Where Will the CMS World Be in 3 Years?

Where Will the CMS World Be in 3 Years?

The OSTraining podcast has kicked off again for 2019.

In the first episode of the year, we welcomed Josh Strebel from Pagely. Pagely is a hugely successful WordPress hosting company that focuses on household name brands.

However, Josh and Pagely are launching a new service called NorthStack. Whereas Pagely was the very first “Managed WordPress” service, NorthStack is best described as a “Managed AWS” service.

Their new focus is on developers who want to use WordPress as one part of a mix that includes NodeJS, Laravel and other platforms:

It started with a why. Why would we do this? And it came from a question we asked our leadership, where does Pagely need to be in three to five years? Based on what we know of WordPress, based on what we know of the market, what should we be doing now so that we are properly positioned in three to five years to continue to be successful? … We should really look at getting away from pure WordPress because there’s a broader market out there.

Pagely is not alone.

Acquia recently added NodeJS support for their Drupal customers.

Last Wednesday, Magento launched their “Progressive Web Apps (PWA) Studio”. The platform is on Github and has it’s own documentation site. Here’s how they describe these apps:

“PWAs represent a seismic advancement in the evolution of the mobile web, similar in magnitude to the transition that happened five years ago from conventional desktop sites to responsive web design. PWAs blur the lines between mobile app and mobile site by equipping merchants and developers with a new front-end architecture that allows them to leverage open web APIs.”

What does that look like in practice? Here’s the technical introduction from Magento:

It is made up of an application shell that exists in the browser and a middle tier service layer that sits between the shell and a headless Magento backend. Unlike a Magento theme, a storefront application does not inherit from a parent theme. Instead, the application is composed of React modules that provide the different pieces of functionality. These pieces can be swapped out to change behavior or even removed entirely.

It’s worth remembering that this technology shift is still in its early days. Key Javascript frameworks such as React and Ember are only 3 years old.

WordPress and Drupal are starting to rebuild their admin interfaces in Javascript, but there’s a couple of years of hard work ahead.

Magento’s PWA Studio is new this month, but it will be a mature offering by 2021 or 2022.

There’s still an enormous CMS market that will only be disrupted slowly, but people are starting to position themselves for 3 years in the future.

This post by Mediacurrent is worth reading in full and it includes this quote:

The main takeaway I would offer here is that Drupal, while still an amazing tool for managing content, is better suited as a technology paired with a leading Frontend like React. With the web evolving from monolithic systems to more of a services-type approach, it makes sense to use a best-in-class content modeling tool like Drupal with a best-in-class FE framework like React.js. What does that mean for the average Drupal developer? My advice to Drupal developers is to “Learn Javascript, deeply.

PS. If you want to catch up with other WordPress hosting leaders, towards the end of 2018 we talked with Jason Cohen from WPEngine and Dusty Davidson from Flyweel.


  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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5 years ago

Very interesting read Steve.

Alan N
Alan N
5 years ago

An interesting article Steve – thanks!

I’m going a little off subject here.

I note no mention of anything happening with Joomla.

Currently at the point of replacing an existing Joomla site I have asked myself the same questions many times recently; where will they be in 3 years, or even next year? Is it sensible to build a new site with Joomla 3 that still utilises Bootstrap 2? If I build now in Joomla 3 will I have a lot of work to do again in Joomla 4? Is it sensible to start building in Joomla 4 and “hope” that “when” it is stable for production, everything is going to work? Will Joomla 4 bring them forward 3 years from a position behind or push them forward for a further 3. Is a CMS even the right path to take?

Times are changing – so many questions! So many answers that raise so many questions!

5 years ago
Reply to  Alan N

Hi Alan,
I hear your concerns about future proofing. However, I’m still amazed at how quickly sites are rebuilt – in my experience most of the sites I’ve been contracted to build are replacing sites that are < 3 years old. Currently I'm rebuilding a Drupal 7 site into WordPress, redesigning a Magento 1 site, rebuilding a Mage 1 site into Mage 2.2 site, and redoing a couple of WordPress sites that are < 2 years old. Given the LTS of Joomla major releases is about 4 years, you'll probably be redesigning the site before/during a major release anyway. And that will be your experience in WordPress & Magento too - my Mage 2.2 site is already a point release behind current. So, I'd build using the latest Joomla release & keep it as 'naked' as possible - should help upgrade to 4 when it happens.

5 years ago

I think we’re going to see a fragmentation of what we consider to be a ‘cms’ anyway, particularly nominal ‘open source’ platforms. Automattic/WordPress have partnered with Google to offer the Newspack platform. I can see something similar happening with WooCommerce – where you spin up a specialised version of the cms for a particular sector, so that the owner won’t really know or care that its WordPress/Drupal/Magento under the hood. 

I’d imagine Acquia will be moving to offer a hosted ecommerce version of Drupal. Magento, after having killed Magento Go many years ago, now offer a hosted Cloud Commerce offering too. I can imagine most platforms will be looking to see how they can offer their platform in manner that’s tailored towards specific sectors or requirements. This will then be a major revenue stream, especially as cloud has undermined a licence based revenue model (how can you calculate licence fees based on server usage when AWS makes the ‘server’ redundant).

The development of ‘headless’ systems will accelerate this trend – I can imagine user interfaces that are mashups of several systems that use APIs/GraphQ to manipulate and serve the data required. Whether the system is Magentp + Drupal, etc , under the hood will be less important than the APIs available. Systems that are not ‘web services’ aware will struggle I suspect?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x