State of the Word 2023: Embracing collaboration and breaking barriers

Here we share a brief recap of Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word 2023 keynote, which highlighted WordPress achievements from the last 12 months, outlined what’s next for the platform, and unveiled a new focus for 2024.


Live-streamed on 11th December, this year’s address from the WordPress co-founder was the first of its kind to be delivered outside of North America, and welcomed the WordPress community to the vibrant Spanish capital of Madrid.

The event also marked the 20th anniversary of the open source platform, which over the last two decades has evolved from a simple blogging system into a tool that can be used to build entire applications, and now runs over a third of all websites.

Looking back

Matt opened his speech by reflecting on the key milestones and events throughout 2023, during which 3,300 WordPress gatherings took place, including a record total of 70 WordCamps in 33 countries as well as 300 meetups dedicated to learning. 

In terms of achievements, alongside platform releases and the new Twenty Twenty-Four theme, WordPress Showcase has been relaunched to better illustrate what’s possible via the platform, with the aim to add more enterprise case studies in the coming months. Anecdotally, Matt cited as a strong example, as the WordPress-powered site comfortably handled 100,000 requests per second earlier this month when it announced Taylor Swift as its Person of the Year. 

Openverse, the search engine for open content that’s part of the WordPress project, also achieved critical acclaim this year, receiving the Open Education Award for Excellence in Education Infrastructure

Matt also highlighted the ongoing success of the experimental Playground project, which he described as “the closest thing to sci-fi I think we have going on right now in WordPress.” 

The tool, which enables users to try plugins and themes within a live virtual environment, has been used by over 57,000 people in the last six months alone, and it’s anticipated that this figure will increase ten-fold over the next year.

What’s in store 

As well as briefly touching on some of recent additions and improvements to the platform, State of the Word 2023 shared an overview of what’s coming next via a presentation from WordPress Lead Architect, Mattias Ventura. 

With collaborative editing now being the main focus – and an area that’s high on the wishlist for many large-scale organisations – it was confirmed that there’s already a workable prototype of real-time collaboration in the WordPress editor. 

Mattias also announced that patterns will be gaining superpowers in the near future, as users will soon be able to swap patterns that are related to a specific semantic category, apply theme JSON to specific patterns, and make use of a new type of pattern that enables text editing while retaining control of the global design. 

Improvements to editor performance, front end performance, and custom fields are also in the pipeline. 

Unlocking digital barriers

AI was also referenced throughout the keynote, with Matt again urging the WordPress community to embrace the possibilities that it offers and “learn AI deeply”. He also introduced Playground blueprints that enable playground sites to be created using natural language, and noted that AI tools will provide translated versions of speeches – in real-time – at the next WordCamp US, which is set to take place in Portland.

Matt also announced that in parallel to phase three of the Gutenberg project, WordPress will be heavily focused on data liberation, and looking to launch one-click data migrations from other platforms as well as between WordPress sites.

If you notice a common thread in all of our projects, it’s around everything we do with open source, around data ownership and freedom

Matt Mullenweg

“In 2024 we want to unlock the web through a dedicated focus on migration tools, whether you’re switching from a different WordPress, or a different CMS…Migrating from a staging site to a main site or migrating between hosts is very, very difficult today, so we want to make first-party community plugins tools and workflows available on that are going to assist with this. I want it to be seamless, straightforward, and as zero friction as possible. What we want to do is unlock the digital barriers.”

For more info on what’s to come, the full video of State of the Word 2023 is now available on YouTube.

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