WordPress Developer Trends to Watch in 2024

By Mike Davey, Senior Editor

The 20th anniversary year of WordPress is drawing to a close. It’s tempting to take a look back as we enter the last weeks of 2023, but we thought it might be more helpful to take a look around instead.

How fast are WordPress versions being adopted after release? Is HTTP/3 really the future of the web? Which are the most popular programming languages? Zooming out, what are the trends for enterprise WordPress? The high-profile brands and publishers found in the enterprise space often have unique needs and expectations that can shape the future of WordPress development.

In this article, we look at recent stats regarding WordPress, HTTP, and languages, before diving into enterprise WordPress trends for 2023 and the rise of generative AI.

WordPress Roadmap for 2024

The WordPress 2024 roadmap promises significant developments and changes in the platform. The preliminary plans include three major releases: WordPress 6.5 (March 26), WordPress 6.6 (July 16), and WordPress 6.7 (November 5). However, these deadlines are not set in stone and may change. Some of the expected features and improvements include:

  • Real-time collaboration: This will be a major focus, building on the block editor and full site editing.

  • More powerful post revisions: A more detailed post revision system is planned to accommodate the added complexity of collaborative editing.

  • Improved performance: The WordPress Core Performance Team is working on various aspects of performance improvement, such as improving the performance of block themes and the Gutenberg editor, exploring ways to improve database performance, and optimizing image loading techniques.

Make sure to check out Torque’s coverage of the 2024 WordPress roadmap for more details.

WordPress Versions

Most WordPress sites are running some version of WordPress 6.x, at 76.3%. WordPress 5.x makes up most of the rest at 18.1%, with 4.x lagging far behind at 5.2%, and 3.x at 0.4%.

WordPress 6.3 and 6.4 seem to be nearly neck and neck at 37.1% and 36.2% respectively. WordPress 6.4 had been available for less than a month when these statistics were generated, so there is reason to think these numbers will change significantly over the very near future.

It seems likely that adoption will follow roughly the same pattern seen with previous versions of WordPress 6.x. WordPress 6.2 was used by 77.3% of sites in August 2023, falling to 44.9% in September with the release of 6.3. Usage has declined rapidly since, falling to 20.4% in October, 15% in November, and finally to 11.2% as of December 18, 2023.

HTTP Usage

HTTP/3 usage has risen slightly since the beginning of the year and sits at 27.6% as of December 18. In comparison, usage of HTTP/2 has fallen during the same period, from 40% to 35.7%. Usage of HTTP/2 reached its highest level (49.9%) in 2021, the year after HTTP/3 was released.

Data from Cloudflare shows a different story, but one where HTTP/2 maintains its dominance. Client traffic seen by Cloudflare in 2023 shows HTTP/3 at 19.75% and HTTP/2 at 47.96%, and HTTP 1.x at 32.29%.

Programming Languages

The trends below are separated into server-side and client-side programming languages. Server-side languages, such as PHP, Java, and Python, run on the server and handle data processing, while client-side languages like HTML and CSS run on the user’s browser and deal with the user interface.

JavaScript doesn’t quite fit into these neat categorizations. It was designed to run in the browser, but the language itself was never strictly client side. Node.js is probably the most well-known server-side JavaScript implementation, but there are plenty of others.

Server-Side Languages in 2023

A look back at 2012 shows PHP at exactly the same percentage it has today, 76.6%. Despite this, use of PHP has fluctuated somewhat over the intervening years. Its use climbed above 80% in 2014 and stayed above 80% throughout 2018. The usage stats have dipped since that time, eventually returning to the 76.6% we see at the beginning of December 2023.

Looking back over just the last year, use of PHP has declined slightly but steadily over 2023, from 77.7% on January 1st to 76.6% on December 1st.

JavaScript, on the other hand, has continued to gain traction as a server-side language. While its usage is just 3.1% as of December 1, 2023, it was at 2.2% the year before. This is the largest YoY increase seen by JavaScript to date.

Client-Side Languages in 2023

JavaScript is still the champion in 2023 when it comes to client-side scripting, a position it has occupied since at least 2012. Its use has risen from a robust 91.1% in 2012 to a whopping 98.8% as of December 1, 2023. JavaScript increased its dominance slightly over 2023, starting the year at 98% on January 1, 2023.

Flash, on the other hand, has fallen off significantly since 2012 when it was used on 25.6% of websites. Given its security issues and the superiority of HTML5 as a multimedia playback standard, the most surprising thing about Flash is that it’s still being used by 1.3% of websites.

Enterprise WordPress Trends

The stats in this section are drawn from Big Bite’s State of Enterprise WordPress report.

The Enterprise WordPress Stack

The nature of the survey means all of the organizations use WordPress in some capacity. A solid majority (38%) of the organizations surveyed by Big Bite use only WordPress as their content management system (CMS) or digital experience platform (DXP). Using a bespoke solution in addition to WordPress was the next most common answer at 17%. Drupal gets an honorable mention at 9%, with Optimizely, Adobe Experience Manager, and Contentful coming in at 4% each.

Contributing to WordPress

This may come as a shock, but many organizations benefit from the open source WordPress project without contributing to it.

A scene from the Simpsons, with Cecil Terwilliger telling his brother that he IS shocked, because he has been on Mars, in a cave, with his eyes shut and his fingers in his ears.

All jokes aside, the numbers could be worse in the enterprise space, with 38% of organizations indicating they’ve contributed to WordPress. That still leaves 62% who did not. However, just 24% of those surveyed described their sector as “Technology.” It’s entirely possible that many of these organizations don’t really understand the benefits of contributing to WordPress, or the many ways you can contribute as a non-developer.

The Future of Enterprise WordPress

The inroads that WordPress has made into the enterprise space seem to be relatively secure for now, with 91% of the organizations surveyed indicating they would continue to utilize WordPress in the future.

Take a deeper dive into the state of enterprise WordPress at soewp.com.

Generative AI

The first reports of WordPress plugins created with ChatGPT started popping up at the end of 2022, but 2023 saw generative AI really come into its own.

The 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, conducted in May 2023, showed 44.17% of professional developers were already using AI tools in their development process, with an additional 25.88% indicating they planned to do so soon.

Numbers from the 2023 JetBrains State of the Developer Ecosystem Survey, released in November, seem to bear this out. The majority of the developers surveyed (77%) of the developers surveyed using ChatGPT in some way, and 46% of devs using GitHub Copilot. Midjourney and Visual Studio IntelliCode were tied for third place at 26%.


What are the most interesting trends you’ve seen in the last year? Where do you think they’ll take us in 2024? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Mike Davey Senior Editor

Mike is an editor and writer based in Hamilton, Ontario, with an extensive background in business-to-business communications and marketing. His hobbies include reading, writing, and wrangling his four children.