The Future of WordPress

wordpressWhat’s coming in the future for WordPress.com? CEO Matt Mullenweg shared some insights into what might be coming for WordPress at a SXSW panel earlier this month that Laura Hazard Owen of Gigaom narrowed down to three key areas of focus: long-form content, curation, and native advertising.

Long-form Content

Matt explained that most content on WordPress.com is 280 words, which is double the short-form content limit for Twitter posts and other social networking site updates. With that in mind, WordPress wants to bring more attention to quality long-form content rather than simply following the pack to short-form content.

I completely agree with Matt that there is an extremely important place for long-form content online, and I’m sure most Authoritative Content publishers would agree with me. The most successful, quality publishers understand how to offer bite-size content for snacking as well as more detailed content for indulging longer than a few seconds. Twitter and Facebook might be great for quick-hits, but long-form content is essential.

I wrote about this concept in detail in Content Marketing for Dummies, and I also shared my mantra: “Content is the catalyst to conversation.” If your content is too short, there isn’t much to talk about. Bottom-line, long-form content isn’t dead, despite what you might hear.

Content Curation

Putting the company’s stated focus on long-form content into action, Matt explained during the panel that the WordPress.com “Freshly Pressed” feed now features more long-form content than ever before. This feed is where WordPress highlights new content from all of the WordPress.com blogs. With a stronger focus on long-form content and galleries, traffic to the feed has grown by double digits in recent months.

These results prove that people want long-form, high quality content despite the dominance of short-form content in social media and the assumption that people aren’t willing to take the time to read or look at anything that requires more than 5-seconds of their time. People will make time for quality content that is relevant to them.

Matt also reported that WordPress.com blogs will soon link to each other with automatic suggestions of related content from other blogs to keep visitors engaged across WordPress.com blogs. We’ll have to wait and see how that will work once it rolls out. This is the area that sounds great for WordPress but could cause problems for visitors and blog publishers. Recommending content from other sites through an automated feature won’t be popular for everyone.

Native Ads

WordPress is a company. and companies need to make money. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that WordPress is considering offering native advertising. However, Matt did explain that WordPress will only partner with a company that offers compelling native advertising which doesn’t hurt the reader experience. It’s reassuring to know he said, “At the point where advertising becomes as good as the content that surrounds it, I will applaud it.”

If you’re not familiar with native advertising, Solve Media released a handy infographic a few months ago that explains some of the details, which you can see below.

Solve

Image: John Fischer

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