WordPress Isn’t Done Yet, Or Is It?

John O’ Nolan believes that publishing on the web is in a state of complete disrepair. That is hard to believe considering it’s never been as easy to publish content online as it is today. However, whether or not WordPress is the best tool for THAT job is up for debate. There is a reason why some WordPress faithful like Jason Schuller of Press75.com have stopped using WordPress for their personal sites and instead, have gone off to create their own vision of what a publishing platform should be like. I asked Jason what pushed him over the edge to stop using WordPress.

I’m not sure that any one thing in particular pushed me over the edge. Being excited, happy and passionate about what I’m working on/with is very important to me, and I no longer feel any of those things when it comes to WordPress. Creating a simple WordPress theme (for example) has become a grueling task because there are certain expectations that you have to consider in order for the WordPress community to accept your work.

I still think WordPress is an amazing piece of software that has opened so many doors for so many people and that is something I will never forget… it’s just not something that interests me in its current state or direction. My focus is on creating simple/elegant solutions that actual people can use without having to spend weeks reading through tutorials or sifting through admin menus. Also, in order to continue to learn and grow as an entrepreneur I have to leave WordPress behind and find my own path.

Then there is Habari. Habari is another project created from the ground up from former WordPress developers/users. If you want to hear Matt’s thoughts on Habari at the time, I highly encourage you to listen to episode 18 of the original WordPress Podcast from January 18th, 2007 starting at the 10:34 mark. Their news bit includes a quote from Matt with his thoughts on the release of Habari as well as open-source competitors. I wonder if his attitude on competitors is the same today as it was back then.

There are a handful of other publishing platforms available but the core point I want to draw attention to is that they all seem to focus around one thing. Simplicity. One of the major features of WordPress in its early years was in fact, simplicity. Now it seems as though that simplicity is disappearing and is ending up in entirely new codebases. There is no need to panic but it’s a trend worth taking note of.

I love the freedoms that WordPress provides but I’d hate to see people give up those freedoms to go behind a walled garden because WordPress is just too darn complex to use. A strong pillar of the WordPress ecosystem is its third-party community via plugins and themes. But this pillar can not exist as the foundation of WordPress, nor should it. The foundation should be the publishing software. If the third-party ecosystem becomes the only reason to use WordPress and I were a core developer, I’d be extremely disappointed.


37 responses to “WordPress Isn’t Done Yet, Or Is It?”

  1. There are just two possible outcomes of any “simple” WordPress “fork”: they will fail (ie. not get popular) or they will get as “complicated” as WordPress itself is.

    Why? Because users don’t want simplicity. If they wanted simplicity, they wouldn’t ask for more features that WordPress eventually introduced or that exist in thousands of plugins.

    When you are starting blog/website, you obviously want something simple and don’t need many features. But as time passes, you want to add more features to your blog/website, and eventually those “simple” tools can satisfy your needs.

    Thats evolution of every blog/website I witnessed.

  2. @Milan – What I mentioned above though are not forks, they are completely different ideas and implementations of their idea to simple publishing.

    Why? Because users don’t want simplicity. If they wanted simplicity, they wouldn’t ask for more features that WordPress eventually introduced or that exist in thousands of plugins.

    Great point. I too wonder about the different publishing systems available. Although they may make it simple as pie now to publishing words to the world, at some point, wouldn’t they end up with a similar feature-set like WordPress based on user needs and necessity? Which corresponds to your first point, users don’t want simplicity.

  3. Is B2evolution related to WordPress’s ancestor B2?

    Anyways, I think there should be more forks. However I prefer a spoon, since I have a bowl of strawberry ice cream. I want to eat it.

    We need competition. If Matt doesn’t fix an issue…I move to xyz.

    Think of it as cell phone service and airlines in US compare to Canadain cell phone services/airlines in Canada.

    Canada has no competition for cell phone service and air travel. While the US has some.

    I picked Joomla first, then moved to Drupal, I moved to WordPress due to its simplicity. WP is becoming Drupal in so many ways.

  4. @Miroslav Glavic – Yes. Around the same time b2 was forked to create WordPress, another person decided to fork b2 and they called it b2evolution. So they are not the same but both pieces of software came from the original b2. A multi-site version of b2 was created called b2++ which eventually became WordPress Multisite.

  5. @Jeffro – I know they are not real forks, thats why I put that word inside quotes.

    To further explain that “users don’t want simplicity” point since Twitter people might get it wrong: I got impression while reading about other “simple” tools that simplicity is their only selling point. That doesn’t sell, or at least didn’t in the past. Users don’t want to just write text and don’t have anything else on page. If they wanted that, they would already use other simple tools, or WordPress would have gone to other direction.

    So in order to get with demand, “simple” tools would need to add features, and eventually become what they were against, or users would switch to more powerful tools.

  6. First, in the early days of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg was in the right place at the right time doing the right things, and Luck was with him.

    Next, Facebook and Twitter became everything right, and Luck went with the flow.

    Every good person with a good vision should be as lucky as Matt was, tho that will never happen of course. Matt hopefully has the serenity not to let guilt gnaw him to the bone, for having gotten one of the hottest breaks on planet Earth.

    Matt got that classic 15 minutes of opportunity, he then made good on it … and under the heading of Be careful what you wish for, he’s now staring at 15 years of hoeing corn. The locusts will arrive, and the hail will fall.

    But Matt won his Kingdom, bottom line. He got it plowed and seeded. The heady nights of inspiration are now a memory, and a long stretch of toil & perspiration lies ahead.

    The continuing success of WordPress is a matter of its ongoing adoption by the masses. The size of the user-base leverages & turbo-charges the product. Several distinct user-bases, actually.

    WordPress can be made/kept simple to use, despite being anything but, under the hood. Like a Mac.

    Cell phones, Mobile, touch screens define an Era that we & WP will have to go through. It can’t be ignored … but like with the old Dot Com Bubble, powerful forces are hoping mightily they can establish a new self-fueling Digital Consumerism.

    In the heyday of Broadcast Consumerism, it was so unusual not to have a TV going in the house, that those who didn’t were truly abnormal, to the point of seeming suspicious. That is the kind of market-penetration that in turn allows for social & societal undertakings that otherwise are the stuff of fiction.

    There are certainly forces that salivate involuntarily, at signs that one of the new digital mass-attractions might once again give them direct access to 90-95% of the entire population, for 10-30 hours per week.

    Therefore, like Microsoft and Apple before them, we now have Facebook and Twitter getting away with shady stuff, because they or something like them just might hit the Digital Consumerism jackpot.

    That’s the game-table that WordPress sits at. We who joined the Kingdom that Matt created, need to allow him & it to play successfully … until the current deal passes and a new game is declared.

  7. @Ted Clayton – I’ve read all of your comments over the years, even over at WeblogToolsCollection.com. Are you a best selling author that we don’t know about?

  8. WordPress isn’t going anywhere any time soon. There is too much momentum behind it.

    As you point out there have always been competitors who try to make things simpler. Some of them have done alright, but none have slowed down the growth of WordPress significantly.

    I think John will do a great job with Ghost and it will probably do better than many of the other competitors. He’s a clever guy and the project has the support of many fine people. But I still think it’s impact on WordPress will be minimal (well apart from pushing us make things more simple).

    Ghost will probably find a niche between WordPress and Tumblr somewhere. It makes for interesting watching.

  9. @Jeffro – What a nice thing to say – thank you, Jeff!

    I’m like millions of others, who get off work at the day-job and relax over WordPress-reading & dabbling at my site. (Which in my case is localhosted, because I can only intermittently give a live site the care it needs.)

    Jeff of course sees his server-logs, and knows how “best selling” his content is, and what it therefore means to publish on these pages. Matt Mullenweg noticed, too.

    Like Matt and Jeff, I go with a certain vision, one that I’m comfortable with and can have faith in, over the long haul & come what may. Mine bears a resemblance to theirs, naturally. Matt plays his role, Jeff has found a way to work for the cause, and I enjoy being in on the conversation.

    So I am an author of sorts, alright, and selling a future that looks like the best available. :)

  10. WordPress is wonderful but certainly not suited to every situation.

    Personally, these days, I am spending a lot of time experimenting with static site generators.

  11. I think simplicity is relative, and the first few years of WordPress were actually pretty complex.

    Milan also nails it that people don’t necessary want simplicity or their site to be cookie cutter. If you look at the comments on the Ghost article it is a mix of people who want simpler blogging and some who want crazy built-in post types.

    I have some ideas for the post editor, though, that I think people will really dig. You can satisfy both camps, it just takes iterations and probably a few missteps along the way.

  12. If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we’d be so simple that we couldn’t.

    Ian Stewart (not of Automattic) – Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World

    I am currently getting acquainted with the WP Customization API to make things simple? Is that an oxymoron?

  13. Having invested a load of time and effort into WordPress I for one hope it doesn’t go away for a long time. I doubt that it will. I see other systems and they may look shiny and nice but the one thing they all seem to have and that they are not very up-front about is the costs. WordPress is extremely cost effective. I hope that will remain, while it continues to evolve.

  14. Interesting post! I’m not a developer, but someone who recently hired a developer to build me a “simple” website in WordPress. The hope was that I could maintain and add to it myself. That has not been possible. I’m a pretty fast learner, but this process has been much more complicated than I’d expected. For an educated layperson like me, the WordPress help forums out there are virtually useless. Have ended up having to hire people over and over to sort out messes I can’t figure out on my own.

  15. I recently looked at Ghost and wondered if WordPress is complicated. After a bit, I did agree that it has become complex. There are many navigation options and with each new plugin comes a new option. Each new plugin often brings one or more pages of settings too.

    Ghost is appealing and will capture some people who would otherwise use WordPress. I wrote a post about it a couple of weeks ago. It will be interesting to see how well Ghost is accepted.

  16. WordPress complex? To me it’s much more simplistic to use and develop in than say Drupal. WordPress might also be less of a resource suck on your web hosting infrastructure. The only thing I’m concerned about is WP’s security vs. Drupal and other CMS/blog software.

  17. ‘Complexity versus simplicity’ has been a big issue, going back to the early stages of Modern Society.

    Carl Linneaus can be posed as merely ‘using’ biology – the plants & animals of the world – to pursue a more fundamental focus, which was per se taxonomy, as a case of systematics, more generally.

    Following the adoption of Linneaus’ work, there soon emerged a major intellectual struggle known as Lumpers vs Splitters, which raged among scientists and scholars for generations. This is indeed a current source of distress, in the Wikipedia community itself (who are specialists in taxonomy & systematics, ‘by definition’).

    So … this issue that comes up around the WordPress project, with arguments & counter-arguments made on the pros and cons of simplicity vs complexity, is not something that arose with computers, or databases, or the need to organize content within websites running on WordPress. Oh, no.

    Before I decided that a blogware such as early WordPress had better potential as a long-term Content Management System than other website software titles that self-consciously aimed at the CMS role, I had also installed, used, and studied the database structures of eg Xoops, phpWebsite, and several others big & small.

    The complexity of the relational tables that comprise the data structure on which CMS commonly run, in & of itself tends to become so daunting & esoteric, as to subvert the original intention & goal. Which was to tame the complexities of the organization, navigation and presentation of the Content, itself. The “solution” tends to join with & reinforce the “problem”, rather than serving to resolve it.

    When I saw how few & transparent the data-tables of WordPress were, and that it clearly intended to move beyond the chronological format of classic blogware, to offer the functions of real CMS from this more comprehensible data-foundation … I concluded that the author & leader of WP had identified the key problem that had been a deterrent to more widespread adoption of a standardized website solution, by the emerging web-culture.

    Hefty commercial, business and institutional uses of such a ‘rationalized’ CMS-approach were also enhanced under the new WordPress model … and it is they who provide the funding that pays the bills.

  18. @Stephen Cronin – You’re correct. I think the only thing that could put a dent into WordPress at this stage of the game is WordPress.

    @donnacha – What’s the use case for using a static site generator? Isn’t that like going back in time with HTML pages?

    @Matt – Yes, simplicity is in the eyes of the beholder. We were talking about this on Twitter about WordPress maintaining that balance of simplicity and complexity and I think plugins make a great connection between the two. You actually congratulated Owen WInkler and Khaled on their endeavor to create Habari, a competitor to WordPress. Do you have that same type of attitude towards John and Ghost?

    @Ruairi Phelan – That’s an interesting quote from Ian. Interesting that the guy has the same name as Automattic’s Ian Stewart and talks about simplicity.

    @Ken Richman – It won’t be going away for a long time and you’ll never see a price tag on WordPress as long as Matt is alive.

    @Barbara Behan – What is it that you’re trying to achieve but feel is too complex?

    @Kurt – There are definitely a couple of items that Ghost showed off that had me excited. For example the split screen of actually seeing what the content will look like on the front-end without a clunky preview tab in the browser. Overall, just the fresh take on ideas was enough to get excited about. Whether Ghost delivers or not is the anticipated question.

    Kurt if you think a fresh install of WordPress is complex, you should take a look at everything that’s at your fingertips when you open a WordPress.com account. WordPress.com makes stand-alone WordPress seem drop dead easy.

    @Jason Gooljar – I don’t think you have to worry about security as much you might be. Read this article to find out why http://wpengine.com/2013/05/wordpress-core-is-secure-stop-telling-people-otherwise/

  19. Simplicity is not the answer to everything. Complexity isn’t always bad. Sometimes, the problem is elegance. For example, instead of making a simpler car, 3D printing is a more elegant way to solve the problem of car making.

    Ghost claims to focus on simplicity, but realistically was an elegant Photoshop mockup of complex and inconsistent layouts. However, it’s easy to find reasons why something is important or should exists because every idea wants to materialize.

    The $300,000 funding behind Ghost doesn’t prove the concept. What it says to me is John is a smart, but most importantly hip developer with many friends like himself to turn a concept into an idea virus.

    Like fashion designers, hip developers are typically early adopters that can influence others to join. John happens to be a part of that social circle. And everyone else that funded, like music snobs trying prove they have better taste, want to help prove John’s right so they can be a part of that circle.

    The Ghost wave storming the publishing industry is not about simplicity. Watch the video, It starts out focusing on John’s left arm tattoos. It’s about being hip.

  20. “Simplicity” means different things, depending on the audience.

    As a casual developer, I find WordPress moderately simple — I know how to quickly get a job done using WordPress, and I’m sure that my speed at shipping code would be much worse were I to attempt the same things in Drupal or Joomla. While I know how to develop themes, organizing their structure and files are still complex (but not hard) affairs.

    As a user, WordPress *can* be simple — if you’re a savvy-enough user and aren’t distracted by the full breadth of out-of-the-box functionality in the Admin interface, it’s simple enough to start publishing immediately. But some users may be overwhelmed by the Admin interface. And if WordPress isn’t already installed on their host, they may find it challenging to install (much longer than 5 minutes). And it’s easy enough for any user to install stale plugins or poorly-designed themes. And when it comes to Widget management, I personally go to my happy place. So from a user perspective, it can easily appear complicated, depending on the flavor of said user.

    So I think it’s less of a debate about whether WordPress is simple or not (it’s *simpler* than what you might have been forced to do in the past when web publishing), there is room for alternatives like Tumblr, Ghost, etc. which remove barriers for certain user populations.

  21. @Jeffro – My customers have self-hosted sites so I haven’t looked at a .com site in quite some time. I personally don’t find WordPress complex because I make a living with it. After looking at Ghost I stepped back and realized that people new to WordPress or just non-technical people could find it a bit daunting. That’s why I think Ghost will capture some people who would otherwise gravitate to WordPress.

  22. @Jeffro – No, I don’t see static site generators as going back in time, it is all a question of asking whether certain overheads we take for granted are really necessary.

    Although it is heresy to say it, Ghost is not some huge departure from WordPress, it is just a shinier version of the same thing but with the advantage that, because it does not yet exist, everyone can project their personal wish-lists upon it. A lot of people will be disappointed when Ghost ends up being exactly what they have so slickly described and no more.

    All dynamic CMSes have essentially the same advantages and disadvantages – it was very easy for you to publish this post and the content changes every time someone adds a comment. That is all pretty magical but the magic comes with a certain amount of administrative and resource overhead – just a few posts ago, we were discussing the performance issues you have been having here on WPTavern.

    Haters massively exaggerate the WordPress overhead, but we have to admit that it exists and that, in some situations, the cons outweigh the pros.

    Today, I would say that 90% of small business sites simply do not need a dynamic CMS – in theory, they like the idea of being able to go in and easily change things but, after the initial burst of activity when setting up, they never touch it and don’t have the sort of content that attracts real comments.

    Of course, we give them WordPress because that is what they have heard of and they have the reassurance that there are plenty of books and training videos showing you how to make a post.

    The supposed security disadvantages of WordPress are also negligible, now that there are excellent management services that make it easy to keep everything updated, along with good backup + malware-monitoring services such as VaultPress, but the reality is that these “brochure” sites are, essentially, static, they should not really require a database.

    As the static site generators improve and simplify their backends, and as static hosting options such as Amazon S3 and CloudFront improve and become cheaper, it is worth asking whether most sites would not be better managed by an application running on the owner’s computer or a hosted service, making it easy for changes to be made and spitting out a static rebuild that will require no database, no clever caching and no clever security measures.

    Just to clarify, this is all just pie-in-the-sky, WordPress has the momentum, and there are plenty of situations in which only a particular WordPress plugin or theme will do. I’m just saying that, if Ghost or any other project really wanted to dropkick us all into the future, they should have considered a more radical departure from the WordPress model.

    Here is my bet: the next major change in the CMS landscape will come when Amazon or Google fund the development of a hosted static site generator that spits directly into their cheap, distributed, infinitely scalable static hosting services. If you see either of those companies buy Disqus, that will be a sign that they are gearing up for precisely that.

  23. @Tung – First off, how you doing Tung? Nice to see you around these parts. Secondly, I have yet to see someone explain the rationale behind Ghost as you have done. You certainly have raised a few points no one else has because they are against the grain or maybe considered pot shots. Are you surprised to see so many people get behind something that to this day is still made up of Photoshopped images and mockups?

    @Matthew McGarity – Good points and you mentioned a number of things that WordPress could definitely improve upon such as installation and for sure, Widget Management. I do love the fact however that WordPress has added tool-tips and an introduction page when WordPress is first installed. I think that goes a long way for new users.

    @Kurt – You should do it just for fun :) and if you have the chance, have a fresh WordPress.org install on one screen and your WP.com account on another screen and compare. Let me know what you think.

  24. @donnacha – Interesting. I guess we’ve reached the point where instead of jumping headfirst into WordPress for a website, we are starting to rethink that strategy for sites that rarely need dynamic info, if any. I was thinking WordPress with Pages but then, you’re right about needing to update WordPress, having a database, having users, etc. which is all overhead. The static site market has largely gone to WordPress in the past few years but I can certainly see that changing if there are more consultants/developers like you out there. Are we driving towards a time where WordPress only makes sense for dynamic content and not so much for static?

  25. @Kurt – Don’t you have an account to use Akismet and to have a WP.com API key? I believe you can have an account but an actual website but you can still view the back-end of WP.com if you log in with your credentials.

    If you don’t use Akismet and other WP.com API services, how have you managed? :)

  26. @Jeffro – I’m doing good =D

    Text is the most readily available form of expression online, but developers forget we are visual animals. I’m not surprised the Ghost Photoshop mockup gained overwhelming support as I’m used to seeing fictional designs get this type of response. However, no one ever thought about taking the next step — kickstarting a non profit project to make the idea come true.

  27. @Kurt – Thanks :)

    @Jeffro – in the bottom half of the market, we probably aren’t driving anywhere anytime soon, the market has standardized upon WordPress on cheap hosting on massively shared, under-provisioned servers, with a low upfront cost but a considerable ongoing cost in terms of maintenance and attempts to optimize performance when what is really needed is a more generous sliver of CPU.

    If you can get a basic site up and running for $5 or $10 per month, the vast majority of people aren’t going to bother looking for alternatives. The dirty secret is that most people in our industry financially depend upon the hours they can bill for all the later maintenance and emergency fixes. Personally, I find the whole thing dispiriting and have spent this year winding down my business and transitioning my remaining obligations to other providers.

    The current popularity of the “premium” WordPress hosting niche is almost entirely a knee-jerk reaction to how badly people have been burnt by cheap hosting, but the major premium services are not that much better (I have come across some astonishing situations in the course of my work); we are in an age of marketing above all else, at some point a decent service might manage to slash its way through the jungle of affiliate links and astroturf articles, but I doubt it.

    Eventually, the entire phenomenon of self-hosted WordPress will be overtaken by people buying cheap static hosting from giants such as Google (who have unrivaled economies of scale) and Amazon (whose investors apparently don’t care about profit), while embedding various types of dynamic content (such as comments, contact forms, availability calendars, appointment booking etc) via a range of smaller companies.

    I would very much expect Automattic to be part of that – if you think about it, their core technical competency is to cleverly handle a mix of dynamic and not-so-dynamic content, while their leading position and scale in the current paradigm actually leaves them well-placed to handle such a major transition. This might even be part of the thinking behind Jetpack.

    By the way, if anyone is dumb enough to want to get into the hosting game, they should consider building a dynamic posting gateway to static hosting such as Cloudfront, in the same way that many backup services are just layers in front of S3. I reckon there is a lot of commercial potential there, especially if the market shifts in the direction I’ve predicted above.

  28. @donnacha – Personally I would always prefer to have, and to offer, a dynamic site over a static irrespective of the overheads, which, in view of WP are slight. For me, its about people knowing they can publish immediately. Static site generators are news to me, it will very interesting to see how they evolve as a publishing option.

    I totally agree you on the supposed security issues of WP, I think particular bodies have a vested interest in peddling exaggerations.

    As for Ghost, you stated earlier that people are apt to project there wishes on to a new shiny looking platform. Your most insightful point, for me, is that Ghost is not going to be a radical departure from the WordPress model. Just to clarify, I am not knocking people’s enterprise, Ghost certainly looks slick, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating!

    @Matthew McGarity – I agree with you on poorly designed themes, much of the commercial theme market is caught in a features race. Adding needless complexity for users. On the flip-side I would like to see plugins offering more filters for extensibility – I guess you can’t please everyone. :)

    @Matt- looking forward to seeing your ideas for the post editor and agree with the process of iterations, no one is going to get things right first time – hence updates!

    @Ted Clayton – enjoyed reading Lumper v’s Splitters and the cyclical nature of solutions complicating the problems they are designed to solve. For me, ‘Simplicity’, ‘Complexity’ and as Tung Do added ‘Elegance’ are abstractions that can be emotive at times.

    I think the best way to solve complexity is the iterative process, put the code out there, gauge its effectiveness, then amend accordingly. By no means perfect, but effective – aviation being a prime example.

    @Jeffro- Great article enjoyed reading it.

  29. I backed Ghost – it’s nice to be informed that the reason I handed over cash was so that I could be part of a ‘hip’ circle, as Tungs states.

    It was the one second tat flash in a three minute video that really convinced me.

    I naively thought it was because I was interested in seeing how a new open-source blogging platform based on javascript would turn out.

    A blanket dismissal of Ghosts 5,000+ backers – comparing them to music snobs – is a pot shot that adds nothing to the discussion.

  30. @Gary – Comparing you all to music snobs is a bit much, but to say my previous comment doesn’t contribute to the discussion would be a pot shot. I tried to explain the movement behind supporting Ghost and criticizing WordPress. Your reaction to my comment is understandable and proves my analogy failed to some of you out there. However, there’s only so much a comment can say with only texts and limited attention span.

    To claim no other simpler or more innovative system exists beyond WordPress would be naive for the both of us. Javascript based publishing is interesting, but would you have paid attention if it wasn’t so damn sexy?

    In the Matrix, code is code, but even Neo is distracted when code looks as good as the woman in the red dress and that’s where your money went.

  31. So, seeing @donnacha brought up static sites, does anyone have an opinion on using WordPress to create static sites using one of these plugins:


    The ease of managing the site in WordPress, but with the performance of a true static site (above and beyond what a caching plugin will give you).

    Not sure what I think of this approach, but it’s interesting in the light of the comments above.

  32. I am a co-author of a premium wp theme that is one of the best selling themes at Themeforest. I came to wordpress having used many other systems – remember Modx when it won best this, that and the other thing 3 yrs ago? Before that Drupal, Joomla, and the list goes on.

    Our WP theme was reasonably straightforward when it was first introduced in 2010. But, as the very first comment to your article by Milan noted, as soon as you give the user something, they want something more. Thank goodness our coding skills have been able to keep up with the feature requests.

    What we believe to be key is the way in which accomplishing tasks in wordpress is organized/presented/enabled for the site builder. Beyond the basic wordpress theme, for a novice builder the wordpress way of doing things via hooks, editing files, etc, is tremendously challenging for the average individual (or so tens of thousands have told me). To me, it seemed in part this was and is deliberate, given the incestuous relationship between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. This methodology and its unfriendliness gave rise to premium themes, which seek to bridge this gap. And they have. Some well, some poorly.

    User do not want simplicity in ability, rather, they want simplicity of use for the creation process. But they want complex results. So they want the best of both worlds. And the very proof of this is the default wp theme and how quickly it is abandoned by 99% of the wp users. It is simple, and because its output is simple unless one starts to master all sorts of complex “things” like the aforementioned hooks and editing core files, it does not satisfy needs.

    Having over 30 yrs of coding in my background, my estimation is that while there might be a niche for every product and a few adopters, in fact it is going to take a major evolutionary breakthrough in technology that really grabs the attention of the marketplace (I keep on thinking of Mr Scott trying to talk to the computer to create Transparent Aluminum) in order for the current market leader wordpress to be pushed aside. New market momentum requires something exciting to grab the public’s eye. Simply seeking to redefine “simple” by dumbing down abilities does not on its own cut it. And so for Simplicity, which truly in concept reminds me of about 300 others I have seen over the years, I predict the same outcome…….

    My thoughts at 245am. Perhaps bad timing, but I think relatively on track.

  33. @Stephen Cronin

    [D]oes anyone have an opinion on using WordPress to create static sites using one of these [static-page] plugins:

    Yes. I’ve worked over the last couple years getting familiar with Apache and managing a server-environment (Windows & Ubuntu). I am interested to serve a website from my home-computer. I think we are approaching the point at which this will be generally feasible; of special interest in certain segments, and could create a nice stir.

    In my particular case, there is the complication that I have a very slow 256K DSL connection. Uploads at 128K. On the face of it, that alone makes the idea ‘a little crazy’.

    But, the general idea does certainly entail resource-limits, and extra attention to resource-management is intrinsically a key part of the game.

    (I have a nice local ISP, who help many local businesses either manage their sites on their own machines at their own premises, or host their entire environments on the ISP’s physical local facilities. They knew exactly ‘who I was & where I was headed’, when I started asking about a Static IP, and connectivity/storage matters. They would eg give me a T1 line at a good price (at their facilities), if traffic came to that. (Which it does, for certain users, notably eg those into sex imagery.))

    I started trawling WordPress extent for caching solutions that emphasized speed, and soon noticed the offerings for static HTML conversions that were not explicitly about caching.

    Like many others, I wrote HTML pages and created websites by hand for many years. Likewise, I/we lived for a long time with dialup connections (56K in ‘theory’, often lucky to sustain 28K). I created – and remote hosted – several websites totally designed to be served to visitors with 28K connections, and less.

    Sooo … why are we looking at static sites, static pages, and HTML caching? If the motivation is to evade a putative complexity-problem with WordPress, there are dozens, hundreds, probably thousands of nice little scripts for making nice little HTML sites, and this line of inquiry should shift forthrightly to that category of software-solution.

    Buuut … it’s impossible not to notice, that many cache-solutions, and virtually all of the HTML-conversion plugins, move promptly to discussions of the DRAMATIC speed-enhancements that they readily achieve. That of course is how I got drawn into studying them.

    Yes, some of these plugins seem to create a website that no longer needs WordPress at all, which would then be an “actual” simplification. But notice that the key complexity-complaints often focus on the Admin and Editor elements of WP, which those who are ostensibly after simplicity would have to first use & tolerate, before they could use one of these plugins to convert their “dynamic” site to a “static” site.

    Yes, I am underwhelmed by the simplicity-argument.

    But if it’s speed you want (and reduced server-loading), this avenue does indeed deliver the goods. Big Time.

    (Let me mention, for completeness, that there are definitely other important factors in designing & creating pages, for maximum speed & minimum resource-usage. Stomp out the scripting. Watch the image-sizes & numbers like a hawk. Control page-size – break content into pieces. Etc, etc.

    Caching schemes and static generators will happily work on a ‘bloat-in, bloat-out’ basis. In the old days, we aimed to make pages under 50K. Interestingly, the ‘Rise of Mobile’ now recreates some of the limits/pressures that pertained, under Dialup … an intriguing topic in its own right.)


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