…because web users are getting dumber.
Hahaha, now that we’ve gotten the usual inflammatories out of the way…let’s put out some genuine theories backed with daily insight.
WordPress along with the world it operates in…are both changing.
WordPress used to be the simpler option for experienced developers.
Back in the days (I get 2 years older every time I say this), the only people messing around with websites had to know minimal HTML and CSS, and basic webhosting tasks like buying a domain, repointing DNS, signing into cPanel, logging into FTP, uploading and downloading files.
WordPress was incredibly beautiful because it cut down on all the tedious tasks of building a new site. You weren’t wasting time with boilerplate template stuff, html sections and restarting CSS frameworks. It was very plug-and-play. Anything you wanted to build was already done by some coder who had the very same idea. You were saving endless time and money in a truly open-source world, working alongside others who thought more or less like you.
But now…WordPress has become the more complicated option for inexperienced web-users.
The WordPress user-base today has expanded so much farther beyond its original demographic. Clients who used to pay for developers are now managing and even building their own sites. I’m talking about people who not only don’t know basic web development but also don’t know basic WordPress knowledge. They want to save thousands from not hiring a developer…but happy to give up $20-50/month for simple functions already put together. That’s how the core WordPress itself and its 3rd-party ecosystem radioactively mutated into some 1000-legged octopus.
WordPress sites are no longer a simple blog…but an e-commerce site, membership site, portfolio site, community site, and on and on. More functions, more features, more fancy visuals, MORE MORE MORE! What could’ve been simple plugins are now overly-bloated and overly-marketed (aka “confusing”) for the sake of profit (rather than user-experience).
And who does the site serve? Oh everybody and every fucken metric. Has to look nice for visitors, load “fast” for Google, integrate with external services, yet easy to use for non tech-savvy end users, easy to maintain for business owners, and still have all cutting-edge features of a
million billion-dollar SaaS? (Shopify, Squarespace, Wix, etc.)
It’s no wonder that WordPress is having an identity crisis with both devs and bottom-users jumping ship. Devs hate the bloat and commercial grime. Users hate the complexity and confusion.
We’ve fallen to the point where newborn devs are using WordPress not out of personal preference but because there’s so much money in the market. And users likewise are choosing WordPress because of the number of devs and active development for it. Because otherwise…they’d rather choose something easier. Something that doesn’t have to be “learned how” to use.
WordPress will NEVER be “easier” to use.
That ship has long sailed. The moment you asked the utility knife for just one more feature…you (basically) transformed it into the airplane cockpit that it is today. It’s more granular than ever…thanks to people who insisted on hacking every little aspect of it.
The only thing WordPress can be now is flexible. You can craft it into whatever Frankenstein application you want. It can do anything and everything. But you must choose carefully and make sensible choices. Because with great power, comes great responsibility.
Ultimately who is to blame?
Nobody if you ask me. Times have changed. Everything’s changed. WordPress feels like a bicycle trying to keep up with cars. Or more like…a car trying to be both a plane and a bicycle.
I wouldn’t point a finger to any single thing such as Gutenberg, ever-changing speed metrics, or slow hosting. If anything…all those things have gotten much easier over the years, not harder.
The only thing making WordPress harder are the demands users put on it. By asking WordPress to do more with less development skill, less user skill, fewer server resources, and smaller development budget. Yeah….THAT will make any development platform hard, I can guarantee you that much!
What should you do?
If you think you can find something better…do let me know when you find it.
There’s a hundred new options out there much more specifically catered to whatever it is you’re trying to build. Whether it be a photography site, e-commerce, membership, forum, etc.
There’s also a hundred new platforms for how you want to build. Coding in different languages or libraries. Or different click-and-drag builders. The choice is literally yours.
But what will I (WPJohnny) do?
I’m sticking with WordPress because I love the WordPress way of doing things. Yes, the landscape has gotten absolutely crazy. This is expected when your once serene deserted tropical island gets discovered and is now overrun with commercial tourism and elitist gentrification.
I stay because I’ve never lost sight of what WordPress once was and still is. I know my way around perfectly, so nothing confuses or distracts me from my goals. The dizzying myriad of options sits comfortably by my side like a painter’s palette. I know exactly what feature/option I need and when I need it. But I can’t say the same for those swimming off for “easier” islands elsewhere.
I wish you all the best of luck and I guarantee we’ll find each other in another world, whether it be WordPress or another platform. Happy exploring, everyone!
Great article! Wish I could be as fluent as you. Love the way you write. Always very interesting.
Great! This is more than an article about the evolution of WordPress: it’s a philosophical essay 🙂
I think it can be extended to the evolution of any successful company or project.
It’s always a pleasure to read what you write.
Hey thank you, Nestore!
100% agree with your points. For years, tons of articles declared about “easy WordPress website”, “fast to create website with WP”. And I think lots of users get impacted by these words and simply don’t want to learn a little bit more about basic stuff 🙂
Thank you for the article 🙂
So true! Users want to build the most complicated thing in the easiest way. And on the other side of the issue, are all these affiliate marketers exaggerating benefits and confusing users further.
I am Raylin a WordPress Developer from Dominican Republic.
Great article!, There are a huge difference between a theme installer person vs a wordpress web developer.
Download an install a theme is a piece of cake and no require much knowledge, but do some functionality for example a custom cart, SEO, Great performance, Security, and more… require a wordpress developer. Indeed, that funcionality could cost much more that the “theme installer” could get.
So, don’t worry about it, when te business require a especial functionality, we are here for that.
I took a look at Hugo last year. I’ve grown tired of the slow-as-molasses Gutenberg editor and some of the annoying bugs in the past. I like the simplicity of using markdown. Unfortunately, as I experienced when I took a look at Jekyll, theme availability is wanting. I did find a Hugo theme I liked, but it would have taken some HTML and CSS chops to get it to work like the theme I currently use for WordPress. So, I’ve I’m sticking with WordPress…for now.
I think you should read this first before using Hugo https://discourse.gohugo.io/t/requesting-help/9132#some-knowledge-required-2. Anyways, I ditched WP nearly three years ago, first to Jekyll, then to Hugo. Best decision I ever made! I now only pay for domain fee.
I thought, from the title, you’ll be talking about losing market share, in numbers. However, I agree with your point, WP Development is becoming ugly to satisfy every user need!