WordPress 2023 Year in Review: A Year of Growth, Innovation, and Building the Future

WordPress 2023 Year in Review

Tanvir Faisal January 11, 2024

24 Min Read
Category: News

Too many things occurred across the WordPress ecosystem this year and it’s quite hard to compile them in a single post. However, we cherry-picked the best ones to keep it concise. Let’s take a moment to explore these accomplishments and join us in celebrating the collective success of 2023!

As 2023 ended, WordPress wrapped up the year with many remarkable achievements. Progress has been both radical and incremental. Notably, WordPress celebrated its 20th anniversary, delivered three releases on time, organized three flagship events, and prototyped key elements of Gutenberg phase 3.

Read this WordPress 2023 Year in Review to have a quick glimpse of every significant event and get a preview of what’s coming in the year ahead.

An overview of the major WordPress releases in 2023

This year, all three major releases were named in homage to notable jazz artists. We’ve incorporated the background of each version along with its key highlights. Let’s start with the first release of the year, WordPress 6.2.

1. WordPress 6.2 “Dolphy” (March 29, 2023)

WordPress 6.2 “Dolphy” - March 29, 2023

WordPress 6.2 was the first major release of 2023, with over 900 enhancements and fixes. It was named “Dolphy,” to pay tribute to the accomplished woodwind jazz virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist, Eric Allan Dolphy Jr. The release included contributions from over 600 contributors in at least 50 countries. Here are the key highlights from WordPress 6.2 “Dolphy”:

  • Reimagined Site Editor with an updated interface – a new way to interact with the entire site.
  • Navigation block for faster menu management with a new sidebar experience.
  • Improved block settings sidebar organization with tabs for Settings and Styles.
  • Introduction of headers and footers for block themes for quicker site template creation.
  • Openverse media library integration for access to over 700 million free, openly licensed stock images and audio.
  • Style Book overview to see each block in the site’s library.
  • Copy and paste styles feature for consistent design across different blocks.
  • Custom CSS for advanced control over site appearance.
  • Performance improvements for faster load times for block and classic themes.
  • Additional highlights- sticky positioning, importing widgets, and local fonts in themes.

2. WordPress 6.3 “Lionel” (August 8, 2023)

WordPress 6.3 “Lionel” - August 8, 2023

WordPress 6.3 “Lionel” was a significant release that enhanced the web development experience to a great extent. It was named after jazz artist Lionel Hampton to recognize his contributions to music. This release introduced features like the Site Editor, block theme preview, pattern creation, Command Palette for quick access, new design tools, style revisions, and improved performance.

Over 650 contributors from 52 countries participated in the release, including more than 205 first-time contributors. This release marks a significant step in WordPress’s evolution, focusing on user experience, performance, and accessibility, with a strong emphasis on community involvement and global reach. Let’s have a glimpse of the key features:

  • Site Editor for centralized control of content, templates, and patterns.
  • Block Theme Preview allows customization before switching.
  • Pattern Creation and Sync for site-wide block arrangements.
  • Command Palette for quick access to templates and preferences.
  • Accessibility improvements with 50+ enhancements.
  • New Design Tools enhance versatility with captions, filters, and layout options.
  • Style Revisions provide a timeline for visualizing and restoring changes.
  • New Blocks include Footnotes for annotations and Details for showing/hiding content.
  • Performance Boost with 170+ updates, async support, and fetch priority.
  • Other Highlights: Set aspect ratio on images, distraction-free designing, revamped Top Toolbar, and List View improvements.

3. WordPress 6.4 “Shirley” (November 7, 2023)

WordPress 6.4 “Shirley” - November 7, 2023

WordPress 6.4 version was a tribute to jazz icon Shirley Horn, renowned for her distinctive voice and piano mastery. “Shirley” introduces a versatile default theme, Twenty Twenty-Four, and a range of upgrades to enhance content creation and site editing. The release emphasizes performance improvements, accessibility enhancements, and developer-focused features.

This release reflects the collaborative spirit of the global WordPress community. It is the result of collaboration from a diverse community, with over 600 contributors from 56 countries. Over 170 first-time contributors participated in delivering more than 1150 enhancements and fixes. Explore the essential features with a quick overview:

  • Comes with a versatile default theme, Twenty Twenty-Four, with over 35 templates.
  • Writing improvements include new keyboard shortcuts and enhanced control.
  • Command Palette updates for efficient task performance.
  • Improved organization and filtering of patterns for streamlined site-building.
  • Enhanced design tools for creative and functional layouts.
  • Global and selective lightbox functionality for interactive image viewing.
  • Introduces Block Hooks, allowing dynamic block insertion for developers.
  • Over 100 performance updates for a faster and more efficient experience.
  • Accessibility improvements, including List View enhancements and aria-label support.

Twenty Twenty-Four Default Theme

Twenty Twenty-Four Default Theme

Twenty Twenty-Four, the latest default WordPress theme was introduced on August 24, 2023. This highly versatile theme was finally released with WordPress 6.4. With a focus on flexibility, a diverse pattern library, performance optimization, and new site editing capabilities, it offers a sleek design and caters to various website types, including entrepreneurs, photographers, artists, writers, and bloggers.

The Twenty Twenty-Four theme breaks away from traditional default themes by offering complete full-page patterns for key templates like homepage, archive, search, single pages, and posts. Users can easily access them during template-switching and creation. Here are the key highlights of the theme:

Two decades of excellence – WordPress turned 20 in 2023

WordPress 2023 Year in Review WordPress turned 20 in 2013

Only a few projects stand the test of time and leave an extraordinary mark on the web ecosystem. WordPress is one of them. As we reflect on the past year, there was a momentous occasion for the WordPress fraternity – the 20th anniversary of WordPress.

On May 27, 2023, we celebrated the 20-year milestone since Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little created WordPress Version 0.70. From its humble beginnings as a blogging platform in 2003 to becoming a powerhouse that fuels millions of websites across the globe, WordPress has not just survived the digital revolution; it has thrived in shaping it.

Fun fact: WordPress has a significant thirteen-year lead over TikTok (launched in 2016), predating the launch of the first iPhone (2007), beating Facebook by a solid year (founded in 2004) and Tesla by about five weeks (founded in July 2003).

Key highlights of the WP20 event:

  • The #WP20 hashtag gained momentum with over 18,000 mentions from March 1 to June 8, 2023
  • It reached its peak on May 27 with an impressive 2,700+ mentions.
  • A global celebration unfolded with 165+ meetups held across six continents.
  • The meetups drew in a remarkable attendance of 4,661 individuals.
  • As a token of appreciation, over 100 kits filled with swag were thoughtfully shipped to meetup organizers.

Let’s take a moment to wish this platform the best for revolutionizing how we create, share, and experience the web. Cheers to two decades of innovation, evolution, and community-driven excellence that have driven WordPress to the forefront of content management!

WordPress community highlights in 2023 – WordCamps and Meetups

The global WordCamp community showed great enthusiasm in 2023, with 70 WordCamps in 33 countries. These numbers include three major flagship events – WordCamp Asia in the vibrant heart of Bangkok, WordCamp Europe in the sun-drenched streets of Athens, and WordCamp US on the shores of the Potomac River in National Harbor.

WordCamp Asia 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand (February 17- 19)

WordCamp Asia 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand (February 17- 19)

WordCamp Asia stood as the inaugural flagship event of its kind in the Asian continent. The selection of Bangkok as the host city was deliberate, positioning Thailand at the heart of Asia. Its central location ensures accessibility from various regions. The venue was a fitting choice after the event’s initial postponement in 2020 due to the Corona pandemic. Let’s Have a quick look at what happened in WordCamp Asia 2023:

  • Location: Bangkok, Thailand at the ICONSIAM venue
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Participants: 1,500+
  • Speakers: 60
  • Organizers: 53
  • Volunteers: 84
  • Sponsors: 44

WordCamp Europe 2023 in Athens, Greece (June 8-10)

WordCamp Europe 2023 in Athens, Greece (June 8-10)

WordCamp Europe 2023 gathered 2,545 WordPress enthusiasts from 94 countries in Athens. Once again, WordCamp Europe served as an educational and inspiring event and provided insights into trends, approaches, and upcoming changes. Here are the key highlights:

  • Location: Athens, Greece at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Participants: 2500+
  • Speakers: 102
  • Organizers: 98
  • Volunteers: 142
  • Sponsors: 64

WordCamp US 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland (August 24-26)

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center hosted the 2023 Community Summit and WordCamp US events in National Harbor, Maryland. Located close to Washington, D.C., it’s an ideal spot for exploring U.S. history, and museums and enjoying fine dining. The following section comprises the high points of the event.

  • Location: National Harbor, Maryland at the Gaylord National
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Participants: 2000+
  • Speakers: 40
  • Organizers: 42
  • Sponsors: 64

Local WordPress meetups in 2023

The WordPress community experienced remarkable growth in local WordPress meetup groups, the grassroots gatherings that bring together enthusiasts, developers, and users alike. WordPress hosted 268 meetups spanning six continents. An incredible 581,425 members are active in these local meetups as of now. This collective enthusiasm speaks volumes about the passion and dedication of the individuals who make up this diverse and dynamic community.

Total Local Meetup Groups (as of Dec 31, 2023):748 groups
Total Members (as of Dec 31, 2023):581,425 members
New Additions to Chapter Program (Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2023)
New Meetup Groups:72 new groups
New Members:5,242 new members

Here’s to the countless meetups why WordPress continues to be more than just software— serving as a hub of connection, learning, and collaboration for thousands of passionate WordPress users. These gatherings were more than just conferences; they were testaments to the power of human connection and the unwavering spirit of the WordPress community.

State of the Word 2023: Matt Mullenweg’s insightful keynote

State of the Word 2023: Matt Mullenweg's insightful keynote

On December 11, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg delivered the annual State of the Word keynote in Madrid, Spain. Nearly 200 WordPress enthusiasts and tech industry leaders gathered in person to gain insights into what’s on the horizon for WordPress, with a substantial online audience and 47 watch parties across 18 countries.

WordPress belongs to all of us, but really we’re taking care of it for the next generation.

— Matt Mullenweg

The keynote showcased last year’s achievements, featuring compelling demos that previewed upcoming developments for the Site Editor, Collaboration phase, and Admin redesign. Matt also unveiled the 2024 focus on Data Liberation, aiming to break down digital barriers and facilitate seamless migrations into WordPress. Here’s the recorded video of the event:

WooCommerce rebranded as Woo in October 2023

WooCommerce, the eCommerce solution for WordPress, was rebranded as Woo. The name is lively, catchy, and easy to say. Customers have been using “Woo” for a while, so the decision to go with it was anticipated.

Since Automatic acquired the WooCommerce plugin and WooThemes in 2015, the platform has evolved into a comprehensive solution for creating and managing eCommerce stores on WordPress. With this recent rebranding, WooCommerce entered a new era. Explore the story of this transformative journey from here: WooCommerce Rebrands as Woo: Learn What You Need.

Future outlook: Predictions and expectations in 2024

Future outlook: Predictions and expectations in 2024

Like every other year, 2024 is also going to be an eventful year with multiple releases, many WordCamps, and countless meetups. We tried to outline the most probable events of the ongoing year in this section. Let’s explore!

WordPress releases scheduled in 2024

WordPress 6.5 is set to launch on March 26, 2024. This update brings practical improvements, including a new Font Library for easy global font management, support for Appearance Tools in Classic Themes, and the integration of Data Views for templates and patterns to enhance the editing experience.

Noteworthy additions include new APIs like Interactivity, Custom Fields, and Block Binding, expanding block capabilities, and supporting features like Synced Pattern Overrides. Let’s have a look at the scheduled date of all WordPress releases including 6.5.

VersionPlanned Date
6.5March 2024
6.6July 2024
6.7November 2024

Phase 3 of the Gutenberg project: Collaboration

The Gutenberg project represents a complete reimagining of how we handle content on the web, with the overarching aim of expanding accessibility. Phase 2 of the Gutenberg project concluded officially with the release of WordPress 6.3 in 2023. WordPress is now diving into the exploration of Phase 3, which focuses on Collaboration. Just a quick recap: The Gutenberg project unfolds in four key phases:

  1. Easier Editing — Currently accessible in WordPress, continually undergoing enhancements.
  2. Customization — Encompassing Site Editing, block patterns, block directory, and block themes.
  3. Collaboration — Introducing a more intuitive approach to co-authoring content.
  4. Multilingual — Core implementation tailored for Multilingual sites.

We’re likely to see significant development of phase 3 in 2024. You can keep track of the progress of phase 3 here: Make WordPress Core.

Enhancements of the Site Editor Tools

Enhancements of the Site Editor Tools

The Site Editor tools in WordPress will bloom more in 2024. They’ll offer a powerful and efficient way to create and manage every aspect of your website visually. The following list includes the features and functionalities of the Site Editor to look for in this year:

  • The Command Palette is your go-to shortcut tool, helping you achieve more with fewer clicks and no need to memorize where each option is.
  • The Style Book helps you see all the blocks on your site as you customize them. It’s part of the Styles section and can be turned on or off as you like.
  • Distraction-free mode provides an alternative view, offering a simplified experience focused solely on creating.
  • Patterns make it easy to add fancy layouts and designs to any WordPress site without starting from scratch.
  • Styling shortcuts offer two easy options: copy/paste styles or use styles for all instances of the block you want.
  • List View is the tool you need to navigate through your content layers, select precisely what you want, and understand how everything fits together.

Continued advancements in FSE are expected to revolutionize website building, making it even more intuitive and accessible for users of all skill levels.

Additional focus on Data Liberation in WordPress

Matt introduced a new project focus in 2024: Data Liberation. The aim is to simplify the process of importing content from other platforms into WordPress. He pointed out the issue of content management systems keeping users confined, stressing the need to break these digital barriers. The Data Liberation initiative aims to enable one-click migration and improve the export format from WordPress.

More and more WordCamps and local Meetups

More and more WordCamps and local Meetups

It’s only the 10th of January, there are already 13 active and 27 inactive WordCamp applications based on the WordCamp Status Report provided by WordCamp Central. And 10 meetups have been proposed as of now according to Meetup Application Status.

At the end of 2024, these numbers are likely to increase from the previous year. Keep your eye out on the official WordCamp Central website to get the latest updates. Here are the probable dates and locations of the three major WordCamps to be held in 2024:

  • WordCamp Asia 2024: March 7–9 | Taipei, Taiwan
  • WordCamp Europe 2024: June 13–15 | Torino, Italy
  • WordCamp US 2024: September 17–20 | Portland, OR

Emphasis on the Five for Future program

The Five for the Future program was launched in 2014 to inspire organizations to allocate five percent of their resources to the development of WordPress. The goals go beyond gaining traction in growth markets, instead, they strive for recognition in every community, exceeding open source and developer networks. Emphasis was renewed on the Five for the Future program at the end of 2023, which will increase in the coming years.

Let’s recap 2023 and welcome 2024 on a high note!

WordPress, the self-hosted, open-source platform is currently powering over 43% of all websites worldwide.

WordPress is used by 62.9% of all the websites whose content management system we know. This is 43.1% of all websites.

According to W3Techs

In 2023, WordPress hosted 70 WordCamps and in-person events, a notable 116% increase from the previous year. A total of 25,780 tickets were sold across all major gatherings. WCAsia sold 1698 tickets, WCEU sold 2923 tickets, and WCUS sold 1917 tickets. WordPress also experienced 268 meetups across six continents, marking a robust 57% growth.

WordPress introduced three major releases: version 6.2, version 6.3, and version 6.4, each bringing enhanced features and functionalities to elevate your website experience. The 6.4 version also came with a versatile default theme Twenty Twenty-Four.

The global celebration of WordPress’ 20th anniversary unfolded through 165+ meetups across six continents, attracting a remarkable attendance of 4,661 individuals. In a gesture of gratitude, more than 100 kits filled with swag were carefully dispatched to meetup organizers.

Matt Mullenweg shared insights about WordPress’ future in his annual keynote in Madrid, Spain. Around 200 WordPress enthusiasts and tech leaders gathered in person, while a large online audience and 47 watch parties from 18 countries tuned in.

As we step into 2024, the WordPress journey continues with boundless possibilities on the horizon. Let’s celebrate the achievements of 2023, embrace the opportunities that lie ahead, and continue building the future of the web together. Here’s to a better 2024 year onwards!

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Tanvir Faisal

Md. Tanvir Faisal is a Content Writer at WP Hive with over 7 years of experience in Content Writing, Copywriting, Proofreading, and Editing. He specializes in creating helpful content that engages readers, drives social media shares, and improves SEO ranking. In his free time, Tanvir enjoys exploring new cuisines, traveling to unknown places, and spending quality time with his family.

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