surface texturization
Inge Broerman, VP of Marketing at BluLogix, believes that design is about to get a lot more groovy. Or maybe bumpy? Surface texturization may be the next big thing for WordPress design.
“Textured backgrounds were formerly a popular design choice, but they were quickly dismissed as unnecessary and obtrusive,” says Broerman. She isn’t convinced going out of style once means it’s an aesthetic disaster.
“As we go towards the year 2023, we may expect to see more web designers experimenting with organic forms to add subtle but strategically placed textures to their designs.”
10. 3D elements
SEO and WordPress design expert Genaro Palma of GenaroPalma.com recognizes that the future is 3D. “The proliferation of 3D objects, which are inextricably linked to virtual and augmented reality, is set to continue in 2023.”
With Meta and other VR options becoming more mainstream, there will be demand for design that makes use of the technology. “Interactive volumetric elements improve visualization and attract attention. Objects can be left static or made animated. The main thing is to fit them into the design appropriately and not to slow down the loading of the site.”
While others say we’re moving toward more minimalistic design, Palma thinks we’ll be seeing a lot more life. “The world is moving away from the usual minimalism and again comes to realism. After all, fashion is cyclical!”
11. Dark mode
If you’re anything like us, you’re staring at a computer screen all day. Bright white backgrounds on web pages, email clients, and document editors can contribute to eye strain.
Most of our devices can automatically change settings to “dark mode,” which replaces light-colored backgrounds and dark text with light text on a dark-colored background. Websites don’t automatically do that – though there are plugins that make it easy to add to your website. You can also just design your site in “dark mode” to begin with.
Adeel Abbasi of CondoControl.com believes dark mode design is on 2023’s radar.
“More and more websites and apps will adopt this style. A website designed in dark mode is more practical than changing after the fact or adding extra plugins. Dark mode also provides a more comfortable reading experience as opposed to staring at a bright white screen.”
12. Retro menus
Who doesn’t love nostalgia? Marketing expert Claire Jarrett of Jarrett Digital Ltd says, “A retro (or rather nostalgic) navigational menu is definitely one of the most common trends that only started to pop up more and more in the past few weeks. We actually use it on two of our recently developed landing pages (WordPress) with great CTR.”
Jarrett wonders if it may be seasonal, however, she thinks “2023 will be the year where we see quite a few of these retro menus implemented in some of the best-selling WordPress themes. Some already added them.”
13. Nostalgic design
Owner and CEO Mark Valderrama from Aquarium Store Depot also predicts a return to retro this year.
“Expect that everything, from social media postings and advertisements to landing sites and packaging, will have a warm, reassuring tone in the new year.”
“Google, Later, Figma, and even MTV have used this vibrant, nostalgic sketch style to create social media images,” says Valderrama. “This style in graphic design is causing a stir as it modernizes the tried-and-true graphics of the past.”
14. AI and machine learning
“The AI world is probably the most interesting vertical to follow these days. With the release of GPT-4 on the horizon, I think a lot of WordPress plugins and theme devs will adapt and use the OpenAI API to implement one-click solutions to common problems,” says Jarrett.
Jarrett goes on to say that “AI and machine learning will play a huge part in the next iteration of plugins and updates. This may include generating site content, schema markup, feature images, meta tags, widgets, chatbots, documentation, privacy or GDPR related pages, security, etc.”
15. Individual illustrations
In direct contrast to industry leaders saying we’ll see an uptick in AI art – some people think we’ll see a lot of the opposite.
“It's crucial to use original, creative, and distinctive drawings rather than generic visuals. It is a proven truth that such inventiveness greatly influences brand recognition and enhances commercial style. It follows that more businesses will probably post these illustrations on their platforms,” says Christian Velitchkov, co-founder of Twiz LLC.
Cybersecurity expert Patrick Smith from Fire Stick Tricks agrees.
“The use of hand-drawn graphics in WordPress design is back in style. These 2D illustrations add a personal touch to a blog,” says Smith. “It is an excellent way for artists to express their creativity and make use of original designs for their blogs.”
16. Social proof
Shopping online removes some elements of the experience that you just can’t replicate digitally.
One way you can inspire trust in potential customers is to use social proof.
Léa Soller, CEO of Digiberries Paris, says that in the coming year, more websites will be using social proof to generate trust and therefore increase sales.
“We advise displaying overall customer satisfaction ratings, customer testimonials, and average customer ratings. You can link to a review platform like Google or Yelp, too.”
Soller also recommends asserting your credibility by having active SSL certificates and displaying trustmarks like padlocks on checkout buttons and adding your return policies or other statements that outline your business policies.
17. Video and animation
Infinity Web Solutions is sure devs will be focusing on video and animation this year.
“Video and animation can be powerful tools for engaging visitors and conveying information. As bandwidth and technology improve, we'll likely see more websites incorporating these elements into their design.”
“Animation is the latest trend that needs your attention. Many brands are now utilizing animations in the form of GIFs. Companies see how users get fascinated by GIFs, and they are adapting this design,” says Rodney Warner, CEO at Connective Web Design.
“Animations work really well if the target is to engage the visitors and get them hooked,” adds Warner.
“One important thing to know before using this design is to avoid overdoing it. A lot of animation can ruin the fun and disturb the focus of the brand. Homepage is one place where animations can do well.”
Every little bit counts. Manzano describes micro-interactions as “small, interactive elements that can enhance the user experience on a website. These can include things like hover effects, drop-down menus, and animated buttons.”
Manzano tells us that “by adding micro-interactions to your WordPress website, you can make it more engaging and user-friendly.”
Ronald Ander, CEO of SEOAnt, thinks we’ll see a lot more micro-interactions in 2023. Ander says this trend is expected to be used heavily, specifically “in things such as moving icons on the homepage and text or images that change size or perform a quick action.”
Customer service feels better when you’re talking to a real person. That’s why chatbots are increasingly popular.
“Chatbots break down language barriers and promote communication between customers and service providers conveniently. This makes it possible for customers to discuss their problems in a quick, real-time manner by using text or voice-based user queries,” says Sarah Jameson, Marketing Director of Green Building Elements.
“Chatbot integration with custom WordPress development enables businesses to address customer issues quickly and in an organized way,” she continued. “By implementing this approach, businesses can provide better customer satisfaction which will result in improved productivity and increased revenue.”
Automation makes tasks easier. Sometimes it takes a bit of work to set up workflows, but the time spent now pays off later. Automating web development and other work tasks allow you to focus on the work you need to be doing.
“The biggest change we're going to see in WordPress is a move toward even more automation. With tools like WP Smush Pro and Google AMP, it's easier than ever to make sure your sites are optimized for mobile and search engines,” says Michael Miller, CEO of VPNOnline.com.
Automating site optimizations, social posts, blocks – there’s a lot of time to be saved. Miller is looking to WordPress to innovate even more.
“It will also be interesting to see what happens with the Gutenberg editor. There are still some bugs that need to be worked out, but I'm excited about the possibilities of this new editor!”
21. Enhanced security
Web security is nothing new, but keeping up to date with the latest security updates is crucial for ecommerce success — especially in 2023.
“As WordPress continues to experience increased user growth, so too does its exposure to malicious actors attempting to gain access to your website. In light of this, proper security considerations need to be taken when utilizing WordPress,” adds Jameson.
“Plugins like Wordfence, Jetpack, and Sucuri can provide an additional layer of protection on top of any existing measures already established,” says Jameson.
“These plugins have been designed specifically with the purpose of keeping malicious actors away from WordPress sites and helping keep sensitive information secure. With these tools in place, you can trust that your WordPress website is safe and secure against potential threats.”
The WordPress community is made up of people of all races, ethnicities, genders, levels of ability – and the platform and its tools could better reflect that in some areas.
“As our consciousness of marginalization and intersectionality has grown, so has the demand for more inclusive representation, i.e., representation that transcends varied skin tones and same-sex partnerships,” says Kenny Kline, President and Financial Lead at BarBend.
We’ll see “forward-thinking designs, which allow audiences from all walks of life to recognize themselves in a company’s goods and mission.”
“Making websites accessible to users with disabilities will continue to be a priority. This includes ensuring that websites are compatible with assistive technologies and meeting web accessibility standards,” says Lucy Hurst, Managing Director at Sherbet Donkey Media.
“98% of the world's top one million websites don't offer full accessibility,” says Stef Ungureanu, Founder of RockyThemes. “This is a figure I believe and hope will begin to shrink in 2023 as accessibility becomes a highly important and fast-growing focal point for developers. This should be implemented in all future and currently developed WordPress themes and applies to almost any type of website, not just WordPress themes.”
We’ll likely see design considerations made for color contrasting, screen reading, ALT text, and much more.
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This blog was originally published in December 2021. It has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.