Want to stay up-to-date with the hottest WordPress trends? Here are MakeWebBetter's top picks for 2021 and beyond.
If you’re a website owner or developer, you’re bound to have come across WordPress, the most popular content management system (CMS) on the planet. Launched in 2003, early creators Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg introduced WordPress as a successor to former blogging platform b2/cafelog. Written in PHP, WordPress gained traction when users realised the freedom the platform offered them to write and share their own plugins.
Now 17 years and 28+ million websites later – not to mention a 45% share in the Content Management System (CMS) market – WordPress is the most used website builder out there.
Over recent years, some of the biggest websites and publications in the world have switched to WordPress, which adds to the credibility of the website building platform.
WordPress is currently at version 5.7, Esperanza, the first release of 2021, and we’re awaiting the launch of version 5.8. During the last two decades it’s evolved a lot, undergoing countless improvements, changes, upgrades, and fixes. There’s no doubt that the platform will only continue to advance, and as WP users, it’s important to stay up-to-date with WordPress trends.
Ready to dive in? Here are Envato author MakeWebBetter’s top WordPress trends for 2021 and beyond.
1. Voice Search for WordPress
Your WordPress website should be ready and optimized for the rise of voice search. A large number of people have already started using voice search to find information and purchase products and services online. In fact, it is estimated that voice commerce sales may hit $40+ billion across the U.S. and U.K. alone by 2022.
With the growing popularity and purchases of smart speaker devices like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomePod, audiences worldwide are more inclined towards using their voice for searching on the web. You should be ready to tap into the needs and search behaviors of potential customers with your content and resources by leveraging this new technology.
If you’re on WordPress, here’s what you can do to gain visibility on voice search queries:
- Voice search queries are generally longer than conventional text searches. Owing to this, you should include more long-tail keywords in your content, resembling a whole question rather than small snippets.
- As the majority of voice searches are done from a mobile device, your website should be optimized for mobile with low page-load times. Make sure to use mobile-friendly WordPress themes for the best results.
- A lot of voice search queries are local near-me searches, like “best ice-cream parlours near me”. For your business to appear as a result of such queries, your Google My Business listing should be updated with current information such as your address, phone number, email address, business hours, business category, etc.
- If you can break your website content into smaller, readable chunks of relevant data, it will help to boost your voice search rankings.
- You can also check out this insightful post on voice search SEO to master the voice search algorithm.
Voice search is definitely here to stay, and bound to become a big WordPress trend. Early adopters are sure to benefit in the long run. Get ahead of the game with a plugin for voice search.
2. WordPress for eCommerce
If there had been an iota of doubt regarding the significance or popularity of eCommerce, the global pandemic has put it to rest. The big boom of eCommerce in the last year is real, and many people around the world are now opting for online shopping and deliveries to their doorstep.
If you’re currently selling a product or service on your WordPress website, or aspire to own an online store, adding eCommerce functionality to any WordPress website is possible through the platform’s most popular plugin, WooCommerce.
Just like WordPress, the WooCommerce plugin is free, open-source, and comes as a highly flexible and customizable solution. From inventory and payments to taxes and shipping, it covers all aspects of eCommerce. To improve the overall appearance and experience of your online store, you will need high quality WooCommerce plugins and themes, which you can integrate easily into your WordPress website.
3. Augmented Reality and 3D Virtual Reality
Taking the eCommerce functionality to a whole new level, augmented reality and virtual reality are backed to become real game-changers. Both these technologies help users to immerse themselves in digital environments in different ways.
AR lets you project some part(s) of virtual content in the real world while VR creates a whole new digital experience that overlays the real world around us. Let’s consider this example from popular furniture brand, IKEA.
The brand has been using AR technology to help customers visualize how different furniture items would look in their homes via a smartphone. Their AR app makes it easy for customers to select products, and then redirects them to the main website for purchase.
Similar examples and use cases can be found where brands have implemented VR to serve audiences better and improve merchandising. Whether it’s providing a virtual in-store experience or a completely virtual store, this technology is set to redefine the retail experience. These technologies are impacting WordPress trends too. You can currently integrate AR and VR on your WordPress website using some nifty plugins – and expect this space to get bigger.
One of the biggest trends on the list, chatbots are now being used by plenty of brands on their websites to improve the user experience and solve customer service queries faster.
Helpful, fun and futuristic, chatbots were quick to take off. Some of the use cases for chatbots include handling customer service queries, providing useful information and resources to users, helping visitors navigate a website and products, collecting valuable feedback, and generating leads.
Over time, it’s become easier to create a chatbot. Rather than learning how to write code, there are now free chatbot builders out there enabling you to set up your first bot in minutes. WordPress also makes it super easy to add a chatbot to your website. Just download and install the relevant plugin and you’re all set to enhanced your business and minimize friction.
5. Improving Accessibility
It’s a known fact that WordPress pledges to conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as do a lot of other world organizations. This is a step to make all web content and tools more accessible for people with disabilities.
Apart from this, the WordPress community also works to what it calls Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG). According to WordPress, these are a set of guidelines that govern how to make tools for creating web pages that are both accessible and encourage the creation of accessible content.
The growth of voice search, site navigation capabilities, captioned media, etc. are all indicative of the importance of accessibility as a WordPress trend, and how it will rise in the years to come. To ensure your WorkPress website is accessible, check out the best accessibility plugins.
6. Multipurpose WordPress Themes
A few years back, site owners and web developers preferred using niche WordPress themes that solved a specific problem and served a particular type of purpose or business, but that’s changed. Investing in multiple projects at the same time has led to more demand for multipurpose themes. As the name suggests, these are versatile themes that can cater to the needs of various businesses.
Popular WordPress themes such as Avada and Total have redefined the way websites are built and composed today. Features like icon scanner, font management and handling, critical CSS optimization, image and video optimization, etc, have set the bar high for WordPress themes. To discover what to look for in a multipurpose theme – and some of the best out there, visit Envato Tuts+.
7. Drag and Drop Website Builders
The drag and drop page builder for WordPress trend has grown enormously. They’re super convenient, and allow us to see the changes in real time. Whether you want to customize all design elements specifically, or want to use predefined widgets, page builders have got your back. Here are some leading WordPress drag and drop page builders for 2021 and beyond:
Divi is a premium page builder solution for WordPress and also a popular theme. It offers a great community, good customer support, and stellar tools and modules.
Gutentor – Gutenberg Blocks
Gutenberg was the much-awaited WordPress block editor released back in 2018, and Gutentor is an exclusive pagebuilder for Gutenberg. There are endless possibilities to explore with Gutentor and you can make the both the most complex WordPress websites with this builder.
8. Improving WordPress SEO with Google’s Core Web Vitals
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the dark horse of all digital marketing, and WordPress aids website SEO like no other platform. Plugins like Yoast SEO have made it simple for site owners to improve their search engine rankings, but Google has recently added extra ranking signals – known as Core Web Vitals – to its core algorithm update on page experience.
The three signals, Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) for Loading, First Input Delay (FID) for Interactivity, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) for Visual Stability, are set to impact site rankings and you should act accordingly. SEO for your WooCommerce store is critical too and must be kept on top of. You can use tools like Google Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse to better understand how to optimize your WordPress website for page speed and rankings.
9. Effective Use of White Space
For those who understand design, important site elements such as white space will seem like an obvious trend. Having said that, most of us aren’t leveraging white space effectively, and this needs to change.
Directing users towards a particular call to action (CTA) becomes less difficult if white space is leveraged well. This also applies when you have to highlight certain sections or specific content. To try out this trend, check out this Minimal Portfolio – Arnold on ThemeForest.
10. Parallax Effect
Parallax scrolling is a feature most commonly used on one-page websites where scrolling is inevitable. It can be effective if there are broken sections of content on the homepage or landing pages.
To set up the parallax effect on WordPress, you can use any of the popular WordPress parallax plugins and themes. As this effect directly impacts site accessibility and user experience, be careful when selecting your background image.
11. Video Headers
Your website header is crucial. It typically consists of components such as CTAs and your brand messaging, which help to tell the story of who you are, what you do and how you can help visitors and potential customers. WordPress enabled support for video headers back in 2016, and since then, users have been using the feature but not on a big scale.
In recent years, this video headers have increased in popularity and, due to demand, the trend is set to continue. Check out this Remote | Muse Landing Page with Fullscreen Video Header on ThemeForest, or visit Envato Tuts+ to discover the best WordPress solutions for adding a video header to your website.
12. Enhancing UX Design
With all tools, efforts, and strategies put into the plan, the effectiveness of any website boils down to the user experience you are offering to people who visit your website. Some of the trends mentioned above – including themes, parallax scroll, chatbots, video headers, etc. – are all part of UX design, but are incomplete without microinteractions.
Whenever there is an interaction between a user and a product, it is termed as a microinteraction – such as form tooltips, hover actions, social interactions, loading text and icons. From liking a post to unlocking a phone, we all experience plenty of these microinteractions every day – and they’re set to make a big impact on website and web design in the coming years.
Though termed micro, these interactions can improve user experience because they exist to accomplish complicated tasks in a simple way. You can add microinteractions to your WordPress website both manually and with the help of plugins – find out how with this tutorial.
Over To You!
Technology, tools and trends are ever changing, and they continue to define the major developments of a platform. While there will always be evolution, some fundamental factors will remain throughout a software’s timeline – and this is the case with WordPress trends.
There are some promising trends coming up, and some that have been in focus for the past few years. But being a WordPress website owner, you should adapt to the new changes where it makes sense, alter your strategy to tap in new audiences, and stay ahead of your competitors.
Guest Author: MakeWebBetter
Himanshu Rauthan is an entrepreneur, Co-Founder of MakeWebBetter and BotMyWork, and the Director of CEDCOSS Technologies. He’s worn many hats in his career – such as programmer, researcher, writer, and strategist. As a result, he has a unique ability to manage multi-disciplinary projects and navigate complex challenges. He’s passionate about building and scaling eCommerce development.