Reflecting on 2019: The Year in Review

Blue and purple fireworks exploding in the night sky.

Another year is in the bag. With a project as large and far-reaching as WordPress, there was no shortage of news and controversy. We covered a lot of stories in 2019 and are gearing up for another exciting year.

I always like to take a moment at the end of the year to look over everything that happened. Despite how well a website or project performs, it is good to take stock of each success. It is a time of reflection. Even in bad years, you should be able to find positive things to remember. This helps shape how you view your websites, projects, or even life. Ending the year remembering those positive things can help propel you into the new year.

It is equally important to find areas for improvement. However, you cannot understand what the next steps are until you have taken a look at where you have been.

With that in mind, let’s take a moment to reflect on the past year’s journey for WP Tavern and WordPress.

WP Tavern Stats

In 2019, WP Tavern published 382 posts. That is an increase of 52 posts over 2018.

Average words per post are the highest in WP Tavern’s history, coming in at 587 words. I am certain my long-windedness played a small role in that. We also had fewer quick posts on the whole. That is a format we should experiment with more.

Total and average comments are down. Admittedly, we have been a bit heavy-handed with deleting comments that break our comment policy this year. Average Jetpack-powered “likes” per post are at an all-time high (6.9 likes per post). Total likes are the second-highest for a year (2,614 likes). We are also seeing a lot of engagement on Twitter. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in 2020 with social media having such a stronghold on how people engage with one another online.

We need to continue improving both the frequency and the quality of comments.

The Year in WordPress

WordPress turned 16 years old this year. It’s old enough to drive now.

The community enjoyed three major updates throughout the year:

Most of the year was focused on the Gutenberg plugin and porting its features and improvements into WordPress. WP Tavern covered nearly everything you ever wanted to know about Gutenberg.

Matt Mullenweg’s 2019 State of the Word primarily focused on the work that went into the block editor in the past 12 months. He also outlined the next phases of the project, which include full-site customization, collaboration between post authors, and multilingual sites.

Alex Mills (Viper007Bond) Passed Away

In February, the WordPress community lost one of its greatest members, Alex Mills, as his battle with leukemia ended. Alex was a mentor and hero to many of us. As a developer, I learned more from his work than I may ever be able to pay forward. We never met in person, but he was one of my early teachers by simply leading the way for people like me.

His Regenerate Thumbnails plugin also saved me countless hours over the years. I cannot imagine building or testing WordPress themes without it. Automattic adopted the plugins Alex built during his WordPress journey.

Alex, thank you for everything you contributed to the WordPress community.

Favorites From 2019

The following are various WordPress and Tavern-related things that I found most interesting throughout 2019.

Posts From Tavern Writers

We have had numerous well-written stories from everyone who has contributed in 2019. The following are personal favorites from contributors other than myself that I wanted to highlight before we close the year out.

These are my favorites for various reasons and presented in no particular order. Sometimes, I liked the content of the article. At other times, I appreciated them for how well-written they were. If you missed them, now is a good time to hop back and check out some stories our team has written this year.

My Articles

I am closing in on 70 posts since becoming a fulltime contributor to WP Tavern. This job has allowed me to explore a variety of topics in a few months, and I look forward to continuing this into 2020. I enjoyed writing many stories, but there were two that I was particularly happy to have the opportunity to cover.

The first was my coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of Domino’s appeal to determine whether its website must be accessible to all of its customers. This story helped me jump far outside my comfort zone of strictly writing about WordPress and development topics. It was also a stark reminder that we, as a community, need to become better at making the web accessible for all people.

The post I enjoyed working on the most was El Soberano’s launch on Newspack. The interesting thing about covering this story was not the actual re-launch of the publication. It was getting to chat with other journalists, particularly those who were down in the trenches and fighting for justice. It reminded me that, at the end of the day, journalism is always about people.

Favorite Theme

This was an easy pick. Twenty Twenty takes the top spot on my list. There were themes released this year with designs better-suited to my tastes. There were certainly other themes pushing more limits in terms of functionality.

What I like most about Twenty Twenty is that it seems unafraid to be bold. It showcases how a theme can have personality while being designed around the block editor. I am not sure if I would ever use it for my sites simply because it’s not my preferred style. However, I appreciate its artistic merit.

Favorite Plugin

While it was not released in 2019, GiveWP is the most interesting plugin I have used this year. It is a fundraising plugin that allows WordPress users to accept donations directly from their website.

I worked with the plugin in two capacities this year. The first was as a plugin developer who was building an integration between it and another plugin. As a developer, I appreciated how well-written and well-documented the code was. The team behind the plugin includes top-notch programmers.

I also helped push a couple of friends to set it up for their projects. Both were pleased with their experiences.

Top 10 Posts From 2019

The following posts are the most-commented posts of the year. Loads of comments typically mean controversy around here, so this list may contain, more or less, the most controversial topics of the year. Either way, there are some great discussions in some of the comment threads.

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