When one year comes to a close and another one starts two things typically happen. First there are the retrospectives that summarize and diagnose what happened in the previous year. Second there are the predictions that forecast the trends and events to watch for in the upcoming year. This post is of the second type, predictive, and here I share my top three predictions for 2022, presented in reverse order, countdown fashion.
Three – Explosive Growth
The number three trend may not be much of a surprise, but it is something to think about and prepare for. My expectation is that the number of premium theme, plugin, and WordPress-related SaaS offerings will see explosive growth in 2022.
There are a few things driving this growth. First, it has become clear that the Coronavirus is not going away. It will be with us for at least a few more years. As a consequence conducting business online will become the new normal.
Of course ecommerce will play a major role. WordPress went from being a million dollar marketplace a few years ago to a billion dollar one now. So the second thing driving WordPress growth is the earning potential. Its a gold rush. There will continue to be investments and consolidations, but also startup funding.
Third, writing software for WordPress can be done from home and doing so has a relatively low barrier to entry. Solopreneurs and small teams will leverage this to create Gutenberg blocks and page builder addons, mainly for Elementor. Buyers beware. Some will be in it just for the money and they will produce copycat low quality, low price software. Others will approach it with a more professional attitude, including higher prices, but will only produce middling solutions. Michael Edwin’s predictions for 2022 mentioned that he expects to see more business failures. This prediction makes sense to me and is in line with a gold rush mentality.
Watch for the creators who bring something new and artisans who pay special attention to detail. These are the products with the greatest potential value. So you get the idea now, from top to bottom everything is ready for explosive growth.
Two – Hands-on Code Friendly Builders
Oxygen started a revolution. The front-end output is very performant. It provides a range of options from working with builder elements to working with code. Oxygen is feature rich not because it has a lot of bells and whistles, but because it provides an advanced toolkit for building performant sites with advanced functionality. Oxygen also has a decent sized third party ecosystem. It may not have the market share of an Elementor or Beaver Builder, but it is a mature, established solution. I expect to see Oxygen popularity continue to grow. Recent releases and the upcoming Oxygen version 4 have focused on solving longstanding issues and making Oxygen a reliable and stable option. In 2022 Oxygen goes mainstream.
The past year also saw the rise of two new builders, the Bricks Builder and the Zion Builder, both of which can be seen as the next generation of the Oxygen approach. Both have Facebook groups and their own discussion forum. Bricks has 3,600+ members in their Facebook community and Zion has 1,900+ members. Elvis Krstulović hopes that Bricks reaches a tipping point and that professional site builders will start using it in their work. Given Bricks’ impressive history of releases and the features that have been developed, this seems like a reasonable prediction.
I expect we will see the hands-on, code friendly space continue to grow. We may even see a new builder in 2022.
One – Block-Based Themes
It may be an unpopular assessment, but I think that block-based themes will take off in 2022. In fact, I predict that 2022 will see a theme renaissance.
One reason for this is that the theme.json file solves a long standing problem by providing a central source for site-wide global styles. Astra is already using it and I expect to see other themes and builders make use of it also.
Another reason is because many theme authors feel that theme creation has become too complex and block-based themes provide an option to reset and rediscover the joy of theme creation.
Many using page builders won’t use block-based themes and these new themes won’t render general purpose themes obsolete, but block-based themes will be where a lot of the creative energy of the WordPress contrib community focuses.
I predict that We will see theme devs enable page builder use with block-based themes. I also predict that a number of established theme shops will release a commercial block-based theme even though doing so has the potential to undermine their already established business.
Discussion and Conclusions
You will note that I haven’t yet mentioned Full Site Editing. I have no doubt that Full Site Editing will capture the imagination of individual site builders and enthusiasts, but it may take a couple of core releases until FSE is stable enough for professional site builders to adopt it. In any event, FSE depends on block-based-themes, so the rise of block-based themes will pave the way for FSE.
Another thing that I didn’t mention is security. As the WordPress marketplace explodes then I imagine that security will become more of an issue. WordPress has a security problem. It is not that WordPress is necessarily an unsecure platform, but rather that too few people understand what is involved and what needs to be done. This could become painfully apparent in 2022.
So, my predictions are that the WordPress marketplace will explode, that Oxygen and other advanced hands-on code-friendly builders will gain more traction, and that WordPress will experience a new theme renaissance based around block-based themes. Do you think I’ve got it right? Did I miss something? Please let me know. If you want to discuss this topic and other advanced WordPress topics then join us on Facebook in the Dynamic WordPress group.
I hope you enjoyed the article. Thank you for reading.