Squarespace and Wix Are Not Competing With WordPress

So over the past few months, perhaps even more than a year now, I’ve watched many people within the WordPress community, even Matt Mullenweg himself, talk about how WordPress, if it is to grow (some have even said survive) has to start competing with applications such as Squarespace and Wix in terms of ease of use and functionality.

While I agree that WordPress has suffered much recently because of bloat, lack of crystal clear goals and features built upon features, I have to disagree with this sentiment.

As a side note, it is worth pointing out that I make my living from developing WordPress websites and doing client work with WordPress full-time for a large advertising agency, The Richards Group.  We do more than just WordPress in our development team and have capabilities in almost every modern tech and language used in the space.

But the problem that I see with considering these our competitors isn’t that we aren’t facing customer loss or competition from them.  It is that WordPress, in the public’s mind, is still a blogging platform that you might be able to build a site with.

We work with clients all the time who haven’t considered WordPress as a CMS or platform choice because to them, it is a simple blog platform.  Some have seen sites hacked together from it but have no idea if that is a huge hack job or if it can actually handle it.  But even worse, we still talk to multitudes of clients that are outright hostile to WordPress because of its perceived (many times unfairly) limitations and sins.

While part of me wants to ignore the public’s perception of my beloved WordPress, I also see a huge downside to this approach.  Just ask Microsoft if perception can cause pain in both profits and market share after the first year of Apple’s “I’m a mac” campaign.  And while I’m not saying that the WordPress Foundation necessarily needs to grab a 30 second Super Bowl time slot (although I have heard multiple people say so on Twitter and they might not be wrong), something must be done to start to change the public perception of the software that so many of us depend on to put food on our table.

Simply hoping that perception catches up to present reality or relying on the slow accumulation of clients using it to turn the massive ship isn’t working.  I think it falls not only on us (as we as WordPress developer tend to evangelize this message rather heavily) but on the Foundation and on Automattic as one of the leaders in our space to begin to spread this message often and loudly.

Want to actually compete with Squarespace and Wix?  Let’s focus on marketing and message as much as we focus on technology.

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Matt Pritchett

Matt is a Christian, a husband, a father to two beautiful girls and a WordPress developer at CrowdFavorite. He also creates software for nonprofits and enterprise customers at Pritchett Media.

2 Comments

  1. Nate Wright on February 6, 2015 at 10:12 am

    This is a really great contribution to all the discussion that’s been going around. The rise of Squarespace and Wix have led to a lot of focus on the on-boarding process and growing WordPress’s market share.

    This is nice, but it really only targets the bottom rung of a very tall WordPress ladder — from first time user to power user to tinkerer to developer. That bottom rung has been vital to growing the scale of the ecosystem, but WordPress faces competition in other areas too.

    Automattic has done great things with WordPress.com to serve that bottom rung (and has picked up some big players through the VIP program). But I do wonder if putting the public focus of attention on the low end of the market has reinforced the perception of WordPress as “just” a blogging platform.

  2. David Leo on April 25, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    WordPress is like the php developers web page building platform, where everything is neatly defined in a codex of php codes.

    If you jump into WP thinking it’s going to be a quick an easy way to build a flashy ‘SS esque’ website, you are wrong.

    It is highly technical, and a base for MILLIONS of websites around on the net today. Where SS might have a 1000 sites online currently.

    WP has a sustainable future for actual developers, where squarespace will never compete with WP in that respect, and firms will continuously be hiring wordpress developers not SS or WIX developers.

    It’s kinda like how Zen-cart, cubecart and osCommerce experts are still needed.

    Because there are age old systems, still working, and dependent upon these obsolete ancient platforms.

    I’ve been through them all, and can say that WP is going to always be the best, and nothing will ever change that. From a real development standpoint, WP has it all, where SS and WIX are just rip offs or rebranded modified versions of WP plugins. If you’re a true developer you would never even consider using SS or WIX.

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