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No New Default Theme? More Pricing Changes, Possible “FSE” Name Change 🗞️ August 2022 WordPress News w/ CodeinWP

📆  This is the August 2022 edition of “This Month in WordPress with CodeinWP.” 

Hey WordPress fans, we are back with the latest WordPress news from the last 30 days.

This month, there were some big proposals in the WordPress space, including the ideas of not releasing a full default theme and rebranding Full Site Editing.

Beyond that, changed its pricing plans (again x2), Envato made more big shifts to its business, and there were some interesting acquisitions and product launches.

Keep reading for all the WordPress news for August 2022.

August 2022 WordPress News with CodeinWP

Should there be no default theme this year? A potential variation

Here’s a crazy idea:

There might be no default WordPress theme this year.

Instead, WordPress design contributors are proposing releasing a set of style variations based on submissions from the WordPress community.

These style variations would be applied to a kind of “blank canvas” theme, maybe using the existing Twenty Twenty-Two theme as a base.

The goal of this approach would be to highlight the new block-based theme features such as theme.json, patterns, and more.

All you need to do is choose your preferred style pack, and you can instantly make your site look completely different.

So far, the community response seems generally positive.

You can read the full proposal at the Make WordPress Design blog – there’s also lots of discussion in the comments on that post.

Default theme changes its prices back to the original plans

A few months ago, we wrote about how had made big changes to its pricing, simplifying it to just two plans – one free and one paid.

That caused a lot of negative feedback because it gave people far fewer options than before.

To adapt to that, again changed its pricing again around a month later and added a third paid plan.

Now, in July, decided to throw all of those changes out the window and go back to the original pricing plans from before they made any changes.

You’ll now have five different plans again:

  1. Free
  2. Personal
  3. Premium
  4. Business
  5. eCommerce

As before, you’re only able to install custom plugins or themes on the Business or eCommerce plans.

While experimentation is all well and good, it does seem a bit odd to experiment so much with something as important as pricing plans.

Still, a lot of people were unhappy with the new plans, so getting access to the Personal and Premium plans again will be a big relief for those people.

With that being said, it’s not all positive. The price to access a full-featured WordPress install (where you can install your own plugins) has jumped from $180 per year for the Pro plan to $300 per year for the Business plan.

Personally, I liked the original pricing changes because I thought the Pro plan offered pretty competitive value at $15 per month. The value is still good with the Business plan, but it’s not as much of a no-brainer as it was when you have so many quality cheap WordPress hosting options.

Envato shuts down Envato Studio without much notice

Last month, we talked about how Envato laid off around 15% of its workforce in preparation for an economic slowdown.

This month, Envato continued its “slimming down” by shutting down Envato Studio with less than two months’ notice.

If you’re not familiar with Envato Studio, it’s a freelance marketplace where web freelancers can connect with clients for jobs.

Collectively, Envato Studio providers have completed more than 230,000 jobs over the platform’s eight-year lifespan, so a lot of people have based some or all of their income around the marketplace.

Naturally, a lot of the Envato Studio freelancers are upset as they have very little time to replace that income. Additionally, many providers have built up solid reputations on the platform which will disappear soon.

Overall, providers seem to wish that Envato would’ve given them longer to prepare. They also asked Envato to create an archived read-only version of the site so that providers can still showcase their reviews and reputation.

Personally, I think this frustration is justified as Envato Studio had a higher-than-average service fee of 30%. When providers are giving up 30% of their revenue to the platform, the platform should have some more responsibility towards them (in my opinion, at least).

For reference, Upwork’s fee ranges from 20% to 5% depending on the volume of work.

Unless something changes, though, Envato Studio will shut down on August 21, 2022. You can read the official announcement here, as well as a post from WP Tavern with more details.

If you’re a freelancer looking for a new spot to find clients, you can read our full roundup of the best freelance websites.

In addition to closing Envato Studio, Envato will also shut down its Twenty20 stock photo site, which allowed people to buy and sell “real-world stock photos.”

If you need some alternatives, we have a post on where to find free images for blogs. We also have our own free stock photo site – MyStockPhotos.


You may also be interested in:

Should the “Full Site Editing” name go away?

WordPress is kind of weird with naming projects and it can lead to confusion.

For example, the native WordPress editor that many people still call Gutenberg because that’s what it was called for so long.

Many developers have even built products based on the Gutenberg name, though some have walked back that approach (see: Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg rebranding to Spectra).

Now, there’s debate about another term – “Full Site Editing.”

Full Site Editing is the name for a new group of features that let you use blocks to customize your WordPress site’s templates…as long as you have a block-enabled theme.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy has suggested two problems with the name:

  • It was a name for a project phase rather than a new capability (see: Gutenberg).
  • It’s confusing to new users because it doesn’t describe what makes it unique. WordPress users could already fully edit their site before Full Site Editing and the name alone doesn’t showcase that you can use blocks to adjust your theme’s templates.

Some people have suggested alternative names such as the following:

  • Site Editor
  • Template Editor
  • Site Builder
  • Theme Builder (this would add a lot of confusion with theme builder plugins)

My personal favorite is two names – “Content Editor” when editing individual pieces of content and “Layout Editor” when editing theme templates.

I think all of the names have merit, but also that these are discussions that should happen earlier in the process before codenamed projects gain inertia in the broader community.

Renaming projects after they’ve gained steam just leads to confusion, as casual users have to deal with seeing different names for the same features. Even if the rename goes through, there will still be heaps of blog posts, YouTube videos, and even entire websites dedicated to the “Full Site Editing” name.

Here’s Josepha’s original proposal, along with a WP Tavern post with more details.

On a somewhat related note about the relationship between WordPress development and the overall community, Matt Cromwell also has an interesting read on the disparities between the WordPress community and the core product direction.


SiteCare acquires the Maintainn service

There was yet another WordPress acquisition this month. But, for a change, it wasn’t a popular plugin.

Rather, SiteCare, a popular WordPress maintenance service, acquired Maintainn, another popular WordPress maintenance service, from WebDevStudios, a popular WordPress agency. Apologies for that sentence – I hope you like commas.

While both are maintenance services, the interesting things about this acquisition are the pricing and customer focus.

Over the past few years, SiteCare has moved more upmarket, focusing on enterprise customers. In fact, SiteCare no longer even publishes set prices – there’s just a “Request a quote” button.

In contrast, Maintainn targets a much lower price point, with set prices starting at just $49 per month. Those prices are more suited to individual webmasters and SMBs looking for a little help with WordPress.

It remains to be seen whether SiteCare will keep this entry-level price point or shift things more upmarket in line with SiteCare itself.

So why did WebDevStudios sell?

Well, it seems like WebDevStudios is also moving more upmarket and focusing on enterprise customers. As a result, it didn’t really fit with their focus to have a maintenance service for solo users and SMBs.

In an interview with Matt at The WP Minute, Brad Williams of WebDevStudios had this to say:

As we’ve grown and our clientele has grown {with} definitely more of a focus on the enterprise and big business, we’ve simply kind of grown away where that side of the house wasn’t really in line with the web dev side of the house in terms of the clients we’re working with {…}Brad Williams

WPLift sells for $160k in 2022

I wouldn’t quite call this an “acquisition,” but it’s another interesting WordPress business tidbit.

In July, Daan Tol sold WPLift, a well-established WordPress blog, for $160,000, after having previously acquired WPLift for $205,000 in ~2016.

The WordPress blog space has gotten a lot more competitive since then, so it doesn’t surprise me too much that WPLift’s value had dropped. But at the same time, it’s pretty impressive that a WordPress blog at that level sold for what it did.

According to Daan’s Flippa listing page, WPLift was getting around 55,000 monthly pageviews with a monthly profit of around $3,750, or around $45,000 per year.

That means it sold at around a 42.7X multiple, which is pretty solid for a website in this environment.

My understanding is that a lot of other content sites have been selling for more like 36X or less now, though 42X isn’t too crazy.

When Daan purchased it in 2016, it was doing around $75,000 in yearly income (I’m not sure if that’s all profit).

Assuming that $75,000 was all profit, the original multiple would’ve only been around 32.8X, which is a steal in today’s environment.

If you want to learn more, Matt at The WP Minute has a nice writeup with some of his thoughts on the WordPress media business landscape.

SVG uploads might finally be coming to WordPress

If you’ve ever tried to upload an SVG file to the WordPress Media Library, you’ve probably discovered the fact that WordPress blocks SVG uploads by default.

While there are ways to allow SVG uploads by installing a plugin, this naturally confuses a lot of users when they try to upload an SVG icon.

It’s also a bit disappointing because using SVG files can be great for performance, as you’re able to scale them to any set of dimensions without losing quality or ballooning the file size.

Well, that fact has the Performance Team proposing a new core module that will allow safe SVG uploads.

Currently, the Performance Team is proposing WordPress 6.2 as the release goal for this new feature. WP Tavern has more.

The Oxygen team launches a new WordPress builder plugin – Breakdance

Does WordPress need another page builder? Well, it’s getting one – Breakdance.

Normally, I wouldn’t think that YAWPBP (yet another WordPress page builder plugin) deserved a special mention.

However, I think this one does because it comes from the Oxygen team.

If you’re not familiar with Oxygen, it’s a visual WordPress website builder that was especially popular with more advanced users because of its relatively clean code and strong support for dynamic content (including repeaters and other advanced features).

For a time now, the Oxygen team has been working on a new visual builder. Now, we finally know what that is – Breakdance.

Breakdance seems to offer a more beginner-friendly interface, which should make it accessible to more users. One of my criticisms of Oxygen has always been that it isn’t as user-friendly as other builders.

However, it still keeps a lot of the more advanced features of Oxygen, including full site building and dynamic content. One thing Breakdance doesn’t have, though, is repeaters (at least not yet).

Breakdance is currently still in Alpha – you can try it out for free if you want to see what it offers.

The devs have committed to continue maintaining Oxygen. However, it remains to be seen whether Oxygen will still get improvements at the same rate, rather than just basic maintenance updates. Naturally, this has some Oxygen users upset and unsure whether to continue building sites with Oxygen.

One thing that won’t be the same as Oxygen is the pricing model – when Breakdance officially launches, it will be a one-year license like Elementor and many other builders. However, Oxygen users will get one year for free.

This is no surprise given the long-term difficulties of using the lifetime deal billing approach.


That sums up our August 2022 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.

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