Treehouse Drops Support for WordPress Education

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Treehouse will be discontinuing its WordPress education courses. According to Zac Gordon, one of the site’s former educators, no new WordPress, BuddyPress, or WooCommerce courses will be created and existing content will not be updated in the future.

“The online learning company where I have been teaching WordPress for the last 3+ years told me that they were going to stop teaching WordPress, give my salary to a .NET teacher, and fire me,” Gordon said.

In a post announcing his departure, Gordon said that during his employment at Treehouse he was unable to convince the company of the value of investing in WordPress.

“While working at Treehouse I attended between 8-12 WordCamps per year and spoke about a range of the subjects I taught at Treehouse,” he said. “Not everyone knows this, but Treehouse didn’t pay for 95% of these trips. In fact, I regularly fought with Treehouse to see the value of sponsoring WordCamps, sending me to them to speak, and even that giving back to the community is an important thing we should do.”

Gordon’s understanding is that Treehouse will now be focusing its resources on technologies like Java, .NET, and JavaScript.

Despite the struggle to find a new way to support himself, Gordon is determined to continue teaching WordPress. Check out WP Tavern’s exclusive interview with him at WordCamp US where he elaborates on Treehouse’s decision.

39 Comments


  1. Is this because there’s a greater quantity of developers in the Java / .NET enterprise space? Or is it because there’s more money in the enterprise space?

    Let me guess…

    WordPress may run 25% of the web. But which 25%?

    I guess it’s just a business decision and a symptom of us all being too cheap in the WordPress world ;-)

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    1. 25% of the top 10 million sites ranked by Alexa. What those sites are is anyone’s guess.

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      1. Interesting is, that it looks currently are 1 billion websites in space. So count a market share from 10 millions of them it’s probably not the best. Do it with Alexa stats even worse.
        Anyway dropping support for WP in Treehouse just shows that not enough people are interested in paying for these courses. This can show that not enough money in the ecosystem or in a better scenario, WordPress is easy enough and many learning sources are available for free.

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    2. I guess it’s just a business decision and a symptom of us all being too cheap in the WordPress world

      That makes no sense, at all.

      Treehouse isn’t a WordPress specific learning site. I don’t imagine that too many people sign on there solely for the WordPress courses, or that Treehouse would expect their WordPress offerings to drive a significant portion of their revenue.

      It does seem silly, on the surface, that they’d drop their WP offerings but like Peter mentioned, it’s likely due to overall interest and is without a doubt driven by the numbers.

      Treehouse definitely doesn’t have the reach and diversity in their catalog that Lynda does, and they don’t seem to specialize in any one thing. The main things, to me, that set them apart are their quizzes (which honestly are pretty annoying to me) and their community forums.

      I’d guess they are having trouble differentiating themselves in a crowded market space and looking to double down n the areas that are driving the most revenue.

      Personally, I’ve had a Treehouse membership for a few years now, I don’t use it for WP learning.

      None of that is meant as any sort of negative reflection towards Zac, he’s a smart, talented dude. I’m sure he will land on his feet.

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  2. I’ve never seen a guy so happy after just losing his job haha Good luck in 2016 Zac! :)

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  3. That sounds terrible. WordPress videos from Zac were the only reason why I was still with Teamtreehouse. Can’t believe they did it.

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  4. That’s really sad, Zac. I’ve almost always liked the energy you put in when you teach there. Good luck in 2016.

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  5. Then I recommend lynda.com, Morten Rand Henriksen has lost of good wp courses there,and everything else you need to learn programming. And when wp moves into javascript, I bet lynda.com will be right on the ball

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    1. One thought after reading this … doesn’t Lynda suffer from similar problems, particularly when it comes to being uninterested in the community? What was the last WordCamp that Lynda sponsored?

      Caveat: I might be biased as I run a WP training site.

      But still, here are some ideas for community-involved training site that you could support:

      http://wp101.com
      http://bobwp.com
      http://wpsessions.com
      http://ostraining.com (our site)
      Zac’s new site

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      1. Not sure if a user who wants to learn something about WordPress care about who paid a lemonade in WordCamp ;)

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      2. How about this … your Lynda subscription is now subsidizing more Linkedin spam in your inbox? ;)

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      3. Just to clarify: My involvement with the WordPress community over the last 5 years, including the financing of travels to WordCamps, participation in the Community Summit, and ongoing work with various WordPress projects ranging from Core to Community and beyond, are all funded by Lynda.com and now LinkedIn. We currently have 70+ WordPress courses and are working to expand our community support and participation in 2016 and beyond.

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      4. Morten, Lynda and your courses are my go to place for anything WordPress. Hats off to Lynda and LinkedIn for supporting the community and giving back.

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      5. … doesn’t Lynda suffer from similar problems, particularly when it comes to being uninterested in the community? What was the last WordCamp that Lynda sponsored?

        I don’t think so. Lynda’s WordPress courses are a tiny fraction of what they offer. I have memberships on both sites, and similar to Treehouse, I wouldn’t maintain a membership at Lynda solely for the WP courses (even though they are great, in both cases).

        Even though it’d be nice, I don’t see any reason why Lynda would feel obligated to sponsor a WordCamp.

        FWIW, when it comes down to bang for the buck, Treehouse vs. Lynda – – Lynda is by a long shot the better value. You can learn about anything there – sound design, web development, audio production, photography, video, animation, graphic design, drawing, lighting, accounting, Quickbooks, object oriented PHP, and yes, even WordPress. :) And, pretty much all the courses are quality.

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  6. It’s a shame but understandable in a way. Thanks for the great content and we look forward to seeing more from you soon :) Especially some REST API stuff!! Also
    Great meeting you this past weekend!

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  7. Bummed to hear this. Treehouse is a great education platform, and their courses – including their WordPress courses – are some of the best available.

    I would have thought, given the popularity of WordPress especially among self-taught developers that probably use Treehouse, that it would have been a major revenue driver for them. But obviously it must not be.

    I wonder if part of the issue is that there is already so much free educational content available for WordPress online.

    FYI – not positive, but last time I looked, I think the Lynda courses, while very well done, were also getting a bit out of date?

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  8. It sounds like Treehouse is focusing on programming languages. Nothing wrong with that. That may include frameworks (React, Angular, etc.). But even then something you need to keep in mind is WordPress isn’t a language (or a framework). It’s an application built with the languages and frameworks.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think there is most definitely value in WordPress education, but if Treehouse has decided to focuse purely on programming language education it makes perfect sense why they would drop WordPress. Different educational focus. Different audience. Easier to focus resources, marketing and messaging from a brand standpoint.

    From a technology education standpoint it is more valuable to learn PHP and Javascript the programming languages than to simply focus on WordPress flavor of each. If you know PHP and JavaScript it’ll make it easy to learn WordPress.

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    1. I agree.

      and wordpress now (I think) is moving a little to fast.
      the pace (and cost) to create tutorials might be too high?

      if I could go back to couple years ago. I would spent some more time in learning php/js/apis (the non wp way too) instead of php/js (kinda) specific to wp (?).

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      1. and wordpress now (I think) is moving a little to fast.
        the pace (and cost) to create tutorials might be too high?

        Nah, definitely not compared to the rest of the web. JavaScript, for example, moves so fast that your tutorial videos are outdated before you’ve even finished recording them. :-p

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    2. This. Any CMS / Framework has its own quirks. It’s a lot better to teach the building block components like JavaScript, CSS, HTML, PHP etc. It’d be like a mechanic class teaching Delorean car technology instead of breaking down things like combustion engine basics and suspension.

      Not to mention that WP’s architecture is pretty antiquated from a modern web app (use of globals, inconsistent naming of functions, no clear MVC, the loop, etc).

      Let’s be honest, recent versions have gotten better in this respect but if you want to learn good programming, don’t learn WP or you’ll have to unlearn a bunch of esoteric things that only WP does. If WP was built on something more modern like Yii or Laravel—or even node.js—Treehouse might be singing a different tune.

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  9. Ah, Zac’s trainings are my favorite. This is a a shock.

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  10. That’s a bummer. Sometimes the value of something should not be defined by the money made. Also it feels like a uneccesary choice, but who knows on which data the decision has been made.

    I still hope Zac gets some great opportunities to educate as much as he likes.

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  11. That’s a bad news for WP community. Maybe a business decision, I guess. But the community lost a place where people can learn, join and discuss about WP.

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  12. I think this is a narrow view of the programming languages and putting them to use in applications.

    I spent almost 2 months fixing a WordPress site that was initially done by a dev the site owner hired off Elance. The site was a mess when I started fixing it; and while I’m no expert PHP coder by any stretch, I could tell from reading the code that the guy was an accomplished PHP coder, he just didn’t know squat about WordPress and how PHP was applied to templates and structure, and knew even less about CSS.

    Maybe there’s room for filling in those types of educational gaps on Udemy or Lynda. At least now I don’t have to spend any more time wondering if I’m going to add Treehouse to my online education subscriptions… that answer’s a solid “no need” now.

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  13. Too many people expecting everything for free in the WordPress community.

    About time they started charging $1-2 bucks for each plugin/theme download to help generate more money for the Devs and WordPress.org

    If its not a win win financially healthy ecosystem, then you’ll see more closures.

    I hope you’re charging for your tutorials Zac?

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    1. Too many people expecting everything for free in the WordPress community.

      That’s pure conjecture and not even remotely relevant to the issue at hand. Treehouse charges, monthly and annual subscriptions, to access their material.

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  14. It’s a real shame. Zac came across as passionate and enthusiastic.

    It shone through in his tutorials when I was a member.

    I wish him the best of luck and do hope he sets up on his own as I believe there is space for someone in WordPress training for a character such as Zac.

    Perhaps consultancy in large corporates, training people face to face as well as his own website.

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  15. Noooo! That’s my Treehouse subscription over then… How disappointing! :(

    Should you ever start WordPress training elsewhere, Zac, I’ll be your first subscriber!

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  16. I’m sorry to hear this. I’m sure you’ll find (or create!) other opportunities to teach in the future, Zac!

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  17. That’s a real bummer to go through Zac, but sometimes a better opportunity is on the other side of the door.

    As Carl said, I don’t fault Treehouse for their decision and it appears that most online and offline educational platforms are moving away from WordPress. As a business, you have to go where the demand and the money is in order to be sustainable.

    One thing that I feel has created this situation is that WordPress has always had the stigma of free or cheap. It’s hurt a lot of people in the ecosystem who want to make a living in the WP marketplace. Perhaps the sense of entitlement has also created this problem.

    I’ve seen a lot of people struggle to make it in WordPress despite their great products or services. Maybe there needs to be a large cultural or mindset shift.

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  18. It’s obvious that WordPress being cheaper option in the market attracts similar crowd. And those users may or may not want to pay for stuff or subscribe to paid course. So making Tutorials on WordPress may not end up well for subscription based system. Treehouse did the right thing. If you want to survive in Tutorial streaming business, you have to charge for content which has more demand. So the topics like Java, Rails, Python Django, Data science, ,NET and other web development technologies are more in demand. I am not saying WordPress isn’t cutting edge like those topics but it’s cheaper to watch YouTube videos for many users. My 2 cents.

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  19. What a pity, WordPress education should be promoted more.
    Hey Sarah where have you been? I’ve missed your posts

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  20. I enter in treehouse because wordpress… come on!!!

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