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Matthew Karge

WordPress Practice Director & Business Development Manager

Matt is the WordPress Practice Director and a Business Development Manager at Northwoods. He works with clients in many different industries, helping them to pursue a digital marketing path with the greatest amount of return. He’s always happy to meet over a cup of coffee (either in person or virtually!) to listen to your needs and provide as many resources as possible to help you succeed.

WordPress Trends for 2022

January 10, 2022 | Matthew Karge, WordPress Practice Director & Business Development Manager

8 Minute Read

What trends will matter to WordPress marketers and developers in the next 12 months? Read on.

Page Builders

The time-honored way to quickly establish the look and feel of a WordPress site involves browsing a theme library and choosing a theme created by third-party developers. Thousands of available themes can instantly generate a good-looking website.

The problem with this approach: You’re at the mercy of the developer. Design trends change; a theme has about a 3-to-4-year life cycle. Will the developer of your chosen theme keep up? Will the developer support the theme over time? WordPress clients often lean toward the latest design trends; developers have little incentive to maintain passé themes.

Control is shifting to website operators and away from third-party developers. Note in particular Automattic’s updates to WordPress; they’ve put a ton of effort into their Gutenberg Project content editor. They released the first version in December 2018. Every update since has provided more and more tools to create content. Users are getting closer and closer to total control over the look and feel of their websites.

Among these content creation tools are page builders. Instead of spending hours finding a theme and then even more hours to trying to fit your content into the theme, you build the design around your content.

Page Builders have a brighter future than themes because they don’t depend on design trends. Instead, the developers behind Divi, Oxygen, BeaverBuilder, and others focus on functionality. They worry about improving their tools. They don’t worry about design trends. This approach leads to a design platform usable as long as it receives support, and support will be there long after support for most themes have withered.

For now, Gutenberg trails page builders in the marketplace. However, the roadmap that Automattic shares indicates that Gutenberg will be much closer to being competitive by the end of 2022.

How should WordPress website managers respond to this trend?

If you’re redesigning your website: Don’t pick a theme. Themes won’t go extinct right away, but they are becoming antiquated.

If you’re not considering a redesign: Keep an eye on Gutenberg. Every time you update WordPress, you get new features from Gutenberg. Make sure to study these changes. See how they can work with the theme on your website. You might find that you can apply new Gutenberg tools to your theme that can yield great improvements. One word of caution: Gutenberg tools might trigger content editing conflicts if your theme is old and unsupported.


According to the US CDC, 26% of adult Americans have a “serious disability” in relation to mobility, cognition, hearing, and more. Beyond medically definable disabilities, anyone with even minor issues with vision or mobility can have a difficult time using a website.

When you think about how you consume the content of a website, these challenges become clearer. First, you move a mouse around to click on the navigation or to move down a page as you read. Second, you can see images, texts and colors. Third, you can enable a function, such as starting a video or opening a clamshell to display content.

These three tasks may be insurmountable for some people if the designer has failed to build in accessibility.

Accessible websites have functionality that helps users experience your website. Functionality includes keyboard controls, properly selected colors, correctly labeled buttons, and a lot more. All this is not just altruistic; Accessibility work helps to optimize a website for search.

For more information, check out our blog post, WordPress Accessibility and ADA Compliance.

A website that serves those with disabilities well expands its reach. Furthermore, accessible sites tend to improve user experience for all visitors. Accessibility is good for business.

How should WordPress website managers respond to this trend?

If you’re redesigning your website: Accessibility should be part of the discussion. Best practices add some steps to the build process, but nothing extraordinarily difficult.

If you’re not considering a redesign: Have a professional conduct an accessibility audit of your website to identify what passes current WCAG standards and what you need to update. Most fixes are easy: updating colors to correct contrasts, for example, or adding descriptive texts to images and buttons.

I don’t recommend installing an accessibility plugin, often pitched as a magical comprehensive fix for accessibility issues. Accessibility overlay plugins only complicate things. Make your website accessible natively, within the code and content of your website.

Core Web Vitals

In 2020, Google announced its web vitals initiative, which turned the world’s attention toward  website performance. For a primer on this topic, watch our All About Google’s Core Web Vitals webinar.

In short, Google reviews three key standards to gauge the performance of your website in comparison to more than 8 million other sites. These include:

  • Largest Contentful Paint: tracks the load speed of the largest piece of content on the page.
  • First Input Delay: tracks the speed with which the user can interact with the website.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: tracks the percentage of content movement on the page as it loads.

Each of these is compared to a factor, such as time or amount of movement as the page loads. The longer your website takes to be useable, the lower your overall score. So the speed and stability of your website’s load matters.

Users are impatient. Search engines want data fast. Your website must be quick and responsive. If your website loads slowly, you lose traffic. You must fix that. As with accessibility, no silver bullet can solve this in one shot. Typically, site managers must address several items to raise site speed.

How should WordPress website managers respond to this trend?

If you’re redesigning your website: Optimize images and optimize calls to action as key parts of your overall strategy. We’ve found that marketers often upload massive photo files into their websites, and that kills site speed. Take the time to optimize media files before loading them.

Also, limit the number of plugins and custom code needed to run your new website. Every piece of code added to your WordPress environment tacks on data that servers must translate to show a user a page. The more code, the slower the site.

If you’re not considering a redesign: Work to optimize your website. Scanning tools, such as PageSpeed Insights from Google, can help you gauge your website’s core vitals performance.

If you find that your website performs poorly, run some free tools, such as Smush and/or WP Rocket, to help optimize content. You should also audit your entire technology stack (i.e., theme and plugins) to see if you can optimize them or if better tools are available.

Smart Content

Users have zero patience with internal site search. Marketers need to deliver content in the friendliest, smartest way possible. That means content that can be searched and filtered.

Amazon and other larger businesses have set the standard for websites that give users complete power over searching and filtering content. People are now more accustomed to leaning on web searches and site search to find what they want. They’re comfortable searching by voice command with such assistants as Siri, Alexa, and Google. Is your content optimized to respond to these searches? Rest assured that at least some competitors are optimizing for them.

Today’s marketers must be both scientific and creative with content. They serve two masters: the user who comes to the website, and the AI that rules the search algorithms. It’s incredibly complicated and takes a lot of skill to successfully write content that serves both.

I anticipate an area of significant growth in the WordPress world in 2022 is in optimizing content that simplifies how users and search algorithms find it. This requires creating a taxonomy and tagging structure for your content, so that it can be organized in ways that help with searches and filtering. The good news is that WordPress offers these tools natively. But marketers need to take advantage of them.

How should WordPress website managers respond to this trend?

Search is always growing, and voice search is part of that growth. Plan a future in which content work includes tagging and categorizing to help your website succeed in a search-first world.

If you’re redesigning your website: Focus on a content and search strategy. Not only do you need a plan for optimizing content for Google, you want to make sure that you properly tag and organize your content in WordPress to optimize it for internal search.

If you’re not considering a redesign: Optimize the key content on your website. Review what users search for when seeking out your services or products. Check your website’s analytics to identify the most popular pages.

Quick Hits

Here are a few other things to consider in 2022:


Many privacy changes that will affect how organizations track your data are coming this year. It’s important to consult an attorney to determine how you should respond. Laws are changing; it’s critical to stay on top of them, especially if you serve an audience that spans multiple states or countries.


The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a revolution in e-commerce out of pure necessity.

You’re behind if your business has a product or a “consumable service” (a service with a finite lifespan) and don’t sell online. The e-commerce revolution has resulted in businesses finding creative ways to sell their products and services online through individual transactions and subscriptions. E-commerce continues to show continuous growth and you must become a part of it to survive.  


The biggest trend of all for WordPress in 2022 is continuous learning. WordPress isn’t static. Change happens quickly and dramatically. Site owners, developers and marketers must change with it.

If you’re struggling to manage your WordPress website or keep it up to date, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’re happy to help.