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Relive WordCamp US, WordPress 6.3 Out, Twenty Twenty-Four Time? 🗞️ September 2023 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP

📆  This is the September 2023 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hey, WordPress fans!

We are back with another roundup of all the latest WordPress news and gossip from the past month.

Whereas the previous few months had been relatively quiet, the last month had two big happenings – the release of WordPress 6.3 in early August and WordCamp US 2023 in late August.

Beyond that, we also got some interesting sneak peeks at the future of WordPress, including a look at the upcoming Twenty Twenty-Four default theme and some early-stage design mockups for the WordPress admin redesign.

Plus, as has become the norm, there was another big acquisition in the WordPress plugin space.

Let’s get to all of the WordPress news from the past month…

September 2023 WordPress News with CodeinWP

WordPress 6.3 released

In the biggest news of the past month, WordPress 6.3 was officially released on August 8, 2023.

On top of that, we also got the first minor release – WordPress 6.3.1, on August 29.

We already talked about some of the changes in last month’s news roundup, so we won’t go too in-depth here. But here’s a quick rundown of some of the most notable changes:

  • 170+ different performance-focused updates to improve website load times.
  • Replaced with reusable blocks and block patterns with “Synced” and “Unsynced” patterns (which I’m guessing will not reduce confusion around the subject).
  • Some new blocks, including the Details and Footnotes blocks.
  • A revision history for styles to help you track and/or revert changes.
  • Option to preview block themes in the Site Editor before activating them on your site.
  • Distraction-free design mode in the Site Editor.
  • Better controls for things like padding/margin, image aspect ratio, and more.

On a negative note, the block editor now has an incredibly annoying process for making a link open in a new tab. It requires far more clicks than it did before, and I hope it gets reverted because it honestly makes no sense. /rantover

To see more, you can browse the full WordPress 6.3 release documentation.

Then, on August 29, WordPress 6.3.1 fixed four bugs in the Core and six bugs in the block editor. It does not seem to have addressed any security issues – it’s purely focused on bug fixes.

Still, if you’ve already upgraded to WordPress 6.3, we recommend updating to 6.3.1 ASAP to fix those bugs.

WordPress 6.3

Relive WordCamp US 2023 via livestream videos

In addition to WordPress 6.3, another big news story from the past month was WordCamp US 2023, which was held in National Harbor, Maryland from August 24-26.

As you’d expect, a lot of the talks focused on the Gutenberg project. However, there were plenty of non-Gutenberg talks as well, including both general talks, such as how to use WordPress to make a difference in the world, and more specific talks, such as those focused on digital accessibility.

If you weren’t able to attend or if you just want to catch up on your favorite talks, the full-day live streams are available on the WordPress YouTube page.

Here are links to the full-day streams of the different tracks:

The WordPress YouTube channel has also created separate videos for some talks and will likely continue to add more over the coming days.

Because it’s only been a few days since the event at the time that we’re publishing this news post, we don’t have many recap posts yet.

However, we might include some of the best WordCamp US 2023 recap posts in next month’s roundup.

WordCamp US

You may also be interested in:

Sneak peek of the Twenty Twenty-Four default theme

WordPress 6.4, expected in November 2023, will bring with it a new default theme – Twenty Twenty-Four.

In late August, we got our first look at what that default theme might look like.

As you’d expect, the theme is built with a block-first approach, meant to highlight the new Site Editor experience.

One departure from previous themes, though, is that Twenty Twenty-Four aims to be more of a multipurpose solution, whereas previous default themes have been more narrowly focused in terms of use cases.

In the words of the introduction post, “the idea behind Twenty Twenty-Four is to make a default theme that can be used on any type of site, with any topic.”

To help make that happen, the theme will include a bunch of whole-page patterns and template variations.

To see all the screenshots and get more details, you can check out the introduction post at WordPress.org.

group.one acquires several popular WordPress plugins

It wouldn’t be a monthly WordPress news roundup without some acquisitions in the WordPress space.

Most recently, group.one made some more acquisitions after having previously acquired the popular Rank Math SEO plugin in late May 2023 (and WP Rocket back in April 2021).

This time, group.one acquired three plugins from Inpsyde, a WordPress development company based in Germany.

The most notable acquisition is BackWPup (active on over 700,000 sites), with the other two plugins being Adminimize (active on over 200,000 sites) and Search & Replace (active on over 100,000 sites).

With the sale to group.one, Inpsyde seems to have jettisoned most of its biggest products, which matches the company’s stated goals to focus more on its client work.

However, Inpsyde has still held on to MultilingualPress (for now, at least), a plugin to help users create multilingual websites powered by WordPress multisite.

If you want to learn more, you can check out Inpsyde’s announcement post here and group.one’s post here. WP Tavern also has a post about the acquisition.

More mockups for WordPress admin redesign

In last month’s news post, we talked about some early plans to redesign the WordPress admin.

This month, we got a new peek at some mockups from Saxon Fletcher of what that admin redesign might look like.

Saxon’s mockups are clearly inspired by the Site Editor interface, with the goal of creating a more unified experience for the entire WordPress admin.

Again, these mockups are still very early, so things will almost certainly change before anything is implemented. These are more ideas for what it could look like rather than finished products.

To see all the mockups, you can check out Saxon’s post at WordPress.org, which also includes tons of comments from people providing feedback.

WP Tavern also has a post about the mockups that summarizes some of the most notable comments from Saxon’s post. WP Tavern’s post also has a very vibrant comments section itself.

WordPress.org launches a dedicated Blocks page

To help current and prospective WordPress users more thoroughly understand the concept of blocks, WordPress.org launched a brand-new Blocks page last month.

According to a post on the Make WordPress.org blog, this page “attempts to pull together the ease and power of blocks into a single source.”

Currently, it seems to be a mix of targeting regular end users of WordPress as well as developers who are building WordPress sites or extensions for other people. Overall, it seems like it’s slightly more targeted to developers, though, as it includes CTAs to create custom blocks, design block patterns, and build block themes.

In the aforementioned blog post, it was stressed that this page is just the beginning, and they would like to iterate to make it as useful as possible.

If you’d like to share your feedback and suggestions for the page, you can do so by leaving a comment on the blog post that I linked to above.

WordPress.com goes after Google Domains customers

If you hadn’t heard the news, Google decided to rug pull its customers yet another time when, back in June, it announced that it would be shutting down Google Domains, causing massive inconvenience for people (myself included).

Officially, the millions of domains that people have purchased through Google will be shifting to Squarespace, which acquired Google Domains.

However, a lot of customers (again, myself included) don’t want to manage their domains through Squarespace, especially if they have no interest in creating a Squarespace site.

To capitalize on this frustration, WordPress.com seems to be making a big play for dissatisfied Google Domains customers.

In early August, WordPress.com announced that it would pay the domain transfer fee for the first one million customers who transferred their domains to WordPress.com.

As part of transferring the domain name, it will also extend your domain registration for one more year, which means that you’re essentially getting a free year of domain registration just for shifting your domain to WordPress.com.

Beyond that, WordPress.com commits to offering the same or lower domain prices compared to what you were paying at Google Domains.

So, if you’re interested in using WordPress.com, this could be a great offer to take advantage of. You can get the deal by using the special “Transfer your Google domains” page.

On the business side of things, this also seems like a pretty smart marketing strategy from WordPress.com.

At cost, I believe it would cost them around $9.15 per .com domain name. Paying $9.15 to acquire a new customer seems like a pretty great deal for WordPress.com. I’m sure they would happily fork over the full $9.15 million if they were able to get one million new customers out of the deal.

WordPress.com and Jetpack go after newsletters

In addition to going after the former users of Google Domains, WordPress.com is also going after the current users of platforms like Substack with its new Newsletter product.

While the Newsletter product itself has been around for a few months now, WordPress.com has been iterating on it since then and is now making a big push into the space.

In a nutshell, the feature lets you automatically send your blog posts to some or all of your subscribers. Much like Substack allows, you can also create separate content that goes to free members and paying members.

One area where the WordPress.com Newsletter tool stands out is pricing. Whereas Substack only operates on a commission model, WordPress.com essentially lets creators choose how they want to pay, which is a big part of why WordPress.com made its monetization features free a couple of months ago.

On one end, creators can use the WordPress.com Free plan, where they would give up 10% of all the payments that they collect.

On the other end, creators can also go with the Commerce plan, which costs a flat $45 per month with zero transaction fees.

There are also three intermediary plans that mix a flat monthly payment with different transaction fee percentages:

  • Personal – $4 per month + 8% transaction fee.
  • Premium – $8 per month + 6% transaction fee.
  • Business – $25 per month + 2% transaction fee.

For successful newsletters, the non-free plans can offer considerable cost savings versus Substack’s flat 10% fee model, so it will be interesting to see if WordPress.com can make any inroads with well-known Substack creators.

Of course, WordPress.com/Jetpack is not the only way to use WordPress for newsletters. Our sister site Themeisle also covered some alternative methods in its Substack vs WordPress comparison.

WordCamp Asia 2024 call for speakers

Finally, if you’re interested in speaking at WordCamp Asia 2024, you might be interested to know that WordCamp Asia has officially put out a call for speakers for next year’s event.

WordCamp Asia 2024 will be held in Taipei, Taiwan, which is a great city to visit based on my personal experience.

There will be four different formats for talks, so you can choose the approach that works best for you:

  • Long talks – 30-minute talk plus 10-minute Q&A.
  • Lightning talk – 10-minute talk with no Q&A.
  • Panel discussions – around 60 minutes with Q&A.
  • Workshops – from 90 minutes all the way up to half a day.

If you don’t have videos of previous talks to share with the organizers, you can record a short 5-10 minute video of you talking about your topic and submit that.

To learn more, you can go to the WordCamp Asia 2024 speakers page. And here’s a direct link to the application form.

That sums up our September 2023 WordPress news roundup. Anything we missed?

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:

 

Layout and presentation by Karol K.

Colin Newcomer

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