Automattic Snaps Up Scroll Kit to Add to the WordPress.com Product Team

scroll-kit

Scroll Kit founders Cody Brown and Kate Ray announced today that they are joining the product team at WordPress.com. Automattic, having recently acquired Longreads and Cloudup, adds Scroll Kit to its collection, ostensibly in order to subsume its better features into WordPress.com.

Unlike Cloudup and Longreads, which have continued on with business as usual after acquisition, Scroll Kit will be shutting down its editor in three months as part of the deal. Users of the app are encouraged to export their scrolls in case a more native solution is available further down the road.

Scroll Kit allowed users to create beautiful web pages without writing a line of code. Its powerful visual content editor was actually used to recreate the New York Time’s interactive Snowfall experiment in an hour, a project which NYT says took hundreds of hours of hand-coding. Although its makers cannot yet comment on their super secret future plans, one cannot help but wonder if this radically simplified visual editor may soon make its way into WordPress.com.

Scroll Kit already has a WordPress plugin listed among WordPress.com VIP’s list of layout and organization plugins. This tool offered Scroll Kit users the ability to connect directly to self-hosted WordPress sites and create customized templates as well as change images, fonts, backgrounds, and add special effects. “We’ll take what we learned building Scroll Kit and apply it to a product that’s always been tightly integrated with ours,” Scroll Kit creators said, as they bid their current users goodbye.

Will WordPress.com incorporate Scroll Kit’s editor into the theme editing experience for its customers? If so, it will be interesting to see if some of those features trickle down to the open source WordPress project. With the instant popularity of front-end visual editors like VelocityPage for self-hosted sites, a simplified theme editing experience is bound to resonate with WordPress.com’s user base. Scroll Kit’s makers said that their objective was “to create a process for making the web that was more like drawing on a piece of paper.” If they can bring that experience to WordPress.com, then Automattic has just bought itself a magic wand.

5 Comments


  1. Scrollkit looks pretty fun to use. I wish I had tried it before they closed it after the acquisition.

    I will say there is a difference between Scrollkit and others such as Velocity Page that is quite significant.

    Velocity Page is a front end editor for editing the content of the page. Not the theme. So it’s strictly designed to control and manage the page content while leaving the theme to do what themes do.

    Scrollkit, on the other hand, appears to be like a blank slate. The user can create whatever they want. Content and design included. There is no theme at that point.

    Scrollkit seems like a more visual and souped up Aesop Story Engine. Which was designed to be used to create long form content like Snow Fall by the New York Times which is also a project the Scrollkit team re-created using Scrollkit in an hour. The New York Times said it took them hundreds of hours to create that single long read article design.

    It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this. It’s slightly different from a front end content editor. It’s a front end everything editor.

    I’m of the mindset if you give every user that much power over the entire design of the site you’re going to end up with some very, very terrible looking sites. Which is why themes are so important.

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    1. I think that, for the people who really take their website serious, and are honest with themselves about their level of expertise with design (or lack thereof), they’ll continue using themes and easier to set up options.

      Some people get overwhelmed at the amount of editable areas there are in some themes options panels, so I doubt they’re going to feel comfortable designing everything themselves.

      And then on the other side of the token, there’s the crowd who want to stylize everything themselves and blogs will start looking like Myspace pages, circa 2005.

      The cream will always rise to the top.

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    2. There are quite a few terrible looking sites already floating around, even with themes. What’s a few more?;-) It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, is used from this acquisition. I hope something, b/c it did look as if it had some useful aspects.

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  2. Your comment repeats several points mentioned in the article. ;) But it’s true – Velocity Page and Scroll Kit are different, albeit loosely related. I am in agreement with you about the consequences of giving users that much power. Very few people out there have the skills of a designer, and that’s something that’s difficult to communicate to someone who feels as though they should be able to design simply because they have all the tools.

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