This conference focuses on what’s working in eCommerce, digital media, information publishing, and subscription commerce. According to Bolinger, WordPress and WooCommerce were not topics of discussion.
“It really opened my eyes going to an event where no one even said the word WordPress once,” Bolinger said. “The audience at this conference was non-technical, mostly marketers selling stuff online. I watched a presentation where the presenter had slides with 20+ different recommended tools on them, and not a single mention of WordPress.
“This is an eCommerce conference, WooCommerce is 41% of all eCommerce stores, and not a single person said the word WooCommerce. All I heard about was Shopify and Amazon.”
According to SimilarTech, WooCommerce is leading in the top 100K sites, top 1M sites, and the entire web while Shopify is leading in the top 10K sites. While Shopify has a lot less market share, it’s used on substantially higher trafficked sites.
Bolinger shared the perspective of a friend who uses Shopify to sell clothing and will gross more than $1M in revenue this year. According to his friend, Shopify is easy to use, from setting up a theme, to the plugin/app ecosystem to add functionality.
“When my friend said Shopify is easy to use, this is a whole different category of great user experience,” Bolinger said. “This is building a site from scratch for a completely non-technical user, and them loving the end result and the experience.”
Bolinger raised an interesting point in that, Wix, Shopify, and SquareSpace are closed, SaaS offerings where they can control the user experience from end-to-end. This is impossible to do with WordPress because there are too many moving parts and core can not control how plugins and themes take part in that experience.
While WordPress core can’t necessarily solve the problem, it hasn’t stopped webhosts from trying. GoDaddy, Bluehost, and others have created onboarding solutions that try to control the end-to-end user experience.
Bolinger shared a sentiment that many in the WordPress community have advocated in recent years. “If we’re honest, the strength of WordPress is not that it’s easy to use for non-technical people. It’s an open-source platform that is easy for developers to extend and customize for clients.”
There was a time, somewhere between WordPress 2.3 and WordPress 3.5, where one of the main reasons people used WordPress was because it was easy. Between then and now, what caused WordPress to lose its ease-of-use factor?
SquareSpace, Wix, and Shopify didn’t exist in the early days of WordPress, they were late to market. This gave them the advantage of implementing all the lessons learned through WordPress’ lifespan and since it’s a closed system, they can iterate rapidly.
The biggest reality check that Bolinger shares is that there are a lot of people WordPress simply doesn’t cater too.
“There is a large contingent of people who just want to get stuff done, they don’t want to fuss with the tech”, He said. “They don’t care about open source or owning their data. They don’t want to install a theme and setup their widgets, or search thousands of results to find the best SEO plugin.
“They don’t want to set up ‘managed hosting’, an SSL certificate, or a payment gateway. They just want to sell their products and make money as fast and easily as possible.”
I encourage you to read the full post as it provides a perspective of WordPress not often shared within the WordPress bubble. How does WordPress become a platform that delivers the kind of experience from end-to-end that Bolinger’s friend describes?