What Is in Store for WordPress Users in 2017?

WordPress is an incredibly versatile management system that is constantly being updated. Alongside regular developments in core code, advancements in multimedia and trends in design and style ebb-and-flow with fashion and reader needs.

What Is in Store for WordPress Users in 2017?

No matter what your relationship with the CMS system – be it as a designer, developer or website owner – it’s essential to keep up-to-date with the advancements. Not only will this allow you to make the most out of the platform, but it will also ensure you can keep up with demands and requirements from prospective clients.

Last year saw significant changes. Since WordPress first introduced responsive images in November 2015, the platform has been successfully adapted itself for mobile. Images are now physically resized for use on smartphone browsers, meaning no distortion or visual impact on the user interface. This change may also be the reason why last year saw a massive rise in infographic use, with many opting for graphic format over text-based content.

Looking forward to 2017, it doesn’t seem like the pace of developments is going to slow down.

Here are some key changes to look out for over the coming 12 months:

1. A Streamlined Developing Experience

WordPress annually updates their operating system every year, guaranteeing users a fresh experience. In 2017, the company introduced WordPress 4.7 – lovingly named Vaughan after the famous jazz singer – and a new default theme called ‘Twenty Seventeen.’

The options created by this update are a catalyst for significant changes this year – both in the aesthetics of web pages and the work that goes into creating them. Here are the main points summarized:

  • Interactive Video & Image Headers: Not only are we looking at responsive images now, but video headers are also here and automatically optimized for all devices. This development will open up a whole new area of creative freedom in design by allowing moving images to be a key element of aesthetics.
  • Non-Destructive Live View: This feature makes it easier to experiment with customization and design. You can test changes in HTML and CSS and instantly see the effect, without accidentally ruining the integrity of your layout – an option that will make WordPress more accessible for those without coding background.
  • Editing Shortcuts: When viewing your site, easy icons allow you to select individual sections and make edits, dramatically cutting down the time it takes to make quick fixes.
  • Thumbnails: These will allow faster access to PDF documents, making it quicker to sort through files and find appropriate documents.
  • Content Endpoints: These will allow external access that can be read by machines, which paves the way for innovative methods of interacting via plugins, themes, apps, etc.
  • Bulk Editing Actions, Customize Change sets and numerous new Theme API Tools make the development process easier than ever by reducing the time spent editing each individual element.

2. Liberty in Layout

As market competition increases, users require their site to be truly unique in design and look. Adding a few drop-down menus and a single image isn’t going to help you stand out from the crowd anymore. End-users now need dynamic, interactive and totally original website concepts in order to be instantly hooked. You only have to glance at Apple’s new website to see sleek simplicity and smooth photo carousels have overtaken a more traditional layout of sidebar widgets and countless menus.

Fortunately, in 2017 WordPress is making it easier to carry out detailed customizations, allowing those with less experience to create and design. This change is also looking to have a significant effect on the time it takes to get websites up and running. Where once you would have spent days searching for the perfect theme, it’s now simple to work from a template and create the exact look you desire.

Two main features have been employed to guarantee users a complete liberty in layout. They are as follows:

WordPress Theme Applications

The introduction of this concept is not new, but it’s rising popularity definitely portends a new era in website design this year. Theme applications work as a framework, offering parent and child themes that are simply to edit visually – thus negating the need for intricate HTML knowledge.

Not only does the concept make website design increasingly accessible for new users, but it also has the added benefit of pre-installed features. All good WordPress theme applications ensure a high level of security, a built-in focus on SEO and automatic mobile responsiveness.

Drag & Drop Options

Introducing the website builder tool! There are many iterations of this software available but, in short, they all allow to design via drag-and-drop rather than using coding. Alongside increasing the accessibility of website design, these tools are invaluable for designers who are looking to provide clients with truly unique content.

Instead of having to adhere to the restrictions of the traditional sidebar/footer website layout, using a website builder means you can place tools, links, widgets, and images anywhere. The web page becomes a blank canvas, and you can paint how you chose.

With so many new users opting for this option, it’s something that all should investigate in 2017 remain to keep up with the reduced timeframe it will establish for website publication.

3. Personal Fonts & Typography

Once again, the demand from website owners for personalized and unique sites is leading the driving trends in 2017. Typography is an incredibly significant part of any website design; if you aren’t already putting focus on this area, then the time to do so is now!

Over the coming year, it’s likely we’ll see a death of typical fonts, particularly in the higher domain areas. Standard text is started to feel overused, and the classic H2 & H3 format are now so typical it’s impossible to stand out while using them.

Instead, clients and website owners are on the hunt for personal fonts – characters that have been designed specifically for their brands. Designers are turning to third-party applications, such as Google and Adobe, to create one-of-a-kind text, which they subsequently import into WordPress. If you aren’t yet utilizing this process, 2017 is the time to start.

Here are some trending elements that will be popping up throughout the next year.

  • Variable Fonts: Intricate customizations in size, spaces and vectors mean websites have more freedom with text.
  • Big or Small: Websites are opting for huge titles and tiny descriptions – the median is no longer considered.
  • Personal Handwriting: Script always ensures a personal touch, and designing from client’s actual writing is a great way to stay unique.
  • Font Personalities: More and more studies are commenting on the mood of fonts! Ensuring your style matches your site feel is essential.
  • Geometric Text: The futuristic impressions of these severe fonts are undeniably attractive; increasing popularity is already evident for giving sites a modern look.

4. Mobile First

With 80 percent of internet users owning and browsing on smartphones, it’s clear to everyone just how important mobile optimization is. However, a new stat claiming that time spent on mobile media (51 percent) has now outranked time on desktop media (only 42 percent) may suggest why this new trend in mobile website design was born!

The term ‘mobile first’ has already started popping up around the internet community. This pioneering idea is the next step to ‘being responsive,’ as mobile usage continues to become the primary source of internet browsing.

It refers to the practice of designing initially for a smartphone, before optimizing it to work on larger devices. It may seem like a simple change, but it’s one that’s set to have drastic repercussions in the way we design. Plus, as Google is also taking this information into account when determining ranking, it’s likely we’ll see most sites more over to this format in the near future if they haven’t already.

If you would like to make your site mobile first, here’s some good places to start:

Creating A Mobile First Website
  • Design your mobile site before any other version.
  • Declutter – aim to focus on content and minimalize excessive widgets, sliders, pop-up menus, etc.
  • Design with limitations in mind – screen size and bandwidth are not infinite.
  • Ditch the mouse-over effects; you can’t hover on a touch screen!
  • Don’t use graphics larger than screen size. They will offset your design and involve clumsy scrolling for end-users.

For those who need more support in this area, Bootstrap is a fantastic tool and boasts the most popular framework for developing mobile first sites. It’s easy to download and is available in numerous formats covering all skill levels.

Review Your Mobile First Website

Properly testing and reviewing a mobile site is as essential as designing it well initially. Many tutorials hone in on the importance of creating the site with a mobile device on hand. This is because ongoing checks are the only way to establish whether everything is in proper working order.

One of the biggest design pitfalls on WordPress is to simply suppose that all you have created is working as it should be. Human error and technological glitches are far too likely to make this kind of assumption, even in a high-end CMS like WordPress.

If you don’t have a smartphone handy or just want a more objective view of how things are working, there are many tools available that will test the success of your site’s responsiveness.

Google Analytics has a dedicated feature which allows you to track the mobile views your site receives. If this state is low, it’s likely there’s a flaw in your design.

Alternative options, however, will give you a much clearer answer before your site goes live. Here are a few industry leaders.

  • Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: This is for a simple and definitive yes or no answer on whether your site is mobile compatible.
  • Screenfly: It allows you to view your website as you would from a range of devices.
  • Mobiletest.me: It has the option to view a mobile site as it is on a whole range of specific mobile devices/brands.

5. ECommerce Development

All big retailers have known the importance of good ecommerce options for some time now. With online retail’s annual average growth coming in at 16.45 percent, it’s clear that more and more shoppers are opting to make purchases online.

That being said, another statistic shows an interesting new trend of which all WordPress users need to be made aware. Between 30 to 40 percent of online shoppers make purchases from web stores, independent boutiques and category-specific e-retailers. This fact means that keeping up-date-with ecommerce development is essential, as now is a better time than any to try and get a piece of the action.

For those who build and develop sites, 2017 will see a significant rise in requests and clients looking to do exactly that. For those wanting to get ahead of the game, good online retail sites have three main factors – ‘Design,’ ‘Development’ and ‘Management.’ The following sections detail how to get the most out of each of these elements to ensure your ecommerce store the best chance for success.

Design
  • Create an easily navigable UI that leads readers on a journey to make a purchase, which can be done through internal link building.
  • Ensure all ecommerce plugins smoothly integrate into the overall design. Respect the user experience and don’t force them straight into purchases; aim for visible rather than overbearing.
  • Display as many reasons to ensure user trust as possible. Good examples of this are personal and affiliate logos. Logo Carousel is a great new tool that will showcase these in an aesthetically pleasing way.
  • Customer reviews and feedback are essential for ecommerce as they provide legitimacy for your company. Ensure they are displayed obviously and are easily accessible.
Development
  • Establish the best choice of plugin. Using trusted names such as WooCommerce is an excellent way to ensure all runs smoothly and you don’t run into rogue plugins.
  • Integrating social media to establish a more intricate– and therefore more trustworthy – online presence for the brand.
  • Automate “conversational commerce.” First coined in 2015, this concept has developed from auto-email responses to full-on chat-bots. If you’ve yet to find a way to interact with your customers, now is the year to get creative!
Management
  • It’s no use simply setting up the perfect site; it needs to be run well and maintained also. By regularly reviewing analytics and testing features, you can guarantee your domain doesn’t degrade.
  • Ensure ongoing and relevant content marketing in order to draw audiences continuously.
  • Respond, share, like and post on social media; reply to readers’ comments and queries. Once again, this establishes you as a trusted company.
  • People won’t readily part with their money. You have to be engaged and you have to be interactive to give them faith in your brand.

6. VR Incorporation

Virtual reality is a concept that most of us still can’t get our heads around. However, it’s no longer a mere dream of a scientific future; it’s here, and the progress is only speeding up. While so far we’ve only seen significant advancements in VR gaming, 2017 is looking to be the year that this long anticipated trend finally starts making some serious headway.

VR internet browsing is the newest advance in this field after Samsung released software enabling the exploration of 3D internet on the headsets in late 2016. While WordPress users don’t have to worry about the mass-use of this platform anytime soon, taking the time to get to grips with the basics is an essential pursuit for the year coming. Already, the concept is leading discussions and attempts at VR-Optimized themes.

Currently, WordPress has merely dipped its toes in the water of the VR world. December 2016 saw the launch of 360-degree video supported by the platform. Similarly, the interactive panorama is becoming an increasingly popular way to display photos. While one day soon we could be looking at entirely VR-optimized web spaces, this looks to be the starting point for this year.

The WP-VR-view plugin is currently the only example of VR in WordPress. However, it’s essential now to master it more than ever. When the VR revolution comes you certainly don’t want to get left behind!

Conclusion

There is a lot to be looking forward to in the coming year. Overall, it looks as if WordPress is focusing on changes in three main categories.

  1. An increasing number of multimedia options
  2. Prioritizing mobile compatibility
  3. Supporting unique and personalized designs

As the realm of technology and the internet continues to change, the most popular CMS system is making all efforts to keep up with the times. Don’t get left behind! Stay in tune with the trends for 2017 and you’ll be guaranteed to remain at the top of your game.

Let us know which new trends you’re most excited for in the upcoming year in the comments below.

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